Have Suitcase, Will Travel
After a lifetime of moving-both personally
and professionally-All My Children's Marcy Walker has realized there really is no place
Marcy Walker was barely out of high school
when she earned a permanent place in Pine Valley history as AMC's preeminent teenage
bitch, Liza Colby. As the angst-driven Liza, Walker had the devious pleasure of trampling
nearly every female obstacle in her path: She once tortured good girl Jenny Gardner at the
prom by purposefully revealing that Jenny's father did prison time for raping Ruth Martin!
Eventually, Liza's undoing proved to be her own mother, Marian, who carried on a secret
affair with Liza's boyfriend Tad.
In 1984, when Walker left AMC to create
the role of Eden on the new NBC soap Santa Barbara, Pine Valley was a decidedly quieter
place. After eight years as the perennial heroine-and part of one of Daytime's most
popular couples-Walker left SB shortly before it's cancellation and later joined GL as
Tangie, Josh's never-fully-defined love interest.
Two years ago Walker chose to recreate
Liza, the role that had launched her career. Within months, Liza was back to her own
tricks. Her calculated antics tore to shreds Tad Martin's marriage to Dixie, and left
Dixie ready for the funny farm.
Ah, there's no place like home.
"It has had a huge impact on me, a
lot bigger than I thought," says Walker on returning to the character that instantly
made her one of daytime's brightest stars. "I was so young that I think I was very
unconscious, playing this character, not only as a person but as a performer: very young,
very one-dimensional, at least that's what I thought," she admits with a laugh.
"Although we did a retrospective and I looked at some of my work and I thought,
"Not so bad for 18."
Not bad indeed. Nearly 18 years later
Walker and co-star David Canary (Adam) are the show's hottest love birds. "Their
relationship is like a Chinese finger puzzle," Walker maintains. "The harder
they pull to get out, the harder they remain stuck together." Liza has so many
trappings, so many faults and so many pockets of loveliness and discouragement and
frustration. She's somebody who will one minute break down in tears and the next minute
grab you by the balls.
"All that makes for a very
interesting character-you can really write her in almost any scenario and you could have
her do just about anything, because she would. And the dialogue is just wonderful."
For Walker, the trip back to AMC has been
a homecoming on the personal front as well. With an 8-year-old son, Taylor, from her
previous marriage to cinematographer Stephen Collins, and a three-year marriage to current
husband and former GL sound man Robert Primrose, Walker is looking to stay put on the East
She recently moved out of her rural
Connecticut home to a suburb of New York City. "We were living so far away in
Redding, Connecticut," explains Walker, who moved back East to play Tangie on GL.
"I really wanted to stay in Redding because they had wonderful schools and we had a
lot of land, but I just couldn't keep doing to commute. I wasn't sure how Taylor was going
to take the move, but he has just flourished. There are kids right across teh street. I
think this was possibly the greatest thing I could have done for him."
Growing up, Walker traveled the world with
her family, following her father's defense-industry job. "My father was an electronic
engineer for McDonnell Douglas. We lived all over the place," Walker explains.
One memorable relocation took the family
to Iran for two years. In retrospect, Walker refers to that adventure as an education, but
she laughingly adds it will never be high on her list of fun times. "We had to be
very careful," Walker recalls. "It was not a fun experience. For some people it
was great. Justin Deas (Buzz, GL; ex-Keith Santa Barbara) was there, but he was there when
it was great to be an American in Iran," she says. "We had to bribe our way out
of the country because people were being killed. It gives you perspective. One of my
greatest lessons as an adolescent was learning to be grateful for what you have, things
like Ziploc bags and aluminum foil, jeans, freedom, things you don't think twice
After also living in various locales
across the country, Walker's family finally settled in St. Louis after Walker attended
high school in northern California and Illinois. "We lived like traveling gypsies. I
think it's what got that spirit in me," she reflects. "When I moved away from
home, I was just shy of my 18th birthday. I lived in New York for three and a half years
when I did AMC and it was the longest I've lived anywhere. I remember once in an interview
a god-awful long time ago, the person asked me where I was from. I said New York, because
it was the longest I'd ever lived anywhere."
Upon seeing the interview, Walker says her
mother promptly reminded her that her roots are in Kentucky, where she was born. "We
moved around so much, I felt like I couldn't say, 'Well, I'm from teh world,' and yet both
are true," she explains. "I'm definitely from Kentucky. I was born there, all my
relatives live there. Yet, because we moved all over the place, I have the vagabond things
that happens in your spirit where you think. 'Oh, let's move." It's not stressful to
me, it's enlightening."
Thanks to her parents' love of adventure,
Walker actively pursued the traveling lifestyle for years before giving birth to Taylor.
Walker's parents now live in Arizona. "When we moved around so much, they fell in
love with teh desert, but my father was then stationed in St. Louis." After Walker's
two younger brothers graduated High School in t St. Louis, her mother finally took a
stand. "She just said, 'That's it, we're moving to where we're happy," Walker
says. "It was a wonderful lesson to look at my parents and see them change and
totally recreate their life."
Now that she has an 8-year-old son, Walker
realizes constant upheaval has it's drawbacks. For Taylor, she wants a different kind of
upbringing, one where everybody knows his name.
"As the years have gone on, I think
I'm slowing down and finding that kind of thing palatable, because of Taylor. It's
wonderful to feel that sense of adventure, but there's nothing like a great hug, there's
nothing like being comforted, like having a sense of belonging. That's four star."
"Adventure is exciting, it climactic,
it's instantaneous, but it's not everlasting," she adds. "You don't feel it
after it's happened except for the initial rush. There's something to be said for that,
but I want Taylor to have both. I want him to know how valid being comforted and being
part of a community is."
Like any mom, Walker admits her offspring
has been the reason behind most of her deep contemplations of late. "I think at teh
beginning I wasn't really willing to see what that change was. I really thought there
wouldn't be any change except physically," she says. "But it is the
misconceptions I've had that have been teh greatest source of inspiration. Life does
change when you have a kid. When they're born and you have that special connection, it's
about love. But now, it's also about commitment and about responsibility and that I set a
good example for him. I had to learn so many things about myself that I had to put into
practice, or that I had to change, and that doesn't happen overnight. You only hope to God
that you're doing it quick enough so that when they're old enough to really absorb these
lessons you've gotten through with all your own junk."
Walker's own lessons began when she left
college before enrolling to pursue an acting career in New York. "I was just shy of
18 years old and I give my parents credit. They had no clue what I was getting myself
into, but they trusted that I was smart enough and that I was smart enough and that I had
good guidance," she says.
A few months later she landed the role of
Liza, the turbulent teen who would go to any length to get her man. As Liza, Walker
received two Daytime Emmy nominations as best supporting actress. In 1989, she won an Emmy
for Outstanding Actress as Santa Barbara's Eden, the rich man's daughter who fell for
tough cop and all around sensitive guy Cruz Castillo, played by A Martinez.
After a couple of highly publicized
marriages and divorces, including one to current GH (A.J.) and former Days (ex-Frankie)
star Billy Warlock, Walker quietly wed Primrose three years ago. They met on the set of GL
when he was a sound engineer, and now are a one network household. He works on the ABC
sitcom Spin City. "I think the people who needed to know knew, but we didn't want to
make a big splash about it."
When AMC's then executive producer Felicia
Minei Behr (currently ATWT executive producer) asked Walker to revive the role of Liza,
Walker jumped at the chance.
In the two years since she's returned,
Walker says AMC has more than lived up to it's promise to keep Liza stirring up the mix.
"I was only on a few months when Francesca (James, AMC's current executive producer)
came on and there was no lapse at all in the caring and the gift to this character, which
has been really wonderful," she says. "This character is so well defined that
through both producers I have been given a plathora of brilliant scenes."
But Walker's co-workers say the credit
goes to the actress, who has an innate ability to bring just about any character or
situation to life. "Marcy could read the phone book and make it interesting,"
says AMC associate head writer Fred Johnson. "She's just a wonderful actress and a
wonderful person. And it has been a delight to be able to return the characters like Liza
and Tad, who shared a tempestuous relationship as teens, and now to show their close
friendship as adults."
Jennifer Bassey, who has played Liza's man
chasing mother since 1983, says the secret to their volatile onscreen chemistry works
because they're just like mother and daughter in real life. "For example, this past,
she sent me 13 presents-one more beautiful than the next. I call Marcy my sunbeam,"
Bassey says. "She's a gift to work with and she's never had a formal acting lesson in
her life. She's a natural."
For Walker, her return as Liza has been a
homecoming. "One of the most overused phrases in daytime is 'We're like family,' but
it's so true," she insists. "Because families bicker and fight, and have
jealousy and envy, and support and love, and embrace and comfort, and you learn your
lessons from your family. It's the greatest roots you can have.