TV GUIDE, April 8, 1995
The Boiled and the Beautiful
"I've been followed everywhere by fans," says Thaao Penghlis, who plays Tony DiMera on NBC's Days of our Lives. "I was once in a men's room when a man came up to me and said he wanted to shake my hand because he loved me in [the 1988-90 version of] Mission: Impossible. I asked him if I could wash my hands first."
What this actor loves is to stage elaborate dinner parties. His specialties include lamb with white beans; pasta with mint, basil, and organic tomatoes; and this delicate dessert, which is commonly consumed at Greek weddings. "In my tradition," says the Australian-born actor of Greek descent, "what's important is that when you invite people to your home, it's about presenting your best. Food is a very important way of saying to someone, 'This is an expression of my soul.' "
Thaao Penghlis's Greek Wedding Shortbread
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp. brandy, whiskey, or ouzo
2 1/4 cups flour, sifted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1/3 cup powdered sugar until fluffy. Add egg yolk and brandy; beat until thick as mayonnaise. Gradually add flour, beating until smooth. Flour hands. Pinch off small pieces of dough to form round balls 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Arrange cookies well apart on ungreased cookie sheet; place a clove in center of each. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. On a sheet of waxed paper, pour a thick bed of powdered sugar (about 1 cup). Using a spatula, gently transfer hot cookies onto sugar as soon as they are removed from oven. Pour more sugar on tops and sides. Cool at least four hours before transferring to a serving dish. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar so shortbread is completely covered. Makes about 24 cookies.
UNKNOWN (probably Soap Opera Update)
DAYS' DARING DEPARTURE
DAYS OF OUR LIVES recently announced that for storyline reasons, Thaao Penghlis will leave his role of Count Antony DiMera later this year. "In the fast-paced and demanding world of daytime drama, he has always presented himself as a gentleman," says co-executive producer Tom Langan. Penghlis originated the role in 1981, left in '85 and returned eight years later. "I think it is important to realize that changes are an essential part of your growth," says the actor. "Taking charge of your journey helps you embrace the challenges ahead." Penghlis is ready to bear-hug his future. "Survival is having the intuition that shifts happen when what is already manifested inside is about to physicalize on the outside." In other words..."I am looking forward to what's ahead." Sources say that you can look for Tony to go out with a bang, not a whimper.
Thaao on his imminent departure: DAYS has certainly given me many challenges these last two years, and I'm grateful.
TV GUIDE, August 12, 1995
SOAPS By Michael Logan
It's Out for the Count on DOOL
Something strange is going on at Days of Our Lives, and this time we can't blame it on Satan: Just weeks after firing popular leading man Robert Kelker-Kelly, execs at the NBC soap are ousting another major heartthrob--Thaao Penghlis. As the naughty sophisticate Count Tony DiMera, Penghlis took Days by storm from 1981 to 1985 and, after an eight-year break (during which he starred in the revived Mission: Impossible), he made a much-heralded return in '93. Since then the Count has taken a surprisingly sinister turn, but we certainly didn't see a pink slip coming. Did the actor? "Not at all," says Penghlis, whose character's seemingly permanent demise is set for November sweeps. "I was told that [head writer] James Reilly doesn't know what to do with Tony, and so they need to move in a 'new direction.' I'm in a bit of shock. A lot of people are in shock about it....I know I've done OK around here by the way people are responding." One costar who really pitched a fit, he says, was Deidre Hall. "She went to the [producer's] office and really stuck up for me. She sees herself without a partner down the line, and we both feel our characters would be great together--in business and in romance." But he's looking on the bright side. "This is just another transition, just another page in my life. True, the page has been turned for me, but I'm looking forward to the change." He'll also seek some personal closure. Last February, Penghlis was in the midst of a big storyline when his parents, who lived in Australia, unexpectedly died within three days of each other. "I had to rush there for the funerals and rush back to the show and never really dealt with any of it," he says. "Now I'll have the freedom to go home, sit down with my sisters and brother, and share our experience. I need to complete my mourning, say my proper good-byes, and get on with my life."
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, August 29, 1995
THAAO'S DAYS' ARE OVER
Thaao Penghlis, who played the role of Count Anthony DiMera from 1981-85 and reprised the role in 1993, will be written off DAYS OF OUR LIVES this fall. His last air date had not been determined at press time.
For some DAYS fans, Tony's return never packed the punch it should have. He was reintroduced as Kristin's fiancé, but the entire romance had taken place off-screen. Tony didn't win any more sympathy when he failed to tell Kristin that he'd regained his sight after being blinded in an explosion at Maison Blance. Then, his fear that Kristin was having an affair with John drove Tony to replace her birth control pills with fakes so that she'd get pregnant and feel compelled to stay with him. "There was no lightness to Tony this time around," admits Penghlis. "It was very dark."
Penghlis reports that his castmates rallied around him after he was fired--especially good friends Deidre Hall (Marlena) and Joeseph Mascolo (Stefano). "I'm shocked and sad," says Mascolo. "I was there just after he was told. He simply said, 'They're not going to pick up my contract.' I will miss him terribly. It's a tremendous void in Stefano's life, and Thaao and I are dear friends. He's a talented man and always willing to work on such a high level."
While DAYS is not divulging the details of Tony's exit, it is likely to take place at Aremid as Tony desperately tries to keep John away from Kristin. Insiders confide that the door will remain open in case DAYS decides to bring the character of Tony back at some later date. Of course, whether Penghlis will be interested in returning at that point remains to be seen.
DAYTIME TV, September 1995
Mention in news section: Thaao Penghlis (Tony) has made travel plans for the end of the year. He's flying to Egypt to see the tomb of Alexander the Great, who died in 323 B.C. The tomb was supposedly recently discovered outside Cairo. Last year, Thaao saw the tomb of Phillip of Macedon in Greece, the father of Alexander the Great. After that, he'll go to Israel and will wind up spending New Year's Eve in Paris, where his friend, artist Enrique Senis-Oliver is having a one-man show. Thaao collects Senis-Oliver's oils.
A HAPPY THAAO PENGHLIS REVEALS: "The Nicest Compliment I've Ever Gotten!"
For years as Tony DiMera, Thaao Penghlis (Days of our Lives) was not unlike soaps' answer to Cary Grant. He was suave, sophisticated, and romantic, with a bit of humor thrown in. The new Tony seems to have lost the edge that the fans remember so fondly from years past, and, according to Thaao, it is a character trait worth saving.
"As an actor, you take a script and try to make sense of it," he reveals when we questioned him about his recent storyline, where his character was blinded in an explosion. "Did you find that hard to believe?" he asked us. "Well, you know, if the fans couldn't believe it, imagine how difficult it is for an actor to make truth of it."
Thaao then explained how the blind storyline illustrated his point. "It was just thrust upon me and I must say I enjoyed it. But, there were times when I had to discuss with the producers and directors about the reality of suddenly being blind and moving about the house without assistance. I suggested that they bring somebody in who would be helping me out in my darkness.
"Sometimes I wish that the producers and writers would listen to our instincts as they used to," he continues. "We used to be able to discuss how certain things should be played out and they'd listen, but lately that's not happening. I can't say that I'm too content with Tony right now, because I can't see where the new stuff is going and it's very difficult. I keep waiting for the sunrise."
Veteran viewers of Days feel that the strong men of years past have been discarded in favor of the average soap leading man, and that even the show's top villains are kind of soft. Business magnate Victor Kiriakis (John Aniston), once a feared man, is caught in the middle of a manipulation between two women, Kate and Vivian (Louise Sorel). Tony's father, Stefano, (Joseph Mascolo) the legendary Phoenix of Salem, doesn't seem as multi-dimensional anymore. His recent over-the-top antics are used more as comic relief these days. "I don't even recognize my father anymore," says Thaao. "Joe and I used to have such fun with Stefano and Tony, but he's just not the thoughtful power figure he used to be. I always felt that the writers could learn more about their characters from the actors who play them rather than just relying on their own imagination. We have a lot of insight to contribute."
If he could use his best psychic powers, we wondered what Thaao felt the future held for the beleaguered duo of Tony and Kristin (Eileen Davidson). "I know that James Reilly (Days Head Writer) liked Eileen and I together, but the thing I enjoyed a lot when I used to be with Leann Hunley (Anna), was the fun we brought to the screen. I'll tell you something, Jim Reilly has enormous capacity for humor, but he seems to be concentrating on a lot of drama right now."
Digressing to his personal life, Thaao sadly informed us that his on-going, long-distance romance with his lady-love in Greece was no more. "I was going over there so much that I got exhausted. I tried to bring her to the states" he reveals. "I even thought of marriage, but there were just so many complications, not the least of which was that she didn't speak English. We were of a different breed and it just wouldn't make a great marriage." Another complication was the serious illness of his beloved mother in Australia who subsequently passed away, as did his father, only a few days apart. "I began to look home more frequently because I was needed there. I made seven trips there last year. In any event, right now romance is not in the air for me."
While his romantic life may currently be on hold, Thaao is busy solidifying other kinds of relationships. "Deidre Hall (Marlena) and I have become close friends and I like to spend time visiting the family," he smiles. "I was over there just recently, feeding the new baby, Tully, with a bottle and being very domestic. One day Dee paid me the most marvelous compliment. She inquired, 'How can I have my children grow up to just like you?' because she saw how I was taking care of my mom at that time. I simply told her to love them unconditionally. I kind of believe that we're here on earth to do a certain amount of good things and we must try to complete them. You know, it all has to do with love. It's very hard to find a partner to love in our society, and if you do, you're really lucky. I look at Deidre and how she talks to her little boy with such love and think how blessed that child is."
Soap Opera Update, December 12, 1995
ONE MORE DEATH
After suffering the loss of his parents, Thaao Penghlis explains why it's so difficult to say goodbye to Tony
You've just seen the "murder" of Tony on DAYS OF OUR LIVES, and most fans were shocked that actor Thaao Penghlis had been released from his contract. He played the enormously popular count (and his identical cousin André) from 1981 through 1985, when he disappeared into the fog. Tony was resurrected in 1993, but now appears to be gone for good. In his own words, Penghlis reflects on this difficult time in his life.
If I was going to make sense of all this, I couldn't. Everything seems to be such a facade in this business. Actors get on a train and they are taken to an unknown destination. And through that journey, much is manifested. I was given a character different from the original Tony, so I put on a different skin in order to make him transform to a different agenda. From the day I came back, Tony was basically a wounded creature, from losing Kristin, to going blind, to getting cancer, to suicide. I must say that (headwriter) James Reilly gave me a challenging part to play. I would have liked a little more of the wisdom I came on the show with to put me through some of the painful measures I had to endure. And I've missed Tony's wicked humor. But nothing's ever the same, even when you go back through the same door. In an arena that moves faster than anything I've ever worked in, Tom Langan was a terrific co-executive producer. He was always available. When in times of doubt on where to go, he helped me a lot.
All I know is that in a year of having lost both my parents, and to play a story where I was given cancer, that I was dying in the same year, that was hard to play because my wounds haven't healed yet. It's hard to play having a disease and dying for four months. It gets to you, especially with what I've gone through personally. Sometimes you can't see between you and your character when the line is that fine.
We all have to go through the loss of our parents, but I went through losing both parents in the same week. I had a place here to come to work through my emotions and not to bundle them up. No one knew this, but there were times when I would come off the set and be very emotional, but I never did it on the set. It was a real test of my professionalism and where I came to as a human being, because I had never seen life as empty as that. Nothing was important to me anymore.
I'm leaving the show with no enemies as far as I know. But sometimes things are misunderstood. You can't have everyone like you, otherwise you'll go crazy. I've never regretted anything. I've regretted some of the misprints. I come from a country where to be upfront is part of the norm. We are very earthy people, the Australians. The important thing is to know where the truth lies. I can live with the fact that somebody may not like me. But if someone questions my integrity, that's another matter.
I don't think this show has been given enough credit as far as its quality of actors. We've had some great performers on this show, and they're kind of shunned at times when it comes to Emmys, maybe because of its ratings and notoriety. I get tired of people apologizing for watching soaps. I get tired of people not understanding that this is the most difficult medium of them all, and that it requires so many people to put it together. I think in some ways we're underestimated. I've done every medium...and this has been the hardest. Would I do another soap? It would depend on the kind of character. I certainly wouldn't want to play a doctor. I hate all that terminology. I liked when I came on at the beginning this time. I liked the spiritual Tony. I think people are looking for so many answers...and sometimes we reveal them on soaps. We're going into the spiritual arena much more than we were before.
Part of me wants to go to work behind the camera. Part of me wants to produce. Part of me likes to go to that office upstairs and hear what they're saying. I'd like to be part of that decision making. Acting is the only job that I've known--and now I'd like to do something else. I really like to work with directors. I'm good at ideas, and I think this training here has shown me a lot of different things.
I'm leaving. The job went well. The producers are pleased and the ratings are up. I couldn't ask for anything more. The great thing about leaving, for me, is that there are other opportunities coming up.
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, Best & Worst '95
TONY, DAYS OF OUR LIVES
Tony DiMera has always kept his own counsel. Remember when he regained his eyesight but kept that news from his wife, Kristin? How surprising then, that a suddenly chatty Tony would march into a church confessional and spill his guts. Nevertheless, in clipped, contrite tones, Tony admitted to Father Francis that he was planning to commit murder and frame his nemesis, John Black, for the crime.
Here's the kicker: Tony was confessing so he could be absolved of guilt, thereby ensuring himself a place in heaven. But wait--hold the halo! Save the rosary beads! Upon entering the confessional, a Catholic recites these words: "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned." Next comes the listing of sins and the expression of regret. Then, the priest grants absolution. Since when can confession be treated as a preemptive strike? Clearly, DAYS wanted us to know Tony's plan in advance, but using this device was a clunker.