SOAP OPERA DIGEST, January 15, 1985
Mention in news/gossip section. THAAO'S WEEK FOR CRASHES: After surviving the plane crash on the island, Thaao Penghlis (Tony, "Days") had to go through another one right down the street from the Hollywood studio where "Days" is filmed--only he caused this one! Thaao was taking a walk at lunch when a mother and daughter from out of state were driving by. Seeing Thaao in the flesh (gasp), they stopped the car and opened the door just in time for a van to swing around the corner and tear the door right off! Thaao rushed over to help, and fortunately, no one had been injured. In fact, in the immoral words of the daughter "it was worth it" And speaking of crashes, after three weeks of working in Santa Barbara on the plane crash sequences, the "Days" crew surprised the actors with a party. It started with the playing of the "Gilligan's Island" theme music on the P.A. system, and then the crew limped into view, wearing the actors' bandages and bruises (courtesy of the makeup dept). They presented the actors with a cake and tee-shirts that read: "I Survived the Plane Crash."
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, January 29, 1985
From Joe Mascolo interview: One of the many people who is glad Mascolo keeps returning, is Thaao Penghlis (Tony DiMera). Friends long before either of them had ever heard of Salem, they met some years ago in an acting class taught by famed coach Milton Katselas. Working together has renewed and strengthened their relationship. "He brings a whole new dimension to the show," Thaao enthuses. "He's an actor's actor, a ladies' man, a man's man. He's masculine, aesthetic, and he says more by the way he picks up a rose than anyone. And he makes me--makes all of us--do our very best."
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, February 12, 1985
Mention in news section. WHOOPS, INC: If you noticed a particularly pained expression on the face of Thaao Penghlis (Tony, "Days") during the dueling scene, there was more going on than met the eye of the camera. The scene was being taped outside, and as barefoot Thaao parried and thrust, he stubbed his toe. And it wasn't just the average kind where you grab your toe, jump up and down and let out a yodel that can be heard for miles. Thaao actually broke the toe in question, and in several places. During his "recovery," he received a basket of roses from the "Days" production office with the following note: "We said break a leg, not a toe!" Broke toe and all, Thaao left for his long-awaited trip to Australia (via Hawaii), where every relative on the continent was waiting to kiss him hello.
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, March 12, 1985
Mention in news section. SURPRISED SOAP STARS: Thaao Penghlis (Tony, DOOL) got the surprise of a lifetime when he stepped off the plane for that long-awaited trip to Australia. Waiting for him were tons of press people and photographers, and that was only the beginning! Modest Thaao explains the furor he created by saying, "I guess the Greeks need heroes--there aren't that many Greek actors." Among the many wonderful things that happened to him during his stay was talking with a producer and director about doing the lead in a min-series about a horseman from the outback.
Thaao Penghlis (Tony, DOOL) was honored to be asked to serve as a presenter at the Logie Awards, which are Australia's equivalent to this country's Academy Awards. The ceremony is scheduled to air April 27th in Australia. "My mother is thrilled," laughed Thaao.
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, April 9, 1985
Mention in news section. THAAO PENGHLIS (Tony, Days) is on a detox diet after all his traveling and munching. During this period, he eats food with no additives, no preservatives, no saccharine, very little sugar, etc. in order to purify his bod.
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, April 23, 1985
Mention in news section. ORANGES & APPLES--Hollywood's THAAO PENGHLIS (Tony, DAYS OF OUR LIVES) dropped into the Big Apple for a few days and we met to talk over some of the new exciting things that were happening in his life. The last time we chatted he'd come back from a trip to Egypt. This time he'd added Italy and other areas of the Mediterranean, including Crete, to his travels. "Crete," he said, "was marvelous. I wrote a poem while I was there. There was so much beauty; a place so dry--like Egypt--yet, kept alive by the sea around it."
THE GLOBE, date unknown
Greeks ARE better lovers--says soap star
Greeks make better lovers because they're free with their emotions, says soap opera heartthrob Thaao Penghlis, who plays Count Anthony DiMera on Days of Our Lives.
"Since I was a kid, I've allowed my passion to rise to the occasion," says Thaao whose ancestors are from Greece.
"I wasn't told that feeling a certain way--crying, anger, whatever--was wrong. I was told to feel as a man to be as free as possible.
"When we make love, we give of ourselves tremendously because we've been allowed to tap all those resources," he told GLOBE.
The only thing about Greeks sometimes is that they want it totally in their own way, and that's part of the thing I had to give up.
"If you feel free about who you are, then it allows you to discover what the lady's needs are."
Thaao, who has never been married, feels that the keys to a successful relationship are sensitivity and really listening to your partner.
"People should take the time to find out about each other," he says.
"Then when we take our partners to bed, we can enjoy them, rather than show how good we are. You don't have to put on a macho performance in bed."
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, July 30, 1985
Mention in news section. SOAP BUBBLES: THAAO PENGHLIS (Tony, DAYS) did a wild public appearance in Waco, Texas which was covered by rival network ABC and they sent a letter to NBC regarding the incident. It reads in part: "Thaao was pawed, clawed and kissed for six hours by 6,000 women yet remained a perfect gentleman!"
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, August 13, 1985
From Leann Hunley interview.
Thaao on Leann: "She is such a loveable creature in so many facets that I feel very protective of her and our friendship is very special...She has a great sense of humor, a wonderful sensuality and a caring mind. Leann is an un-Hollywood package permeated by a great humanity."
Leann on Thaao: "He is suave, debonair, charming. He is a wonderful gentleman. He makes you feel very feminine. We're very close friends."
From You'd Better Look Twice! There's Double Trouble As The Soaps Tackle Double Identities
"When it was presented," says Thaao Penghlis, "my first dilemma was, 'How am I going to do it?' I went back to my basic training and remembered that how you treat people is how people interpret the way you feel about things. It's your attitude. So what I decided to do was to give Tony--who was already established--his dignity, his taste, his humility, and his sense of training in life to be a more perfect figure, so that the other one came on with an attitude that was one of trying to emulate something that he wanted to be. I said, why not make Andre an actor who is lost--a terrible actor who thinks he's grand--because Andre is an illusion. Tony is real. I gave Andre a deeper tone in my voice, a sense of where he would or could be anything he wanted to be, but was not good enough. And was always on the verge that he was going to be found out." The story proved so successful that Andre, who was originally scheduled to last for just one sweeps period, was on for a year.
...Penghlis also became muddled at times. "I remember someone saying that's more Andre than Tony, and I said thanks. It was rough, trying to learn all the dialogue and have it make sense, and create the two, and be able to drop one and go to the other."
STARWEEK, August 24, 1985
A SUDSY SUCCESS--Thaao Penghlis turns up the heat on Days of Our Lives with steamy tub and shower scenes
Two years from now, Thaao Penghlis' parents in Sydney, Australia, will see for themselves their son making American TV history as the first man to appear with a woman in bathtub and shower scenes for a daytime soap opera.
This earth-shaking news probably has already travelled across the Pacific, but Days of Our Lives episodes are broadcast with a two-year delay Down Under. "It has been on the air for 18 years in Australia, and is the country's number one serial, but it's taken off the air and pre-empted for a couple of months every summer by the cricket coverage," Penghlis explains.
The darkly handsome Sydney native (of Greek parentage) hopes his hard work and underwater sacrifices will be appreciated once the episodes appear at home. The sudsy scenes were Penghlis' own idea as a way to convey to viewers that his Count Antony DiMera character is "an increasingly erotic and decreasingly diabolical bastard."
It wasn't easy to do the near-nude scenes right, according to Penghlis. "First of all, (co-star) Leann Hunley and I had to pretend that we enjoyed it--that's very important. We also had to do the bathtub scene in one take--you can't step out (of the tub) again if it doesn't work because of time factors. So, it was a lot of pressure."
It was nip and tuck all the way, Penghlis says, "because the water started to seep out of the tub as soon as we started taping. Leann was only wearing a tiny, skin-tight bathing suit and as the top part of her body was getting exposed by the lowering water level, I had to keep making bubbles by flailing my hands underwater so it would cover her. I was wearing skivvies that happened to stretch in water and couldn't stand up to help her because they would fall down."
The shower scene was much easier to shoot. "The script called for the girl to walk into the shower fully dressed, then have me turn her around and unzip the dress in front of the camera. All you saw was her bare back. She got a little upset because she thought I unzipped it too far down."
If nothing else, the scenes revived the technical crews' interest in the fine art of making soaps, says the actor. "It was interesting to see the entire crew show up in the same place for a change--they normally can't be bothered because they've seen too many shows and heard too many stories."
The first-generation Australian actor grew up in the Sydney working-class sections of Surrey Hills and Kingsford.
"You learn a lot about life when you start from scratch," says Penghlis. "You learn to not take anything for granted when you grow up in an environment where your bed is your dining table. I shared one room with my two sisters and one brother. It gave me an outlook on life that doesn't abuse power or position. It also taught me to stay away from drugs and booze."
Penghlis, now in his mid-40s, obtained a degree in economics from the University of Sydney in 1963 and promptly entered the Australian diplomatic corps. "I was being trained as a vice-consul for three years, working mainly with Greek immigrants. I finally decided to get away from the Greek influence to find out what the world was all about."
The opportunity to broaden his horizons came when a friend received two free plane tickets to Mexico City in return for doing public-relations work for the Ballet Folklorico of Mexico while performing in Sydney. "My friend invited me to come along and I took a leave of absence from my job. After three wonderful months in Mexico, I decided to explore New York on my own."
Penghlis had a chance meeting with Greek-American acting coach/director Milton Katselas--who persuaded him to enroll in an acting class. "I tried it for the hell of it and immediately discovered that I was terrible. Very stiff, due to the kind of rigidity in my Greek upbringing."
But he was hooked on the craft and continued studying in New York throughout the next seven years while supporting himself with a variety of jobs. "The first year, I served as an assistant to a ministerial secretary with the Australian mission at the United Nations," Penghlis says. "I had a terrible mouth and told him off one day because he was always drunk. This man's wife couldn't even find him as he was throwing up in the bathroom all the time. I finally told him that he was a bad representative for our country. He fired me. We're even."
He worked days for a Manhattan antique dealer while doing acting workshops, plays and working with Milton Katselas at night. It was a long, bitter grind ("I quit acting three times along the way") before his first big break in 1977 with the play Jockeys. "We had high hopes for it, starting in L.A. and then taking it to Broadway--where it lasted six weeks. Stranded, I had to sell off part of my little art collection to survive. Then my best friend died of cancer. It hit me terribly hard. I was alone and suddenly aware of my own mortality."
Devastated, Penghlis stumbled aimlessly around his apartment for days, unshaven and unkempt, until film director John Avildsen invited him to audition for his movie Slow Dancing In The Big City (1978). "I was a mess, physically and emotionally, but decided to give it a shot. I was at a point where I could go to the edge and find out what I was worth. Stripped naked, I couldn't give any more. I got the job in 20 minutes. It was the best audition I've ever given and the turning point in my career."
Slow Dancing led to solid parts in Altered States and The Bell Jar. It also opened the door for a half-dozen stage plays and countless episodic guest shots on Hart To Hart, Nero Wolfe and Tenspeed And Brown Shoe. The actors' strike in 1981 led him to explore the strike-exempt soaps, which prompted him to accept a three-month stint as the nasty Victor Cassidine (Liz Taylor's brother-in-law) in General Hospital.
Single, Penghlis lives alone in a two-story, two-bedroom, glass-enclosed house in the Hollywood Hills that is tastefully decorated with 19th-century Empire furniture and primitive paintings. "There are times when I think about getting married, with the idea of having children," he says, "but a successful soap actor does not have a schedule conducive to a good relationship."
His future is uncertain at the moment as Penghlis ponders whether or not to renew his Days Of Our Lives contract, which is up for renewal next month.
"I'm discussing a feature film possibility right now and it looks tempting. I'm looking to expand..." If he leaves Days, taking Tony DiMera with him, Penghlis' parents will be the last to know. As usual.
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, August 27, 1985
Mention in news section. DINNER WITH THAAO: THAAO PENGHLIS was the guest of honor at his third annual fan club dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, and once again, it was a too-quick glimpse of this man's generosity and kindness and wit and, of course, his unmistakable just plain sexiness. The banquet room was filled with Penghlis-luvvers from around America, and as he always does, he spoke to the group for some time, then fielded their questions. He always says he's nervous (and who wouldn't be) but it seems to wear off quickly. So much was said and so much happaned, it's a shame to try and squeeze it into this paragraph or two, but here goes with a few highlights.
Thaao spoke of going home to Australia; of beginning a new and better relationship with his father; of his very special feelings for his mother, and how the sudden realization that he would one day have to face her death made him cry so hard at Daphne's (Madlyn Rue) funeral. He frankly admitted that he may be leaving the show in September when contract time rolls around because, "I've got to stand my ground, and I shall." (He's been offered a role on AW, and a possible series by Norman Lear.) If he does leave DAYS, he said with a grin, "I want a great death!"
In another section: STEVE BOND (Jimmy Lee, GH) has a black chow puppy which he plans to mate with THAAO PENGHLIS's (Tony, DAYS) Maxi (also a black chow) when the time comes.
DAYTIME TV, August 1985
Mention in The Latest News: Days of Our Lives' THAAO PENGHLIS (Tony) made a whirlwind trip to New York to guest star on The Regis Philbin Show, then rushed all over town with his lady friend, Diane, checking up on his favorite haunts--Broadway, St. Patrick's Cathedral and Saks Fifth Avenue department store. "Then I walked over to East 51st Street and Second Avenue, to see if my old apartment was still there," he says. As a struggling actor, Thaao had lived in New York for seven years right after he left Australia.
From Summer Love Preview:
...On the other hand, some actors think of love scenes as a tremendous artistic challenge--and thrive on them. If Days of Our Lives' Thaao Penghlis (Tony) gets his way, you can expect Thaao and co-star Leann Hunley (Anna) to keep burning up the airwaves together.
"I told the producers that I wanted Tony and Anna to have more erotic scenes," says Thaao. "I said, 'Let me unbutton my shirt, let the audience see some sweat, some reality.' I want our scenes to be erotic, yet romantic, too. If you choreograph the scenes properly, it can be something of great beauty. I want the audience to be able to imagine themselves in our place, to feel a little body heat. When we're in bed, I want to give viewers the feeling--without showing it--that we have no clothes on. I want to be dangerous. If you don't break a few boundaries, then you die as an actor."
Given a choice, most actors prefer to tape love scenes in the warmth of a studio, rather than on some picture-perfect location. When a whole group of Days characters were shipwrecked on a primitive island, after a near-fatal plane crash, most of the scenes were shot in Santa Barbara, California. "I wished we'd stayed in the studio," says Thaao Penghlis. "Do you know how cold it was? Jolina Collins (Jasmine) and I stood in the lagoon shivering. It was so cold that steam was coming out of my mouth when I tried to speak my lines."
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, September 10, 1985
Section from article Do Fans Follow Their Favorite Stars From Soap to Soap to Soap to Soap?
...Yet, according to Diane Fields, president of the Thaao Penghlis fan club, "You can put a bum in a tuxedo and have him pull it off." By the same token, she believes fans will follow an actor "if he is true to his role." According to Fields, some 50 percent of Penghlis 1,400 fan club members used to watch him when he was on GENERAL HOSPITAL (as Victor Cassidine). "I've gotten letters from people who tell me they started watching DAYS because of Thaao. As Tony (DiMera, DAYS OF OUR LIVES), Thaao plays a worldly, sophisticated and classy gentleman. That is how I would also describe Thaao. Audiences recognize that he is right for his role. I don't think they'd accept him as a Bo Brady, though. And I don't think they'd buy him as, say, a 'wimp.' They have certain expectations of him. As long as he delivers, his fans will be by his side."
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, September 24, 1985
From letters section: I'm having a hard time writing this. My hands are shriveled up from all of the cold showers I have had to take after reading your feature on "TV's Most Attractive Men." Your choices were great! My choices for DAYS OF OUR LIVES: #1--Charles Shaughnessy is breathtaking. I love his accent and tweed jacket and I drink Earl Grey tea, will that help? #2--Peter Reckell has a body that just won't quit and I hope it never does! #3--Thaao Penghlis needs to wear his jeans with the leather crotch, turquoise shirt and black pajamas more often...he oozes sensuality. D.H., Texas City, TX
Mention in news section. THAAO'S PSYCHIC PREDICTION: Seventeen years ago, back Down Under, an Australian psychic predicted a strange fate for THAAO PENGHLIS--he would, of all things, become an actor and a successful one! After this prediction came true, Thaao tried to find the psychic several times but to no avail. Apparently, the man had left the country. Now the plot thickens. In a recent interview, Thaao told this story and after the information was published, Thaao received a call from all the way across the U.S. Someone not only knew the psychic, but the man has made quite a name for himself on the American East Coast. Thaao was given the psychic's phone number, and when he called, a woman answered. Thaao got only a few words out of his mouth when the person on the other end of the wire cried "You sound just like Tony from DAYS OF OUR LIVES!" As it turned out, the psychic's wife and daughter were crazy about Thaao and watch the show every day! The gentleman of the house had heard plenty about Thaao Penghlis, but he'd never seen the show and had no idea that he was a former "customer." The next time I see Thaao, I've just got to find out what the psychic's new prediction is.
DAYTIME TV, October 1985
LEANN HUNLEY HAS QUITE A HOLD ON THAAO PENGHLIS...BUT HOW LONG WILL HE STAY IN SALEM? IS HE TURNING HIS BACK ON DAYTIME?
Some actors plead for bigger salaries, swankier dressing rooms, and caviar on crackers for rehearsal snacks. But not Days of Our Lives' Thaao Penghlis. When he heads for producer Al Rabin's door, it's to ask for something entirely different--not perks, but more work, for his character, playboy-on-the-prowl Tony DiMera.
"I love to do love scnes," says Thaao, "and I like them to be as romantic as possible. That's what I ask for. In daytime, it's often impossible because we have to work so fast under such incredible pressure. I'm fortunate, though, becuase I have the most talented and cooperative leading lady--Leann Hunley, who plays Anna. She's a joy to work with. I can't believe she's never been nominated for an Emmy."
If Thaao had his way, Tony and Anna would definitely make veiwers' temperatures rise more often. "The most erotic scenes of all are those that just suggest the physical, but still leave something to the imagination," he explains. "That's what I'd like to see us try. I want the audience to feel there's some body heat between us. I want to create that illusion--I want to be dangerous!"
As much as he enjoys love scenes, other situations sometimes leave him cold--shivering in fact. Thaao and several other castmates still have all too vivid memories of their last outing beyond the walls of their NBC Hollywood studio. The purpose of that expedition was to tape those lost-in-the-jungle scenes after Tony and company's near-fatal plane crash en route to Haiti.
"That island we were stranded on was really Santa Barbara," reveals Thaao. "That's where we taped all the beach scenes, only it wasn't beach weather at all when we got there. Do you know how cold it was? Everything I owned practically fell off!" he laughs. "Standing in that lagoon was like standing in ice water. They had to stop shooting several times because it was so cold, steam was coming out of my mouth--and this was supposed to be a tropical island! One of our actresses got sick and I came down with a glandular infection. Well, it was an experiment, I guess, like everything else in life."
In September Thaao's Days contract expires and he still hasn't come to a firm decision about staying or leaving. "I don't know what's going to happen," he confides. "It depends on what they do with my character--if they can come up with a storyline that's as thrilling and challenging as it was playing Tony and his double, Andre, last year."
In fact one of Thaao's favorite moments on Days was that unforgettable scene where Andre DiMera made his dramatic debut as Shakespeare's Richard III. "It took two and a half hours to put on the make-up and costume, and the end result was that I became truly ugly," laughs Thaao. "Before I went on the set, I looked in the mirror one last time and I said to myself, 'Well, Thaao, this is definitely a first--spending all this time and energy just to make yourself look bad!"
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, November 19, 1985
THAAO PACKS IT IN
He charmed you, he excited you and now he is leaving you. Thaao Penghlis portrayed DAYS OF OUR LIVE's Count Antony DiMera with a style that made him--and his clothes--fun to watch. But after four years on DAYS, Thaao is moving on. In this candid interview, Penghlis talks about his decision to leave DAYS, his memories of daytime and his future. We at Soap Opera Digest wish him the best.--Andrea Payne
AP: How did your decision to leave the show come about?
TP: Uhm, I have to be smart and careful here.
AP: Please be honest and open here.
TP: Oh sure, I will be. My immediate reaction is I'm leaving because I want to. They offered me a two year contract which would have put me at the highest paid on the show, but I looked at it and thought, "What is the factor here? Is it the money factor? Is it the career factor" I have to go on, I realized, to do other things. I'm finding that now, the show has limitations for me. And the reason that is, is that it seems to be going faster, the budgets are tougher. They're dealing more with children's storylines. It's coming to the point where I can't identify with the show anymore. I think they should call it THE NEW DAYS OF OUR LIVES. And the reason I'm saying this is that you've had characters you've cared about for a long time and suddenly you get all these new characters and you're supposed to respond to them with care. I can stay on the show and still have good storylines, but I don't think Tony is the man who has the wealth or the servants, or a certain style any longer. I think they are not growing so much with him anymore and I don't want to play the same thing anymore. I'm finding myself getting stale.
AP: Have you been written off yet?
TP: No. I have four more shows to do. And it's becoming very abrupt, and so I don't know how I'll be written off. There was a squabble because I wanted outs and they weren't willing to give them to me and I thought as an actor, I need to go out there and do other work. I can't sit around and just do this character, day in and day out, so I decided to retire. And I feel good about it now. Someone said to me, "What is it now that you really want to do?" And I said, "I want to get out and smell the earth." I've been entombed for four years in the studio. And I can't wait just to look at the flowers--just to look at human beings sitting down and talking and other parts of life. And I just want to get grounded again. I want to get myself back into other people. The trouble is that people do have a tendency to believe their publicity and I have a great urge to find out more about my own humanity.
AP: After your upcoming movie UNDER SIEGE, do you have another project?
TP: Yes, I've been invited to go to Australia and I'm going to be doing that. I just tested for my own series. There were eight actors and it came down to three and I was one of the three. I didn't get it, but from that there is a possibility of something else coming. I'm not here to say to you, or to anyone, that after the show something incedible is going to happen. Some people say, "Well look at what happened to Wayne." And I say, "What happened to Wayne is that Wayne made a choice. He is living by that choice. He could have a great job tomorrow."
AP: Is there any part of you that is scared?
TP: I would be lying if I said I wasn't. The unknown always frightens us. And it's only something that is manifested out of your own thoughts. Fear is not something that is tangible. Shirley MacLaine said, "On the other side of fear is love." So if it means that I have to crash through the fear to get to the other side, then that's what I must do.
AP: What do you celebrate about soap opera? What do you look at and say, "Gee, this is what soap opera does well?"
TP: I'll give you a single example. I met a young girl, she was 22, her name is Lisa, and she is a cancer victim. Lying in bed, she found something that kept her interested and looking forward to the next day, no matter what level it was on. This girl happened to have extended her life further because of something about the show. I think it is very easy to make a judgment that daytime is less than what it really is. In times when it's very hard either financially, or spiritually, I think it's very important that if someone can have a dream and they have gotten that dream from daytime, then what we're doing is right.
AP: What was your most challenging storyline?
TP: The double Tonys. The fencing with Andre, the Shakespearean sequences. I'm not particularly crazy about those chains. Also, the scenes I had with Stefano. When I worked with Joe Mascolo I always knew it was going to be better, only because we both came from similar schools and we both were very demanding.
AP: What was your least favorite storyline?
TP: Probably the island. I mean, they promised me Jamaica in my negotiations, and I got the NBC parking lot. I wasn't particularly crazy about that.
AP: Do you have any parting words?
TP: Yes, I think it's important that the audience writes in to DAYS and tells them to have more adult storylines. They do have that power. How else are we going to grow? I'm just grateful for the fact that I've had four very strong years in television and I've met a lot of wonderful people. I want to thank people (fans) for their support. I shall always look back on it (DAYS) with great affection. You don't spend four years of a very important time of your life and think that it didn't help you grow. It helped me become more solid as an actor and as a human being.
AP: Would you ever consider doing a soap again?
TP: I would never say never. Who knows what's going to happen? It would have to be a different character. All I know is that I'm making a transition and the transition is into new territory and I don't know what that is, quite yet. But, I tell you--it's damned exciting!
SOAP OPERA STARS, November 1985
"WE HUGGED EACH OTHER AND STARTED TO CRY"
It Took Several Years, But Now Thaao Penghlis Has His Father's Praise
Although Count Antony DiMera's upbringing reared him toward the life of white tie and caviar, it was quite different for Days star Thaao Penghlis, who believes he profited as a person from his early financial struggles.
"Because our beginning was poor, if you do start from scratch, you understand how all the pieces fit--how the ingredients come together," he says.
Thaao's father, a 72-year-old Greek immigrant, put his family roots down in Australia. He was part of both a culture and era that had hoped their sons would be of the richest and most successful doctors and lawyers. Ironically, his TV counterpart was a direct contrast to Thaao's father. The evil Stefano DiMera disowned son Tony, writing him out of his will and his life.
On the flip side, some similarities do exist. Like Tony, who chose to pursue his own business ventures, Thaao decided to give his love of acting a shot. "For me to have taken a chance as they (his parents) waited patiently for me to go through this--and now to have come back with a career...what I love about it most is that now my father can retire," he boasts happily.
Thaao has resided in the U.S. for the last 15 years, but recently returned to Australia for the baptism of his godson Peter Gregory, his sister's child. It was the first visit since he joined the cast of Days. It was tough for Thaao, the eldest son, to relocate overseas because most Greek men were being told whom to marry and what path to take at that time. "My father said one day, 'you can take your doctors and lawyers--none of you have an actor,' " he recollects.
Thaao knew that this trip would be an important one because he was aware that he was searching for something and decided that he would take his time to let things sink in. He saw the small house in which he was born and the old school he had attended. "I went through all the emotional dramas. In a sense, I was finalizing all the things that built up to this point. I felt I didn't have to prove it (succeeding as an actor in America) anymore. It was such a release for me," he said.
Perhaps the portrayal of Tony DiMera had taken its toll on Thaao up until that time. "Everything is falling apart underneath Tony's tuxedo. Everything is hooked with pins--nothing is solid," he says. Thaao sees the "facade" as favorable though, in that it allows Tony to become human.
Turning the tables, a bit of Thaao and his own past is also incorporated into the character of Tony. While Tony's fortune is countless on Days, he does not rely on material objects and, with his lost love record as proof, realizes that money cannot buy him the happiness he is searching for.
Thaao's search concluded almost before it began. "There is a time, if you are fortunate, that you come to grips with your father," he says, and that's exactly what he accomplished from day one.
When he arrived at the airport, both his father and the news media awaited the Australian star. Mr. Penghlis broke down as he answered questions about his son with pride. Thaao recalls that the embrace between father and son was completely different this time and said more than words could ever.
"It was one of those fairytale stories," Thaao concluded with a smile.
SOAP OPERA DIGEST, December 17, 1985
Mention in news section. SOAP BUBBLES: THAAO PENGHLIS (Tony, DAYS) said he was going to stick to his guns contract-wise, and he did. He may be off the show, but he's hardly forgotten! When he filmed the TV movie UNDER SIEGE in Little Rock, Arkansas (he plays a terrorist), crowds of people hung around just to get a glimpse of him.
Section from article The Power of Fan Clubs: Use or Abuse? (Discusses how fan clubs have encouraged their members to vote in polls, and the unethical practices that have been used by some.)
"Awards don't mean anything," believes Thaao Penghlis, who played Tony DiMera on DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Penghlis's fan club started years ago when he was on GENERAL HOSPITAL and receiving an overwhelming amount of fan mail. "Awards don't help career moves and if actors think it makes their prices go up, that's a lot of crap. I hear that people buy votes, but you have to deal with your own conscience. What is an award? It's being voted the most popular actor, not the best actor....If people and fans want to spend their time to do that (get as many votes as possible), that's fine. That's their responsibility. People have their own individual way of contributing to life, and if that's the way they want to do it, that's fine. No one is being harmed. I find that a waste of time, though."