© SOU May 17, 1994                                                                                      





Through the Years with AMC’s Cady McClain


My, what a long, strange trip it's been.


Looking very unlike Dixie in a pair of rectangle black-rimmed eyeglasses, Emmy Award-winning actress Cady McClain is relaxing in her home away from home, the ALL MY CHILDREN rehearsal studio. She's comfortable here, high above the busy city streets and the craziness of the world. And if you've never met her before, she's even more beautiful in person.


Cady is excited; she's about to get married. Well not her, actually, but Dixie. Her fiance Tad (actor Michael E. Knight), has just walked into the rehearsal hall; and when he spots his betrothed sitting in the corner, his face fights up. "Hi, hon!" he says with a smile. It's obvious that these two actors are not only longtime colleagues but close friends as well. Cady confides that just as Dixie never really got over Tad's disappearance, she also had a hard time adjusting when Michael left the show. Thankfully, that's all water under the bridge now; and for the third time since their great love affair began, Dixie and Tad will attempt to become man and wife.


It's only normal for a bride to want to take some time to reflect on her past loves before walking down the aisle, so we asked Cady to peruse through Dixie's life and share with us her feelings of how she has changed since she took those first fledgling steps in Pine Valley.


[Photo of Cooney Family circa 1989]

"Oh my God look at all that hair! Look at that hair! I can't believe that one small woman had all that hair! My goodness gracious. I was 19 in this picture. I was new on the show; I was nervous as all hell. I do remember taking this photo. I remember marveling at Paige Turco's body. Thinking, 'How will I ever get a body like that (I eventually realized I just had to give up that dream.) I remember loving the people I was working with and feeling very lucky. Dixie was going through a lot of early torment. She had that Southern accent then. It's gone now. Except for every once in a while, when it comes back."


[Photo of Adam & Dixie’s Wedding]

"This was a blast. Working with David [Canary] - he has such a sense of fun and he loves what he does; he loves being an actor. That is contagious. It's really important to love what you do. Dixie was pregnant in this storyline; it (her first 'wedding' day) was kind of a bummer because I had always thought that being on a soap opera means glamour - you know, that you are going to get to wear lots of makeup and look gorgeous every day. Surprise, surprise! I'm pregnant and sobbing every day for years! This was not what I had in mind. But that's okay. It was the first time I wore a wedding gown; and I thought, 'God, I look bad.' Pregnant and in white. So I went for the comedy element of it. A lot of the glamour is not what it seems to be about. It's a lot of hard work; so you better be able to laugh or else, as they say, you're up the creek without a paddle."


[Photo of Adam & Dixie]

“This is early Adam stuff. This is probably one of the best times I ever had in a storyline, which was with David (Canary, Adam) and Julia Barr (Brooke). We were doing Dixie breaking up their marriage—she was a house-wrecker. I remember one time I went out of the studio; and somebody threw a Coke can at me and said, 'Stay away from Adam Chandler!' I had my hair in rollers, and I didn't think anyone would recognize me. But people took it very seriously. Because Brooke had lost Laura (her daughter), and Dixie was like, 'Well, I'll give you a baby; I'll take care of you Mr. Chandler...' But then (sarcastically) he took care of her good: He drove her nuts. It was a very intense storyline. It took its toll. It was hard work."


[Photo of T&D’s first wedding]

"Then I got to start working with Michael, who is a lot of fun. We just pushed each other’s buttons in every way and it was great We just clicked. It was intense. We became really good friends. I respected his work, and I loved working on the show with him. We fought a lot, but it was okay because we both cared about what we were doing. Bottom line, we loved doing good comedy so we worked really hard to get the timing right. We still do. We respect each other; that's the most important thing. Through time and experience, we have learned to adjust to each other's ways of doing things and respect that. We just do things differently sometimes. The man is bloody funny. He’s also a talented guy. This wedding dress I loved; I just felt like the greatest. It felt, almost, like I was really getting married. I was only 21 years old at this point; I was still living with my mother!”


[Photo of Billy Clyde and Dixie]

"Matthew Cowles played Billy Clyde. He was a wonderful, wonderful actor. This came at a time when Michael was getting ready to leave, so we did this whole storyline of me being stalked by this man; and then he kidnapped me and took me up to his cabin. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do; being dragged around, thrown around, tied up, humiliated ... It's very hard to experience. I will say that is one of the hardest things for young women on soap. They get the crap knocked out of them. You have to do some of the hardest storylines as a young woman, and I have a tremendous amount of empathy for every young woman on soaps; it is always the victim storyline. Even if you are a bitch, you get raped. It's not always great. It (your storyline) stays with you (when you go home at night). It really forces you to find your strength inside of yourself, and that's hard. You get your knocks. Few people can take it for very long."



[Photo of Will, Craig & Dixie]

“For a while, I was knocked into the victim role. It was a combination of Adam driving me crazy and the Billy Clyde thing. Then Craig came in to do a little more victim action on me. My brother turned into a bad guy, which was a lot of fun to play. I guess one of my strong points is at being a supporting character, I think it's really important that if you want to stick around, that you learn how to play with people. How to be an actor among actors. It was very, very hard to adjust to working with Scott after working with Michael. I'm afraid he didn't always get the best of my personality. Poor Scott. He was a very nice man. But, what was really fun was when they started doing the Janet stuff-, I cut my hair, and Will and I go to battle it out. That's really when I got my acting chops going again.'


[Photo of Brian & Dixie]

"Before Brian came to her rescue, there was a big storyline where Dixie practically went nuts. This was where she got her retribution. She was doing a lot of sobbing; and she got to do the bar scene, where she picks up men and becomes a bad girl in a way. This was about two and one half years ago, and so he (Brian) was the one who kept coming to her. Before that, she wouldn't leave the apartment. She was basically going insane because of grief over the death of her brother and a loss of trust of this man (Craig) whom she had thought loved her. And Matt (Borlenghi, Brian) was so good at being somebody who draws somebody out. (By the way, he just got a pilot.) He is a wonderful actor, a peach of a good fellow too."


[Photo of Tad & Dixie]

"That period of breaking up Tad and Brooke was fun, but that was hard work too. They had to do a lot of fighting. Tad and Dixie had to find out who Tad was again. Where was their relationship? Now she's at a point where she's learned from all this torture, and she's not the same woman. She's come to a conclusion, and she's broken the habit of being the victim. That's really important; she's decided she wants to be an adult. She wants to take action. She wants to help other people; that's like what's happening with Del, she wants to help people who have been hurt or who have lost relatives. She's becoming an adult. She's a little more active in her choices. Where before she was very reactive. That's a nice change."