A Soap Star Died This Week
We are understandably in collective shock and mourning over the tragic loss of Matthew Perry last week.
Sadly, a couple of days after his passing, it was announced another, lesser known luminary has passed: Tyler Christopher, star and originator of the character of Nikolas Cassadine on long running daytime soap General Hospital.
I haven’t lived in America or watched soap operas in many years, but for a time, I was gripped, and it was entirely down to the appearance of this actor and his character in 1996.
Before the Nikolas Cassadine era came along, I thought soaps were kind of boring. Sure, I would occasionally watch my mom’s soap All My Children with her (back then we taped them on the vcr, they were a treat to watch at the end of a hard day at work/school!). But soaps were for old people.
Then one summer day, I flicked over to a soap my Mom didn’t watch. General Hospital. G.H. was on at 3 p.m., not 1 p.m., so it immediately seemed a little more hip. Set in fictitious Port Charles, it revolved around (unsurprisingly) the goings on at a hospital. Well, sort of. I don’t actually remember them spending much more time at the hospital that they did in any other soap.
It wasn’t long until one day a drop dead beautiful dark haired young man appeared: the mysterious Nikolas Cassadine. Nikolas was the secret child of General Hospital stalwart Laura (of Luke and Laura, anyone who grew up in the 80s must know them at least?).
No one knew about him because Laura had been held captive on an island, but eventually fell in love I guess? Nikolas was raised in Russia and Greece, the prince and heir to a vast fortune. Nikolas shows up to donate bone marrow to his ill baby sister.
Nikolas was a brooding, handsome, surly type with a chip on his shoulder. Young Tyler Christopher seemed to be channelling something of the essence of a young Marlon Brando to me in his characterization. He was magnetic to watch, and I and many other viewers were hooked. This was before younger characters and teens were quite so prevalent in soaps.