Before talk shows, soap operas used to dominate daytime television. During the 1969-1970-television season, there were nineteen shows on the air. While there are thousands more channels broadcasting today, there are only four daytime dramas currently in production. The wild story lines, daily broadcasts and of course, the beautiful people, kept viewers glued to their screens or at the very least, entertained anyone that didn’t have to leave their house during the day. Many of today’s most famous actors got their starts many years ago on soaps. Here are ten celebs who played bad girls, bad boys, lovers and killers on the small screen, before they were either written off, or recast.
10. Lindsay Lohan
Before her real life became a soap opera with drugs, arrests, rehab and bad reality shows, Lindsay Lohan made the typical rounds as a child actor in New York City. After signing with Ford models at the young age of three, Lohan appeared in over sixty commercials. At ten years old, Lohan booked the re-occurring role of Alexandra “Ali” Fowler on the soap, Another World. The adorable freckled redhead played Ali from 1996-1997. But by 1998, Lohan was off to bigger and better opportunities, like her breakout role in Disney’s remake of The Parent Trap.
9. James Franco
James Franco didn’t actually get his start on soaps. He was already a pretty big star when he decided to do General Hospital in 2009, having starred in big films like Spider Man, Milk and Pineapple Express. Franco created and originated the role of Robert James “Franco” Frank, who is a multimedia artist and psycho serial killer. Credited as a guest star, he shot twenty episodes in only three days. Franco was so popular that he even returned for stints in 2010 and 2011. In 2013, Franco was upgraded from reoccurring to series regular but unfortunately, Franco could not continue playing his role, and actor Roger Howarth was re-cast for the role.
8. Kelly Ripa
Before she became one of the most successful daytime talk show hosts, Kelly Ripa played popular party girl, Haley Vaughan on All My Children, from November 22, 1990-December 18, 2002. On the show, she met Mark Consuelos, who played Hayley’s boyfriend/husband, Mateo Santos. Life imitated art when Consuelos became Ripa’s husband in real life. Ripa left All My Children when she replaced Kathie Lee on the morning talk show, Live to co-host with Regis Philbin. While Philbin left several years ago, Ripa stayed on and currently co-hosts with Michael Strahan. When Ripa left, Hayley was never recast and Ripa was the only actress to ever portray the character. In 2010, Kelly briefly returned to the soap before it was cancelled.
7. Julianne Moore
Four time Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner, Julianne Moore is one of the most beautiful and talented women in Hollywood today. She impressed audiences and critics alike, even in her early career when she won a Daytime Emmy award for her portrayal of Frannie Hughes from April 1985- to May 1988 on, As The World Turns. When she heard the show was being cancelled, Moore came back for a cameo appearance as the character on April 5th 2010, although the role had been re-cast twice after she left, and then written off in 1992. As The World Turns was actually not the first soap Moore was on, she also had a one episode guest starring role on The Edge of Night, in 1984.
6. Leonardo DiCaprio
Before Leonardo DiCaprio was the Wolf of Wall Street, he was a typical child actor making the guest starring rounds in Hollywood, just like everyone else. One of his best-known early roles was as a series regular on the sitcom, Growing Pains from 1991-1992, as Luke Brower. However, one of his lesser known roles was a week long guest starring stint on the NBC soap, Santa Barbara in 1984. DiCaprio played a young Mason Capwell.
5. Sarah Michelle Gellar
Before her breakout role as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar played Kendall Hart, who was the long-lost daughter of Susan Lucci’s iconic character, Erica Kane on the ABC soap All My Children, from February 24, 1993- July 3, 1995. Gellar won a daytime Emmy Award for her portrayal of Kendall, but left the show shortly after. The role of Kendall Hart was re-cast and was played up until 2013, by Alicia Minshew. In 2011, Gellar returned to the show for a cameo episode, but she refused to return in her original role, as not to step on the feet of Minshew.
4. John Stamos
He’s currently the spokesman for Oikos Greek yogurt, but from 1982-1984, John Stamos played bad-boy heartthrob Blackie Parish, on the still-running soap General Hospital. Before Stamos was Uncle Jesse on the classic 90’s sitcom Full House, he played drums in a band Blackie formed called Blackie and Riff Raff. And riff raff Blackie was caused because his character was written off the show when he was sentenced to ten years in prison, for the death of his girlfriend, Lou. Uncle Jesse was a little more PG rated than Blackie was, but both men had cool hair and were musicians.
3. Demi Moore
Before she became a member of the infamous Brat Pack, and then a bona fide movie star in films including Ghost and GI Jane, Demi Moore played Jackie Templeton on General Hospital from December 1981- March 1984. Jackie was an investigative reporter from New York, who comes to Port Charles to find her missing sister, Laura Templeton. Laura was played by future Northern Exposure actress, Janine Turner. Jackie eventually left Port Charles when she fell in love with sexy spy, the aptly named Robert Scorpio. Moore reportedly left the show due to drug problems.
2. Meg Ryan
Meg Ryan was known as America’s sweetheart in the 90’s, but in the 80’s she was a soap star on As the World Turns. Ryan played Betsy Stewart Montgomery Andropoulos, from 1982-1984. Betsy’s wedding to Steve on May 30, 1984 garnered twenty million viewers, which is the second-highest rated hour in American Soap Opera history. Betsy was an iconic soap opera character and had one of the main story lines on the show. When Ryan left, the role was re-cast and Betsy was played by actress Lindsay Frost, until she was finally written off in 1988.
1. Alec Baldwin
Before he was an Oscar nominee, as well as an Emmy and Golden Globe winner, Alec Baldwin played Billy Aldrich, on the long-running NBC daytime soap, The Doctors from 1980-1982. Only thirty minutes long, 5280 episodes were produced between 1963-1982. The show was supposed to rival ABC’s General Hospital, which debuted on the same day. Baldwin’s character had an interesting storyline and a very interesting death. He was poisoned by another character with anti aging serum. After the show ended, Baldwin went on to star as Joshua Rush on the nighttime soap, Knots Landing.