Ellen Dolan Claims It Was Stupid Dumb Luck Getting Her Role As Maureen Reardon In Guiding Light

Ellen Dolan Claims It Was Stupid Dumb Luck Getting Her Role As Maureen Reardon In Guiding Light

Susan Dansby: What was the process like when you got the part of Maureen? [Reardon] us guide light? Did you have to audition?

Ellen Dolan: Yes, of course I auditioned for that. That came out of nowhere. I was only in New York for about a year, and had tried out for another role in Another world. And I think I tried something on ryan hope.

Then this came up, and I was learning pretty early: you go, you do it, you leave it at the door.

Susan Dansby: Right.

Ellen Dolan: But you never do. You tell yourself that, but you never do. And I remember it was like the tenth day. They had ten days to warn the people. And it was the tenth day. And that’s also when they had answering machine services, where you call every ten minutes and they’re like, “Nothing again, Ellen.”

So I stopped calling, because it was the last day.

And I got home that night, and the agent had stayed late at the office, because he lived way, way up on top of Manhattan, and finally, they called me, they tracked me down, and they said, “You booked it.”

And I burst into tears, just because – it wasn’t like it was a relief. My next thought was, “Well, that was easy. What else do I have to do before I become a movie star?” It was that kind of young thinking.

And then it was just, ‘come and sign the contracts’, and ‘come and have your measurements taken’, and ‘let’s take you shopping’.

Now, granted, he hadn’t even traveled above ground in Manhattan, yet. I lived in Inwood [north of Manhattan], and I had my last five dollars left. And this came just in time. In fact, when it started, I had to borrow money from the casting director, Betty Rea.

Susan Dansby: Oh, I loved Betty Rea!

Ellen Dolan: He loved Betty Rea very much. And this is a good segue. Now, there were the great old women.

The other person who helped me tremendously when I first moved to New York was Shirley Rich. And she just passed away, I think, this last year. She was a casting director who did Kramer vs. Kramer – Stuff of that ilk.

She was a former student, a former student from Iowa. And she used to come back and do workshops with us. And she said, “When you get to New York, that’s how you do it. You read at a desk. And blah blah blah blah.” And so she was kind of prepared for all of that. And she said, “And when you get here, call me and I’ll tell you what to do.”

Well, I got to New York; and about 15 minutes after I got to New York, I got a phone call from the rep from Milwaukee asking if I was going to come over and do Katrin in Mother Courage. And I said, “Oh, I can’t afford to go back to the Midwest. I just moved here.”

They had to call me back and said, “Okay, you…”

It was so stupid. I’ve had stupid, dumb luck all my life. I really have. And starting during the day was a big part of that. Great, wonderful, stupid, dumb luck.

I had prepared for it. I wanted to do, not just during the day, but I wanted to do guide light. And I wanted to be a Reardon.

Susan Dansby: wow.

Ellen Dolan: Because I thought it would probably be a good place for me and a good training camp. And in a year I got it.

So when I quit, I quit because I thought, ‘You know, I came here to do theater. So I really should stop doing television and start doing theater.

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