In Good Company, But Quite Independent!

By Robyn Flans / February, 1982
Although Dana Delany has been playing "Haley Wilson" on "As the World Turns" only a year, she is no newcomer to soap operas. Many will remember her as "Amy Russell" on the now defunct "Love of Life", in which she appeared for seven months.

"I think I'm a lot better on this soap than I was on the other,"she states. "In a way, it was the best thing that could have happened to me when "Love of Life" went off the air. I had gotten really lazy, my energy was low, and I felt too comfortable. When I joined this show, I was determined to use it and not let it use me. My only regret on ATWT is that "Haley" is such a nice character. I enjoyed playing a bitch on "Love of Life". Being nice means I have to be in touch with myself. It's a challenge to make "Haley" a real person who has a lot of anger, fears and lust and not just a nice innocent.

But I believe you get certain parts at certain times in your life for a reason and it's true with this role. For instance, in March I had a scene on the show in which I talked about my father dying. The day we taped it, I found out my real father actually had died. I didn't want to cheapen my emotions about his death by using them on the show, and yet, it worked. Also, my upbringing taught me to cut off my emotions, so the scene showed me fighting against having to display them."

Raised in Connecticut, Dana says acting came as a way to counter-balance being unable to show emotions at home. She can't remember even wanting to do anything else.

"Since I was young, I'd put on shows for my father. I was definitely Daddy's little girl, and I guess that need to show off comes from the actor's usual desire for attention."
While growing up, Dana was always "Daddy's little girl". Her father knew she had reached adulthood when Dana decided to do a nude scene in the play, Equus. He approved.
She had no trouble once she moved to New York, for a while waitressing and working in an antique store. She began to land her first jobs in commercials, and in a period of four months, did about 16 of them. Day work on "Ryan's Hope" and "One Life to Live" followed, and then her role on "Love of Life". When that soap concluded, she was cast in Hugh Leonard's play "A Life" in Canada. The play eventually moved to New York, where she made her Broadway debut. The day after its run ended, Dana began her current job on ATWT.

"I really am enjoying it," she says with a smile. "I like Haley's intelligence and the fact she has some sense of morality. Her morals are a little bit extreme in this day and age, but it's kind of fun because there aren't many people like her anymore, and the audience seems to appreciate that judging from the letters I get. I like that she's trusting. I'm like that. I'll always believe the best about a person first. I don't think I'll ever lose that starry-eyed little girl quality."

And starry-eyed is exactly how Dana becomes when she speaks of her boyfriend of six months, actor Treat Williams of 1941, "Hair" and "Prince of the City" fame.
Dana prefers dating actors because of common interests. Her beau is Treat Williams of Hair.
"I think he's terrific! He has a lot of enthusiasm for life and is interested in everything. He's the eternal student. He's much more outgoing than I am, so we complement each other. When he gets a little bit crazy, I'm the calm one, and he brings out my wild side when I need it.

"A two-actor relationship hasn't been hard at all. He's been in Ohio doing a play yet we've managed to see each other every weekend. He always says he doesn't think of me as an actor because we don't talk much about our professions. We have other things more important to talk about in terms of living."

Marriage is not one of these talked about topics yet, nor is Dana contemplating moving in with Treat at the moment.

"I just got new carpeting, how could I move out?" she jokes. "We definitely have some commitment, because we're not seeing anybody else, but we're just dealing with our relationship as it goes. I spend most of my time at his place anyway, but it's nice to have a place to come back to and be alone.

"I believe ultimately we're very alone. If you can enjoy being alone and maintain your independence, yet your partner, you'll have the best relationship you can. That doesn't mean I always follow this thinking. I get as crazy as anybody else and start feeling insecure, possessive, and jealous, but I think if you try to respect each other as a person and a separate entity, that's the best you can do."

Treat is not the first actor she's dated. While doing summer stock in Michigan several years ago, Dana and Tom Wopat (pre-Dukes of Hazard) became romantically involved.

It was interesting when Tom and I did "Equus" in Michigan," she recalls. "Tom was in the production, and there was a nude scene Here I was, his girlfriend, on stage, naked in front of all these people. It really was a liberating feeling, although in retrospect, I don't really think it was necessary. At the time, however, it was the trend. It was funny; my father came to see the show while on a business trip, and I was sharing a place with my new boyfriend, who he had never met, and I was doing this part on stage. Afterwards, I asked my father what he thought, and he said it was very well done. After he died, my step-mother told me that when my father came home from that trip, he said to her, 'You don't know what it's like to see your daughter on stage, naked, and she's absolutely beautiful.' He was so proud of me. I guess that play made him realize I had grown up. It meant a lot to me."

After her moved to New York, she and Tom broke up, but, she says with an abundance of warmth, "I always knew success would happen for Tom. He's a very unique and special person and very talented. He has the most beautiful baritone that makes you melt when you hear it. He should be making records.

"I guess I come in contact with actors most and I'm most attracted to them. There's just something I love about them. I love the fact they have this little boy quality in them. A quality that can be dangerous, however, because they may not accept responsibility. It's funny, though, my father didn't like this whole actor thing." She laughs. "Before he died, he wanted to tie up loose ends and told me he wanted me to marry a stockbroker. Afterward I got on a plane to return to New York, and this guy started talking to me who turned out to be a stockbroker.But usually I just meet actors and don't really meet many stockbrokers."

Aside from her professional goal to work in films, (she's just completed a role in "The Fan"), Dana's personal goals include marriage and children.

"Probably it will conflict the professional goals, but I'll just have to deal with it. What else can you do? There's a new play in town called "Isn't It Romantic?" It's about the choice between career and home and how you were always told that you'd meet someone wonderful, and you could have it all. But you really can't, and it's very scary. I have a great fear of that. My parents were divorced while I was in college. I see my mother and realize how much harder it is for a woman to be remarried - it's always easier for the man. I think that's part of the reason why I feel that ultimately we are alone.

"I very much want to be self supporting and don't ever want to have to rely on anybody for money. I always want to be working and having something that's mine. I could never live through another person; it would just drive me crazy. I'll just have to end up with someone who is also willing to compromise when we have children and will take time off from his job to take care of them when I need to go away. But I have time to worry about all of this. Right now, I just take it one day at a time, and I'm happy."
Credit to Daytimers Magazine.