Mystery Solved: The ‘Second Mary’


Those of you who’ve read Soap: The Inside Story… will know that, aside from the question “What would’ve happened in Season 5,” one of the greatest enduring mysteries was the identity of the “Second Mary.”

There were three actresses cast in the role of Mary Campbell: First Salome Jens, then another, before the choice of Cathryn Damon was made. And ironically, it was that second actress who was pictured in the infamous Newsweek article (see photo above) that “launched a thousand protests.”

That second actress was Sally Kemp. { personal site  { IMDB

Yesterday, Associate Producer Marsha Posner Williams compared notes with Ted Wass (Danny), who came up with the name.

It’s so nice to finally have that mystery solved. Now, about Season 5…



15 comments on “Mystery Solved: The ‘Second Mary’

  1. This is actually an important part of the show’s genesis. Thanks for following up on it. Seeing the actors who didn’t quite provide the desired effect better illustrates what the producers liked about Cathryn Damon.

    Funny related story about the earlier choices for the Mike and Gloria characters on All in the Family. Author Vince Waldron was doing a book that covered part of the show’s history and he was researching it before the two original pilots were generally available. Norman Lear would not tell Waldron the names of the rejected actors out of courtesy to them, but he showed him one of the two pilots, allowing Waldron to see the names himself. Lear didn’t have a copy of the other pilot, though, and Waldron couldn’t find anyone who could or would tell him the actors’ names. As he was bringing the book to his publisher, he saw Rob Reiner in a parking lot. He ran over and explained his problem, and Reiner immediately announced the names of the missing actors, saying, “Is that all you needed?” Waldron opened the manuscript envelope, wrote the two names in pen on the correct page and sent it into the publisher.

    • What a brilliant story, Lee — thanks for sharing that one with us 🙂 (You can practically imagine the scene.)

      And of course none of this is meant to imply any lacking on the part of the actresses who weren’t cast, they just didn’t fit somebody’s idea of who that character should be. Pretty much every actor has been in that same position, no matter how fantastic a performer they are. (And if memory serves, Salome Jens was on “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” the show that “Soap” would forever be compared with, rightly or wrongly.)

  2. Fascinating, thanks! The actress looks familiar. Speaking of mysteries, one quick question: Does the ‘Soap’ bible mention why Benson hadn’t been speaking to Eunice for twelve years? This storyline was dropped in season two.

    • I always just thought her line about Benson never having spoken to her was a way of denoting his sense of superiority in those first couple of episodes; in a way, just another illustration of him referring to Billy as the “only one in this family worth a damn.”

  3. Nothing in the bible about that, Kyle. I would go Lee’s comment one better and say that the whole not speaking to her for 12 years was just a one-off throwaway line that was not really meant to be taken seriously.

    • Could be, guys. There were a few scenes in season one that expanded on the line, like when Eunice and Corrine were visiting Jody in the hospital, and Benson stopped in and made a point of not saying hello to Eunice. I believe the first time he did speak to her was in season two, when Billy, Benson and Jessica went to the cabin where Dutch and Eunice were hiding out. Benson was surprised that Eunice could cook. But, in hindsight, seeing the change in Eunice to a two-faced, insincere, spiteful manipulator, maybe Benson was right to shun her for 12 years!

      • If we do take it seriously, it might also relate to Eunice favoring Chester (and vice versa), with Benson taking out his disdain for Chester on Eunice also.

      • How much of that, though, was by virtue of the fact that she wasn’t in a lot of scenes with him? I think back to those handful of scenes in Season 1 where all the characters were essentially in the same room — a lot of characters didn’t actually interact. Yeesh — you could play this game all day 😉

  4. In her 2006 interview with the TV Academy (available online), Rue McClanahan says she knew “Golden Girls” producers Witt, Thomas, and Harris and “GG” pilot director Jay Sandrich from their “Soap” days. According to her, the producers offered her the role of Mary Campbell, but she turned it down because wanted the role of Jessica, which had already been cast with Katherine Helmond, and because Norman Lear was developing a star vehicle for her (1978’s “Apple Pie”). Not sure how Rue could have jumped ship to “Soap” when she was still starring, quite heavily, in “Maude” in 1977, but that’s her story. (She also says she was happy to see Cathryn Damon find success as Mary. Rue and Cathryn had worked together on Broadway years earlier.)

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