Happy Birthday, Robert Mandan

mandan_largeHead on over to Jay Johnson’s blog for his warm birthday tribute to the actor behind Chester Tate, and the man who’s been in “a gillion” films. As for Jay’s sign-off:

“Happy Birthday, Mr. Mandan. We shall celebrate with a bottle of “HOOP DE HAH”

Soap fans will recall that Hoop De Hah was the brand of booze Hobo Chester was drinking while suffering from amnesia following his suicide attempt. (Don’t you miss those great Soap storylines?)

If memory serves, Jay actually designed a label for the hootch and gave Bob Mandan a bottle that he still had the last time we spoke. They really were (and are) a wonderful family.

Book Soup Event Recap


L to r: Robert Mandan (Chester), director Jay Sandrich, some goon, 
Jay Johnson (Chuck & Bob) 
©WayneWilliamsStudio.com 2014

As you can imagine, I’m still processing everything that went on during our all-too-brief trip to Los Angeles. And as you can tell from the photo above, some very special people turned up for the event.

We showed up at Book Soup just a few minutes before the 4 PM event time (bad form I know, but the LA traffic caught us completely off guard) in a pretty flustered state, so much so that we forgot to, well, turn the car off after we had unloaded the books inside the store. Not to worry, it was only running for about 5 minutes, but still.

Yet once inside we calmed down immediately thanks to Book Soup’s Amelia Cone and Molly (whose last name I did not catch, sorry Molly!), who put us at our ease.

To be honest, much of what happened next was kind of a blur. There was a pretty good turnout for the talk, which put to rest one fear I had – a big thank you to everyone who showed up, including Soap associate producer Marsha Posner Williams and her husband, Wayne (whom we have to thank for these photos, by the way. Thanks, Wayne) 🙂

I began with an exploration of the controversy that surrounded the show, and read a short bit from the book about the cast and crew settling in at Bob Seagren’s house to watch the Soap premiere (pp. 61-63).

We then opened the floor to questions and personal recollections of Soap, which quickly turned into a great little discussion about this wonderful show. One of the highlights was from a fellow who grew up in Wisconsin and bonded with his father over Soap, much to his mother’s chagrin at the time.

During the talk, Marsha glanced out the window and broke into a great big smile, the reason for which I saw a moment later when in walked Jay Johnson, Jay Sandrich and Robert Mandan! We all proceeded to listen fascinated as the three new arrivals and Marsha reminisced over the making of the show – just a splendid back and forth between them all. During this, they also took questions from the audience.

After they left, the event moved to the back of the store where I signed a few books…and Pamela bought a few others (have to watch that Amelia, she’ll find just the right book for you). Meanwhile, Molly and I bonded over our love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (What, I can’t like other shows, too?)

Many thanks to Gary and Gregory, Derek and Ray, and so many others, including Soap font of wisdom Jeff Krueger. We really couldn’t have asked for a better evening.


L to r: Robert Mandan, Jay Sandrich, some goon, Marsha Posner Williams
Jay Johnson ©WayneWilliamsStudio.com 2014

Thanks for Coming out Yesterday!

Just a brief note to say a big “Thank you” to those who made it out to Book Soup in West Hollywood yesterday, and to those who sent their best wishes but could not make it. And none of this would’ve been possible without the generosity of Amelia and Molly at Book Soup – you two rock!

I especially wanted to thank Jay Johnson, Robert Mandan, Jay Sandrich and Marsha Posner Williams for taking the time to come out as well, and for regaling us with stories about the making of Soap.

I’ll write more about this event once we return home. (And about Sal Viscuso’s opening night at the Odyssey Theatre in A Steady Rain!) In the meantime, we have one more day left in LA, so we’re off to go gape at it open-mouthed.


Completed Robert Mandan Transcript

Since the last book took nearly three years to complete, I now have a tremendous urge to keep the Soap book on track and to get it done as quickly as possible. It helps tremendously that I conducted several interviews back in 2008 when I first began this project. One of those was with the wonderful Robert Mandan (Chester). I just finished up transcribing our talk last night.

I’m bowled over by how erudite the Soap cast are, and what a presence they have, even when you’re chatting with them over the phone. There is something about the classically trained stage actor. Mr. Mandan was also exceedingly forthcoming about what went on behind the scenes of Soap, and shared some pretty hilarious stories.

As for Bob Mandan, well, some people you just know you’re going to like right away. The moment he told me he wanted to be a Larch (ala Monty Python), I knew this was going to be a great conversation.