In the world of daytime television, recasting roles is an accepted part of the business. Sometimes there is fan backlash, other times the new actors and actresses are embraced by the passionate soap audiences.
Steven Earl “Patch” Johnson, the eye patch wearing, long haired character on NBC’s Days of Our Lives was portrayed by actor Stephen Nichols from June 13, 1985 to October 23, 1990 and from June 9, 2006 to February 17, 2009. Patch is arguably one of the most popular characters in daytime dramas.
The question, though, is could a new actor bring Patch back to daytime television? Would the Days of Our Lives fans accept another actor in the role Nichols made famous?
These are similar questions to those faced by Days of Our Lives executive producer Ken Corday and his creative team after actor Peter Reckell left the role of Bo Brady in 1987. In that case, the producers successfully revived the Bo character in 1992 with actor Robert Kelker-Kelly.
Although the memoir “Unbecoming Travolta” by actor-turned-author Rikki Lee Travolta deals extensively with mental illness and recovery, the book does delve into other areas including daytime television. In the book, Travolta reveals that the reason he left a cushy career as one of Chicago’s most sought after stage actors in 1997 to head to Los Angeles was to land a role on Days of Our Lives. Although Travolta had auditions and in-depth talks with such soap operas as The Bold & the Beautiful, The Young & the Restless, and General Hospital, he never got an invite to read for Days of Our Lives.
However, Travolta also reveals in the book (available as both a paperback and e-book on Barnes & Noble’s website; www.bn.com) that if he gets any glimpse of fame from his writing endeavors his one dream would be to parlay that success into tackling the task of bringing Patch back to Days of Our Lives. As he quips in the book, Travolta has the prerequisite hair for the role and “it can’t be that hard to find an eye patch.”
As a star of stage, in 1996 Travolta became the first celebrity guest star in the popular Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding stage franchise, paving the way for such other guest stars as Frankie Avalon. In 2005 he was named alongside Donnie Osmond and Patrick Cassidy as one of the Top Three Headliners in the World in the musical Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In 2005 betting houses in England were laying 20:1 odds that Travolta would replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.
If Travolta lands a role on Days of Our Lives, whether that be as Patch, another character, or even just a cameo, it would be an ultimate feel-good comeback story. In 2008, Travolta was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder. He has worked hard to try to recover from these illnesses and the stigma that goes along with mental illness. He is now focused on reviving his career and establishing an identity independent of the famous Travolta entertainment family.
“I can still act,” explains Travolta. “I was once a thoroughbred. Even though I haven’t been to the track for a little while, I still have some good races left in me.”
“Mental illness does not define me,” he continues. “It is merely an obstacle on my path to greatness.”
Travolta would not be the first actor with mental illness to thrill soap opera audiences. Actor Maurice Benard also lives with Bipolar Disorder and has successfully portrayed Michael “Sonny” Corinthos, Jr. on General Hospital since 1993.