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Home Features Exclusives AMC Fans Fair for Cady

AMC Fans Fair for Cady

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Online campaign entices Cady McClain back to AMC as Dixie

As published in Soap Opera Weekly, March 23, 1999 Vol. 10, issue 13

When Cady McClain (Dixie, All My Children) won the Soap Opera Digest Award for Favorite Return, the first thing she did was thank all of her fans -- specifically, Marie-Hélène Gratton and Claudine, die-hard Tad and Dixie fans who spearheaded mailings, petitions, the creation of message boards and Web sites, all designed to show McClain how much the fans loved and missed her, and wanted her back. Gratton and Claudine were touched and excited about hearing her mention them on national television.

"Several other daytime shows had called, and I considered it, but it just wasn't the right time, " McClain told Soap Opera Weekly a few days after the awards show. "I wasn't really ready. I was going to school and was into doing that. Then, All My Children called. I was watching the show a little and missing the workplace and my friends, so the timing was right.

"The fan response to my absense from the show was overwhelming," McClain said. "They sent packages to AMC, who thought they were significant enough to send on to me. I reached one of them online to thank her, and we began writing back and forth, just sort of friendly. One of the women had done a Web page. That opened me up to the world of cyberspace. They told me about the All My Children chat rooms. I had no idea all that was going on."

Fans Fair for Cady!
What Did Not Make it into the Magazine!

I screamed," said Claudine when she heard Cady McClain (Dixie, AMC) thank her on national television during the Soap Opera Awards. "My family screamed. A friend phoned, screaming! There was a lot of screaming going on! I was so happy she won, and couldn't believe she mentioned me and Marie-Hélène!"
"I was taping the show and reading in my room," said Marie-Hélène Gratton of Montreal, Canada. "My friend called screaming that Cady won for Favorite Return and thanked me on the air! The only thing I could think was wow! That's really nice of her."

Claudine and Marie-Hélène were flabbergasted, but considering all they did to convince AMC and Cady McClain to return to her role as Dixie Cooney, it's a wonder they didn't win an award themselves.

In May, 1996 when Cady left Pine Valley to pursue other career interests, Tad and Dixie fans suffered a major loss. They disliked the way Dixie was written off the show, feared she may never return, and despised any new romantic pairing the writers established for Tad. They wanted Cady back.

"I stopped watching AMC," declared Marie-Hélène, but she was not about to let the memory of Tad and Dixie die. With Amy Castellani, a friend she met in cyberspace, they bombarded ABC Online with requests to set up a Tad and Dixie message board.

"Several of us kept the board going," Marie-Hélène explained. "Amy, Suzanne, Joanna, Eva, Brenda, Steph. We wanted a place to talk about Dixie." Other cyberfriends, Sheila, Sylvia and Marsha, mounted a similar effort on another online service. Marie-Hélène and Steph created a website dedicated to Tad and Dixie (which has attracted over 55,000 fans to date), and then Marie-Hélène decided to circulate the petitions.

"We respected Cady's decision to leave, but there were a lot of negative feelings out there regarding the changes made in her character prior to her leaving," Marie-Hélène recalled. "We wanted her to know that she had fans who missed her, appreciated her work, and wanted her back. The purpose of the petition was to tell the network that we still cared about the actress and if she ever wanted to come back, we hoped they'd let her."

With the medium of cyberspace at their disposal, they contacted people from all over the US and Canada who faxed and sent signatures, and collages of Tad and Dixie. Friends wrote letters. "Two cute little kids drew pictures," said Marie-Hélène. "It was sweet. The petition was pretty thick. People expressed their opinion and support for Cady's work in the way they felt most comfortable. We called it: 'There was never a Tad without a Dixie,' a slogan from their 1994 wedding."

Marie-Hélène sent copies to the President of ABC Daytime, various producers at AMC and the head writer. Marie-Hélène created another website, Cady's Corner, and spearheaded a second petition campaign. "We sent Dixie Plates and Cups. Wrote and drew on them and sent catchy slogans. It was fun!"

Marie-Hélène didn't hear back from the network, but did hear from Cady several months later. "She sent a note to thank me for the beautiful petition. It was so cool. Here was someone who was so out of reach and was now in contact with me. And she was thanking me for the petition. I was just so glad I got to show her she was appreciated. That was my goal, and here she is thanking me."

Claudine, another major Tad and Dixie fan also became heavily ensconced in the effort to bring Cady back. "I probably would have stopped watching AMC if I hadn't gotten online," stated Claudine. "We created fan fictions on the Tad and Dixie Message Board. It helped keep people involved." Claudine became ubiquitous in cyberspace promoting Tad and Dixie and created a web site dedicated to Tad called Chez Martin, Tad's Love Nest. "Call me the Spider Woman," she laughed. "I am all over the web!"

After the show's fledging attempt to pair Tad with Gloria, it was time to mount another mail campaign for Dixie. Claudine encouraged all those on her cyber mailing list to snail mail the network. Ditto, as the Camille pairing was failing. Somewhere in between, Cady celebrated a birthday. "Everyone posted birthday wishes. I printed out all the posts from four or five of the forums, threw in a few gifts, a happy birthday card, and sent them to Cady at the studio. I wrote that I knew she was in school, but wanted her to know that what she did at AMC meant a lot to a lot of people, and no matter what she decided to do in life, to know that she touched us."

About two weeks later, Claudine heard from Cady. "At first I wasn't sure it was her, but she mentioned some things that convinced me. It was mind-boggling to know I'd gotten a reply."

For Cady, the fan response to her absence was overwhelming. "They sent the package(s) to AMC, who thought they were significant enough to send on to me. I contacted one of them online to thank her, and we began writing back and forth, just sort of friendly. One of the woman had done a web page. That opened me up to the world of cyberspace. They told me about the AMC chat rooms. I had no idea all that was going on. It was certainly flattering and exciting, too, that people were remembering the character and wanting her back so much."

Which got Cady thinking. Maybe she should consider returning to AMC. "Several other daytime shows had called, and I thought about it, but it just wasn't the right time. I wasn't really ready. I was going to school and was into doing that. Then, All My Children called. I was watching the show a little and missing the workplace and my friends there, so the timing was right." She felt that AMC was a place where she was very appreciated, and she is extremely grateful to the fans for making sure she knew that. "I am very appreciative of their support."

Marie-Hélène credits Cady for bringing so many fans together. "It was definitely a group effort," she said. "Campaigning to bring Dixie back not only allowed me to show Cady how much her work was appreciated, it enabled me to make some wonderful new friends throughout Canada and the US. If it weren't for her touching the hearts of so many people by her performance as Dixie, I may never have met them. A BIG thank you to Cady!"

According to Claudine "it seemed there was something missing while she was gone. Aside from talent, I think Cady has a warmth that adds a lot to her performance as well as to the show in general. Dixie was always a character that I could identify with. She could make me laugh, she definitely made me cry, and she made me a fan."

Michael E. Knight (Tad, AMC) is also grateful to the fans for their diligent effort in orchestrating Cady's return, and couldn't be more thrilled. "For me, working with Cady is like working with a really, really, great dance partner," he said. "I'm really happy. Really happy that she's back!"

As far as Cady winning the Soap Opera Award for Favorite Return, her fans are delighted. The only thing that would have made them happier would have been if Michael E. Knight won for Best Supporting Actor.

More Buzz from --->

Why Bring Back Cady? A Producer Explains...

Michael D. Laibson was the Senior Producer on All My Children when Cady McClain (Dixie) returned. According to Laibson, there are many factors involved in deciding to bring back a character. Producers weigh what is more beneficial to the show -- the return of this character vs. the return of that one. "We have to take into account why the character left in the first place," Laibson admits. "And what is the strongest thing in terms of story at the moment."
Laibson says that sometimes producers want very much to bring a character back, but don't act on it immediately, as they feel the story will benefit more by bringing them back at a later date.

"Of course we take into consideration the fan response," said Laibson. "Hopefully, the fans will always want to see things happen with their show! However, if decisions were always made on what the fans wanted, there would be chaos, as there are camps of fans who want different things." Which comes under the you-can't-please-all-the-people-all-the-time philosophy. Producers ultimately base their decisions on what's best for the story.

Not to mention, actor availability. Cady left the show of her own accord, choosing to pursue other interests. Her fans were more than disappointed. Although they wanted what she wanted, they missed her in Pine Valley, felt Dixie belonged back with Tad, and mounted major write-in campaigns which caused her to reconsider.

"The Producers wanted her to come back all along," says Laibson. "They felt having her back was something the show really needed. In this case, the fans and the show agreed." 

Related Features

  • All My Children @ Soapdom
  • As the World Turns @ Soapdom
  • Cady McClain Bio 
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