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by Sue Coflin
For Guiding Light fans that were in New York City during Columbus Day weekend, they were treated to a plethora of activities. Several Guiding Light actors attended the St. Jude Daytime Television event on Friday, October 8. Some of them stayed until the very end which was around midnight. Some participated in the New York City tour which was hosted by Ricky Paull Goldin, (Gus, GL) on Saturday morning. And then a handful continued their weekend with the fans to join Jerry ver Dorn and Liz Keifer, (Ross and Blake, GL) at their Bloss Bowling Event. I want to focus for a moment on two of the new faces in Springfield: John Driscoll and Tom Pelphrey, (Coop and Jonathan/JB, GL). These two relatively unknown actors seized the opportunity to become household names by attending every fan event that they were invited to. Besides that, Driscoll and Pelphrey made myriads of friends along the way just by being themselves.
It’s been a few years since a GL Bowling event has been held. The location was the same as in the past; Leisure Time Bowling Lanes which resides on the 2nd floor of the Port Authority building in NYC. But this year the event was organized by Ms. Wendy Madore, fan-club president for Jerry ver Dorn and Liz Keifer, and was hosted by ver Dorn and Keifer. Fourteen lanes were reserved for the event and nearly each lane had a Guiding Light member as captain. In attendance this year were, Jerry Ver Dorn (Ross), Liz Keifer (Blake), John Driscoll (Coop), Tom Pelphrey (Jonathan/JB), Stephen Martines (Tony), Scott Bailey (Sandy), Crystal Hunt (Lizzie), Stephanie Gatschet (Tammy), Michael O’Leary (Rick), Grant Aleksander (Phillip), Gina Tognoni (Dinah), Ron Raines (Alan) and Ricky Paull Goldin (Gus). Fans comprised both bowlers and spectators and in my case, roaming reporter.
I was surprised to see that many fans were more eager to bowl than to schmooze with the actors. And then, there were the fierce competitors, Driscoll and Pelphrey. In the midst of posing for photos and signing autographs, this dynamic duo was seriously counting every pin to see who would be victorious. In the end, it was their teammates who were the winners when they came out smiling and thoroughly entertained. Even I got caught up in their antics since my good friends Bea and Fran were on their teams. My little Nikon camera caught Driscoll’s eye and he pouted until he was able to take a picture with it. So, the photo of me with Tom Pelphrey is a John Driscoll original. But this is just how giving these two young men were all weekend. Pelphrey had his arm filled with autographs of his castmates which I believe was started on the tour with Ricky Paull Goldin. I almost broke his arm trying to get the autographs in focus so we opted for two shots to share with the Soapdom readers. The way Driscoll and Pelphrey get along is reminiscent to the friendship shared with Michael O’Leary and Grant Aleksander, (Rick and Philip). While Driscoll and Pelphrey have been with GL for nearly two months, O’Leary and Aleksander have shared center-stage for over 20 years.
Which brings me to Michael O’Leary. When you meet him, you meet a man who cherishes his family more than his fame. You walk away feeling that you got to meet the man and not the character he portrays. We always talk about his daughters and this year his older daughter is in fourth grade and he explained that she has much more homework this year. We also discussed how uncertain it is to hold on to a job longer than 20 years. Of course, he was talking about the recent dismissal of best friend, Grant Aleksander. I mean, who would think that a Spaulding would be an expendable character? All of a sudden, after 20 years plus with the show, Grant is told that his character will be written off. Where’s the loyalty to the history of the show? O’Leary, while obviously upset about the loss of a cast mate, also displayed trepidation about his own character’s longevity. It’s a scary business to say the least. O’Leary’s emotions were echoed throughout the event and I was so happy to see Aleksander attend this event and allow his fans to tell him just how they felt. I’ve seen Aleksander at events in the past, but this year he really seemed to be enjoying himself and was basking in the support of his fans. He even hinted about how the end would be played out for Philip Spaulding. “The body will not be found.” Okay, so it’s not an original statement, but he was able to talk with the fans and make them laugh about the situation. He’s a great man and who knows, maybe he can return.
Catching up with Stephanie Gatschet, (Tammy) reminded me that she’s been on the show for almost two years and that she started at 19. The young lady hails from the Philadelphia area and she impressed me with her poise and grace. You have to love the hat. She said that she was suffering from a bad hair day but on her, I don’t think anything could look that bad. Crystal Hunt, (Lizzie) had a fantastic encounter of her own at the bowling. Alright, maybe I am stretching the truth a little but she did meet a fan named Laura Bell. It struck me as I was walking by and you have to admit that it’s a strange coincidence that this woman would be a Guiding Light fan.
Fans also got the opportunity to meet the newly brunette Gina Tognoni, (Dinah, ex Kelly OLTL). She told me that she lost 30 pounds since leaving One Life To Live. Now please tell me, she was not a chubby person at all when she was on One Life, so where did that weight come from. It’s obvious when you look at her chiseled features that she has matured into a very beautiful woman. Her dark mane brings out her Italian features. Dinah however hasn’t warmed up to the audiences yet. Hopefully in time, the fans will appreciate just how evil Dinah will be.
This bowling event, while being an excellent opportunity to talk to the cast members of Guiding Light, was also being held to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Jerry ver Dorn, (Ross) is a cancer survivor and he looks and feels healthier now than he did 10 years ago. He told me that he does a lot of hiking and outdoor activities, and it’s obvious that he feels great.
Liz Keifer, (Blake) brought her two children to the event and they were even on her bowling team. They are not babies anymore! Time stands still for no one.
Some of Springfield’s residents opted not to bowl but signed myriads of t-shirts and posed with every fan at the event. Ron Raines, (Alan) was very charming and the long line to meet him was indicative of that. Ricky Paull Goldin (Gus) even came by towards the end of the event to meet the fans.
There were several items raffled that were sacred articles from the Ross and Blake arsenal. There were autographed scripts, “Save Company” signs, Jerry ver Dorn’s Team Emmy 2004 T-shirt, Liz Keifer’s Team Emmy 2004 T-shirt, fanclub memberships, and many GL items. When all was said and done, $5613.00 was raised. That’s very impressive considering that there were no tours being auctioned this year. Bloss Bowling will return next year and hopes to raise $10,000 for the American Cancer Society.
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