All My Children Matriarch, Eileen Herlie (Myrtle), Dies at Age 90

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Eileen Herlie 1918 – 2008


Eileen Herlie (Myrtle, All My Children)It’s a sad day in soapdom.  Eileen Herlie, a mainstay on All My Children since 1976, passed away Wednesday, October 8, 2008 of complications from pneumonia.  Herlie played the character of Myrtle Fargate since 1976.  The character became a second mother to Susan Lucci’s Erica Kane, and to just about everyone in Pine Valley, most recently being the strong shoulder for Thorsten Kaye’s Zach.  To everyone in the soap opera town, she offered her love, advice and wisdom.  Many a female character purchased their wardrobe at Myrtle’s Dress Shop, and many a Pine Valley newcomer stayed for a time at Myrtle’s Boarding House.

Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Herlie worked for several years in the Scottish National Theatre and in the English theater in the company of Tyrone Guthrie. Among her first hit plays on the London stage was Jean Cocteau's "The Eagle Has Two Heads."

On Broadway, she starred as Queen Gertrude opposite Richard Burton's "Hamlet," and played the same role in the film with Sir Laurence Olivier. She also starred on Broadway with Ruth Gordon in "The Matchmaker," with Jackie Gleason and Walter Pidgeon in "Take Me Along," with Ray Bolger in "All American," and as Queen Mary in "Crown Matrimonial." Herlie's other film credits include "Freud" with Montgomery Clift and Sidney Lumet's "The Seagull" with Simone Signoret.

''I'm sure Eileen is lighting up the skies in heaven with her flaming red hair and lovely Scottish accent,'' Susan Lucci, who's also currently a contestant on Dancing With the Stars, told Entertainment Weekly. ''The earth's loss is heaven's gain.''

''Eileen was much loved by everyone at All My Children, because she gave so much of herself everyday,'' Eden Riegel, who has played AMC's Bianca since 2000, also shared with Entertainment Weekly. ''She lit up the whole studio, corny as it sounds. No one was ever more alive than she.''

According to the magazine, “in saying goodbye, the AMC cast and crew shared stories about Herlie, as well as a champagne toast to celebrate her life. ‘I think she really would have enjoyed [that],' Riegel says. ''She loved a good cocktail, loved having an attractive young man around to flirt with, loved getting her hair and makeup done, loved to act, and gave it all she had right up to the end’''

Herlie was nominated for a Best Actress Tony Award for her role in Take Me Along on Broadway in 1960, and was nominated four times for a Daytime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category (1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986).

Born Eileen Herlihy, Herlie guest starred as Myrtle Fargate on two other ABC daytime dramas, "Loving" and "One Life to Live."  Although Herlie married twice (first to Witold Kuncewicz and then to Philip Barrett), she had no children.  She is survived by her brother, Alfred Herlihy, and her nieces and nephews.

In case you didn’t know, "All My Children" celebrated its 38th Anniversary on January 5, 2008. The program has successfully maintained its popularity and continues to be one of daytime's most compelling dramas. "All My Children" took home the 1998 Emmy Award for Outstanding Daytime Drama Series, the third time the show received this top honor, having also garnered the award in 1994 and 1992. In 2004 the show also received its third consecutive Emmy Award for Outstanding Daytime Drama Series Writing, its third Writers Guild Award and its fourth GLAAD Media Award in March 2007.

Created by Agnes Nixon, "All My Children" premiered on the ABC Television Network on January 5, 1970, as a half-hour show; seven years later it expanded to an hour. Julie Hanan Carruthers is executive producer, Charles Pratt, Jr. is head writer and consulting producer with Casey Childs, Conal O'Brien, Angela Tessinari and Steven Williford directing. "All My Children" is produced in New York and airs MONDAY-FRIDAY (1:00-2:00 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network.

Our hearts go out to the cast and crew of All My Children and to Herlie’s brother, Alfred Herlihy, and her nieces and nephews, as they deal with the loss of a daytime legend.  I know that I speak for everyone at in saying that she will be missed on All My Children. May she rest in peace.