Getty photo

Getty photo

Yesterday, I happened to catch Dr.Bob Hughes on “As the World Turns” just as he was keeling over. He’s played by the best actor on soaps, Don Hastings, who’s 75 and has been on the soap since 1960. That’s right, next year is his (and co- Eileen Fulton’s) 50th anniversary with the show.

Let’s face it: no one writes about soap actors unless they leave and get popular somewhere else. I’ll bet Don Hastings knows all about this. Julianne Moore once played his daughter. Meg Ryan was his friend’s daughter. Marissa Tomei was on the show.

It’s harder to stay, and be the star. The show’s producer, Procter & Gamble, wants out of the business. They’re killing “Guiding Light” next month. Soaps get no respect.

So here’s to Don Hastings. He’s not on the show as often as he once was, but it’s August, and the younger stars are away. The show is featuring their “vets” for once. It’s very refreshing. Dr. Bob seems to have dementia, but it’s no doubt curable. Soap diseases are fatal until they’re not. Dead people always return from the grave. And Dr. Bob is about to celebrate 50 years. He’s great. If you watch him, he has a sly sense of humor. He knows the score. He’s got everyone’s number. Sometimes, he looks like his thought balloon is a snarky quip you’d love to hear. In a way, he’s the Leslie Nielsen of soaps. And this month, he’s being featured (along with his terrific soap wife, Kathryn Hays.) Good for him! A leading man at 75. It gives us all hope.

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