Executive Sweet: Deborah Adair Cuts
The Deal of A Lifetime With Two Prime Power-Player Roles
by Robert Rorke - Soap Opera
Digest - July 6, 1993
JUST THE FACTS
Birthday: May 23
Birthplace: Lynchburg, VA
Loves To Read: Mystery novels by Ruth Rendell and P.D.
First Play She Ever Saw: Oliver!
Siblings: Brother Ashley and sister Ann
Most Helpful Exercise Tape: Callanetics
Most Influential Relative: Her grandmother, Irma Taylor.
"She gave me confidence and dreams and principles and did
nothing but nurture. For any child who has that relationship,
it's highly unusual. She didn't un derstand why I shouldn't have
every job that I wanted."
Deborah Adair eats work for breakfast, lunch and dinner. She
is able to handle a full plate. She must be; why else would she
be acting in a daytime show and a prime-time show simultaneously?
After being out of commission with a work-related injury,
she's raring to go again, pumping adrenalin. "I love the
taste of daytime," says the 41-year-old actress. "Every
day is a new problem, a new challenge. I love being out there,
I love the pressure."
Her 16-hour workday begins either on the set of DAYS OF OUR
LIVES, where she plays circumspect publishing executive Kate
Roberts, or in the vicinity of MELROSE PLACE, now on hiatus,
where she plays former advertising executive Lucy Cabot. The
executive suite becomes her: Adair is a former advertising/marketing
director who won the starring role of Jill Abbott on YOUNG AND
RESTLESS in 1980. For someone who came late to show business,
Adair has never lacked for work. She easily segued from daytime
to the role of Tracy Kendall on DYNASTY and a starring role on
FINDER OF LOST LOVES, among other projects.
That she is cast as the "chronic executive" comes
as no surprise to her. "I'm very obvious; I look the part,"
she says, wagering that her role as troubled Kate Roberts will
change her professional persona a bit. "It's the first time
in my career that I've ever played a mother. (Editor's Note:
Adair discounts Jill's motherhood on Y&R because Jill's son,
Phillip, was away at school most of the time.] I think when you
look at my past, you see all this executive stuff, but there's
a very vulnerable side, too," she says. "I think people
will get to know this side."
Bryan Dattilo plays Adair's son, Lucas, on DAYS. The two characters
don't exactly get along -- Kate is withholding information about
Lucas's past; he's angry. But this Mother's Day, Dattilo gave
Adair a pretty bouquet. Childless herself, Adair says it's not
for lack of trying and that she and second husband, MELROSE PLACE
Producer Chip Hayes, "don't expect to quit." Married
for six years, they are a romantic couple who like to read and
travel. This year, Adair surprised her husband on Valentine's
Day with a trip to San Francisco, one of his favorite cities:
"I got the tickets, I got the place to stay, I got his suitcase
packed and hid it all. He didn't know where he was going until
he got to the airport."
They enjoy entertaining select friends in their secluded Los
Angeles home ("I only invite people who appreciate what
I do," Adair says. "I won't go out of my way for a
bunch of bozos." According to her good friend Leann Hunley
(ex-Anna, DAYS; ex-Dana, DYNASTY), Adair has earned a reputation
as a fabulous cook. "She invited me over, and I was so impressed
because she cooked a turkey," raves Hunley. "It was
huge. She was trying out a new recipe, and she was brave enough
to try it out on people for dinner."
Adair's tastes run toward American country cooking. "My
favorite recipes are the things that people don't make anymore:
corn pudding, spoon bread, chess pie, blackberry preserve cake
with maple frosting." Sometimes, though, she cheats. "One
night, I made black-eyed pea salad and jalapeno corn bread, and
I realized that I forgot to make dessert, and I thought, "Oh
no, now what do I do?" In the pantry I found a brownie mix
and a can of mixed nuts. I made the brownies in a round pan and
left the nuts whole on top. I cut that cake in half and put whipped
cream there and put the top layer back and put it in frigerator
for the rest of the day. People said, 'Oh, it's so good,"
and I felt guilty for about 10 minutes.
Hunley met Adair when they both guested on an episode of HOTEL
("I think we were both after Tristan Rogers [ex-Scorpio,
GH]," Hunley quips. They discovered they were covered they
were both from Seattle and soon developed a friendship, which
came in handy when Hunley threw a birthday party for her husband,
Bill Sheridan (who shares a birthday with Chip Hayes), and needed
Adair's expertise as hostess. "Everybody needs somebody
who knows a little bit more than they do in this life,"
Hunley says wryly.
The former DAYS star was al audience the night in L.A. in
1990 when Adair's career almost ended. Adair was performing in
previews of Cynthia Heimel's play A Girl's Guide to Chaos. "There
was a scene where I had to stuff my mouth with M&M's, and
a little got caught in my throat," she recalls. When she
exited the stage a minute and a half before curtain call, the
chip started to move. "It made me cough, and I took a swig
from my water bottle. And then for some reason, it really made
me cough," she says. "The cough was so strong, I herniated
The pain was so intense that "there are fingernail marks
in the doorjamb I was holding on to because I couldn't scream,"
Adair remembers with horror. "I couldn't feel anything below
She never took her bows. Her husband rushed backstage. Somebody
called the paramedics. Hayes went out to the audience to get
Hunley, while Adair listened to the applause ringing out for
her co-stars. Hunley says, "We got her to the floor. It
was a nightmare. She couldn't move. They had to put her on a
board. She was in excruciating pain." Hunley followed the
ambulance in Hayes's car to Cedars Sinai hospital, where Adair
remained in traction for several weeks and then was bedridden
For a woman who'd never had a back problem and who'd "taken
her health for granted," the freak accident was devastating.
Adair spent a year, on and off, in bed, opting for a longer convalescence
over surgery or the grim prospect of receiving cortisone injections
into her spine. "I have a garden, and I would lie there;
I can remember watching everything turn green," Adair says.
She had really wanted that part. "It was an important
career step for me. At that point, I couldn't get in the door
to read for anybody. This was a great show for me. I herniated
a disk by coughing up M&M's and missed two pilot seasons
because of it. I don't think that was part of my plan. I think
sorneone said, 'Okay, little girl, you just haven't quite gotten
the picture yet. You just sit there until you figure it out.'"
What she figured out is that everything happens in its own
time. Deborah Adair has learned to count her blessings. "I
believe that we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be
doing," she says, even if that wasn't the original plan.
"I have a man who I love who loves me. I have an absolutely
adoring family. I went through a period when I was very frustrated
because I didn't think I was getting the lead on a sitcom fast
enough, I wasn't getting this fast enough, I didn't have a baby,
this and that. You can really kill all the gifts you have. The
power behind us puts us through many more interesting situations
than we would ever think of for ourselves."
Now Adair has a new plan -- to make this role on DAYS the
launch of a new phase of her career. "I had no intentions
of going back to daytime," she says. "I had turned
down several opportunities in the last two years." Yet there
she is, grateful for what she has, hoping she can juggle her
responsibilities to two very different media. MELROSE PLACE has
been picked up for another 22 episodes next year, and Adair,
blessed with energy and drive, wonders if she's got the stamina
to do both shows. "It's getting a little difficult,"
she says, joking,"I recently asked God for an eighth day
in the week, and He said no."
WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE
Deborah Adair's prime-time and daytime lives have overlapped
with her personal life in curious and romantic ways -- like her
MP character's engagement to none other than Chip Hayes, Adair's
husband. The writers wrote a small part for him. Adair reports
that everything was under control. "I don't think Chip gets
nervous about anything. He was just standing there amongst friends.
Acting's a lot of fun when you don't have to treat it as serious
Plots between the two shows have also
had a funny way of coinciding. DAYS's Kate Roberts took her employees
at Titan Publishing on a weekend retreat; ditto Lucy Cabot at
D&D. Adair insists the coincidence was pure. "When I
saw that, I howled," she says. "It shows that the writ
ers for these particular programs are in touch with what's going
on out there. It's not an accident that they have both chosen
a strong, courageous woman to do this. It's a sign of the times."