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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

May 23
Birthplace: Lynchburg, VA
Loves To Read: Mystery novels by Ruth Rendell and P.D. James
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 a disk."

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 the waist."

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 at home.

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."

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 business."

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."

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