'Guiding Light' Actress Maureen Garrett Comes Out Publicly
By Stella Cadente
Despite what was happening to celebrities coming out in the real world, Garrett says she still approached GL’s writers about creating a storyline for Holly that involved a same-sex love affair. The result? The network wouldn’t touch it. That storyline would come several years later, in a notoriously G-rated plot involving Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia as Olivia and Natalia. (The fact that the storyline wasn’t between Olivia and Holly infuriated viewers, who bombarded Internet forums with comments about the tense undertones and chemistry that the two shared onscreen).
After Guiding Light ended in 2009, Garrett’s decision to leave acting was simply a case of knowing when to move on and not looking back. “I no longer felt the desire to pursue acting,” she says of not turning up in a new onscreen role after the GL’s cancellation. “That muse had flown.”
She left New York and pursued other interests, from sculpting and writing to studying Spanish. However, it wasn’t long before she was drawn back into performing.
When Charles Towers, the artistic director of the Merrimack Reparatory Theatre, offered Garrett the chance to return to theater in the new play, Ghost Writer, she accepted.
The timing proved to be perfect. Playing the character of Vivian Woosley provided a welcome distraction from her mother’s recent passing. For an actress who began in the theater, it was also a return to her acting roots.
While you can expect Garrett to pop up in other roles, acting certainly isn’t the only gig she’s got going. She’s an emphatic supporter of Obama and is passionate about several issues, from clean water and healthy food to pesticide use and access to education. However, her interest in agroforestry occupies most of her time lately. She and Janet have been making frequent trips to Costa Rica, where they’re helping their son develop a food forest.
As for her fans, Garrett thinks it’s great that people are still interested in her, and she’s flattered to learn that people remember her. Her gratitude goes beyond being recognized at the post office or having bank tellers on the phone draw the connection between her name and her voice. She seems surprised that there are clips of her GL performances on YouTube that go back to the ‘70s, and somewhat struck by the fact that people are still commenting about the episodes.
She chalks it up to playing a character that so many people could relate to, and wonders if people weren’t drawn to Holly because she played the role with a measure of discretion.
“I didn’t let it all hang out,” she says of her portrayal of Holly. “Maybe … [viewers] could project their pain and struggles on to her. The fan letters seemed to reflect that.”
More important than all of it though — from the messy human beings that were Roger and Holly, to series of disasters that ended Guiding Light — is the message that Garrett wants her fans to know.
“I am very happy and fulfilled,” she says, before adding in a semi-mocking tone reminiscent of Holly, “and the kids are all right.”
Watch Roger & Holly: "Heaven help me, I love you still!"
Watch Holly say the 'unthinkable' to Blake:
WATCH: Holly in the last episode. Her scene starts at 00:30.