For 27 years, Kim Zimmer portrayed Reva Shayne on the soap opera “Guiding Light,” a character known for dubbing herself the “Slut of Springfield” and marrying three members of the same family. In her book, “I’m Just Sayin’! Three Deaths, Seven Husbands, and a Clone! My Life as a Daytime Diva” ($27, New American Library Hardcover), Zimmer chronicles all the wacky story lines (time in an Amish community, time traveling), her life and the state of soaps today.
People associate you with your iconic character. What do you and Reva have in common, and how are you different?
I haven’t been married to every male member of one family; I’ve been married once to the same man for 30 years. And I don’t have any secret children on some fictitious island somewhere. But we share a love of family and the need to defend and protect them.
Reva did some crazy stuff over the years. What was the nuttiest story line?
The cloning story! I remember when the executive producer called me into his office. I had had some scenes in a fertility clinic where Reva was freezing her eggs at around the same time they were cloning the sheep. I walked in and he said, “I’m going to pitch you a story line.” And I said, “What are you going to do, clone me?”
What do you think when you look back at her hairstyles and clothes?
I started soaps in 1979, so my hairstyles didn’t seem odd at the time. The female mullet, I had one of those, curly and short on the top, long at the back. And the ’80s — the big shoulder pads, humongous jewelry.
Are soaps a good place to be an actress as you get older?
If you’re a leading lady of your soap, it helps, because you’ve already been established as a leading character on your show. And the longer you’re there, they give you more license to be whatever you’re going to be.
What was the end of “Guiding Light,” which was cancelled in 2009, like for you?
It was very difficult. When we were working in the studio, we’d go to the studio floor and another set would have been torn down. They were slowly removing and tearing down the sets as we got done shooting in them. It was like having a limb removed.
You’re now playing Echo DiSavoy on “One Life to Live.” Was it a hard transition after playing Reva for so long?
It was difficult. I tried desperately and wanted to be as far removed from Reva as I could be. But the writers would drop in little lines. … It was funny, and they were trying to do it to draw a “Guiding Light” audience. So they were really trying to make me be a little more like Reva than the original character was.