Frances Reid, 95

Frances Reid, 'Days of Our Lives' matriarch, dies at 95

By Valerie J. Nelson
Saturday, February 6, 2010

Frances Reid, 95, who was the last original cast member of "Days of Our Lives" and portrayed the soap opera's matriarch, Alice Horton, for 42 years, died Feb. 3 in Beverly Hills, Calif. No cause of death was reported.

Ms. Reid was already a Broadway veteran when she debuted in the premiere of "Days of Our Lives" on Nov. 8, 1965. She made her final appearance in 2007.

Familiar with the demands of daily, live television after appearing on the soaps "As the World Turns" and "The Edge of Night," Ms. Reid was hesitant to take the part on "Days." But roles for women older than 40 were hard to come by, so she finally decided to accept the role, according to an NBC biography.

Her character was a housewife and longtime hospital volunteer. She once aided a prison escape by drugging doughnuts, a homemade baked good that was her specialty and often integral to her plot lines. In true soap fashion, the Horton matriarch was thought to have been killed off -- a doughnut played a role -- in 2004 but was found alive two months later.

Ms. Reid, whose father was a banker, was born Dec. 9, 1914, in Wichita Falls, Texas, and grew up in Berkeley, Calif.

After studying acting at what was then called the Pasadena Community Playhouse, Ms. Reid appeared in more than a dozen productions on Broadway, playing Ophelia in "Hamlet," Roxane in "Cyrano de Bergerac" and Viola in "Twelfth Night" in the late 1940s.

In the early day of television, she reprised the role of Roxane, again opposite Jose Ferrer, in a TV adaptation of "Cyrano" that aired as an episode of "The Philco Television Playhouse." In 1954, she took her first part on a TV soap opera, playing the title character in "Portia Faces Life," but she quit after six months because she found the workload "exhausting," according to the Web site Soap Opera Central.

Before joining "Days," Ms. Reid had roles on about 30 TV shows and later appeared in the 1966 movie "Seconds" with Rock Hudson and the 1971 movie "The Andromeda Strain."

While on a photographic safari in Africa about 20 years ago, Ms. Reid suffered a stroke that left her partially paralyzed. She returned to "Days" after achieving a near-complete recovery.

She received an honorary Daytime Emmy in 2004 for lifetime achievement.

Her husband of 39 years, actor Philip Bourneuf, died in 1979. The couple had no children.

-- Los Angeles Times

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