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From Pine Valley to Colonial Beach: Longtime "All My Children" star Mary Fickett recalls her exciting television career
Fickett, 80, recalls her acting days with smiles and laughter.
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Date published: 7/19/2008
Most of Fickett's photographs also burned up in the fire. Her daughter remembers one of her mother as an 8-year-old with pigtails and missing teeth. She was reading a script in front of a microphone. Fickett's father would have been nearby.
Homer Fickett was a leading producer and director of radio dramas in the 1940s and early 1950s. His shows on "The Cavalcade of America" and "The Theatre Guild on the Air" (also known as "The United States Steel Hour") attracted top show-business talent and audiences of millions of people each week.
"Whenever I was not at school, I was at the edge of the pit watching what was going on. I conned my father into letting me get a walk-on," Fickett said.
"He took me out to lunch with somebody, a famous writer for the Theatre Guild. She had a very strong personality. What was her name? Anyway, Father said to her, 'OK, what's little Mary going to do?'"
The Ficketts lived in the leafy Westchester County village of Bronx-ville, 15 miles from Manhattan. After Wheaton College, Mary enrolled in the Neighborhood Playhouse, a famous acting school run by Sanford Meisner.
In the 1950s, she worked regularly on Broadway and television. She received a Theatre World Award for her performance in "Tea and Sympathy" with Anthony Perkins and Joan Fontaine in 1955. In 1958, she was nominated for a Tony for her role as Eleanor Roosevelt opposite Ralph Bellamy's FDR in "Sunrise at Campobello."
In 1961, Fickett played roles on "The Untouchables," "Have Gun, Will Travel" and "The Edge of Night."
That was also the year she joined Harry Reasoner as co-host of a new CBS morning show called "Calendar." The New York Times called it "a delightful oasis of fun and intelligence."
Fickett said she and Reasoner eventually became lovers. "I was madly in love with him and he with me," she said. "I learned a lot from him because he was very intelligent and very handsome."