Was making breakfast on Saturday morning and flipped on the tv to keep me company and it was on one of my favorite channels, TCM, Turner Classic Movies. They were showing Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948). There was something about the woman who was playing Queen Gertrude. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from her. There was something so familiar, yet different. It was making me crazy.
So I tracked down the credit for the actress who played her. It was Eileen Herley. That name was familiar but I was still racking my brain for the connection. Then I remembered and it was a surprising association.
Eileen Herley plays the fascinating, direct, down to earth, former carnival worker and con woman Myrtle Fargate on All My Children.
Now I’ve been watching All My Children on ABC TV ever since I was in high school and they put a tv in the Junior-Senior Lounge (which was actually the basement) at Alvernia High School. So I do remember when the character of Myrtle first arrived. I had no idea that this was the same actress who in her younger days had played mother to Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet!
Not too long ago I saw her on the show, she’s now in her 80’s and her performances are still compelling.
Her journey from Shakespeare to daytime tv is a fascinating reminder that we can reinvent ourselves, put ourselves into brand new situations, and find people willing to pay us for what we do into our 80s and beyond. So baby boomers who are trying to figure out what’s next shouldn’t feel trapped by their past work experiences or image. Instead, they can choose to revisit a childhood dream or profit from an unexpected surprise.