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Star: SHANNON STURGES

Current Role: Reese Burton, SAVANNAH

First Soap Role: Molly Brinker, DAYS OF OUR LIVES

Birthdate: January 3, 1968

Lives With: Husband of 3 years, computer animator Michael Kelley

REESE'S PIECES

Sure, SHANNON STURGES was PUZZLED by her DAYS fade-out, but she picked up the pieces, joined SAVANNAH -- and became one of the Beautiful People

DIGEST ONLINE: Are you and Reese soul sisters or total opposites?

STURGES: We're similar in that we look a lot alike [laughs]. But Reese has been quite sheltered and raised with a good deal of money, and she's a little naive to the ways of the world. I'm a negative on all three. I'm anything but sheltered, anything but naive, and I certainly was not raised with a great deal of money.

DIGEST ONLINE: Were you surprised that People Magazine chose you for its recent "50 Most Beautiful People" issue?

STURGES: Yes, I really was. I was quite flattered. I remember when I was on DAYS, my co-star Michael Easton [Tanner] was voted it, too. It's a lot to live up to. You're walking down the street looking like a grunge monster, and people go, "Heck, if she's one of the 50 most beautiful people, I could be one of the 50 most beautiful people, too!" I'm glad I don't have to wear it tattooed on my forehead.

DIGEST ONLINE: What was your husband Michael's reaction?

STURGES: He was very happy for me. He actually left a message on my friend's answering machine. He said, "Hi, this is Michael, married to Shannon, one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world." But he feels like he's never allowed to look at another pretty girl again. I said, "Well, were you allowed, before?"

DIGEST ONLINE: How long have you been married now?

STURGES: Three years. We got married on June 6, 1993, but we've been together for 7 years. Michael's birthday is right before Christmas and mine is right after Christmas, so we're always dead broke. It was one of the reasons we got married in June - not for tradition, but purely for economics.

DIGEST ONLINE: How did you meet your husband?

STURGES: Do you know the intersection at Wilshire and Veterans in Westwood [L.A.]? There's a double left turn lane there. Michael and I were both making a left turn from Wilshire onto Veterans and I was in the car next to him. I had this great big old Chrysler. I had the music blaring, and I was singing along at the stoplight. Michael looked at me, and thought to himself, "I've got to meet her," and he followed me home. I looked in my rear-view mirror and realized he was following me, but I wasn't worried. I had this great big car -- I could have flattened him if I wanted to. He had this little dinky tin can of a nothing car. When I got home and pulled into my parking spot, he got out and said, "Nice car'' and I responded with, "Thank you." Then he said something like, "So, do you live here?" and I said, "Yeah."

DIGEST ONLINE: At that point, you still weren't worried that a total stranger was getting all this information about you?

STURGES: Well, he was really inept. That was the wonderful thing. He wasn't good at it, so [I had a feeling] it wasn't like he had been following women home before. He certainly had no idea what to do. I think once I got out of my car, he was like, "Uh, oh, what do I do now?" I think it was just sort of an experiment for him to see if he had the guts to do it -- and look what happened! He gave me his number, I didn't want to give him mine. He knew where I lived, but it was a security building [so I felt pretty safe]. He said, "You know, I'd love to go out sometime and have coffee and talk; give me a call." So I took his number and called him. At first, he didn't remember who I was. I had to remind him, "I'm that girl you followed home to Westwood." He couldn't believe I was calling.

DIGEST ONLINE: Is Michael back in L.A., while you're in Atlanta filming SAVANNAH?

STURGES: No, he moved out here with me . Right now the show is due to wrap November 11, but there's a great belief that we're going to get picked up [for more episodes}. Of course, we thought we'd get picked up for more episodes in our first season and that didn't happen; I'm not sure why exactly.

DIGEST ONLINE: How do you like working with Ray Wise, who plays your dad, Edward?

STURGES: I love my scenes with my dad. Beth Toussaint [Veronica] spends more time with him in bed -- I don't. Luckily, we're not that Southern [laughs]. But I do always tease him about almost sleeping with his other daughter. I think we have a real chemistry in our scenes, a real father/daughter thing. Other characters [on SAVANNAH] have the cutesy thing, or the seductive thing. Our relationship is kind of unique on the show, and I know that they like to write scenes for us.

DIGEST ONLINE: Do you keep up with Michael Easton, your former DAYS leading man?

STURGES: I try to keep in touch with Michael. He has a TV series, TWO, now. He's a really neat guy. I haven't spoken to him in a while; I need to give him a call and see how his show is going.

DIGEST ONLINE: Do you remember when you and Michael were on the cover of Digest?

STURGES: Yes, my husband and I just had all our stuff shipped out from California to Atlanta [where SAVANNAH films], and I found my old scrapbook. It was very funny to see that [cover] with my long red hair. Everybody seemed to like my red hair, but I'm not allowed to have it on this show oddly enough-- two redheads are enough.

DIGEST ONLINE: It sounds like your hair color has quite a history?

STURGES: Oh it's fun. My natural hair color is blonde; at this point it's a dark blonde. It gets darker as I get older. When I started on DAYS, they had me go quite brunette; then they decided to lighten that a little bit and put some red in. Then they decided they didn't like the red, so it evolved into a blonde, quite oddly. When I started on SAVANNAH with my natural blonde hair, they looked at me and said, "We want to make you a little blonder." Aaron Spelling has a smart way of approaching things. He wants all of our hair [styles and colors] to be quite distinctive, because when people don't know you and they're just tuning in, they go, "Oh, it's the redhead; oh, it's the blonde; oh, it's the curly-headed one" -- because none of us are household names yet. So if my hair color is too close to somebody else's, then the audience gets confused, at least in the beginning till our characters are defined. So SAVANNAH said, "Do you want to go a little blonder?" I knew they would, when I looked at the other girls. Now I have my natural hair color put back on my roots every few weeks. My joke about my hair is -- I grow it, that's my only contribution.

DIGEST ONLINE: Your grandfather Preston Sturges was known as a landmark film director. Do you have a favorite Preston Sturges movie?

STURGES: I love them all, but I really like "The Lady Eve." Barbara Stanwyck is my favorite female character. Actually, I think Reese is a lot like the Henry Fonda character, who's rich, naive and sheltered.

DIGEST ONLINE: I bet you get tired of people asking about grandfather.

STURGES: No, actually, I hadn't been asked about my grandfather too much until recently. Not too many journalists ever looked at my last name, and put two and two together, and thought to ask.

DIGEST ONLINE: College students, of course, would probably make the connection instantly. Preston Sturges' work is studied extensively in film schools now.

STURGES: The same time that I was named one of the 50 most beautiful people, he was named one of the 50 greatest directors of all-time by Entertainment Weekly. He was basically the first writer to direct his own films. In those days, that just wasn't done. He sold the "The Great McGinty" -- I believe he won the Oscar for that screenplay [in 1940] -- for a dollar, so he could direct it.

DIGEST ONLINE: Do you have memorabilia of his?

STURGES: Not really. Most of his stuff is in special collections [in the film library] at UCLA. My grandmother likes to joke, "I think my laundry lists and my grocery lists are at UCLA!"

DIGEST ONLINE: Let's turn to another topic. On DAYS, Molly and Tanner were a very popular couple. Were you surprised when your storyline took off ... and disappointed when Molly and Tanner were phased out?

STURGES: I think a lot of times [unexpected couples take off]. You know, the network or the writers will push one [set of] characters, and all of a sudden they'll go, "Wait a minute - everybody's responding to these other people. We've got to write for these people." I think that's what happened with Molly and Tanner. I think the audience willed it to happen. But it was the worst time, I think, probably to have ever been at DAYS.

DIGEST ONLINE: It seemed like the show underwent about 27 head writer changes while you were there. That may be an exaggeration, but a lot of storylines got the shaft, including yours.

STURGES: Yup. Everybody but Marlena did, because all the writers knew who she was. But when you're a new character, it takes the writers a little time to figure out who you are. By the time they do, the show has dumped those writers and picked up new ones. So you're always treading water and never having any forward momentum. It really was too bad, but [ultimately] it worked out for the best. I'm not complaining.

DIGEST ONLINE: In the FOX TV movie TORNADO, you played a hard- nosed governement auditor -- a real contrast to virtuous Reese. What was it like making that film?

STURGES: It was so much fun, but a lot of hard work. I got dirty and muddy and windblown and cut up. It was sort of the anti- SAVANNAH. If I looked good, we had to go back and mess me up! I got quite a few good bruises and cuts. There were no stunt people for any of the stuff that I did. I didn't do anything that was really life-threatening, but it read on my body. And I felt sorry for whoever my maid was [at the hotel] in Texas, because my bathtub every night would just look such a mess. At two o'clock in the morning, I'm trying to shampoo hay out of my hair and leaves, because they would put debris in front of this gigantic fan [on the set]. You can't really see wind unless you see stuff being blowing by the wind. But making TORNADO was really fun. It wasn't like I went away to do some movie of the week about three girls. I was able to enjoy it and still miss my SAVANNAH gals, and look forward to coming back and seeing them again. TORNADO was really something quite different.


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Updated 1/19/09  

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