Beth Maitland Pays Tribute to Her TV Mom as ‘Y&R’ Says Goodbye to Dina
The Young and the Restless is going to be a tearjerker today as Dina (Daytime Emmy nominee Marla Adams) passes away from complications related to Alzheimer’s. Adams reprised the role of Madame Mergeron, the former Dina Abbott, in 2017, having played her on and off since 1983.
Y&R wasn’t her only daytime role – she briefly stepped in as Beth Logan on The Bold and the Beautiful in 1990 and as Myrna Clegg on Capitol in 1983. She had turns as bigoted Helen Mullin on Generations from 1989-90 and Claire McIntyre on Days of Our Lives in 1999. Her role as Belle Clemens on The Secret Storm from 1968-73 helped paved the way for other rich, devious female antagonists on soaps. Read on to get the scoop from Beth Maitland on what Adams means to the Y&R company and the legacy Dina will leave behind.
Beth Maitland: It is complicated. It’s an interesting requirement of the Abbott children, the ones who are Dina’s children, to find a way to navigate their feelings. When they were children, Dina left them with no explanation and returned from time to time to bring nothing but pain, continued rejection, and continued complications. Dina lived a very self-motivated life and wasn’t willing to sacrifice any of that for her three offspring. It was a difficult pill to swallow, not just from the 1980s when she first came back, but as her children continued on with life. Traci asked herself, ‘How do you be a mother when the one you had was a poor example?’
How did she?
Traci found other ways to be maternal to everyone. She’s the ‘auntie’ everyone goes to. She came by that either being raised by wolves – or John Abbott (Jerry Douglas). The children had to find a way to be alone. They had John and [family housekeeper] Mamie (Veronica Redd) and other loving examples, but those characters had to find a way to be a parent without having had that example. Then, Dina comes back, broken. We asked, ‘Do we sink to her level and send her away or do we be the people we’ve become and live by our father’s example?’ That’s the key to this story – forgiveness.
They say death ends a life, but not a relationship.
Yes. I’m in 10,000 percent agreement. As the dust settles, we can hopefully explore that further. How do you deal with that? We have to find our way and stop the cycle. I really hope that there are some more opportunities ahead of us now that the obvious conclusion to [Dina’s] illness is happening. I would love for this to not be over. I’d like to continue to revisit this complicated relationship and how it’s affected us. In my own personal losses, I deal with it my dreams. I think about opportunities that will never return. It’ll be an interesting thing to watch as Jack goes forward and is [realizing] that there will never come another day. I think Jack will carry that the most.
It’s really the end of an era. Dina was part of the last of a generation on Y&R that included Jeanne Cooper’s Katherine, Julianna McCarthy’s Liz, and Carolyn Conwell’s Mary, now all gone.
I think that speaks to the amazing longevity of daytime and its generational impact. Fans say all the time, ‘I watched with my grandmother.’ There’s no other genre that can do what daytime does.
Do you ever think Traci might have a long-lost child out there?
Well. Here are my thoughts: I’d play it and I’d play it to the hilt. I just feel like there are also some cliches in daytime you wish you didn’t have to visit. I’d much prefer Traci taking on the role of a mother figure to someone who doesn’t have a mother. We see traces of that in her relationship with Lily (Christel Khalil). I’d like to see Traci and Theo (Tyler Johnson) develop a close relationship, as she may be the only person who could understand him.
One of the most heartbreaking moments of this story was when Dina just didn’t know who Traci was.
As an actress, I was trying to find a way for Traci to rise above it and see it as a part of Dina’s illness. The ‘Traci’ thing to do is make sure Dina was cared for. It’s the decent and good thing to do.
I would see at events and on red carpets many people refer to Marla as Belle from The Secret Storm. That character made an impact.
Marla is pretty signature for creating the first ‘rich bitch’ on daytime. Belle was the first wealthy, dominating villainess. Marla made that a signature thing. Because Marla had played Natalie Wood’s best friend in Splendor in the Grass, and they had stayed friends, R.J. [Robert Wagner, Wood’s husband] had her in an episode of Hart to Hart. She was one of three beautiful, elegant women dressed all in white. At the time, I was working as a casting assistant on that show. Marla and I have talked many times about that connection between us before we went on to play mother and daughter on Y&R.
Y&R has released a nice promo, featuring her early episodes.
I want to make it clear how much she’ll be missed on set. But…you never know. People on our show have come back as someone’s conscience or an angel. So, we don’t know for sure that it’s over. But she’ll be missed tremendously. I’m glad that we’re still friends and we’ll still see each other for socially-distant lunch dates.
This is a four-year story coming to a close. We hope very much that this has been an accurate telling of the devastation of this disease. We’ve shown the gift of caring for our parents when they need us. We hope that was accurately depicted, as well.
Young and the Restless, Weekdays, CBS