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Guiding Light

Soap Star Lee Lawson Dead at 81


The daytime community is mourning the loss of beloved GUIDING LIGHT star Lee Lawson (Bea), who died on May 22 at the age of 81.

The sad news was first shared on Facebook by Lawson’s longtime friend, Marian-Hailey Moss. “My down-to-earth, sassy smart, and beautiful friend is telling it like it is in a better place,” wrote Moss, posting a black-and-white photo of Lawson as a young woman. “A fine actress and a super generous friend. I’ll meetcha there, Lee!”

In a post made on May 24, Lawson’s daughter, Leslie, shared that her mother had battled cancer. “My mother died, May 22, 2022,” she wrote. “Thank you for having Chris, me, and Gabby so that we could have Gianna, Wilder, and Sterling. We love you. You fought cancer and COVID-19 like a champ. Rest, you brilliant woman. Thank you, Mom.”

Lawson’s television career began on the CBS soap LOVE OF LIFE in 1965, where she played Barbara Sterling. After making some guest appearances on shows like MAUDE and KOJAK and performing in New York theater, Lawson briefly played ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Wanda Webb Woleck in 1979. But Lawson is perhaps best known to daytime audiences for her nearly 10-year run on GL, playing the Reardon family matriarch from 1981-1990.

GL Nola Bea
In a memorable scene, Bea ripped into her daughter Nola for trying to trap Kelly Nelson into marriage.CBS

As longtime GL viewers will recall, Bea was a single mom of seven children who ran the Reardon Boarding House on 7th Street in Springfield after her husband abandoned the family. Honest and straightforward, Bea offered her brand of no-nonsense advice to her children and friends and was loved by all. Eventually, Bea learned that her husband, Tom, hadn’t left them, but had actually been murdered. Lawson was written out of the soap in 1985 when Bea left Springfield to travel the world.

With Bea out of town, daughter Nola — played by the late Lisa Brown — eventually took over running the Reardon Boarding House. Lawson briefly returned the following year, at which point Bea moved to Boston with her youngest son, Tony, and his family. Lawson appeared on and off over the next few years and made her final appearance in February 1990 when her youngest child, Chelsea, married Johnny Bauer.

After exiting GL, Lawson appeared in a handful of primetime shows in the early 1990s before becoming a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Los Angeles. She was predeceased by her late husband, actor Joe Bova, and is survived by her son playwright and screenwriter Chris Boal, daughters Leslie and Gabriella Bova, and three grandchildren.

Please join us in sending our condolences to her family and friends at this difficult time.

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