Daytime legend Robin Strasser is known for being outspoken, and often takes to Twitter, her preferred social media platform, to interact with her followers and share her frank and candid opinions. During a recent session, the Daytime Emmy winner indulged her followers in sharing some behind-the-scenes tea from her time as ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Dorian.
As longtime soap viewers know, Strasser played the role of the Cramer matriarch on OLTL from 1970-’87 and again from 1993-2000 — and the character had many paramours over the years. One of those beaus was Mel, the journalist played by the late Stephen Markle. According to Strasser, despite the couple’s popularity with viewers, Markle and Mel were not very well-liked by then-executive producer Jill Farren Phelps, and that’s why he was fired.
“Dorian and Mel suddenly married in Mel’s office because Jill didn’t want to spend money on characters she did not like,” Strasser tweeted, adding that fans were understandably “upset at the rush.”
At this time before social media, Strasser had a hotline that fans were able to call to hear a recording from the actress, updating them on her musings. “Jill called me to her office and asked me to calm things down by saying on my hotline that there were budget problems,” Strasser claimed.
When Strasser refused to lie to the viewers, Phelps shared her plans for Markle’s character. “She stared at me. ‘I’m writing Stephen Markle off the show — I can’t stand Mel!’” Strasser wrote. “My heart stopped.”
Phelps then informed Strasser that Markle knew he was being let go from the soap. “I didn’t want to cry in front of her,” the actress shared. “I turned and left without saying a word. I went to Stephen’s dressing room… I fell in his arms, sobbing.”
Markle reassured his co-star that he was okay with Phelps’ decision, which Strasser said was a “bad, spiteful call.” What’s more, Strasser confessed that Phelps would “have fired me if she could have.”
So what saved Strasser from being written out of the soap? “Networks research why fans tune into shows,” she later followed up. “When an actor has so many loyal fans, they become bullet-proof. She couldn’t ‘kill’ me, but made concerted efforts to get me to quit.”
Eventually, her work environment became “so toxic” that Strasser did ultimately part ways with the soap in 2000. “I did [quit],” she shared. “It broke my heart.”