by GL Online's Kimberly
For those of you who aren't aware, Mary Stuart (Meta) died February 28, 2002 at her home in New York City after suffering a stroke. She was 75. [Click here
for a look back at Ms. Stuart's life.]
As someone who started watching soaps in 1976 at the tender age of 9, I was always transfixed by the world that they showed me. Different people, different places, and a whole new world of things that my mind could barely comprehend at such a young age.
About 5 years ago, I started going to the Guiding Light Fan Club luncheons and got to meet the stars who I "grew up" with. For awhile, I was watching 5 soaps a day (two that are no longer on the air, Search for Tomorrow and Capitol, plus As the World Turns and Days of our Lives) but stuck with just the one that I started watching after school as a child, Guiding Light. Two years ago, at the GL Fan Club luncheon, I got to meet the legendary Mary Stuart.
I have to tell you, that this lifetime fan was a nervous wreck waiting to meet the soap queen. She had been in my home since I was a teen, and there she was, right in front of me. "What can I say?", I thought. This wasn't an actor who may become a carpenter or an accountant next year when they decide acting isn't their life's work, this was Mary Stuart.
To me, she was "Meta", but she was also "Jo" from "Search." And she was a link to the rich history of the medium and a link to my favorite GL actress of all time, Charita "Bert" Bauer. I never met Charita, the luncheons weren't part of my consciousness then, but I did work up the courage to meet Mary, and I am ever glad I did.
For those who never had the opportunity to meet Mary Stuart, let me tell you about her. She was easily as nice as "Meta", no fancy airs, no "star" qualities to make you feel uneasy. She was soap royalty, but was warm and gracious to each fan who met her. With a warm smile and a big hug, she made you feel special, for you, the soap fan, were the reason she got to come into your homes each and every day for most of her adult life. Mary NEVER forgot that. The fans were part of her family, as were the cast and crew on the show. That was just how she felt. If she ever had a "bad" day, she left those feelings at home -- always gracious, always kind.
She told stories of the early days of soaps, and how and she and Charita Bauer met and became life-long friends. At the Gathering in 2000, she reflected on how she got her big break in show biz at that very hotel -- the Roosevelt, and what it meant to her. Mary told stories of how the medium has changed, and ways that she would like to see it change even more. She loved her job, and everyone I know at GL loved her. Never an unkind word, only a gentle smile and a warm hello. Even when my friends Julie and Lori and I ran into her in front of our hotel - she greeted us like friends because that is how she thought of us. We, in a sense, made her dreams come true. She acted because she loved it, and we watched because we loved her.
We will miss you, Mary. Your warm smile and gracious manner will continue to live on in the medium you so dearly loved.