Wishful Casting: Cloris Leachman as Y&R’s Mary Williams

Like so many fans of The Young and the Restless, the current storyline featuring Stacy Haiduk as the brilliantly-unhinged "Mary Jane" aka Patty Williams, has me rushing home to my DVR everyday like I’m about to watch a marathon of True Blood or something, however there is one thing that could make the story even juicier— an appearance from Paul (Doug Davidson) and Patty’s malevolent mother Mary Williams!

Played from 1980-2004 by the phenomenal Carolyn Conwell (who originally tested for the role of Dr. Marlena Evans on Days of Our Lives), Mary hasn’t been mentioned much in recent years. This classic character simply has to come back from her extended church trip, or potluck, or wherever she is, to see what a whackadoodle her daughter has become (I think she would say it was the devil!), not to mention to react to the news that Paul is marrying ex-stripper and venereal disease spreader Nikki Reed (Melody Thomas Scott)!

I’m not sure what the current state of  Ms. Conwell’s health is, but if Y&R wants to match sister sudser The Bold and the Beautiful stunt cast for stunt cast— B&B cast Betty White in the role of Stephanie’s bitchtastic mother— the perfect choice for bible-thumpng Mary would be White’s fellow Mary Tyler Moore Show grad Cloris Leachman.

Imagine the legendary comedienne reacting to what has become of her daughter. Just thinking about the comments Y&R’s stellar writing staff could pen for Mary when she discovers that stuffed cat under Patty’s bed makes me want to go stock up on Oops, I Crapped My Pants! brand adult diapers.

Hopefully Mary would have some passive aggressive advice for her granddaughter— the worst D.A. in the history of soapdom— Heather Stevens (Vail Bloom) about how the Lord says, "Thou shalt not continue to bed sociopaths, even if they go blind…you douchebag!’

I think the nine-time Emmy (eight for primetime, one for daytime) and one-time Academy Award-winner would be a scream in Genoa City. With Leachman, fresh from her Dancing With the Stars stint, this particular casting would get Y&R even more mainstream attention, especially if church lovin’ Mary had something to say about all the gay people suddenly inhabiting her hometown. Why I bet she’d start a coalition, or the very least a blog and online scripture reading!  Better yet, maybe Mary could hook up with Cane (Daniel Goddard)? That’d show that Susan Lucci who the real cougar is!

12 Responses

  1. Profile photo of appleridge

    Is Carolyn Conwell not acting anymore? Cloris could do the role I mean her son Morgan Englund played Dylan Lewis on GL ifor years so now maybe mom will take a turn on daytime.

  2. Profile photo of YRFan90

    Slightly off subject, in light of MTS’s contract/salary negotiation breakdown and that her exit has been written, I wonder if her wedding to Paul will even happen.

    As for Mary, I’d love to see Cloris take on that role. Mary was loveable despite her judgmental, meddling ways. Cloris, who has such acting range, could effortlessly pull off that character.

    Who knows, perhaps Paul’s former assistant Lynn will finally leave the filing room in Paul’s old office and make an appearance at the wedding. :p

  3. Profile photo of Soap_Stud

    I’d like to see a soap star take on the role of Mary, if Carolyn has retired. There are so many fabulous daytime vets out of work these days! Perhaps GL’s Tina Sloane or SB’s Judith McConnell or Stella Stevens.

  4. Profile photo of lisa_js

    If we were talking present tense, I’d say the purveyor of VD is most likely Phyllis’ sofa. (or that DNA-laden blue & white checked blanket?) Ewwwww! Thank God Summer usually sits on the floor or on someone’s lap!

    P.S. “Mary Jane” may be crazy but she has sense enough to hide that cat when there’s a knock at the door.

  5. Profile photo of DanMan869

    In one word: NO. This is a wish I’d never want to see come true for a couple of reasons.

    1) The show should contact Carolyn Conwell first and offer her the chance to come back for a handful of appearances or maybe a short-term contract. If they can bring back Corbin Bernsen for a one-day appearance that was really meaningless in the full story (I was expecting HIM to say, “Paul… don’t you realize WHO that woman is…?” and everything to come out then, but… no, he was in town for his “priest convention”) then they can ask CC to return for a handful of appearances.

    2) The kind of humor the wonderful Cloris Leachman would be bringing in your scenario would be so demeaning to the show. Stunt casting is distracting. I think Marcia Wallace is fun to watch, but on Y&R she was mostly distracting as one of Kevin’s kidnappers as she mugged her way through most of the part. I would rather see the character return in a more dramatic, history-tinged way (with Carolyn Conwell if at all possible) then as someone to laugh at. Humor should be sprinkled very lightly in soaps–and definitely ought to be organic to the situation the characters are in rather than someone “FUNNY!” cast in a role just to forward the plot. Mary Williams was eventually written as being quite devout in her religion and cherishing family values. There was never anything funny about Mary Williams and I think some of the best head-shakers about Mary were when she was so inflexible and so short-sighted. She was never a haughty b*tch and was never played for laughs. Viewers may have laughed because her values didn’t match theirs, but they weren’t laughing because of a broad way she would/could go off on characters.

    Yes, Mary Williams needs to be back for this Patty Williams reveal and to interact with her and explore why Patty has become who she is mentally and why she may hold her mother responsible for some (all?) of it. That would be more compelling–not watching a comedy actress assume the role so she can sassily rip on various characters.

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