As fanatical as I have been about soap operas over the course of my life it's no surprise I've loved many a daytime family. There were the Corys on Another World, the Capwells on Santa Barbara, and still are the Quartermaines on General Hospital, and yet there has been no other family in daytime that I have felt the kind of reality-blurring affection for that I've felt for the fictional Hortons on Days of Our Lives. Today, we mourn the loss of Frances Reid, who since 1965 has been the donuts and bolts of the Hortons, and Salem as whole, as spunky matriarch Alice Horton. Reid was 95.
Over the years I have joked to friends whenever a soap opera matriarch passed away that "the day my Grandma Horton dies, they will have to put me in an institution somewhere!" Well that day came yesterday, and while I'm not writing this from the funny farm, I am typing with two separate browser windows open to You Tube where I am tearfully reliving the life and times of both Reid and my dear, darling Gran.
Some of my earliest, childhood memories are of watching Alice Horton counsel her respective children and grandchildren around the Horton kitchen table. I watched this take place with my own beloved, real life grandmother and grandfather who had both watched DAYS since the first air show way back in 1965.
From my grandparents I learned what a "mess" Gran's eldest granddaughter Julie Williams (Susan Seaforth Hayes) had been when she was a teenager and young woman, and how Alice's grandson Mike (then played by Wesley Eure, but it's Michael T. Weiss's version that stands out in my memory) grew up believing he was Uncle Mickey's (John Clarke) son, but was really Mickey's brother Bill's kid! Scandalous! I was hooked.
Throughout all the trials and tribulations the Hortons have faced over the past 45 years, Alice "Gran" Horton kept things together with advice and a mean plate of pastries. It didn't matter what unsavory situations her offspring found themselves in, sweet, wholesome Gran was there to remind Tommy, Addie, Bill, Mickey, Marie, Sandy, Julie, Steven, Hope, Mike, Jennifer Rose, Lucas, Jessica, David, Shawn Douglas, JT, Zack, Ciara, Jeremy, Abby, Jack Jr., Will, Allie, Scotty, Claire and all the other Hortons, family and friends, they were loved, and supported unconditionally. She let each one of them know they had a special place in her heart, not to mention on her Christmas tree.
Heck, sometimes Gran even helped her kids and grandkids out of their predicaments! Who will ever forget a 60-something Alice Horton assisting her granddaughter Hope (Kristian Alfonso) and Hope's true love Bo (Peter Reckell) in their various crime fighting adventures during the mid-80's, always to the chagrin of Gran's husband Dr. Tom Horton (the late MacDonald Carey)?
While it's sadly ironic that Mrs. Reid passed away so soon after Alice's son Mickey died on DAYS, it does provide the soap opera with a rather seemless way to write Grandma Horton out respectfully. The pain of losing yet another of her children could prove to be too much for Alice to bear and she could simply pass away in her sleep. Here's hoping DAYS goes all out for a fitting memorial to both Gran and Reid. Shell out some cash to invite Maree Cheatham (Marie), Jamie Lynn Bauer (Laura), Melissa Reeves (Jennifer), Matt Ashford (Jack), Roark Crichtlow (the most recent Mike), Bryan Datillo (Lucas) and yes, Deidre Hall (Marlena)—Marlena was always treated as an honorary Horton— back for the special episodes.
Whatever DAYS does to honor Frances Reid it's doubtful it will be able to truly embody what this amazing veteran of stage and screen contributed to popular culture during her 95 years on Earth, For that, it would almost take another 95 years. Rest in Peace, Gran.