Santa Barbara caught off guard as Terry Lester quits

 Soap Opera Digest, 1990

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For Terry Lester and Santa Barbara, the honeymoon is definitely over. In fact, the whole marriage is kaput. A year ago, Terry left The Young and the Restless - the soap that made him famous - and defected to Santa Barbara, where he replaced Lane Davies as wealthy wastrel Mason Capwell. Now Terry has cleaned out his Santa Barbara dressing room, too - and setsiders are using phrases like "very surprised" and "caught off guard" to describe their reaction to his sudden exit.

What really happened ? In a carefully worded statement, Terry said only this : "one of my final resolutions in the last decade was to get a chance to work on Santa Barbara. And I'm grateful for having had this year living and working with people I've admired for most of my daytime career. But it's a new decade, and a time for exploring new possibilities and setting new goals. I'd like to thank everyone at Santa Barbara who has helped and supported me along the way."

According to a spokesman for Santa Barbara, Terry's desire to leave was "absolutely his own decision. He left on a good note, and we're very sad about losing him." However, according to other sources, Terry's decision to quite may have been prompted by another factor. Inadvertently, the powers-that-be at Santa Barbara missed the deadline date for renewing his contract, and when that occurred, Terry used it as an excuse to quit. During the year, there had been rumblings that he wasn't entirely happy with his storyline.

With Terry gone, rumors immediately began flying that Lane Davies would return to the role. Santa Barbara maintained that they were interviewing a sizable number of actors as possible Masons, but confirmed that Lane's reappearance was a valid possibility. (At press time, it's no secret that the show has to find a new Mason fast. An upcoming November "sweeps" story hinges on Mason's raging alcoholism and his better, angry divorce from his wife, Julia.)

Meanwhile, there's an interesting side-note to the whole Mason Capwell casting situation : despite all the setside uproar, Terry Lester and Lane Davies are actually friends offscreen - and Terry would be delighted if Lane came back to Santa Barbara to reclaims his old role. In fact, just days before Terry left Santa Barbara, the two were touch by phone. Lane, who runs his own theater company in Southern California's Simi Valley, called Terry to ask him to appear at an upcoming fund-raiser for the theater, and Terry agreed. So, on Saturday, November 3, patrons of the Santa Susanna Repertory Company will actually get to see the two Masons on stage together, harmonizing in a comical duet from Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate.

"We're going to sing Where is the Life That Late I led?" Terry informed us. "Lane and his wife just got married and had a baby and I've just made a major career change. It seemed like the perfect song for us to do."