|Catching up with Lane Davies|
By Mara Levinsky, Soap Opera Digest, 2019
Birthday : July 31
Hails from : Dalton, Georgia
Daytime history : After a bit part as a doctor on The Young and the Restless in 1981, Davies had a 1981-82 run on Days of our Lives as Evan Whyland, then portrayed Santa Barbara's Mason from 1984-89. His last network soap gig was as General Hospital's Cameron from 2002-04, but off and on since 2010, he's played Mackenzie on the digital drama The Bay.
Dad tidings : The actor shares two sons, Thatcher and Nathan, with ex-wife Holly Swann.
The greatest love of all : Davies stays neutral on the subject of who was the love of Mason's life, Mary or Julia. "The fans are sharply divided over that, who was the best couple. I really loved both girls, so I don't take sides. I had fun with both of them."
Ladies' man : Though he hasn't seen former Santa Barbara leading lady Nancy Lee Grahn (ex-Julia; Alexis, General Hospital) in years, "We've emailed within the last month. And I still stay in touch with Suzanne Rogers," Days of our Lives' Maggie. "My friendship with Suzanne was the most pleasant thing to come out of my time on Days of our Lives."
Though it's been over 25 years since Santa Barbara left the NBC airwaves, Lane Davies, its original and longest-running Mason, knows firsthand how loved it still is by its fans. "I'm continually pleased and mystified by how popular the show is, by how fondly people still think of the show, and how well-remembered it is," he marvels. "People come up and talk to me about events that happened on the show that have long left my memory that they seem to have vivid memories of. I've spent quite a bit of time overseas for one thing or another - you know, filming or events or just visiting - and we're so popular in so many other countries. It's remarkable."
Davies will be reuniting with several of his Santa Barbara castmates, including A Martinez (ex-Cruz) and Harley Jane Kozak (ex-Mary), for a reunion fan cruise this November. "We're all kind of excited about that because one, some of us haven't seen each other in quite a while, and two, it's been a long time since we were in any kind of group event to reconnect with fans. So we're all juiced about it. Also, it's in the Bahamas, so it should be relaxing ! They're keeping the numbers fairly small, so it really can be fun for everybody. We'll do panels and trivia and a retrospective of people that we've lost, especially Jed Allan," who played Davies's father, Capwell patriarch C.C., who passed away in March.
These days, Davies keeps busy - and gives his passport a workout - onstage and backstage, performing and directing at various theater companies around the world. "I'm at a point in my life if something seems like fun or if it's a role I want to do, I do it. Over the past few years, I've done Sweeney Todd, several productions of Man of La Mancha, one of them in Prague, two or three other shows at the Prague Shakespeare Company, and will probably do some more within the coming year. I starred in the Tennessee Shakespeare Company that ran for about four years. And I've recently gotten involved with something called the Conasauga Shakespeare Coalition, which will produce Henry V this summer." That production will be a family affair. "My son Nathan is playing Henry V," Davies reports. "It's a show I've directed before, and I've played Henry before, back in the Jurassic Period (laughs). But now my son is just the right age to play him. That's going to be fun ! The last time he was onstage with me was when he played Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol."
Thirty years after his Santa Barbara exit, Davies remains proud to have been part of such a well-reputed daytime drama. "The Dobsons (creators and executive producers Bridget and Jerome) really knew what they were doing and for the most part, they hired really, really good writers, people like Frank Salisbury and Patrick Mulcahey, who are world-class writers in their own right. I think we were just refreshing and I think our popularity in this country, while it lasted, was due to our sense of humor. We respected the work, but at the same time, we had an irreverence about the work. We knew we were basically there to connect diaper commercials. The producers had the same sort of naughty sense of humor that the actors did. That's what made Santa Barbara fun."
Lane Davies has fond memories of working with the late Jed Allan, who portrayed his Santa Barbara father, and passed away in March. "He was one of the good guys," the actor praises. "He was a good family man. He was literate and well-read, and he had enough of the rascal in him to make him fun to be around." The men first encountered one another on Days of our Lives, where Davies played Evan and Allan played Don. "We didn't really cross paths that often, but I knew him from Days of our Lives. And then all of a sudden, he was over there at Santa Barbara. There were other guys that played C.C. (before Allan took over the role in 1986), but Jed is the first one that really felt like a dad to me. He had two sons not far away in age from what I was at the time and I think that's part of what made the relationship on-screen work. Jed and I loved each other as people, as father and son do. We both really connected with the antipathy between the two characters. He was just a great guy to work with. We rarely had a bad day with Jed Allan. I mean, if you work with somebody for five years, things are going to get grouchy at one point or another, but it's not anything that didn't blow over pretty quickly." Davies recalls that they were simpatico when it came to filming. "Actors are very aware of what their good side and their bad side is, and mine and Jed's worked together. In other words, if they were shooting us at a table, I would want to be to camera left and he would want to be to camera right. We were so vain about our sides, but they were compatible. We didn't have to fight over who got their good side."
From November 4-8, Davies will sail from Miami, Florida, to the Bahamas aboard Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas on a Santa Barbara reunion fan cruise. A Martinez (ex-Cruz), Harley Jane Kozak (ex-Mary), Judith McConnell (ex-Sophia), Nicolas Coster (ex-Lionel) and Louise Sorel (ex-Augusta) have also signed on.