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`Days’ fans want Tony DiMera back (1997)

January 7, 2013

90's Flashback

Thaao Penghlis in big demand

On With the Show’s

Flashback to Variety Today 1997

By SHIRLEY BROUN

FANS in the United States have voted Aussie actor – and eligible bachelor – Thaao Penghlis `Most Wanted’.

It seems a survey was undertaken to see which character from the popular `Days of Our Lives’ soapie they would most like to return. Thaao was at the top of the list, and there were no complaints. “I wouldn’t mind going back some time,” said Thaao from his Los Angeles home.

As Tony DiMera in `Days’ Thaao has won many a heart around the world. Just recently he was asked to be special guest at a lunch for 500 Greek women in New York. As an Australian-born Greek he felt right at home with their company. The next day, he was surrounded by 300 women at a charity lunch.

Asked if he was in a serious relationship currently, he admitted there was `no-one’, but quickly backed it up by saying: “but you never know. My priorities are changing.”

It’s true. Thaao’s life is heading in a new direction. Having finished his contract with `Days’, Thaao was left free to pursue his own interests. He will still be seen on `Days’ in Australia until 1999.

Death of Parents

The death of his parents within four days of each other in 1995 in Sydney was a deep blow to the normally strong and in control actor, who cried a river of tears.

The news arrived while Thaao was on the set of Days of Our Lives and he says it was the most difficult ordeal he had ever had to face. “I kind of withdrew. I was very close to my parents. I loved them so much,” he said.

Despite the tragedy, Thaao was required to complete his scenes as Tony DiMera in `Days’ before he could return to Australia. “I would go off camera every so often to compose myself – but I did the job and no-one seemed to notice my despair,” he said.

Family focus to new screen play

The death of his parents, however, did inspire Thaao to take on a new challenge. He turned his personal tragedy into an exciting future writing screen plays with his family’s life being the focus of his debut play, named after their old Surrey Hills, Sydney, address – `95 Reservoir Street’. Work has already begun on the project, which Australian Director Michael Rymer has taken on.

Thaao was assisted by friend Sheri Anderson who had won two Emmys and had also worked on `Days’. “I took Sheri with me to Greece to research the play. I found out that I had a great imagination and we wrote the story together. we went through five drafts before coming up with the finished product.”

Thaao is excited about his first screen play, both writing it and now producing. So excited, in fact, that he has almost finished his second script. He turned down many job offers to complete his screen plays.

Thaao said he had found the new challenges were like an escape. “After losing my parents, I felt I needed to get out and do something different. It was almost like an escape,” said the deep thinking actor.

While enjoying his new found vocation as writer/producer, Thaao is ready to return to acting as well, having had a well earned rest. He is also a big supporter of charities raising money for cancer victims. “I used to do a lot of shows for young children who have cancer,” he said.

Thaao touched a heart

One 19-year-old girl, he said, lived for four years after meeting him. Thaao regularly sent her flowers and visited her. On occasion, his emotions would take over and a tear would flow freely down his cheek. But the brave teenager would lean forward, look into his eyes and tell him not to be upset.

Days of Our Lives was her favourite show and she treasured the time this compassionate and loving Soapie star had given freely to her. “It was me who was the grateful one. I so admired her strength,” said Thaao with another tear in his eye.

UPDATE 2012

Thaao Penghlis was born on December 15, 1945 in Sydney, Australia. His exit from the role as Tony DiMera on Days of Our Lives was relatively short-lived. He returned to `Days’ in the early 2000s and in 2003 was nominated for the Soap Opera Digest Award for `Favourite Return’ character. He left the popular show in 2005, only to return yet again in May 2007 to reprise the role of his dastardly cousin Andre DiMera followed two months later by Tony’s return. In 2008 Thaao was nominated for `Outstanding Leading Actor’ in the Daytime Emmy Awards. Tony DiMera was finally `killed off’ in Days of Our Lives in 2009, which led to Penghlis returning to the stage.

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