From the time Brad Vernon on One Life to Live stopped Jenny Siegal from unbuttoning her blouse and giving herself to him, I have been troubled.
Brad, as he has been presented, wouldn't have stopped Jenny. What kind of reasoning had the producer and author
fed themselves to make them believe such a rake
would behave so nobly? More importantly, how could an actor carry off such a scene so well if he didn't believe it made sense for his character?
Fortunately, I had a lunch date with
Jameson Parker, who plays Brad, a few weeks later, and fully intended to ask him his thoughts on the matter. However, when we met at a posh theatrical luncheon spot that freezing
winter afternoon, I had just learned of his marriage, and that seemed far more interesting than questions about Brad Vernon.
There is much more to Jameson than his fantastic looks. This is a fascinating fellow with a fine education, a good
brain, a terrific sense of humor - including the ability to laugh at himself - a very open, honest approach to an interview and Southern Gentleman gallantry. Talk about charm!
Jameson is full of surprises more startling than Brad Vernon's gallant
refusal of Jenny. He looks shorter in person than on TV. He stands only half an inch under six feet, but because of his build he appears less tall.
He also looks much younger and more vulnerable than the TV character he portrays.
While he shares much with Brad - their urbanity, the frequent residential changes in their lives, their culturally
strong background and fine education, plus a genuine interest in and talent for tennis - there is much more that is uniquely Jameson Parker!
Who can imagine Brad ever doubting his appeal to women? Or, if he had private doubts, admitting them
openly? Yet Jameson was startled to be asked if his good looks had been a problem to overcome in being taken seriously as an actor.
"Frankly, I was a homely kid," he said, looking straight into my startled eyes.
"It's like kids who were small and grow up to 350 pounds and can lift up a
car with one hand but still think of themselves as weak. I love a battered, rugged, Jean Paul Belmondo look. Let's fact [sic] it, I ain't gonna look like that - more like Peter Whimsey!"
Jameson's not afraid to tell stories where he turns out to be the butt of the
joke - true stories, painful to him once, but now funny.
One such tale is about a time when he was still married to his first wife,
living in Virginia, and doing a series of plays at a dinner theater. "It was The Owl and the Pussycat and the door wouldn't open for the girl to get
out," Jameson said. "She played a prostitute and I was an intellectual sort whom she constantly made fun of.
"So, the girl called me over and told me to open the door so she could
get out. She was calling me ad-libbed names. I tried with my full weight, bracing against the bottom of the flat, hand up on top, to pull the door
open, but it wouldn't budge! But then a moment later she tried it again and it opened easily, and she sailed out, calling me a pansy!"
We both agreed his efforts had probably loosened the door. No one in the audience had realized anything was
wrong, but Jameson and his leading lady had been frantic!
Then we talked about his new wife, Bonnie. "My wife is quite a good actress. I would just love to see her get on a
soap because I know she would be superb at it." Then his teasing gremlin took charge again and he added, "And I could retire and she could support me!"
As for doing a show with his wife, he said,"I don't know how I could. It
would be very odd acting with Bonnie. I don't know whether I'd like that or not. For one thing, her emotional life, as they say in acting class, is so
incredibly rich. We do take one acting class together. When things start bubbling inside her, she's so good and realistic and there's so much
going on that I find it very hard to deal with. It's hard for me to be objective, I guess. It's hard for me to look at her crying and realize that
that's not Bonnie really upset; that's Bonnie acting. I get upset when she bursts into tears, and I'm quite likely to drop everything I'm doing and say, 'Aw Bonnie, it's all right!'"