Linda Dano
a.k.a. Felicia on Another World

During a recent Live With Regis and Kathie Lee appearance, Another World's Linda Dano -- who was there to peddle her self-help beauty book Looking Great... (G.P. Putnam's Sons) -- suddenly blurted out that she was having a face-lift this October. Needless to say, we wasted no time in dialing that diva to get the details!

So how are ya, honey?

I'm fine, doll, how are you?

Great! So what the heck has gotten into you -- announcing your face-lift on national TV like that!?

It was such an innocent remark! People have been kidding me, saying, "Oh, man, this is a gold mine of publicity!" But I swear to God, that's not what I intended. To know me is to know I blab anything and everything about myself and I always have. Kathie Lee said something about facial surgery, and we were talking about my book and the fact that it has a real faux pas in it -- it has an 800 number where you can call to get more information about the cosmetic surgeon you're thinking about using, but we transposed two of the digits and we instead gave out the number for the Frontier Sex Line.

Frontier? Like, you call it for country-western phone sex?

Yeah, I guess! I called it and there's a woman who starts to heavily pant. Anyway, so we all got onto the subject of face-lifts and I said I was going to go have mine done in October. You know, I can't help who I am! I mean, I've never been quiet about anything. Vivien Stern, my press agent, was standing on the sidelines holding my new 4-month-old puppy Mo -- who was supposed to be on the show -- and she almost dropped the dog when it came out of my mouth that I was going to have surgery. And, of course, as soon as I said it, everybody and their brother has been calling.

Well, Vivien did sorta help this along -- she immediately sent out a press release! And now I hear 20/20 is going to cover this?

They're talking to me. But I'm not going to do a media blitz on this -- I said that to Vivien, which, I'm sure, upset her greatly. But I think 20/20 would talk about it in a way that would be great to share with women. You know, I have a lot of fears about this and it's a way to help other women who are afraid of this. I did an awful lot of research on cosmetic surgery for the book, and it helped make me a lot less fearful. So that's why I guess I'm finally going to take the plunge.

Rumor's going around that you're going to Deidre Hall's doctor? Is it true?

I'm not going to answer that!

I didn't think you would, but I had to try. So tell me more about 20/20.

Well, when they called me, I was like, "Lynn Scheer? Really?" I got all nuts. I told the producers, "You know, you are the reason I don't use collagen anymore." See, one night on a Friday, I had just had collagen done -- it's the only thing I have ever had done to myself -- and 20/20 did this whole piece on collagen and how people can sometimes get deformed by it. Three-quarters of the way through the piece I turned to my husband, Frank, and said, "Honey, do I look funny?" I mean, they were saying that it could really turn on you! It scared the s--- out of me! And I never have used it since, so I think 20/20 can really help people, you know?

So do they want to come with their cameras right into the operating room?

No, I don't think so. They're going to talk to me about why I'm doing it, what my fears are. It's a whole piece; I'm just going to be one part of it.

Did you see when Phyllis Diller had that face-peel and she was on the cover of the National Enquirer? It looked like she ran into a meat grinder. It was very scary.

No, people will not be photographing me in my hideousness.

You did hint around in your book that you might someday try this. Was that your way of breaking it to us -- and yourself -- gently?

I've had some consultations here and there to try to [allay] my fears. I've said to the doctors, "How do you feel about me? I mean, do you like me? I don't look like your ex-wife or your mother whom you secretly hate, do I?" Because you never know! They could be seeking revenge or something. Or they can show up with the flu on the day they're going to cut you -- and what are they going to say when they take off the bandages? "Oops, sorry, I wasn't feeling good that day!"? It's very scary. I tell people that I wouldn't be doing this surgery if I wasn't on TV, and it's true. I'm really doing it for my lighting man more than I am for me.

What does Frank think?

Oh, he doesn't seem to care. He thinks I'm great the way I am, but he also says if this is what I want to do, then he supports me 100 percent. He wants me to be happy and comfortable. I've never really been that vain about myself -- otherwise I wouldn't keep gaining weight and losing it -- but every time I go into a scene at the studio, and this has happened over the last couple of years, they will say, "Cut!" because they want to light me a little better. And that's all part of why I'm doing this.

What exactly do you think is wrong with you?

Well, everything starts to get a little hangy and a little longer than it should. I would like my jowls to go away. But I want to come out of this loving it and saying, "Gee, I wish he'd done a little more," instead of looking like I'm in a wind tunnel. That's why I'm going to the doctor I'm going to -- he's known for doing very minimal stuff.

A few daytime divas we might mention have their cosmetic work done in tiny, tiny increments so it's never really all that noticeable. You're doing something a lot more major?

No, I'm doing very little, and hopefully it will be enough. I'm only going to do this once, Michael, no matter how it turns out. I'm not going to make this my life's work.

You know, that's what drug addicts say: "I'm only going to try this heroin once."

No, that won't happen to me. I'm not that big on pain -- it's not my favorite thing.

So this is gonna hurt a whole lot? They knock you out, right?

Yes, this is major surgery. I said to Frank, "You don't have to go with me." He said, "Are you crazy? You're going to be under the knife! Of course I'm going with you!" So, yeah, it's major, major stuff.

There's another rumor going around that you're trying to talk John Aprea into a face-lift, too -- and I think the rumor's being spread by John Aprea.

John Aprea is practically knocking me over to go and do this!

You mean it's his idea?

He is so anxious to do it! He wants to have his eyes done -- you know, just a little bit of the puff under his eyes taken off -- and I've known Johnny so long and I know it would make him feel so much better.

That's a pretty minor procedure, right?

Yeah, so I said, "Go have it done. You'll feel better about yourself, and it'll be wonderful." But I didn't suggest it! I don't know how he could get more gorgeous, but that's what he wants to do.

So Felicia and Alexander could be in twin hospital beds!

Yes! Don't you think that'd be perfect?

But clarify this: Are you happy they're writing this in or would you have preferred to have had the four weeks off and not acknowledge it on air at all?

I don't know. I don't mind it. I offered it as a possibility. I just hope I don't feel crummy when I'm supposed to be acting. I'll get through it. It's like doing Attitudes all over again. I'm showing people their options, and if it turns out well it will give them some confidence about doing it themselves. Since I've written a book about trying to look better and helping yourself, maybe this is the natural evolution.

Back to you and Aprea, what do you think of your storyline?

Right now? I like it. I keep wishing it wasn't going quite as quickly as it's going, but hopefully what they're doing is the right timing.

Too quickly as far the courtship or the Alexander/Carl thing?

Both. It's moving kind of fast, but then what do I know? Of course, when things don't move fast I'm the first to say, "God, this is tedious!" So what do I know?

So how do you explain your great chemistry with Aprea?

I don't know, maybe because we've been friends for so many years.

Oh, c'mon! You've got a secret crush on him, admit it!

I've always had a crush on him. He reminds me of Frank. And everyone says that. They are so similar. And John and I have been friends for, what? -- 25 years! It is like we have this crush on each other.

I forget, how did you two meet?

He and I did The Montefuscos together.

That's right, the infamous Montefuscos! People always mention that series when they talk about the worst sitcoms of all time.

I know, isn't that funny?! I think it's a hoot. Johnny was my priest-brother, Joey, and I was his sister, Angie. The first time we had to kiss on AW it felt wrong, like incest or something, but I got over it real fast.

Detail for me how you got Aprea back on the soap, because I know you'd been pushing for this for a long time. Did the folks in the previous regime not like the idea?

No, they kept saying it's too tricky because he's dead. It was Michael Malone who said, "Let's bring him back as a whole new character." And I'd never even thought of that. I had come up with a whole other way of bringing him back.

Which was...?

Well, I decided it wasn't really Lucas who had died. The FBI stepped in and got a guy to play his double, and they had plastic surgery done on him to make him a real look-alike, and it's that guy that the mob killed. Then they slipped Lucas away and had him in a witness-protection program. He did this to save Felicia, because if he hadn't he would have been killed. And they would have killed Lorna, too. So he did this to save us. That was my concept -- but the writers would have had to work out all the little, you know, idiosyncracies.

Now, I know you well enough, Linda, if they had used that plot on Days of Our Lives, you would have been making fun of it.

Yeah, you're right, I probably would...

So what Malone did is better, right?

Definitely better!

The look-alike thing is so cool and it also explains why you guys had immediate sparks.

And maybe that has to do with why it's moving so fast. Felicia quickly fell for him because of the way he looks. It's like she already knows him and she can't help herself.

Since you say he and Frank are so similar, what is it about people that they're attracted to the same type? Is it some sort of past-life thing?

Don't you? Don't you find yourself attracted to the same type?

Absolutely. Which is why we soap-watchers can so much better relate to this look-alike thing than we can one of those dumb back-from-the-dead stories. So did Malone say yes to Aprea immediately?

Yes, it was the first official thing he wrote his first week on the show, which I loved him for! But I have to tell you, now that David Forsyth is leaving, I really went through a couple of days of really crying and being so upset over that because I thought in some ways maybe I created it.

Why? Because you asked to bring Aprea back?

Yes. But everyone says, "Oh, no, no, no, that had nothing to do with it." I really believed they'd do a John/Felicia/Alexander triangle for a very long time.

But you can't beat yourself up over that. It's the nature of soaps. What one actor does can affect another. You decide to leave a show, your partner sometimes has to go, too. Or you get pregnant and leave, it alters the story and someone might get canned. It happens.

Yeah, it's true.

But let's talk about this apparent cleansing of the show's older players -- first Alice Barrett, then Anna Holbrook, now Kale Browne and Forsyth.

It's really sad.

Is it necessary, in your mind?

I've always believed that the show was too unwieldy. We've got too many characters. I believe it really needs to be trimmed a lot. But because I'm an actor, I can't bear it when they let go of actors, real actors, because I really do think they're the ones who can spin the stories. Pretty faces and hunks and all that are great to look at and fun, but if you can't act it's very hard. I mean, look at Jensen [Buchanan]. She's so pretty and she can act. She's got that double whammy. But if you're just pretty, it leaves you... after a while you stop being pretty because everybody is pretty.

Exactly! We're so jaded as an audience because we sit watching this nonstop parade of gorgeous people with their perfect bods and their perfect faces -- most of whom you cannot tell apart -- and after a while you just O.D. You start screaming, "Bring on Larry Bryggman!"

Oh, that kind of talent makes such a difference to a show! So when they get rid of an Anna Holbrook, who can really act, it's always like, "Why?" And of course it gets very personal because these people are my friends. You miss them so much it's heartbreaking, and the whole studio feels different. It's like it's not home anymore. It's hard.

I guess this is where one of us is supposed to say, "But that's showbiz."

And it is. It's a very hard, tough, cruel business, but still. Sometimes, though, actors lose their jobs and go on to do bigger and better things and they're happier.

It almost makes it worse when these departures are blamed on the budget. Malone says Holbrook was fired for financial reasons -- which is, on one hand, better because at least you know it didn't have anything to do with talent -- but then we in the audience watch all these new, cheaper actors come on in her place, and it's not an OK trade-off. It's like the show's trade bubble-gum cards. You can get five low-paid underwear models who can't act for one Emmy Award winner. It's aggravating. I know Jill Farren Phelps [former AW executive producer] is your dear friend, but if she hadn't spent 12 gajillion dollars on a double-decker, immovable set that nobody now wants, maybe Anna Holbrook would still be on the show.

Maybe. But you know what? The day Anna Holbrook was fired, we looked around the set -- we were shooting a party scene -- and the flowers alone must have cost $4,000. And we said, "Why don't they get fake flowers and maybe we could could keep Anna."

Back to your surgery: Afterwards are you going to one of those plush places like we see on Hard Copy where the rich and famous go to recuperate in secrecy?

Yes, for a couple of days, and then I'll go and hang out in a hotel somewhere -- because I'm going out of town to do this -- and then, hopefully, I'm coming back to Another World after two weeks. I'm going back to work, because they're incorporating something into the show, I don't know what.

I hear you originally asked them for four weeks off and they had a heart attack. True?

Well, I went in and said, "I'd like three weeks, but four would really be nice," and Michael Malone kinda picked himself up off the floor and said, "When? When?" I said, "October," and he went, "Oh, my God! No!" Because he's building this whole Carl/Rachel/Felicia/Alexander thing. I said, "Michael, this is what I'm going to offer up to you: If you want to write it into the show that something happens to Felicia -- she has a car wreck, something, I don't care what -- that explains my condition, then I can come back sooner. Just don't make it a face-lift." Because that's already been done -- Jeanne Cooper's done that and that's her thing.

And she's doing it again as we speak.

Yeah, I don't want to copy that. So Michael said, "Well, how about taking only two weeks?" And I said, "Fine. I'll just come to work and lie in a bed somewhere." You know, I've never done that on this show. I've never been in a hospital in a death-defying state with people hovering over me saying, "Oh, she was so very lovely, what a woman, what a damn shame!"

Emmy, Emmy!

Yeah, Emmy, Emmy is right -- for everybody else. It's always the hoverers who win.

So what are the options besides a car crash? I think I read somewhere that maybe Felicia would be beaten.

You read that?

Yeah, but I can't remember where. Oh, yes, I do! I think it was in Vivien's press release!

Well, let's see, car accident, a beating, an airplane crash, hell, I don't know -- disfigurement has been mentioned.

Huh? What kind of disfigurement?

I don't know.

Well, give me an example. Disfigurement sounds a little drastic. You mean like you'd lose an eye or something?

Well, maybe she'd get all cut up by some criminal. Or maybe she was in a car wreck and went through the windshield. Wouldn't that be fun?

Well, yeah, I guess.

It's never happened to Felicia!

Well, it's better than the time she got kidnapped in that Misery rip-off.

Yeah, it'd be better than being stuck in that attic. You're absolutely right.

Did your lighting directors actually say something to you about looking, uh, what did you call it? Hangy?

Oh, no! No one ever does. They're always so nice.

So then if they're fine and Frank is fine and the audience is fine -- notice how I'm speaking for everyone in America here -- then... then... why?

Why do it? This is the devil that I wrestle with at all moments. October is a long way off. I could still chicken out. I said to the doctor's nurse when I made the appointment, "Now, look, this is the way it's going to work. I know me. And every week, I'll probably freak out and call you and say, 'You know what? I've kinda changed my mind. I don't think I want to do this.' And every time I say that, I want you to say, 'OK, fine, Miss Dano, no problem, we'll cancel it.' But you just leave it on the book, OK? Because the next week I'll be calling back to schedule it again. I promise you, someone will get me there for the surgery." Because I'm really very afraid of this, and if it doesn't come out right, then I'll just have to quit work and retire and go bake bread and do my garden.

This doesn't have anything to do with seeing yourself as Gretel on those recent old One Life to Live classic episodes, did it?

No, I promise you it didn't.

So did you go do that computer thing they have now where you can see the results of your face-lift in advance?

No, but you see, I already know what it should look like. Women my age sit in front of mirrors and they pull back their faces right at the jawline and go, "Yes! That's what I want!" So I'm going to give it a shot. Why not?