The end of an era for soap operas

Last updated 05:00 15/08/2012
Ronn Moss
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END OF AN ERA: Ronn Moss is quitting The Bold and the Beautiful after 25 years.
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Ridge Forrester, daytime television's human jawline, the poncho-wearing prince of melodrama, is retiring.

If you hold a sea shell to your ear, you can hear the collective, heartbroken sigh of millions of housewives, students and shift-workers. Soap's most chiselled bubble has burst.

Ridge Forrester, star of the Bold and The Beautiful, was born into daytime soap when shoulder-pads ruled the world, men had hard, hot names like Thorne, Storm and Hunter, mansions were furnished like department store bedding departments and through the Venetian-style shutters, it was perpetually twilight.

What set Ridge apart from the pack were his devastating sense of fashion (I give you exhibit A: the poncho) and his piercing eyes, the kind that soap operas love, particularly when combined with shocked expressions such as "oh my God, you're my mother?" and that old classic "but, but ... you're dead!"

The great love of his life was the much-married Brooke Logan. Ridge and Brooke shared one of those fiery on-again, off-again, on-again romances.

Think Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor but with much less vodka.

Ridge and Brooke's love was a love that never sought resolution, just that two exhausted actors endlessly circle each other in a room, exchanging quips and occasionally pausing to look at the camera, misty-eyed, or for Ridge to take a telephone call while Brooke married someone else in his family.

All up, she married Ridge four times, his father Eric twice, his brother Thorne once and three other schmucks, Grant Chambers, Whipple Jones and Dominick Marone. To call her a hussy probably does a disservice to all the girls in daytime soap who are merely borderline jezebels.

Expressed Elizbeth Taylor-style, Brooke's full name would be Brooke Logan Forrester Forrester Chamber Forrester Forrester Jones Forrester Forrester Forrester Marone. (Inclusive of three divorces, two annullments and five marriages ruled invalid, most likely through exhaustion on the part of the grooms.)

The other great love of Ridge's life was Dr Taylor Hayes, best known as the owner of daytime soap opera's biggest lips, swelling and receding with the changing of the seasons. It was often said you could set your clock to Taylor's lips, and many did.

Of course, the path to happiness in soap opera is never easy. This is something Ridge knew well, having met Taylor while holding the hand of an earlier love of his life, the beautiful heiress Caroline Spencer.

Taylor was Caroline's oncologist, which made her affair with Ridge, as the bleep bleep machine was flat lining, slightly inappropriate. But then, nothing in daytime soap opera is ever appropriate.

Ridge and Taylor smooched as Caroline expired tragically and the world looked on, misty-eyed, through a soft-filter lens. But we didn't judge. We just rooted for Ridge and Taylor. As, ironically, Ridge and Taylor rooted.

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Taylor would later be kidnapped by Prince Omar, and her great love affair with Ridge would come to naught. She would return, however, with even bigger lips than the pair she left with, and some other "work" that might be considered dubious.

And in that way that only soap opera characters can, Caroline also returned, though she came back as her own lesbian twin sister, Karen, which more or less ruled her out of the running as a possible future Mrs Ridge Forrester.

We say more or less because in soap, just as nothing is inappropriate, everything is possible.

Ridge Forrester was born the son of Eric and Stephanie Forrester, the eldest of five Forrester children: Thorne, Kristen, Felicia and the inexplicably boring Angela.

It isn't known why Angela didn't get a glamorous name like her siblings, like Blanche, or Flair, or Tawny, though it is possible that the writer's room, overloaded with convoluted plotlines, just plain ran out of juice.

In a shock 2001 storyline - the sort that would have involved a lot of door-slamming, and some pensive looking in the mirror (likely dialogue: "oh my God, what have I done?") - it was revealed that Ridge was not actually Eric's son.

In fact, he was the long lost son of Stefano di Mera, the long-serving villain from Days of Our Lives who had, through some strange quirk in daytime soap opera plotting, turned up in The Bold & The Beautiful calling himself Massimo Marone.

Life on daytime TV is many things. Easy is not one of them.

Ridge's lifelong friend, the actor Ronn Moss, would know that all too well. Moss emerged in the 1970s as the lead singer of the band Player, who recorded the single Baby Come Back. In 1978, it rose to #1 on the Billboard pop chart.

Moss was a guest of the TV Week Logie Awards in 2002, a press tour which served as the catalyst for inexplicably soaring popularity in Australia. He starred in a Berri juice TV campaign and was, in 2006, the centre-piece of a campaign to have him voted Australian of the Year. (It did not succeed.)

In 2010 he starred on the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars and finished in second place.

Ridge Forrester is survived by his wife Brooke, and his children Thomas, Steffy, and RJ, and stepdaughter Hope.

In a world where characters are routinely recast - often with little more than "the role of Katie Logan will now be played by Heather Tom" from the narrator - many have come and gone.

Four actors played Rick Forrester and Beth Logan. Three actors played Thorne Forrester and Storm Logan. And two actors played Felicia Forrester.

But there was only one Ridge Forrester.

Well, except for 1992, when he was played briefly by Lane Davies. But as with everything in daytime soap, that's another story.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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