A Look At Soap Star Deidre Hall's Life Through The Years

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While she is best known for playing Dr. Marlena Evans on the long-running daytime television show "Days of Our Lives," Deidre Hall has had a long and varied career in the entertainment industry. Besides her 40-plus years as a soap star, Hall has appeared in dozens of TV shows and movies and won countless awards for her work.

Some of Hall's more memorable parts include recurring roles on the shows "Emergency!," "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl," "Our House" and "Wise Guy," as well as movies like "The Million Dollar Face," "Woman on the Ledge," and a miniseries with Richard Crenna called "And the Sea Will Tell," which is based on the best-selling novel by Vincent Bugliosi. In 1993 she starred in "Night Sins," the primetime movie special for "Days of Our Lives." In an interview on "Oprah: Where Are They Now," Hall said she fell into acting while trying to support herself in college.

Despite being the star she was, getting the recognition she received, there was one thing that eluded Hall for years: becoming a mother. Her struggles with infertility lasted so many years it eventually led to her taking a break from acting and culminated with the end of her third marriage. But this hard-working, determined star wouldn't give up trying to have it all. Let's take a look at Deidre Hall's life through the years.

She landed an iconic soap role

In 1976, Deidre Hall was cast on "Days of Our Lives" as Dr. Marlena Evans, a psychiatrist who was brought in to treat original character Mickey Horton. And it wasn't long before Marlena had a love interest — Roman Brady — and became a fan favorite. "Days" fans always stayed true to Marlena even through her adulterous affair with John Black, her moments of weakness in seeking revenge against the DiMera family, her brief stint as a serial killer, and of course, her possession by the devil (that last one clearly wasn't her fault, right?). She's also evolved and grown over the years becoming a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother while still maintaining her "super couple" status with character John Black.

Of landing her role on "Days," Hall said on "Oprah, Where Are They Now," "It's destiny. Couldn't have stopped it." And after 46 years that seems to be true, especially given that she's been off the show a couple of times only to return again to the role in which Hall is the only actor who's portrayed that character. As Hall told "Daily Blast Live" in 2021, she has no intention of leaving the show. "It is such a family. It is such a home for me. I can't imagine not being there." She continued to praise the benefits of the gig, the cast, and the crew, adding, "It is just the best job in the world and I wouldn't trade it for anything."

She played Electra Woman in 1976

Deidre Hall is a queen of the soap opera world thanks to her work on "Days of Our Lives," but that queen was born from a superhero, complete with '70s vibe, orange bodysuit, and gold tights and cape. In 1976, Deidre Hall starred opposite Judy Strangis in the short-lived television series "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl." 

In 2020, Hall was given the opportunity to look back on her time being a caped crusader during an interview with Soap Opera Digest. She said she liked the idea back then and thought it would be fun to do something like Lynda Carter did, but the low budget left much to be desired. The actors had to do their own hair and makeup and keeping it looking fresh was a challenge on a stage that was not air-conditioned. "We were adjacent to the DONNY & MARIE stage where they had the ice-skating rink and so we would sneak over when we got to work and open the elephant doors and let all that cold air come on to our stage," she recalled.

Though the series lasted only one season, the effects of it spilled over into her acting. And depending on how you look at it, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Hall said, "['DOOL' producer] Al Rabin would say, 'Bring it down! Bring it down! Bring it down! You're not Electra Woman!'" But as any soap fan knows, the drama makes the show.

She received a special Soap Opera Digest Award

The year 1984 might have been the worst of Marlena Evans's life on "Days of Our Lives," but it was a hell of a great year for Deidre Hall. While her on-screen husband, Roman Brady, was shot and killed by the evil Stefano DiMera, leaving her alone with their twin babies, Hall received the award for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Soap Opera at the Soap Opera Digest Awards. The actor won the award in 1985 as well. In addition, she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy both those years. And while she didn't win the Emmy, she may have snagged something much more valuable. In 1986, Hall was the first recipient of a Soap Opera Digest award that recognized a body of work. As presenter Harley Jane Kozak said, "It goes to an actor or actress whose unique performances, dedication, and commitment have helped elevate respect for the form of continuing drama."

Before she was given the award, former co-star and good friend Wayne Northrop was brought out. After riffing with a few jokes, he told Hall, "So here you go, Doc. It's not going to blow up. If anybody deserves this thing, I mean, you do. Congratulations." For Hall, of course she gave a heartfelt acceptance speech, but finished with some unexpected humor, saying, "And I want to say that I never have missed you, Wayne."

Hall also won the award for Favorite couple in 2005 along with Drake Hogestyn.

She starred opposite Wilford Brimley in Our House

Ten years after making her debut as Dr. Marlena Evans on "Days of Our Lives," Deidre Hall decided to dive back into doing a primetime series. While continuing with her role on "Days," Hall was cast in the NBC drama "Our House." According to the actor's website bio, Hall became the first actor to have one foot in primetime and the other in daytime at the same time. She was also nominated for two People's Choice Awards for the role as a widow with three children who moves in with her father-in-law, played by Wilford Brimley.

Hall told the Baton Rouge Advocate in 1986 (via We Love Soaps) that she was delighted to be doing two shows, even if it meant her weekly schedule was tight. However, she admitted to Closer Weekly in 2019, it was tougher than she'd imagined, saying, "I forgot the length of time you sit and wait! I thought, I don't think I can do this."

"Our House" only lasted for two seasons after it struggled to pull in ratings. In August of 2020, Hall's co-star on the show, Wilford Brimley, passed away. In a heartfelt Instagram post along with an adorable image of Hall and Brimley, Hall wrote, "We lost a great one yesterday. Every day with Wilford was a life lesson. Heaven just got a lot more interesting."

Deidre Hall married her fourth husband in 1991

As ridiculously far-fetched as soap opera storylines can be, there's one thing Deidre Hall has in common with her character Marlena on "Days of Our Lives": they both have had four husbands. Of course, Marlena has had many more weddings than that, but that's a different topic altogether. "I'm crazy about men," Hall told Soap Opera Digest in 1984 (via DeidreHall.com).

Hall's first marriage with William Hudson (1966-1970), happened before her acting career got started. Her next, with singer-songwriter Keith Barbour (1972-1977) ended just as the actor's star was beginning to rise. Here's where it gets interesting: On an episode of "The Dennis Miller Show," Hall shared that she was dating her fourth husband, Steve Sohmer, who was a television writer at the time, before her third husband. The couple was engaged but Hall ended up breaking things off. She later married film producer Michael J. Dubelko in 1987. And it seemed a good part of their marriage consisted of them trying to become pregnant. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and they divorced in 1989. Hall eventually reunited with Sohmer and they married in 1991. Though they were together longer than her other marriages — and had two children — they divorced in 2006.

Hall has been open about her ex-husbands over the years and often shares she is on good terms with them. In 1991, she told Arsenio Hall, who was confused about the whole concept, "The reason you got married in the first place is the reason you should stay in touch with them."

Her character was possessed by the devil twice

By definition daytime soap operas are drama personified. And many soaps push the limits of plausibility on a daily basis. But there are times when viewers are shocked beyond belief when a new storyline is revealed. Such was the case in 1994, when Salem's own trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Marlena Evans, became possessed by the devil after Stefano's attempt at hypnotizing her left her open and vulnerable. She wreaked havoc on the people of Salem, even burning down a church, before John Black exorcised the demon from her. What did the actor think about this never before seen storyline? She told Leeza Gibbons in 1995, "It's great. It allows me to be perfectly evil without any responsibility for it."

As shocking as this groundbreaking storyline was, Hall says it brought new fans to the show. She told "Daily Blast Live," "We had more young people tuning in than have ever joined any daytime show ever." Unfortunately, when the writers revisited this storyline in 2021, fans, who now had social media to voice their opinions, didn't feel the "devil" love. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that the demon did quite a bit of body hopping, starting with senior citizen Doug Williams. And when the "Days" Instagram page posted a pic of Marlena and Doug, who was sporting yellow eyes, the comments section filled with complaints like, "You jumped the shark, please end the suffering" and "If we wanted a devil possession we'd watch the exorcism."

She had two children via surrogate

After years of infertility, Deidre Hall spent two years doing in vitro fertilization in the hopes of getting pregnant, but did not have success. Eventually, as she shared on a 2020 episode of "The Freddie & Alyssa Show," her doctor said she had to call it quits on the process. Then, a conversation she overheard at her doctor's office changed everything. Apparently two friends were talking about the upcoming birth where one friend was having the baby for the other friend. "It just spoke to me of an ultimate gift," Hall said.

After entering a surrogate program and finding a match, Hall and then-husband Steven Sohmer were on their way to parenthood. In 1992, Hall's first son, David Sohmer, was born. Amazingly, as Hall shared in that 2020 interview, it was her surrogate who reached out a couple years later to say she was getting married and if the couple wanted another baby, it was the time. So, in 1995 she gave birth to Hall's second son, Tully Sohmer. "I have two spectacular children and that's thanks to a woman who was so generous to give her body to another woman," she said on "The Freddie & Alyssa Show," getting emotional.

Of becoming a mom, Hall said to Closer Weekly, "In the moment that baby is placed in your arms, it doesn't matter how they got there. ... When a life comes into this world, the air in the room changes." 

Starred in a movie about her struggles with infertility

After Deidre Hall's dream finally came true and she had her two children, she and her husband Steve Sohmer decided to share their story. The 1995 television movie "Never Say Never: The Deidre Hall story," written by Sohmer, depicts her years-long battle with infertility and the triumph of being matched with the surrogate who gave birth to their boys. Hall not only executive produced the film but starred as herself along with real-life friends Wayne Northrop (her "Days of Our Lives" co-star) and Lynn Herring, who also played themselves.

While many applauded Hall for sharing with the world what she went through as well as bringing more attention to the plight of infertility and the option of birth through surrogacy, the reviews on the movie itself weren't quite as united. The Los Angeles Times said, "Unfortunately, the film plays out on such a superficial level that Hall's real-life tribulations become just so much fodder for a run-of-the-mill TV movie." However, a more in-depth article appeared in the L.A. Times the next day, saying, "The film is rich with true-life details, among them videotape from David's birth." Of that particular part of the movie, Hall shared, "Those were very difficult, emotional moments, and they're all there on film." She went on to say that her husband wasn't necessarily writing an infertility movie but more of a love story: the one between Hal and Sohmer and the one between Hall and their surrogate mother.

Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn were cut in 2008

The Salemites of "Days of Our Lives" never seem to get a break from the drama and turmoil that writers inject into their lives. In the early 2000s it was the Salem Stalker claiming multiple lives, but thankfully it all turned out to be a hoax, and everyone was still alive and living on an island. Of course, John and Marlena continued with their on-going battle against evil Stefano DiMera and his crime family. But the couple had a far more formidable foe in 2008 when execs of the show announced there would be budget cuts, and some would have to go — including Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn. This likely, as many reported at the time, a result of the show being at risk for cancellation.

Executive producer Ken Corday told Soap Opera Digest (via Soap Central). "The couple will be happily reunited after a long period of angst and separation and will be off-screen after January for an unknown period of time." And that period of time turned out to be just over two years as their last episode aired in January of 2009 and the couple returned in September of 2011.

According to an article on TVLine.com, the return of the super couple was part of the execs' decision to return to core values, something they say the viewers wanted.

Deidre Hall published a cookbook

Though her character on "Days of Our Lives" rarely cooks and seems to exist on a diet of hand-fed (by on-screen hubby, John Black) strawberries and whipped cream, the actor herself knows her way around the kitchen. "I've always been comfortable. I've never been brilliant, but comfortable is good enough for my family and friends," she said on an appearance on KTLA's morning show to promote her new book, which she co-authored with friend Lynne Parmiter Bowman.

The book, "Deidre Hall's Kitchen Closeup," consists of a variety of options for all meals of the day and features both simple and more complicated recipes that are healthy but taste great. However, the book seems to be more targeted to the convenience aspect. Hall said, "This came out of a need to provide something for every woman ... this is five ingredients, quick, easy, healthy, fun to make." Hall also points to a thorough list of must-haves for your pantry at all times, in case you don't have time to shop, such as olive oil and brown rice pasta.

The actor shared that she and Bowman would like to do a series of books together. And sure enough a year later, the writing duo teamed up again to release another book. This one titled "Deidre Hall's How Does She Do It?: A Beauty Book," which covers everything from skin care and makeup to dieting and wardrobe.

She supports the wounded warrior project

The art and skill of acting is just one of the many talents of Deidre Hall. She also enjoys cooking, knitting, and painting — but as Hall has shown with the publishing of her books on cooking and beauty, her talents are not just a hobby. Hall wants to share them with the world and utilize her art to help others. Such is the case with her painting. Hall has been creating beautiful watercolor paintings for years and at some point, she decided to turn the images into printed holiday cards.

Hall appeared on "Home & Family" in 2014 to talk about her work and the Wounded Warrior Project she supports with her holiday cards. As stated on the back of the card, 100% of the proceeds are donated to the organization. The actor shared that the personal connection she has with the cause is that the surrogate mother who gave birth to Hall's sons had three of her own children, and they all went into the military. "One of them came back wounded, and I got a look at what he had to go through firsthand, which was the appalling way we handle our returning vets," she said.

Deidre Hall's "soldier" holiday cards, as well as other holiday artwork, can be purchased on her website.

Deidre Hall was in two Hallmark movies

The queen of daytime soaps, Deidre Hall is best known for playing Dr. Marlena Evans on "Days of Our Lives," but in 2014 the actor stepped out of the doctor's office and into the boardroom, playing a CEO in the Hallmark movie "Lucky in Love." To promote the movie, Hall appeared on Home & Family and talked about why she loves the network and their movies. "Everybody's going down the road, something happens, there's a little bump, everybody kind of falls apart, and there's lots of lessons, and there's always a love story, and that's what I love about Hallmark." When asked if she did some research or other preparation to play a highly successful business woman, Hall replied that it wasn't necessary because women are so multifaceted. "On our hard drive is how to do a lot of things well," she said.

In 2016, Hall appeared in another Hallmark movie, "My Christmas Dream," alongside Danica McKellar. In this one, Hall also plays another business woman but is the owner of the retail store McKeller's character works for.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Hall told TV Insider she was able to turn to Hallmark movies for comfort and to watch during the holidays. "There's a formula and I don't have to worry about it. The faces change but it's the same formula, so I have that on when I'm baking or when I'm cooking."

A Walk of Fame star for Deidre Hall

Deidre Hall has called her time on "Days of Our Lives" the best job in the world, a place she never wants to leave. So just the fact that she made it to her 40-year anniversary on the show was an incredible thing to celebrate in 2016. But that same year, she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Hall shared on the "Dishin' Days" podcast that it was so surreal hearing the news she really couldn't believe it until she actually saw the star.

Along with her friends and her sons, more than a dozen of her "Days" co-stars were in attendance, including Susan Seaforth Hayes, Bill Hayes, Kristian Alfonso, Josh Taylor, and Lauren Koslow. Veteran actor Seaforth Hayes spoke at the ceremony, saying, "Miss Hall has given literally thousands of performances so wonderfully real they will never be forgotten."

Hall donned a very Marlena-esque black pantsuit and spoke of her time on "Days," how grateful she is, and how longevity is the true measure of success. After the ceremony, Hall said, "One day if the wind blows right, my children will bring their children and just say, you know what, that's your grandma and she loved this town and she loved this business and they loved her back."

Deidre Hall joined Beyond Salem

After 45 years on "Days of Our Lives," Deidre Hall was not slowing down. In 2021, she began appearing on the "Days" spinoff, "Beyond Salem." As the name suggests, this show is not set in Salem, but features storylines where "Days" characters travel around the globe. This series includes current cast members like Hall, Drake Hogestyn, and Chandler Massey to name a few, but viewers will also get to see some of their past favorites like Lisa Rinna, who played Billie Reed, Christie Clark and Austin Peck, who play Carrie and Austin, as well as Charles Shaughnessy, who played ISA agent Shane Donovan. "Beyond Salem" is perfect for "Days" fans who are looking for a faster paced version of the flagship show.

Hall shared her thoughts about the new show on "Dishin' Days" in 2021, telling the hosts that one of the best parts was reuniting with some of her former co-stars. "Because there were so many of us that have missed each other the director had to begin every direction with 'shut up.'"

While the two shows might be filming at the same time but on different stages—which sounds like it could be grueling on the actors—Hall shared she actually felt some freedom and love the added time she's allotted for her scenes in "Beyond Salem." She said on "Daily Blast Live," "This has the luxury of being able to explore a moment and that's been an absolute pleasure."