Longtime All My Children star Candice Earley Nolan (ex-Donna Beck Tyler) passed away on January 31 after an eight-year battle with Multiple Systems Atrophy. The beloved soap opera star was 68 years old.
Earley Nolan was born in Texas but spent her first five years in Germany, where her father Colonel (ret.) H.E. Earley was stationed. The family then moved to Lawton, Oklahoma, where she became active in theater and developed her four-octave coloratura soprano voice. She was selected as Miss Lawton and was First Runner-Up to Miss Oklahoma before attending Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. The budding actress moved to San Francisco after graduation to begin her stage career and landed a role in Hair. She decided to try her luck in New York City and quickly landed a leading role in the Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Earley Nolan's AMC career began in the dreamiest of scenarios: in the mid-70s, a casting agent from the ABC soap opera saw the actress while she was eating lunch at Sardi's and asked, "Who is that attractive, Midwestern-looking type across the room?" Shortly after, Earley Nolan landed the role of Donna Beck, a runaway and former prostitute who took on other last names via marriages to Pine Valley heartthrobs Chuck Tyler, Palmer Cortlandt, and Benny Sago.
While starring on AMC, the actress continued her Broadway stage career, playing the lead role of Sandy in Grease and the role of Nellie Forbush in South Pacific. Outside of AMC, her only other television credit as an actress includes a small role as a nurse on Ryan's Hope in 1977. However, she did compete on the game shows Family Feud and The $10,000 Pyramid and appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and The Bob Braun Show.
According to the Lawton Constitution, the actress was a devout Episcopalian and a lay reader in her church in New York. Her favorite hymn was "It Is Well with My Soul," which will be engraved on her headstone.
Earley Nolan is survived by her husband, Robert C. Nolan; his children Rob, Justin, and Carrie, and their families; sister-in-law Lurlene Earley, niece Rebecca Craven, and nephew Dr. Wesley Earley, and their families; and many, many friends in El Dorado, Arkansas; Lawton, Oklahoma; and New York.
Services will be announced by Young's Funeral Directors. Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church, El Dorado, AR, or the John R. Williamson Hospice House in El Dorado, AR. Fans can also sign an online registry at www.youngsfuneralhome.com.
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