Actor Wally Kurth has been a daytime staple since 1987, first as Days of our Lives' Justin Kiriakis, then as General Hospital's Ned Ashton Quartermaine, and now as both, as he recurs on the two daytime dramas simultaneously. One would think that it would be quite tiring for the actor to juggle two roles and could also be quite confusing for soap audiences to differentiate between the two, but Kurth says his unique position has gone quite smoothly in all aspects.
In a sit-down interview with Lifestyle Magazine, the actor explains that both GH and DAYS have been very amenable when it comes to making his dual roles work, which has been extremely helpful over the course of the several years he's been playing both Ned and Justin.
"They've been really wonderful and they let me work one in the morning and one in the afternoon, and they work around each other's schedules because I play established characters on both shows, and I've been doing it for so long, and I'm a recognizable character," he says, adding that fans don't seem to get confused over seeing him in both Port Charles and Salem. "We're part of their family, so they don't seem to mind."
Meanwhile, he's able to personally keep the two characters separate based on how much they differ -- which helps him quickly jump into Ned's shoes, then into Justin's shoes, then back again.
"Both characters are sort of similar but also different," he explains. "I'm a lawyer on one show and a businessman on the other, and I have different relationships with children and parents and stuff, so you know, it's just a different process for me as an actor."
As longtime soap fans know, Kurth is an accomplished musician and part of the band Kurth & Taylor, which used to produce and perform songs for General Hospital under the fictional name Eddie Maine and the Idle Rich. Kurth confesses to missing the days when his musical talents were front and center on the ABC soap opera, especially as it allowed him and the band to raise so much money for The Ryan White Foundation, which provides a comprehensive system of HIV primary medical care, essential support services, and medications for low-income people living with HIV who are uninsured and underserved.
"I used to play on General Hospital all the time. I had an alter ego: I was a CEO by day and a rock star [named Eddie Maine] by night!" Kurth jokes of his soap opera musical history. "[As part of] Eddie Maine and the Idle Rich, the band that I played with, we played about 40 times, we wrote songs for the show, and we used to go out on tour, and we raised money for pediatric AIDS all around the country. We raised about a quarter of a million dollars. And we still have a foundation... but now, we raise money for [the Kurth & Taylor Foundation, which helps various children's hospitals and direct services programs]."
But raising money for charity isn't the only aspect of performing music on soaps that Kurth pines for. He also jokingly confesses to missing the rock star wardrobe: "My character on General Hospital used to wear these black leather pants, and that seemed to get a lot of fan reaction!" he shares. "I don't wear the black leather pants anymore -- my wife won't let me!"
Speaking of his wife, Debra Yuhasz, she and Kurth are the proud parents of a teenage son named Brogan George who has been diagnosed with autism. When asked by one of the hosts of Lifestyle Magazine how he and Yuhasz cope with the extra demands of parenting a child with special needs, Kurth says it all comes down to enlisting help from outside hands.
"I think one of the things that is really important when you have a child with special needs is you need a team," he points out. "There's a lot of mystery to autism, anyway -- it's a puzzle, as they say. So, he's got an aide at school, he's at a special school, [he has] a speech therapist, an OT, and it's just a lot of people who know more than we do. I've learned a lot, but you do need help."
As a special treat for the Lifestyle Magazine audience, Kurth closes out his episode of the show with the performance of a song that was inspired by his son. Click here to watch his performance as well as to view his full video interview.
What do you think about Wally Kurth's interview with Lifestyle Magazine? Which of his daytime roles is your favorite? Would you like to see the actor be able to showcase his musical talents more often at GH or DAYS? What do you think about the way he has approached parenting a child with autism? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.