Soap opera fans lost several beloved stars in 2019, and the year closed out with the passing of yet another on-screen favorite. Pamela Payton-Wright (ex-Addie Cramer, One Life to Live; ex-Hazel Parker, Another World) died on December 14 at the age of 78.
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Payton-Wright graduated from both Birmingham-Southern College and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (where she received the Special Medal and the Edmund Gray Prize for High Comedy) before going on to be crowned Miss Tuscaloosa in 1961. She was also named a finalist in the Miss Alabama contest, where she performed a four-minute rendition of Peter Pan in which she played all of the story's characters.
Payton-Wright's acting talents lead to a prolific career as a Broadway actress, beginning with her debut in the 1967 production of The Show Off. She also starred in shows like A Streetcar Named Desire, The Crucible, Romeo and Juliet, Exit the King, The Night of the Iguana, M. Butterfly, The Glass Menagerie, Long Day's Journey into Night, and Mourning Becomes Electra, for which she won a Drama Desk Award in 1972.
Payton-Wright joined the soap opera community in 1979 with the role of Hazel Parker on Another World. However, she is better known for her role as Agatha "Addie" Cramer on One Life to Live, which she played on-again, off-again from 1991 until the soap opera was canceled in 2012. As fans of the ABC soap may recall, Addie was the sister of Dorian (Robin Strasser) and was believed to be dead but had actually been institutionalized by their parents when the girls had been children. With the help of a new medication, Addie was released from the hospital and came to live in Llanview -- where she stirred up all kinds of trouble, including briefly marrying Dorian's ex, David Vickers (Tuc Watkins).
Some of Payton-Wright's other television credits include Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Prodigal, Brother to Dragons, Law & Order, and The Adams Chronicles, the latter of which earned the actress an Emmy nomination.
Payton-Wright is survived by her son Oliver Dickon Hedley Butler and his wife Cynthia Flowers, brother Gordon Trafford Payton Wright, sisters Brenda Payton-Wright Davies and Barbara Payton-Wright Quackenbush, and two nephews, Payton David Quackenbush and Peter Wright Quackenbush.
According to Playbill, a memorial service will be held in Brookville this spring and another in New York City for her theater community. Contributions in celebration of her life may be made to WRC Senior Services and Pupstarz Rescue.
Would you like to leave your condolences for Payton-Wright's family? What are some of your favorite memories from her time on soap operas? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.