Days of Our Lives Legend Suzanne Rogers Talks Christmas at the Hortons, Favorite Storylines, and More
Suzanne Rogers is literally and figuratively a ray of light. Sitting in her warm and inviting dressing room on the set of Days of Our Lives, the Emmy-winning actress has been a fixture in Salem since 1973. Six years later, she took home the golden statuette for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Maggie Horton. But years before that, she graced a different stage—that of Radio City Music Hall—as a member of the famed Rockettes. There were also roles in other Broadway productions like Follies, Coco, and Hallelujah Boy, but it’s her time in Salem that has garnered her the biggest fan following. As viewers saw this week, it’s her presence on the show as a member of the Horton and Kiriakis families that keeps Days rooted in its heritage. In fact, she’s currently the longest-running actress to appear continuously on the daytime drama. Whether she’s hanging the iconic Christmas ornaments or trying to navigate a new home life with Victor and Caroline, Maggie’s role in Salem is only getting better with age—much like the actress herself.
Listen in as we take a trip down memory lane, discuss legendary actors like Frances Reid and Macdonald Carey, and find out what it’s really like being a part of the Christmas episode.
Glamour: What stands out for you about your audition?
Suzanne Rogers: I left my script in the car, and I had to run back out to get it. I remember going into this small room and there was Betty Corday, the head of NBC, and the head of daytime. I did the scene with another actor, but I didn’t know who he was. Afterwards, I felt good about the scene and left. I get in my car, pull out of the lot, and while I’m at a stop light, I hear someone honk at me and turned out it was the actor I did the scene with! I roll down my window, and he said, “You just blew me away!” I couldn’t believe it, but I thanked him, and then the light changed and off I went. This was Friday, the 13th, mind you, so I went home, didn’t hear anything from my agent, and then on Monday, I decided to call my agent and said, “Well, what happened?” He said, “Well, go over and pick up your crutches.” I said, “What?!” That’s how I found out I got the role. I started work on Wednesday.
Glamour: Who was your first scene with?
Suzanne: John Clarke, who played Mickey Horton. I was so nervous, I was scared, and he said, “Use that. Use and it and make it work for you, instead of fighting it.” I had never worked with a man with a beard…so many firsts! So, within a couple of days, or so it seemed, here I was kissing this man with a beard, and it was so many things that just was foreign to me. [Laughs]
Glamour: Mickey and Maggie became such a fantastic couple.
Suzanne: It was so different! We were on the farm [in the beginning]! We wore jeans and peasant blouse and plaid shirts. Farm animals were running around and I’m on crutches, always. Rarely did I sit because they didn’t want everybody having to sit to do scenes with me. They said, “You have to run a house on these crutches.” So, it was carrying things, plates and setting tables, and I said, “It’s a good thing I’m coordinated!”
Glamour: What was your working relationship like with John?
Suzanne: It was great. Susan Flannery told me an interesting story, I don’t think his wife will mind this. [Laughs]. But Susan Flannery said to me, “He has to fall in love with you or he can’t do scenes with you.” And I went, “Oh, that makes me nervous!” [Laughs] So I thought, “I’m gonna get to know his wife real well!” So, that’s what I did. When my birthday came, he said, “Let me take you out,” and I said, “No!” I was just so green about that. This is a scene. When you walk off a set you’re back to reality, and I just wanted to keep it that way. I felt that was the safest thing.
Glamour: Maggie was basically a farm girl when she started. Did you have to change anything about your look?
Suzanne: There was very little makeup put on her and no glam, and I had long hair, very long hair, so I had to put it up in a ponytail a lot. Basically, I just had to tone down my look. And my mom, from seeing me on Broadway, said, “What happened to you?!” [Laughs] By the time [Mickey and Maggie] came back to Salem from the farm, they progressively added a little bit here, a little bit there.
Glamour: What storyline did you love playing the most?
Suzanne: I loved the red shoe storyline. I love that. But I also loved when we were doing the little variety show that we did when we were dancing. I must say though, I loved when they hooked me up with Victor. It was so fun because Mickey was the lawyer, and I kind of was the dutiful wife, and I didn’t have a whole lot of input to say to him. All of a sudden, [Victor and Maggie] were kind of equals. I knew what his background was, and I knew he had been married a lot of times, and that was why I kind of was like, “Ummmm, I don’t know about you.” So, it was kind of fun, and then the audience picked up on it, and they loved it, and they gave us this “Magic” name. John [Aniston] came up to me, he said, “Magic? I don’t get it!” So, anyway, this has been a fun storyline. It’s fun, and it’s interesting to throw Caroline the mix.
Glamour: What is it like doing the Christmas at the Horton house with the ornaments? Do you have an extra pep in your step on that day?
Suzanne: It’s nerves, for me. I tend to be nervous before I work anyway, and that particular day, there’s so much that I can call upon, so much history. I walk out into the set and it’s all decorated, and the wing chair is there, and you see Tom, you see Alice there, so it’s all of that. All of that comes back, and then the minute they open up the lid to the box, where the ornaments are there, there it is.
Glamour: Have the producers ever given you ornaments to have of your own?
Suzanne: No. I always say, “God, it looks like a kindergarten person did that ornament!” because all of ’em have this wonderful scroll script, you know. But it’s dear and it’s sweet and that’s what makes it all so interesting.
Glamour: Talk about your relationship with Frances Reid and Macdonald Carey.
Suzanne: I was close to Mac, I was close to Francis, and they will always be somebody that I wish I could see walk into that room. Wouldn’t that be wonderful, to see them again? And of course, it would be lovely to bring back John Clarke, but, you have to build on that. [Everyone’s] always in my heart, so when I work, it’s there.
Glamour: What scenes have made you most anxious to get right?
Suzanne: Well, I think I was nervous when Mickey was killed off. I think that was very traumatic for me play. It’s hard because in real life he’s not passed away, so I kind of had to go back to when I lost my dad. It was very nerve-wracking. And some stuff we’re shooting right now is right on the edge. But you won’t see that until 2016.
Glamour: How easy is it for you to memorize all of your dialogue?
Suzanne: Well, I’m dyslexic, so I can’t do anything with a lot of noise around. I used to go upstairs to my bedroom and shut the door and not want to be bothered. Some days are better than other. Some days, if your personal life has got a lot of upheavals in it, you know, from different family members or whatever, it’s hard to shut it away and just concentrate. I’m always here early. That’s the old thing for Broadway, too. I was always there early, getting my makeup on, getting into character. That’s what I do here. I mean, they get sick of me, they go, “Oh, we know you’re here!” But I find I need to do that. That kind of shuts out that personal life and shuts out the different things that interfere and I kind of zero in on the things that Maggie’s supposed to do.
Glamour: Was there a wedding that Maggie attended that you loved most to be a part of?
Suzanne: I mean, obviously, Bo and Hope’s weddings were beautiful. Marlena had some beautiful weddings…Susan and Bill…that was lovely. Even the ones that were hiccups because it was the building up to it. Even the one with Kristen and Eric and all that, you go, ‘Where do they think of these things?’ I can’t even imagine having this many [actors] on the palette to write for, and then [costume designer] Richard [Bloore] having to dress all these women and men! Oh my lord!
Glamour: The wedding dresses are so magnificent, especially ones from the ’80s!
Suzanne: Oh, they were magnificent! So amazing.
Glamour: How are you’re most like Maggie and least like Maggie?
Suzanne: I would say I’m most like Maggie because I’m very sensitive, and I think she is too. I think I’m least like Maggie…I‘d like to be more outspoken. I nail Victor [on things], and I’d like to be able do that in real life. Sometimes, to my detriment, people can walk all over you, and I finally get to a point where I go, “Fine!”
Glamour: When you first started on the show, who were you closest to?
Suzanne: Mary Frann. She was my best friend. It was the whole Southern thing, and we loved to shop and cook. She wasn’t a very good cook! She was gonna make these meatballs, and it said a clove of garlic, and she thought that was the head of the garlic. Of course, the house reeked! We ended up having to go out [for dinner]. Just the funniest woman, and I loved her to death. And Susie and I—Susan Hayes, and Mary and I were the blonde, the brunette, and the redhead! We thought we were so cool! She was my best friend.
Days of Our Lives airs weekdays on NBC. The 50th Anniversary book, Days of Our Lives: 50 Years, is currently available for purchase.
Photos: JPI Studios/Howard Wise (river image); Jessica Radloff; Days of our Lives/NBC; Mitchell Haaseth/NBC