Dusay in a still from the TV series Star Trek, 1968
Marjorie Ellen Pivonka Mahoney
February 20, 1936
Russell, Kansas, U.S.
|Died||January 28, 2020 (aged 83)|
John Murray Dusay
(m. 1955; div. 1961)
(m. 1967; died 1987)
Marjorie Ellen Pivonka Dusay (; née Mahoney; February 20, 1936 - January 28, 2020) was an American actress known for her roles on American soap operas. She was especially known for her role as Alexandra Spaulding on Guiding Light, a role she played on and off from 1993 through the show's 2009 cancellation, as well as the wife of Douglas MacArthur in the 1977 movie MacArthur.
In 1967, Dusay was a member of the Session, an improvisational comedy group in Los Angeles. Her dramatic debut occurred December 21, 1967, in an episode of television's Cimarron Strip. She appeared in the film Sweet November (1968).
Dusay started her career with a small role as a waitress alongside Elvis Presley in the film Clambake in 1967. In 1968, Dusay played a special agent in the TV series Hawaii Five-O, in an episode titled "Twenty-Four Karat Kill", as well as appearing three times as seductive temptresses on Hogan's Heroes. In 1968-69 she played Gloria in the CBS comedy Blondie.
She made numerous guest appearances on popular television shows in the late 1960s and 1970s. She played alien Kara in "Spock's Brain", the first episode of season three of Star Trek. In it, Dusay delivered arguably one of the most memorable lines of the original Star Trek: "Brain and brain--what is brain?!" She was a popular guest at Star Trek fan conventions, often appearing with personal friend and fellow Star Trek actor Michael Dante. She appeared on Daniel Boone in its 1969 episode "Benvenuto... Who?" as a beautiful French diamond thief named Eugenie.
She starred as Jean MacArthur in the 1977 film MacArthur, and guest-starred as Blair Warner's mother, Monica Warner, on The Facts of Life. In 1982, she appeared as Kate Hanrahan, a madam/con artist, in several episodes of Bret Maverick, in 1982-1983, she portrayed Beverly Tepperman in Square Pegs, and in 1979 she was Jennifer in Stop Susan Williams.
Already an established actress when she began her long career on daytime TV, she made her soap debut in April 1983, replacing Carolyn Jones as the powerful Washington, DC, matriarch Myrna Clegg on Capitol, which she played through the final episode in March 1987. As the rival of the kindly Clarissa McCandless (Constance Towers), she had a part in practically every storyline, as well as a steady leading man in veteran film actor Richard Egan. Marj received two Supporting Actress Soap Opera Digest nominations for this part.
She then took over for Shirley Anne Field as the troubled Pamela Pepperidge Capwell Conrad on Santa Barbara from 1987-88 and in 1991. As C.C. Capwell's first wife and Mason Capwell's mother, she also became the mother-in-law to Mason's half-sister, Kelly, who married Pamela's other son, Jeffrey Conrad. A brief affair with C.C. ended badly, causing Pamela to go insane and try to kill Kelly. Her 1991 return had Pamela seemingly recovered, but quickly slipping back into insanity when Mason took her to C.C.'s for a surprise dinner. In 1993, she filled in for Louise Sorel as "Vivian Alamain" on Days of Our Lives while Sorel was on medical leave, having several romantic scenes with veteran actor John Aniston and working with future Guiding Light co-star Crystal Chappell. After a nationwide search for an actress to take over for the enormously popular Beverlee McKinsey, Marj began as Alexandra Spaulding on Guiding Light in August 1993, remaining on the show until March 1997. She returned for a brief stint from November 1998-February 1999, but could not resist the chance to create her own part.
Summer 1999, Dusay starred in Andrew Repasky McElhinney's period art-slasher film, A Chronicle of Corpses (released 2001). The film made a "festival splash" and was praised by Dave Kehr of The New York Times as belonging "to the small but significant tradition of outsider art in American movies - films like Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls or George Romero's Night of the Living Dead - that reflect powerful personalities formed outside any academic or professional tradition." Dusay was praised for her performance as "Grandmother Elliot" in A Chronicle of Corpses which culminates in a tour de force seven-minute monologue for her character. Dusay received uniformly good notices and several acting awards for her work in A Chronicle of Corpses the including winning the prestigious Silver Unicorn for Best Actor ("Unicornio de plata a la mejor Interpretación" -- the highest acting honor) at The 3rd Annual Estepona Fantastic Film Festival (held in Spain 23-29 September 2002). A Chronicle of Corpses was named one of the Top Ten Movies of the Year by The New York Times and The Village Voice and its original camera negative is in the permanent collection of MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art (New York). On the occasion of her death, Film International published a fond remembrance of Marj Dusay by A Chronicle of Corpses writer/director Andrew Repasky McElhinney.
Marj finally originated a soap role as the evil Vanessa Bennett on All My Children from 1999-2002. As the mother of Dr. David Hayward (Vincent Irizarry, her co-star from Guiding Light) and Leo DuPres (Josh Duhamel), she also became Palmer Cortlandt's last wife, giving her another legendary leading man in James Mitchell. After Vanessa's supposed demise after she was revealed to be a drug lord, Marj was persuaded to come back to the show, this time replacing Joan Collins, who left three months into a six-month contract. In late May 2005, Dusay was one of several cast members taken off contract due to budget cuts. The show later asked her to remain with the show on recurring status. Because of her popularity in the role, Marj was given a front-burner storyline in 2006 that had Alexandra marrying a younger man to keep him in the country and scheming to keep him out of a younger woman's bed. While her appearances were greatly reduced after this story ended, she began appearing more upon the return of Grant Aleksander (Philip Spaulding) in 2009. CBS announced that Guiding Light was being cancelled on April 1, 2009, with the last show set to air in September. She appeared in Guiding Light's final episode, which aired on September 18, 2009. The character of Alexandra had a "happy ending" when old lover Fletcher Reed came to squire her off on a round-the-world cruise to help her deal with the death of her brother, Alan.
In 1955, she married a doctor, John Dusay; they divorced in 1962. They had a son and a daughter, Debra, who is an actress. In 1967, she married Thomas Perine, who died in 1987.
Beginning in 1984, Dusay sponsored the Marj Dusay Celebrity Golf Tournament in Russell, Kansas. The event was designated as a fundraiser for the Kansas Child Abuse Prevention Centers and for establishing a statewide hotline.
Daytime Emmy Awards
Soap Opera Digest Awards