Susan Haskell - Click to enlarge

Please Mr. Postman

Soap Opera Digest



We wanted to know what really happens when you write a soap star -so we did! Top honors to go....OLTL's Susan Haskell (Marty), who responded the fastest (only days before Christmas), wrote a letter that referred to things in our letter and has a free fan club.

Last December SOD adopted the alias Theresa Piti and sent identical fan letters to one male and one female from each of the 10 daytime shows. Why? We just wanted to see what, if anything, we would receive in return.

So what happens when you write to a star? We mailed out 20 letters on December 15, 1994, and as of April 21, 1995, we had only received nine responses. That is a 45 percent success rate - or a 35 percent failure rate, depending on how you look at it.The nine responses varied greatly in terms of content and style. Some actors sent personalized letters; others sent invitations to join a fan club (some at no cost; others with fees ranging up to $20). Eight of the nine actors mailed headshots of varying quality (seven black-and-white photos, one color). The first response, from OLTL's Susan Haskell (Marty), was postmarked December 22, 1994 - one week after we mailed out our requests. The ninth, from AMC's Eva LaRue (Maria), was sent nearly four months later on March 18, 1995.

By all accounts, actors are overwhelmed by the volume of mail they receive. Haskell agrees: "I was shocked by the number of letters I got when I first started. It goes up and down, depending on the storyline, but some people write 10 times a month! Even if all your friends wrote to you all the time, it would never equal the amount of fan mail you get."

Not that Haskell is complaining. Like most actors, she has heard the rumors that producers compare how much mail that the actors get, and that the actors with the most letters receive the best stories. "The network definitely takes notice of how much mail people are getting," Haskell asserts. "I can't say how influential [the figures are], but they factor in there somewhere, because the network has people counting the mail before they give it to you."

Concurs Haskell, who received almost 3000 letters in 1994: "Writing to everyone is very costly. We're talking hundreds and hundreds of dollars." Still, Haskell was the only respondent whose fan club was free. "I'd feel funny about taking money from people so they could be in my fan club," she shrugs. "They're supporting me, and this is how I can thank them. It's a cost I absorb."