Where are They Now? Michael Tylo (ex-Matt Connolly, 1986-88)
June 8th, 2008
by The All My Children History Project
Soap Opera Veteran Tylo Continues to be in a "New York State of Mind."
Michael Tylo's (Matt Connolly) decision to join the cast of All My Children in 1986 was prompted both by his love for Daytime television, and his love for the great city of New York. "I was in LA doing episodic television. I had a run-in with my agent out there, so I called my agent in New York. I told her, I needed to get back. I told her, 'I can't stand LA,'" Tylo said.
Tylo made his name in daytime television with his role as gothic hero Quint Chamberlain on CBS' Guiding Light. "I really liked Guiding Light and Lisa Brown," Tylo said referring to his onscreen love interest Nola Reardon. "She was terrific for that show. You would not find a harder working actress. She was doing 42nd Street on Broadway, taking Wednesdays off for the matinee, and even sometimes worked the morning set, and was seven months pregnant."
In 1986, Tylo's agent told him about an opportunity to join the cast of All My Children in the role of Matt Connolly. The role would have him working closely with Susan Lucci (Erica Kane). "I didn't care if I had to audition or not. So, I went back [to New York] for the audition, came in, worked with Susan Lucci a bit," Tylo said, "I went back to the hotel they put me up in, and that night, they told me I got the role."
"I immediately sent Susan Lucci one-dozen white roses," Tylo said.
The casting director only had a few notes of Tylo, "They said he [Matt] was a soldier of fortune, and I asked if I could grow a beard. That was it," Tylo said. "They put me in a soldier of fortune outfit with a mesh t-shirt I did not care for at all. I was scruffy," Tylo said. "Jacky Babbin (then Executive Producer) said, 'I want this guy to be different.'"
Matt was different, especially from Tylo's signature role as Guiding Light's Quint. "The fans opinions initially were kind of low. They expected the same kind of guy," Tylo said. "Quint was kind of a gothic fantasy. This guy, this guy was real."
Tylo was immediately featured in a front burner storyline opposite Lucci, and the Jeremy Hunter/Natalie Marlowe triangle with Jean LeClerc and Kate Collins (now Janet Dillon). "When I came on, Julia Barr's character (Brooke English) and Susan Lucci's character (Erica Kane) were in a plane crash. Jeremy called me to go find them. My character was already in South America, in some mythical country," Tylo said. "When I showed up to rescue them, they looked disgusted by me. It was fun."
"Kate Collins, Jean and I went out for drinks to get to know each other my first day. We would tease Jean because he was French Canadian," Tylo said. "I used to say he was not really French." Tylo enjoyed the dynamic of his friendship with the onscreen Hunters. "All I knew was that I was supposed to help Jeremy. He was my boyhood friend," Tylo said, "and Kate's (as Natalie) friend too." When it came to Erica Matt, "was the third wheel. He [Jeremy] was always after her, she was always after him. They left me up to me own devices."
Tylo became fast friends with his new ensemble. "I had a good feeling about this show," Tylo said. Original cast members Ruth Warrick (ex-Phoebe English) and Ray MacDonnell (Joe Martin) guided Tylo through the ups and downs of his personal life. "When I came on the show, I was divorcing my first wife. She [Warrick] came to me and told that, 'this would all pass,'" Tylo said. "Ray, we had the same entertainment attorney. When I was having kids, I asked him for advice about education and stuff. There were no problems with people on that show."
"The people were genuinely nice," Tylo said about the cast at that time. Tylo became especially close to Lucci because of their time onscreen. "She was the welcome wagon, she made feel comfortable. When you work with professionals like that, who are not worried about their position, everything is great," Tylo said. "I would tease her, she would tease me back."
At Guiding Light, he received a similar reception from the late Charita Bauer (ex-Bert Bauer). "Mrs. Bauer, my mother watched this soap, my grandmother watched it they all asked me about Charita. My first day, she took me around."
Tylo's teasing with Lucci made its way to the small screen. "I began calling her 'Sweet and Low,'" Tylo said, "She was so short. She said it was kind of cute. So I would flirt back with her like the guys would in the 50's and 60's." The writers took notice, "All of a sudden that stuff started appearing in the scripts," Tylo said. "It was part of the character, and it worked because it was not smarmy. I made it a term of endearment."
"I learned a lot from the old Hollywood actors," Tylo said. Tylo shared his love for old Hollywood with James Mitchell (Palmer Cortlandt). "We both did the same role of Marco the Magnificent in Carnival. Jimmy was the ballet dancer in Oklahoma too," Tylo said. "We would talk about the old days, old actors. I would listen to Jimmy because he forgot more than I knew about the business."
"You have to steal from the best, and I would steal from Jimmy," Tylo said. "I really liked the guy. He was so dapper and great."
Mitchell's onscreen rival David Canary (Adam and Stuart Chandler) shared a dressing room with Tylo. "We used to go around and around about politics. I used to say things to get his blood moving," Tylo said. Tylo took on the challenge of dual roles when he played Rick and Blade Bladeson on The Young and the Restless. Contrary to popular belief, Tylo was not paid twice for playing dual roles. "No, it is not true," Tylo said. "Maybe David does because he started doing that for such a long time, but I was never paid twice."
His closest friend on set was probably Mark LaMura (ex-Mark Dalton). "We started a group called the 'Bad Boys.' His (LaMura) character was a drug addict and I was a soldier of fortune and womanizer," Tylo said. "We invited people from different soaps who played the same kinds of role to join. We raised money for a charity, the Mother Hale charity for heroine addicts."
LaMura and Tylo's bond came from the similar childhoods. "We were raised Catholic, so we went to mass at our lunch hour, then would hang out," Tylo said about their daily routine. "Matthew Cowles (ex-Billy Clyde Tuggle) was a daily communicant too, so he would go to mass with us sometimes."
The "Bad Boys" continue to stay in touch to this day. "Mark and I were two days different in age. He always calls me on my birthday to say, 'Happy Birthday, Old Man!'" Tylo said. "I talk to Mark all the time. He came out here to Las Vegas when he shot one of the last episodes of Sopranos he keeps in touch with people."
"You would have disagreements about scenes and stuff, but I know I buttered my bread and I was not going to screw the pooch on it," Tylo said.
Tylo was also made friends with the crew. "Being a blue collar kid from Detroit, I got along with them. My father was a blue collar guy. I was raised in that environment," Tylo said. "I approached my job as an actor the same way a plumber does his. Thomas Aquinas said, 'art is the act of doing something well.' If a plumber does his job well he is an artist. If I do my job well, I am an artist too."
"I always had a thing for the crew because they can make or break you," Tylo said. "They would have shots they would like to try and I would listen to them. I told them it was easier to move me than to move the camera."
Tylo appreciated how the higher ups at ABC encouraged their actors to pursue side projects. "They let me do Broadway shows, and films. They wanted you to recharge your batteries doing something else," Tylo said.
One cast member with an illustrious side career was Candice Earley (ex-Donna Tyler). "I would watch her sing. These people, they not only supported you for what you did for them, but outside things," Tylo said. "I remember going to see Candi perform and bumming a ride with Susan Lucci and Helmut (Huber, Lucci's longtime husband)."
Earley and Tylo actually became friends before their time together at All My Children. "We did a 'handshake and wave' some place, we did so many of them," Tylo said about their first meeting. "We landed in Pittsburg Airport, and after lightning hit the tower and no planes were leaving." Earley and Tylo had work the next day in New York at their respective shows. "So, we stood in line, rented a car, and drove all night back to New York. She dropped me off, I arrived as soon as I was supposed to work."
Another personal onset anecdote was the day Collins brought her father, Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins to work. "Subsequently, in my other travels, I met Buzz Aldren and Neil Armstrong. So, I got to meet all three of them."
"Kate was hell on wheels," Tylo said. "She was as professional as they came."
"Kate, Jean, Jimmy, Taylor Miller (ex-Nina Warner), David Canary, they were secure in what they were doing," Tylo said. "Even old Ruth, they would help you unbeknownst to yourself that they were helping you." Tylo fondly looks back at the actors he has had in his company, "Charita Bauer, Susan Lucci, Eric Braden (Victor Newman, The Young and the Restless), how lucky can an actor be in a lifetime?"
Tylo also worked with daytime television royalty behind the scenes, having worked under Douglas Marland, Bill Bell, and Agnes Nixon as Headwriters. "Irna Phillips developed the whole thing: the formula, everything else. She had Bill Bell, Agnes Nixon, and Douglas Marland working for her at one time. You were learning from the master."
Henderson Forsythe (ex-David Stewart, As the World Turns) and Tylo commiserated about working with these legends. "He told me, 'When you are enjoying word for word what they are giving you, you are really enjoying it.' Agnes, Bill, Marland, they were the best writers I have worked for. It was my privilege to know them."
"I have learned that when a writer knows what they are doing, you what the writer wants. I did what Agnes wanted," Tylo said about his former boss. "I always saw her. Then, there was another writer (Winser Washam), but it did not ever veer off from what she wanted. Agnes knew what she was doing from the get go, I never had any qualms or cautions. I just did it, and knew if it worked I did it right."
He had to put his faith in the writer's hands when they decided to place Matt between daytime supercouple Cliff and Nina Warner (Peter Bergman and Miller). "I knew this could make me sink or swim. It was awfully tough to come between them. I did it before," Tylo said. "I had to do it in such a way where the audience may not have liked it, but they would still like me." This daunting task was made easier by Tylo's friendship with Bergman and Miller. "I am still friends with Pete, we worked together again at The Young and the Restless. There has to be chemistry between two people for it to work, and fortunately there was chemistry with Taylor."
Bergman and Miller's love story dominated the eighties, and the couple saw four onscreen marriages. Tylo was a newcomer to the canvas and knew fans were dedicated to the couple's happiness. "Most of my beginning stuff was based on Susan, Jean and Kate I think this story was more of Cliff and Nina having a falling out." Matt and Nina would marry onscreen, and even share a supposed child, Mikey Connolly Warner (played by Miller's real life daughter Elizabeth Avery Tullis).
Another trademark for the eighties in Pine Valley was location shoots, and Tylo was in many of them because of the adventurous nature of his character. "It cost so damn much, and it never really added to it. You just couldn't do it well. If you were on location, you were just shooting video. It would look better on film," Tylo said. "Video is just so two dimensional."
"I don't know know about moving stuff on location or the handheld stuff. There are certain movies I like it in but I am disturbed by too much of the hand held stuff," Tylo said. "It can be too much. If it is used like on NYPD Blue for effect, it is more effective than as a format."
One memorable location shoot for Tylo was the helicopter jailbreak episode that called for Matt to fly a helicopter. "It was a really tough day because there was so much stuff I had to pretend to do. I had never flown in a helicopter, let alone drive one," Tylo said. The day did not end there. "I had to finish up the helicopter scenes in the morning and be back at the studio to tape the rest of the day. The only way I could go back was to take the helicopter back to the city," Tylo said. This is where the real adventure began.
"The guy driving the helicopter was a Vietnam vet. He flew me all over these places. At one point, he flies me under a bridge and you could see the cables hanging from it. I was scarred crapless," Tylo said about the flight home. "He got me back to the City, and I got back to the studio to shoot my scenes."
Tylo's high flying days came to an end in 1988, when Nina and Matt left Pine Valley together. "She (Miller) wanted to leave, and they were going to keep me. But I did not want to, you know, just hang around. No one came to me with any ideas for Matt," Tylo said. "I did not want to sit in the background, waiting for an exit."
"I did not want to be that guy who went upstairs to check something, and then disappear," Tylo said, alluding to the infamous Bobby Martin incident of 1970. Unfortunately for Tylo, his character Quint on Guding Light would share that fate after Tylo's return to his alma mater in 1997. "I (Quint) went to the restroom and never came back."
Nina and Matt returned to Pine Valley in 1989, but Matt had a new face with actor Stephen Fletcher. "In the spring of '89 from Janaury to June, I was doing General Hospital, I think that was what happened," Tylo explain. "Hell, if I was not doing General Hospital, I would have come back in a New York minute."
"There is something about that show and New York, it always seemed more real to me than other shows," Tylo said. "I always had good feelings about All My Children."
Tylo's daytime career continued into the nineties with roles on General Hospital, The Young and the Restless and time back at Guiding Light. "I went back to Guiding Light as Quint in 1997. I thought I was going back to stay," Tylo said. But after some creative changes behind the scenes, Tylo found himself an out of work actor again in the city that he loved.
In 2005, Tylo attempted to return to Pine Valley when he tried out for the new role of Dr. Greg Madden, a role that eventually went to Ian Buchanan. "I was just in town when I saw the casting call, and the casting director did not know me," Tylo said. "The writer at that time [Megan McTavish] she said that the fans would say, 'No, that is Matt Connolly!' It [his run as Matt] was only two years. I didn't think that people would."
Tylo would eventually relocated to Las Vegas where he is a Film and Theatre Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "I have a Masters in Fine Arts. I love scholarship," Tylo said. Tylo went to graduate school with a future All My Children cast member, Mark Pinter (ex-Roger Smythe). "Actually, Jean, Mark and I were going to do a production of the show Art, but the backing fell through," Tylo said. Today, Tylo advises other students pursuing a Masters degree.
Though removed from the daytime scenes in Los Angeles and New York, Tylo relies on some of his old friends from time to time . "Chris Holder (ex-Wade Matthews), he played a character marrying Ruth Warrick, and he was going to take all her money," Tylo said, "I had Chris come in to my class to teach. He now teaches for Ivana Cubbuck in LA."
Holder recounted a funny moment onset that involved the legendary Warrick as Phoebe. "They had a whole wedding ceremony. They did the whole thing like they did at rehearsals, but when they said, 'you may now kiss the bride,' he [Holder] went to give her a peck and she [Warrick] grabbed him, and slipped him some tongue," Tylo remembered. "I fell out! Everyone fell out!"
Tylo also heard from his former castmates during one of the most trying times of his life, the death of his son Mikey Tylo from an accidental drowning. "I heard from a lot of them when Mickey passed away: Jean leClerc, Kate Collins," Tylo said.
"Mickey told me I had to relate with these kids (his students). He would not let me dress like the other college professors. He was a great kid. He was a kid," Tylo said. "He had his good points and bad points, and I loved him no matter what."
"I think about him everyday," Tylo said. "It's tough."
As for Tylo's immediate plans, he is spending three weeks in New York with his fiancee, Rachelle Reichert. He is always hoping to get back into acting. "You know professors either have to write or do, and there is nothing I feel compelled to write," Tylo said. "I am going back to dip my toe in the water to see what is going on. I do want to go down to All My Children and see how it is working. I am teaching a Daytime Drama class next semester. I want to see if I can get on set and observe. I always believe that what I have to give the students has to be fresh and things have changed on the soap set," Tylo said. "If they wanted me back on a soap in New York, this would be a great way to tell people I am still here."