Six Months Ago He Didn't Have Money for the Rent...Today Fans Want His Autograph
While most actors fondly remember the first time they were recognized in public, Michael Tylo still cringes when he recalls his first encounter with the perils of TV fame.
It was a Sunday afternoon and the Guiding Light star had made a quick trip to the grocery store for a snack to enjoy during a TV football game. Just as he was reaching for a jar of peanuts, a lady with an ear-piercing voice screamed, "You!!!"
Startled, Michael froze in his tracks as she demanded at the top of her lungs, "What are you going to do with Nola and why do you want to kill Alan Spaulding?" The store security guard, as if to thwart some evil deed, reached for his gun as an anxious crowd of onlookers gathered.
"No, no! You don't understand." Michael attempted to explain to one and all. "I'm on a soap opera!" He then proceeded down the aisle, frantically pulling items off the shelf without even looking at what he was taking. His ardent fan was trailing him in hot pursuit of an autograph.
"I'm sorry. I don't have anything to write on," Michael stumbled nervously.
"Here!" said the lady, grabbing a box of Wheaties and shoving it at him.
"Signing the cereal with a "Best Wishes, Michael Tylo," the actor handed it back to his boisterous admirer only to have it promptly returned.
"Michael Tylo?" the lady roared. "What's this Michael Tylo? I want Quint McCord!"
So addled he could barely remember how to spell his character's name; Michael succeeded in satisfying her with the bogus signature and fought his way through the crowd to the check-out stand. It was only then that he realized the extent of his chaotic shopping spree as he watched the clerk tote up several cans of peanuts, three or four bags of chips, an abundant supply of pretzels and wealth of other junk foods.
Looking back he says, "It was one of those terribly embarrassing moments when you've done something stupid and you feel you owe an explanation, even though no one else even cares."
Michael managed to squeak out an unconvincing, "I'm having a party . . .," collected his booty and hightailed it back to the safety of home, only to face his terrified wife who, eyeing the bagfuls of snacks, justifiably asked, "What the hell is all this?"
While he admits that subsequent encounters with fans have been considerably more pleasant, it does seem that Michael Tylo was born to cause a stir. Since his debut on Guiding Light only half a year ago, he's captured the imagination (and a few hearts!) of the show's followers with his mysterious and debonair performance as Quint McCord.
Describing his character as a "19th Century Gothic romantic hero in a 20th Century soap opera," Michael draws upon years of experience as a classical theatre actor to meet the demands of the charming yet enigmatic gentleman who has surfaced as a guardian angel to the pregnant and unwed Nola, played by Lisa Brown. The actor's eyes sparkle when he speaks of the puzzling Quint.
"He lives in this incredible manor, dresses in Victorian roes and housecoats and has a Mrs. Danvers-type housekeeper. The thing I love the about him, though, is that nobody seems to know exactly who he is or what he does. Nola has discovered that he's an author, an archaeologist, and an anthropologist, but he still remains shrouded in mystery . . .and as a result Nola does a lot of daydreaming about his true identity."
This daydreaming has created a performing opportunity that would make Tylo the envy of any actor worth his salt. Over the last several weeks, movie-mad Nola has conjured up a series of romantic fantasies, based on classics from the silver screen, in which she stars opposite her handsome patron. In recent episodes, Michael and Lisa have assumed the legendary roles made famous by Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in Wuthering Heights, Olivier and Joan Fontaine in Rebecca, Fontaine and Orson Welles in Jane Eyre and Paul Henreid and Bette Davis in Now, Voyager.
Michael prefers to be as cagey as Quint when discussing what lies in store for the future, although he assures us they'll be many more cinema-inspired liaisons for the characters. Although briefed by Guiding Light headwriter Doug Marland to a certain extent, even the actor doesn't have all the answers to all the riddles. "You know, it's funny," he notes, "Sometimes an actor shouldn't know everything. Especially in a case like this, if I knew too much, I might give it away." Admitting that acting without all the pieces of the puzzle can sometimes be difficult, Michael believes that honesty is the key. "As long as it's honest, it'll play. Whenever I'm in doubt about how to play a scene, I always recall James Cagney's simple advice, learn the words, plant your feet, look the other guy straight in the eye and tell the truth.'"
The oldest of six children, Michael was born in Detroit, Michigan to parents of Hungarian and Welsh extraction. His father, a successful plumbing contractor, made it clear he didn't want any of his four sons to follow in his footsteps. Michael laughs, "He tells us he doesn't want to retire, move to Florida, and then worry about what the hell we were doing to his business!" Instead, his parents have been highly supportive of his pursuit of an acting career. "They've always been in favor of us kids doing whatever we wanted to do, as long as we were good at it and as long as we worked at it." He proudly notes that, "Neither of them has ever missed a play I've been in. They've traveled to Kansas City, Washington, D.C., Houston and Boston to see me perform!"
Michael got his first taste of drama when, as a member of the high school football team, he was required to take on another extra-curricular activity as the season ended. Taking part in the spring play, he enjoyed the limelight so much he bypassed football entirely the following year. Acting still remained a mere diversion, though. After graduation, Michael did a brief stint in the seminary, re-evaluated his goals, entered college and, not unlike Quint McCord, dabbled extensively in various fields, majoring or minoring, at one time or another, in medicine, law, English, journalism, biology and political science.
It was in graduate school that he met his then-future wife, actress, Deborah Eckols (**remainder of article is missing. If anyone has it, kindly email it to us.)