Hall looks back on her Salem years as she recounts her character's trials and tribulations.
1976 - 77:
Marlena's twin sister, aspiring actress Samantha - played by Hall's twin sister, Andrea - arrived in Salem and quickly had Marlena thrown into a mental hospital while she assumed her sister's identity. Marlena's beau, lawyer Don Craig, came to her rescue.
Although Samantha's presence was detrimental to Marlena's well-being, having her sister on the show was great fun for Hall - and educational, too. "Andrea really didn't have as much training or experience," Hall says. "So the night before a particularly emotional scene, I thought I would give her some pointers. I had trouble crying and I assumed she would,too. She insisted she'd be fine. Wouldn't you know it, Andrea cried right on cue, and so well! She turned the tables and taught me something important. Since then, I've also been able to cry more readily."
Don and Marlena married on March 5. For their honeymoon, they toured the California coast and visited Samantha, who had landed a role on a TV show in Los Angeles.
Don and Marlena lost their son, D.J., to sudden Infant death syndrome. Don blamed Marlena, saying she didn't take care of herself during her pregnancy. The tragedy and ensuing emotional rift eventually destroyed their marriage. 1981:
Kellam Chandler raped Marlena. Then, she started getting strange telephone calls during her radio call-in show at the same time that a serial killer, the Salem Strangler, was murdering women. Roman Brady was assigned to the case and, specifically, to watch Dr. Evans. He protectively slept on Doc's living room floor and eventually found his way into her heart.
Mistaken for Marlena, Samantha was killed by the Salem Strangler. Roman was there to save Marlena when the killer attacked her. The mysterious murderer turned out to be Chris Kostichek's brother, Jake. Roman and Marlena vacationed in Mazatlan. After he proposed, his wife, Anna, returned to Salem with their daughter, Carrie.
Roman and Marlena wed on February 9 - but not without lots of drama. Twice on the wedding day, Stefano DiMera's assassins tried to kill Roman. He evaded them, got married and went off after DiMera while decoy Don Craig played honeymoon bodyguard to Marlena.
An evil DiMera cousin (is there any other kind?), Andre, posed as Roman and killed a woman, framing Roman for the crime. Roman faked his own death to go undercover. When Marlena discovered she was six weeks pregnant (and Roman had been gone eight), Eugene claimed to be the father, and they got "married" to keep the ruse of Roman's demise believable.
By the time twins Samantha and Eric were born on October 19, Roman was back. He was called away again, and this time his death seemed real when, by year's end, it appeared Stefano had killed him.
After Sami and Eric were kidnapped and Stefano attempted to grab Marlena, too, she shot him, and he was presumed dead. Afterward, Marlena dated police chief Richard Cates who turned out to be corrupt.
John Black arrived in Salem. He sought help for his amnesia and, int he course of searching for his memories, Marlena decided he was really Roman, whom Stefano had been holding hostage all the time Roman was presumed dead. A few months later, Marlena suffered her own memory loss. After falling from a window while rescuing a suicidal patient, she was in a coma for two months. When she recovered, Roman/John proposed, and they married. Roman and Marlena's house was blown up, and it looked like she had died, but actually, she was stranded on an island, kidnapped by Orpheus.
Marlena was found by Roman and his cohorts, but he couldn't get to her in time. Roman watched powerlessly as she boarded a plane. She "died" when the plane crashed. Roman killed Orpheus. At the time, Hall was juggling her Days schedule with a concurrent role on the primetime show Our House, with Wilford Brimley. "I did it with great delight," says Hall. "We had a schedule that permitted me to work on Our House five days a week and tape Days on Saturday."
When the series came to an end, Hall left Days to do, miniseries, TV movies and guest spots on primetime shows. Even them she knew a return was possible. "There is no death in the world that soap opera can't revive," she said at the time. Clearly, Marlena knows how to beat death at every turn.
Hall returned to Days. "Marlena's plane went down over the ocean. Who would have dreamed she was such a strong swimmer!" she joked. Marlena woke up in a San Cristobal clinic and returned to Salem, reuniting with Sami, Eric and Roman.
"It was very touching and very dear," says Hall. "I was crying, Drake (Hogestyn, then Roman) was crying, the kids were crying. We were all hugging and sweating. When we finished the scene, we were all soaked!"
"What I love about Drake's work is that he's never afraid to invest in the emotion of the scene," she adds. "Nothing can embarrass him or make him feel self-conscious."
At the time, Roman was engaged to and living with Isabella. But after Roman and Marlena reunited,, Isabella moved out, broke the engagement and found out she was pregnant.
The real Roman returned. DNA tests proved John was not Roman.
Marlena and Roman were again separated when he went undercover to catch Rafi Torres. In a series of disguises, including one as Hazel, Marlena's housekeeper, Roman did his work and stayed close to Marlena, too. Rafi was finally caught, and the couple resumed a more normal lifestyle.
After John's wife, Isabella, died of cancer, John and Marlena realized their feelings for each other were very much alive. John had planned to leave Salem - until he and Marlena made love on his jet.
"It was a moment of incredible intensity that swept them away," Hall relates. "But it was painful for her from the moment it was over, a terrible betrayal of her own values. The audience was able to forgive the infidelity because it had been with a man who had been my husband."
Later, John and Marlena made love during a Titan party. Sami saw the deed, and that rocked her emotional stability. Marlena delivered baby Belle at the Horton cabin with the help of John and his new girlfriend, Kristen. Sami kidnapped Marlena's baby when she discovered John was the father. Belle was returned a few weeks later, during Christmas mass.
Sami has continued to be a thorn in the side of the folks of Salem. "People write and want to know why I just don't give Sami a good smack or two," Hall says. "Smack her? She's in a lot of pain and, as a mother, I just want to put my arms around her, tell her she's loved and somehow find a way to help her."
At Belle's baptism, Stefano manipulated Marlena into telling Roman she had sex with John. The following month, Roman found out John was Belle's father, then John learned the truth. Marlena and the baby moved into the penthouse John bought for them, and Marlena and Roman decided to divorce. "It was shocking that Marlena couldn't get her marriage back on track," says Hall. "I was playing some very honest emotions, dealing with things people face every day."
At Maison Blanche, Stefano held John and Marlena captive in separate chambers. To get the key to John's cell, Marlena performed "a very powerful, grownup striptease" to seduce Stefano. "Stefano has been behind everything bad that's ever happened to me," says Hall. "He's killed my husband, kidnapped my children. We always play a cat and mouse game for very high stakes." Later, Roman rescued them both, then left Salem a month later - but Stefano remained close by.
More infatuated than ever with Marlena, Stefano used a secret passage through her armoire to make nightly visits. In a mind-altered state, Marlena traveled on many fantasy "dates" with him. Something else was altered in Marlena, too. By the end of the year, nasty things were happening in Salem. Marlena was possessed, but no one knew she was the Desecrator.
"It gave me a lot of subtlety to play," says Hall. "Marlena not knowing what was happening to her body allowed her to be completely innocent and forthright, to slowly unravel the mystery of why she was so ill."
Among those touches Hall found some levity. "I liked those early moments of suspicion when Marlena would almost pout, and say, 'John, you don't really think I'm the devil, do you?' We giggled a lot."
When the devil in her stripped Kristen and painted pentagrams on her, "at the top of one of the scenes, I painted her fingernails. We had to get a chuckle in , to let the audience know that there are people here playing parts. The fun of it is knowing it's all pretend."
Marlena's exorcism began. "The victimization is what I abhor about too many women's roles," says Hall of the downside of the possession story. "It was tough to play. Also, the hateful things I had to say were rough. There was one scene in which I had to ad-lib insults to my co-stars for a minute and a half. It felt longer." Uncomfortable contact lenses, levitating over her bed and morphing into a panther were not easy either. Marlena appeared to die from the torment, but John managed to free her of Satan.
In the aftemath of her possession, Marlena was horrified by all the damage that had been done. She cared for her enemy Stefano through his recovery after he was hit by lightning. Of course, Stefano used the situation to his advantage. Eventually, he disappeared but didn't give up plans to kidnap Marlena.
Still in love with John, Marlena suffered terribly when Tony fatally shot himself and framed John for murder. John was convicted and sentenced to die in the electric chair (thought it was the gas chamber?). He wrote Marlena a love letter she didn't see until much later. Kristen, determined to have John by any means, saw to that. Meanwhile, Marlena again tried to seduce Stefano to get Tony's diary which, delivered by the Woman in White in the 11th hour, saved John.
With Kristen's help, Stefano captured Marlena, whisked her away and held his Queen of the Night in a "gilded cage" of a cell beneath the streets of Paris. John nearly met death by guillotine. "Stefano has caused such pain," says Hall. "Marlena has such hatred for Stefano, she could slit his throat in church!" Both Stefano and Rachel Blake (the Woman in White) were caught in an underground explosion and appeared to have died.
Meanwhile, Marlena hid her feelings for John and dealt with Kristen's constant snipes because Kristen was pregnant with John's child.
After Kristen had a miscarriage, Stefano (hiding but clearly alive and well) got Susan, a pregnant Kristen lookalike, to provide Kristen with a child. Susan delivered the baby, became Kristen's housekeeper and Marlena's patient. "I loved working with the character of Susan, and Eileen (Davidson, ex-Kristen/Susan) is such an incredible talent and so beautiful," says Hall. "Susan in such an innocent. She evokes the best in most people. I really want to reach out to her, take care of her."
Roman was presumed dead yet again; Marlena mourned him yet again.
At the DiMera mansion, Susan pulled a switcheroo and locked Kristen and Marlena in the secret room. Between catfights, they watched Susan assume Kristen's identity. In Kristen disguise, Susan almost married John in a weird Elvis-themed wedding. But Laura saved the day, and Marlena and Kristen were rescued before a gas leak did them in.
Soon after, John and Marlena were about to exchange vows when jealous Kristen delivered an alive but dying Roman to the church. Marlena had to live under the same roof as Kristen pretending to be married to John, and Marlena nursed Roman back to health after a cure was found for his fatal illness.
Animosity and a few quick catfights ensued between Marlena and Kristen before Kristen's apparent demise.
"I'll miss Eileen," says Hall. "She is so wonderful. And I'll miss us lunging at each other, tussling, scratching. We laughed so hard!! It was always fun to work with her."
After Roman discovered Marlena and John were still in love, Marlena spent the first part of this year torn between Roman and John. "My eyes welled up every time John kissed me," says Hall. "It's that kind of love and longing."
Right now, Marlena and John are once again free to pursue their passion. But how long will that last?