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Darlene Conley

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Her Way

Showbiz self-starter Darlene Conley (Sally) reflects on her auspicious beginnings

It's easy to assume that THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL's Darlene Conley (Sally) spouted off dramatic monologues from the cradle or amused her classmates by recreating tragic death scenes in the schoolyard. A born entertainer, right? Wrong.

“I was a rather shy girl who talked funny and looked funny,” says the actress, who admits that the only stage she graced as a child was the one in her head. “I was a dreamer. I made up stories all the time and talked to myself on the street.”

Although this peculiar, studious girl preferred to keep her nose in a book rather than shine in the spotlight, her creative inner musings undoubtedly were the sign of things to come. A daughter of Irish immigrants, she envisioned for herself a more adventurous life than what she had already encountered in the middle-class suburbs of Chicago. Since she wasn't accustomed to being handed anything on a silver platter, Conley knew there would be no fairy godmother fluttering down to earth to grant all her wishes. If she wanted to take the world by storm, she knew she would have to accomplish it on her own.

When Conley heard about a casting call for the part of an Irish maid in a play called The Heiress, the wheels in her 15-year-old brain started turning. Although she didn't have a shred of training or experience, she had gumption galore. “Without telling anybody, I got on the Illinois Central railroad by myself and went downtown to the audition,” she says. “Because I was Irish, and I had red hair, freckles and thick glasses, I thought I was wonderful.”

When Conley arrived at the theater inquiring about the role, the stage door man was amused by the eager ingenue. “He told the producers, ‘Hey, one of you ought to take a look at this,'” says Conley. “I read a couple of lines for them, and that was my beginning as a professional actress.”

That evening, Conley's parents were astounded to learn their daughter had landed a part in a prestigious theater production. “It was an enormous deal to get their permission to go on the road,” she says. “The only reason they agreed to it was because some very respectable people were attached to the project.”

Conley feels fortunate to have found the theater at such a young age. The exhilaration of live nightly performances and the family ties that come with being a member of the company are thrills that have no equal in her eyes.

“I really could have been happy in the 18th century as a member of Moliere's company — roaming around, ostracized by society like gypsies, rogues and thieves,” she says. “Somebody once said I had my hat hanging by the door in a backpack for my whole life.”

Her decades spent on stage are the times Conley says she'd most like to recapture, even though the transient lifestyle demanded by the job left her life anything but conventional.

“It leaves you strange in many ways, because you don't form normal alliances, and your marriages don't work,” she relates. “Things like that get hurt in the process. But I don't think I could have lived my life any differently. I've always just lived by my impulses.”

A wanderer by nature, Conley admits she never really found much stability in her life until landing her current role on B&B.

“It was the birth of Sally Spectra that made me settle down,” she says. “That part was good enough.”

Conley admits there's not a lot that separates her bold, brash, B&B counterpart from her own “do or die” persona. It seems fitting that the same girl who hopped a Chicago train looking for fame and fortune would end up portraying a self-made CEO who never takes “no” for an answer.

“There were never any long-term plans with me, and there aren't with Sally, either,” she says. “She's always right on the edge — that wild character who just acts on her impulses and goes. That's why Sally is such a perfect fit for me.” -- Amy Helmes

HOT TODAY : B&B'S Darlene Conley

We've always loved Darlene Conley (Sally, BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL) because she is outrageous, brash, and not afraid to munch a little scenery.

Actually, given the histrionics at Macy's funeral yesterday -- such screaming from Sally, Stephanie and Thorne-- there were a lot of salt shakers being passed around. Big drama, big heart, big emotion, and a big payoff. Stephanie found out at the funeral, courtesy of Sally, that Thorne and Brooke were an item all hell broke loose.

Having seen yesterday's episode, you'd have to give the entire cast one big A for carrying off some tricky stuff.

At the heart of the matter was Stephanie lashing out at Thorne for "being so stupid." But it was Sally's pain [she even hugged Stephanie!] that got our guts in knots.

From the time that she found out that Macy was dead, Conley has been a hysterical, sobbing, mess. We've always loved Darlene Conley for the light [okay, not so light] comedic touch she brings to the role.

But she has been a marvel playing the drama, and we, sorry to admit, all but forgot that Darlene Conley is capable of making us cry, too.

Darlene Conley is Hot Today for putting Sally back into our hearts. It's a shame that it took Macy's death to do it, but she is there, etched in soap eternity. Macy's death gives Sally many more twists and turns to play.....a true reason to hate the Forrester clan [or at least a newer reason], grief, and no doubt some more anger. [We also can't wait to see how the show explains Adam's being gone in that Michael Swan who played Macy's dad was let go.]

Darlene Conley is also Hot Today because she is a fascinating presence...on or off camera. We love when she is front and center, and munching on that scenery, but even when she is quietly in the background Sally -- and Darlene -- demand attention.

She's gotten ours ... munch, munch, munch. What is your idea of a romantic date?

DARLENE CONLEY: A romantic date would include great food, wine and music. Describe your most romantic experience.

DARLENE CONLEY: I haven't had it yet...lots of practice, though. What is the most romantic gift a significant other has given you?

DARLENE CONLEY: A poor dog who needed a good home, and oh yeah, a trip to England (first class) on the Queen Elizabeth II with a ride on the Concord coming home. What is the most endearing "pet" name a significant other has given you?

DARLENE CONLEY: "Legs" What is the most endearing pet name you've given a significant other? DARLENE CONLEY: "Silk" What is the most romantic gift you've given to a significant other?

DARLENE CONLEY: I gave someone tickets to every important theater event going on in England, including her Majesty's Queen's seats at the Royal Opera House. It was an enormous bill at the local scalper, I can tell you. What qualities would your ideal mate possess?

DARLENE CONLEY: Humor, humor, humor and, oh yeah, virility.