TV, film thesp dubbed 'Queen of Soaps'

Mary Stuart, who starred on daytime TV soap for more than 50 years, died Thursday in New York City of complications from a stroke. She was 75.

Stuart, dubbed “Queen of Soaps,” enjoyed a 35-year run on “Search for Tomorrow,” was inducted into the Soap Opera Hall of Fame in 1995, was the first daytime performer to be nominated for an Emmy in 1962 and was the recipient of four Daytime Emmy noms and a special lifetime achievement award for her role as Joanne Tate on “Search for Tomorrow.”

Her career began while she was an 18-year-old “camera girl” at the Hotel Roosevelt in New York City, photographing couples dancing to the strains of Guy Lombardo. MGM producer Joe Pasternak liked her looks and gave her a screen test, which resulted in a contract with the studio. Stuart subsequently appeared in about 20 features for several of the majors including “The Girl From Jones Beach” (with Ronald Reagan), “The Adventures of Don Juan,” “The Hucksters” and “The Big Street.”

In September, 1951, she was cast as the leading lady in “Search for Tomorrow” and remained with the show until its cancellation at the end of 1986. A decade later, Stuart joined the cast of the CBS daytime drama, “Guiding Light” which taped in the same building as “Search for Tomorrow.”

In 1992, Stuart launched the New York BookPALS program, offered through SAG Foundation, in which Screen Actors Guild members lend their talents to read books to children in New York City public schools.

Stuart is survived by her husband of 20 years, architect Wolfgang Neumann, two children from a previous marriage and two grandchildren.

Family suggests donations in Stuart’s memory be made to the Screen Actors Guild Foundation — NY BookPALS, 5757 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036.

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