It all worked out for the best, but at the time… yikes.
It’s hard now to remember that Sharon Case wasn’t always the daytime vet that we know and admire. But, of course, everyone has to start somewhere, and for her, that somewhere was General Hospital. In 1989, the future Emmy winner became the ABC soap’s second Dawn Winthrop, Monica Quartermaine’s long-lost daughter.
“That was frightening,” Case said during a visit to The Locher Room (which you can watch in full below). “I had not gone gone to acting school yet. I wasn’t an actor, I was still really a dancer.
“I don’t know how I booked the job!” she added.
Eventually, the show’s then-executive producer Wes Kenney told her exactly why she’d been picked. He said, “It’s actually because you’re a ballerina, and I know you have the discipline it will take to do this job.”
Now You NYC Her, Now You Don’t
Case didn’t last in the role; it went on to be recast two more times before General Hospital finally gave up and killed off Dawn. But the short-lived gig did begin her daytime career, one that next took her to As the World Turns, where she played poor, unstable Debbie Simon. Scary as it was to move to New York — on four days’ notice, all by herself! — the young up-and-comer mustered up the courage to do it.
Case said that she’d always known that someday she’d work in Manhattan — just not necessarily like that. Memorably, on the ride from JFK, “My taxi driver said, ‘Are you moving to New York City? Do you know where you’re gonna live?’” Taking a paternal interest in the ingenue, the cabbie told her as they drove over the Queensborough Bridge that Roosevelt Island was a safe place to be — and eventually, that’s exactly where she wound up!
Though Case’s stints on General Hospital and As the World Turns weren’t terribly long, they were incredibly valuable. “I learned what to do expect of being on a soap opera,” she said. “How much dialogue you have… being on time and being a professional in a job like this.
“I also learned from the first two that soap operas are a revolving door,” she continued.
So she never dreamed that she would wind up playing Sharon Newman on The Young and the Restless for going on 30 years. Heck, she turned down the audition at first. Back then, she was a regular on a syndicated series adaptation of Valley of the Dolls. (She had Barbara Parkins’ movie role of prim Anne Welles… though she looks a lot less prim in the opening credits below.)
“I was on hiatus from Valley of the Dolls, and the schedule we had shooting [those 65 episodes] was so hard,” Case remembered. “I worked more hours every day than I had ever heard of. I was so tired, and my life was a disaster when we came onto hiatus, ’cause I had done nothing but be at the studio full-time for months.”
Opportunity Knocks Twice
Reluctant to give up her hard-earned vacation — and sure that Valley of the Dolls would be renewed — Case declined to read for Young & Restless. But “weeks later, they asked again,” she said. Touched by that much interest, she came home a day early and tested with Joshua Morrow (Nick). Only then was it revealed that the character’s name wasn’t Connie, it was Sharon’s own name. “Were they trying to sabotage me or something?” Case recalled wondering with a laugh.
By and by, she discovered that Sharon was a re-recast. And needless to say, the part was soon hers. Good, thing, too, because Valley of the Dolls didn’t get a second season. Even now, going on three decades in Genoa City, “it feels,” Case said, “like I’ve been here like six, seven, eight years.”
Time flies when you’re having fun — or, in her character’s case, never-ending trauma.