I woke up today to some unbelievably sad news. My favorite matriarch, Frances Reid, who portrayed Alice Horton on Days of our Lives since the show's conception and who, I believe, was the last living original castmember, has passed away at the age of ninety-five.
Reid's last appearance on DOOL was during their Christmas show in 2007. After suffering two strokes, Reid had trouble walking and seemed to effectively retire from the show and from acting in general. However, she was always Mrs. Horton and often still talked about by the other characters.
In 1999, the grandmother I was closest to as a child passed away. That was during a time I was still heavily involved and invested in the fandom of DOOL, which was in great part all started by that grandmother. In many ways, Reid became a surrogate, "TV" grandmother to me in her place. She had such grace and elegance whenever she was on-screen and could put each and every character at ease with her gentle words of wisdom. She was loved and respected by fictional characters, their portrayers, and viewers around the world.
I got to meet Reid once, at one of Kevin Spirtas and Patrika Darbo's annual talent shows during the DOOL fan club weekend. Reid walked in as a "guest of honor" and sat in the front row with Jacee Jule. Many of the other castmembers addressed her as they took the stage, most notably Bryan Dattilo who half-jokingly apologized to her for his behavior after ripping off his shirt mid-rap.
After the show, the stars would always come out into the audience and mingle with fans, taking photos and signing autographs and whatnot. I didn't want to bother Reid, who at this point already seemed a bit frail at eighty-six years old. But my mother who was with me and a fan as well encouraged me to at least say hello. So I did. I walked up to Reid and just thanked her for everything she had done for the show for the (then) thirty-five years it was on. She was so sweet and thanked me back and patted my hand.
Though I have long-since stopped watching the show, I plan to tune back in to see the characters say their good-byes. I truly hope the show addresses this amazing woman's passing-- instead of just pretending it didn't happen and Alice is still just in her house somewhere-- and pays her the proper respect. Both Alice Horton the character and Frances Reid the woman will be deeply, deeply missed.