Honoring TV, stage star Nolan
In All My Children’s Pine Valley, she was Donna Beck. And then, through marriage, she was Donna Tyler … and then Donna Cortlandt … and then Donna Sago … and then back to Donna Tyler again.
But in El Dorado — where the soap star lived with her real-life leading man, husband Robert C. Nolan — she was Candice Earley Nolan.
Nolan, who battled multiple systems atrophy, died Jan. 31 at age 68. A memorial celebration of life service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at El Dorado’s First United Methodist Church.
She married Robert in 1992, and, according to her obituary, the couple “met during an unplanned ‘kismet’ moment eight years earlier, by chance, on an airplane, and he immediately and forever fell under her spell.”
And after years in California and New York, the actress — who was born in Fort Hood, Texas, and grew up in Lawton, Okla. — fell under Arkansas’ spell.
“Prior to their marriage, Candi chose to retire from the screen and stage and move to El Dorado, Arkansas, where, in her words, she began the best role she had in her entire life. She brought enormous joy into (Robert’s) life, and his family’s lives. All who knew her quickly fell under the charm, beauty, intelligence and sweetness of her being,” her obituary said.
Her singing voice, described as a “fouroctave coloratura soprano,” would help her win Miss Lawton and first runner-up to Miss Oklahoma, as well as land leading roles in San Francisco and Broadway productions of musicals including Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease and South Pacific.
Still, she was best known for her 18 years on ABC’s popular daytime drama.
Actress Liz Vassey — who starred on All My Children from 1989 to 1991 as Donna’s stepdaughter and who moved to New York with her mother from Florida for the role — remembers Candice being motherly toward her.
Vassey says, “I was 16 years old, and Candi was pretty much the first person I met on set. … Candi was so welcoming and so loving … and she opened her heart and opened her apartment, and she just took us in like she was part of the family.”
She adds, “I was a kid when I met Candi. … I believe that you learn from people in those situations, and you learn how to act and you learn how to treat other people. I’m forever grateful for her kindness, and I never forgot it.”