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Irises: The Unofficial Beverlee McKinsey and Carmen Duncan Home Page


As Iris in the 1970s, Beverlee McKinsey created the mold for "rich bitch" soap opera characters (the writers of Dynasty even stole one of Iris' many last names when they created Joan Collins' more well-known but far less complex version of the archetype, Alexis Carrington) and served as the dramatic catalyst in the almost decade-long Iris/Mac/Rachel triangle, the only major love triangle in soap opera history in which one of the "couples" was not romantically involved (Iris and Mac were, of course, father and daughter). Iris proved so popular that a spin-off, Texas, was created centering around her - too bad the powers that be apparently thought they needed to make Iris nice in order for her to be effective as the main protagonist, and the show ended up being canceled after only two years.

Beverlee went on to play Alexandra Spaulding on Guiding Light, a character that became as enduring and integral to the show as Iris had been to Another World. Alex was a bit softer and a lot more rational and pragmatic than Iris, though ironically she ended up becoming almost as destructive in her obsession with her son as Iris had been in her obsession with her father. I wasn't alive to see Beverlee on Another World and I was too young to see her on Texas, but some of my fondest (and oldest) soap opera memories are of Beverlee's Alex on Guiding Light. However, with Iris having been gone for many years and lightning striking twice for Beverlee on another show and network, it seemed that Another World viewers had seen the last of Iris, because who could ever replace her?

It turned out, Carmen Duncan could, if not replace Beverlee - for that implies one or both actresses were so one-note that they could be interchangeable - at least create her own vision of the character that was marvelous in its own right. A new Iris blew back into Bay City after nearly a decade away, having evidently traded in her halo from the Texas days for a fabulous wardrobe and willing to go to nearly any lengths to maintain her place in the Cory family. Sadly, Carmen did not get the top billing that Beverlee had; by the time I discovered Carmen and Another World, she was mostly pigeonholed as a supporting player. Even when she had little to work with on the page, however, Carmen still brought such pathos to the role that for me Iris was often more compelling just talking to "Daddy's" portrait than much of the rest of the show.

As a final indignity for one of the most pivotal characters in Another World's history, Iris was eventually written out and shipped off to jail after she managed to accidentally shoot and critically injure Carl in a series of plot developments too ludicrous to recall or describe, while her family, who had by that point realized she was innocent, all but forgot about her. The powers that be had such little respect for history that the character who had set her up was soon turned into some kind of a romantic hero - while living in (a dark, dreary, redecorated version of) Iris' gorgeous apartment, no less! - until one of many new writers/producers wrote him off as well. As far as viewers know, Iris was never released from prison, and in fact she was mentioned on-screen no more than a handful of times in the five years that the show remained on the air after she left. On top of all that, due to a stupid preemption for the OJ Simpson trial, I did not even got to see her final episode (although I still recall Iris being dragged out of the courtroom, begging Carl and Rachel to believe her, in Carmen's penultimate episode).

Ironically, both Beverlee and Carmen last appeared in daytime in the fall of 1994 - the latter on Another World, and the former in a cameo on General Hospital, two years after she had left Guiding Light. Beverlee has retired from acting, and Carmen has done some film and television work in her native Australia which I have yet to have the chance to see on American television. Any soap would be lucky to have either actress, but whether or not either of them ever returns to the medium, this website is meant to honor and pay tribute to the lasting impression both of these unforgettable actresses have made on the genre, and on me personally.

It may seem somewhat unusual to create a singular website dedicated to two different actresses because they played the same role, but to me it made perfect sense. The re-airing of Another World on SoapNet has me extremely excited to see the 1988 return of Iris (and introduction of Carmen Duncan), and made me remember how fascinated I was by this actress and character (what seemed like) so long ago. So I began to seriously think about creating a website about her. At the same time, though, I have always felt it was a shame that there is not, to my knowledge, a website dedicated to Beverlee McKinsey, a bona fide daytime legend who has done some of the best acting I have ever seen on television. Unfortunately, I did not have the time - or the material - to create two separate websites. So, I decided to combine what I have been able to find about both of them (including material from Beverlee's stint on Guiding Light) into one website, dedicated to the glorious character of Iris - in both of her incarnations. I hope you enjoy.

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