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Martha Byrne rejoined CBS's soap opera "As the World Turns" as the beloved Lily in April 1993, having played the role previously from May 1985 to October 1989. In 2001, Martha won the Daytime Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actress. She was nominated again in this category in 2002. She nabbed her first Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Ingenue in a Drama Series in 1987, and has been a five-time Daytime Emmy award nominee for Outstanding Younger Actress. She has previously been nominated for a Soap Opera Digest Award, along with co-star Jon Hensley (Holden), for Favorite Couple. Martha began her acting career on Broadway in the hit musical Annie, in which she played the role of July and also understudied the title role. On television, Martha guest-starred in When the Cradle Falls, a CBS movie-of-the-week. She has appeared in numerous primetime series including Murder, She Wrote, Kate and Allie, Jake and the Fatman, In the Heat of the Night, Doogie Howser, The Young Riders, Parker LewisOver My Dead Body, Pros and Cons with James Earl Jones, and Hearts are Wild, as Lainie Kazan's daughter. She starred in the 1983 summer series The Hamptons and appeared in the television films Pink Lightning; Drop-Out Father with Dick Van Dyke and Mariette Hartley; She's Hired, He's Fired with Wayne Rogers and Karen Valentine; The Harvest on PBS; HBO's Anna to the Infinite Power, in which she played the title role; and the Disney Channel’s The Eyes of the Amaryllis. She also lists working with Bob Hope on one of his specials as a highlight in her career. Martha has also released two CD’s, Martha Byrne, which includes songs that she has performed on As the World Turns, and most recently, Woman Thing Music. Each year, Martha hosts the annual Daytime Television Salutes St. Jude Children's Research Hospital benefit, where daytime stars from ABC, NBC and CBS meet and greet fans and treat them to live musical performances. Daytime devotees have the opportunity to mingle with the stars, as well as bid on over 100 auction items, with all profits going toward the hospital. This will be the sixth year that Martha coordinates and hosts the benefit.
Martha lives in New York State with her husband, New York City Police Officer Michael McMahon, and their children, Michael (b. 5/29/98) and Maxwell Vincent (b. 9/3/02). Martha was born on December 23, 1969, in Ridgewood, New Jersey.
The youngest of four children born in Ridgewood, NJ, Byrne began her acting career at age 10 when she played July in Broadway's Annie. In 1984, she auditioned for but lost the role of Lily to Lucy Deakins because the show didn't think she was enough of a tomboy. But when Deakins quit in 1985, Byrne was hired and played the character until 1989, when she left the show to move to L.A. (Heather Rattray replaced her as Lily.) Though she worked steadily, Byrne missed her family and friends back East and returned to the show in 1993. In 2000, she also began playing Lily's twin sister, Rose. Byrne has received many accolades over the years, winning two Daytime Emmys (for Outstanding Lead Actress in 2001, also nominated in 2002; and for Outstanding Ingenue in 1987, also nominated in 1986). She has picked up seven Soap Opera Digest Award nominations, including Outstanding Lead Actress (2001); Favorite Couple, with Jon Hensley, Holden (2000); Hottest Romance, with Hensley (1998); Hottest Female Star (1997); Outstanding Younger Leading Actress (1996); Hottest Female Star (1994); and Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress (1986).
More facts about Martha Byrne
—Birth name is Mary Martha Byrne;
—Knocked out her front teeth as a teen
—Is a long-time Howard Stern fan
—Watches B&B and Y&R
—Was a student at Immaculate Heart Academy during her early years at ATWT
—Has recorded two compact discs
Martha Byrne hosted the 10th Annual Daytime TV Salutes charity event
'Soapy' Gift Bags Wow Daytime TV Stars at Charity Gala, Raise Money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Klein Creative helped ‘As The World Turns’ star Martha Byrne thank celebrities including Michael Park, Roger Howarth, Tamara Tunie and Eva La Rue for supporting the 10th Annual Daytime TV Salutes St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by creating a special gift bag. One extra bag was auctioned on eBay and added hundreds more to the charity totals.
In addition to impressing the celebrities at the 10th Annual Daytime Television Salutes St. Jude Children's Research Hospital gala this month, the soapy, sexy celebrity gift bags produced by Klein Creative Communications also helped raise hundreds of dollars for the charity. An eBay auction of the exclusive bag fetched $500 this weekend, capping off the $250,000-plus raised at the star-studded October 8 gala hosted by Martha Byrne of As The World Turns at New York City's Marriott Marquis.
Nearly 1,000 fans attended the St. Jude gala, along with their favorite stars -- and the goodie bags were almost as major a presence on the red carpet as the celebs! Many of the 100 Daytime actors attending posed with the auction bag, including Martha Byrne, Sarah Brown, AJ Lamas, and Michael Park (ATWT), Tamara Tunie (ATWT and Law & Order: SVU), Kyle Lowder (Days of Our Lives), Scott Bailey and Kim Zimmer (Guiding Light), Eva La Rue (All My Children), Michael Graziadei and Lauren Woodland (The Young & The Restless), Ilene Kristen (One Life to Live), Amelia Marshall and Rodney Van Johnson (Passions), Ted King (General Hospital) and reality stars like Jeff Varner (Survivor: Australian Outback), Will Wikle (Big Brother 5), and Alicia Calaway (Survivor: Australia and Survivor: All-Stars).
Products in the VIP totes were carefully chosen to suit the lifestyle of a daytime soap star, on- and off-screen. Each bag held $1,000 worth of treats from Amara Creekside Resort, Avon Trade Paperbacks, Besame Cosmetics, Bissinger's Handcrafted Chocolatier, Braincandy, Cakes by Jane, Edible Arrangements, Olay Complete, The Neostrata Company, Prashe, Shopbop.com, Skimpies -- Less is Always More Lingerie, Spa Parties, Stark Sisters Granola, Team Blonde Jewelry, Steaz Green Tea Soda, and Warm Spirit.
Benefit founder and two-time Daytime Emmy Award winning actress Martha Byrne said she was pleased that Klein Creative could work with sponsors to create such a gift for the actors. "We wanted to show our appreciation to all of the actors who took time out of their busy schedules to attend the St. Jude benefit and aid such a worthy cause," she said. "The gift bags were sensational and added to a wonderful night!"
Martha Byrne's favorite charity
Kelley Menighan Hensley and Martha Byrne, stars of CBS Daytime, helped the eBay bag auction for $500. Martha also founded the gala 10 years ago - enabling this year's event to raise $250,000!
1) It's Martha Byrne's favorite charity!
2) It's been going strong for ten years!
3) 2004 was their biggest year ever!
4) We have an exclusive Martha Byrne interview
Martha told us, "We had over 12,000 people this year, and we raised $250,135. I don't know what made this one so huge. Word of mouth, probably. Anytime you do a fun event, people hear about it and come back, but all I do is think about how much money we're making. I'm constantly thinking: How can we make even more money? I'll bring an actor on stage if I think it will raise a bid during an auction. Someone like Michael Park (Jack) really raises the audience's energy. I may look like I'm having a ball (at the event), but I'm always thinking about making more money. I'll do whatever it takes. I want them to have fun and come back next year. I want the return engagement because I feel like this is something I have to do. If you're in the public eye, and you're in the position to help someone, you should. Being able to do what you love is a gift, and you should use it in a positive way. When you're able to do what you love for a living, and make money doing it, it's your responsibility to use it in a positive way."
Martha Byrne Is The Busiest Woman In Daytime!
ATWT’s MARTHA BYRNE (Lily) likes to stay busy. CBS.com catches up with her as she plans the Tenth Annual St. Jude’s Event, works on an upcoming CD and tour and continues to live through Lily’s woes in Oakdale!
CBS.com: This year is the Tenth annual St. Jude’s Event. Are you doing anything special this year?
MARTHA BYRNE: We have a lot of L.A. actors coming in this year, [and also] people that have never attended before, which is exciting. Roger Howarth [Paul, ATWT] is coming this year. After doing it for ten years, you want to bring in new actors and new performers and surprise people with some things, give prizes that you’ve never given before. We’ve got incredible sponsorships this year. The goodie bag is going to be unbelievable. So, we try to kick it up a notch every year.
CBS.com: Are you in charge of putting together the actual entertainment at the event?
MARTHA BYRNE: Yes. I do everything with my mom. We’ve had some great helpers this year with the hospital and my own friends who have done incredible work. You know, planning a party for a thousand people with basically ten people doing it is quite an undertaking. Most of have day jobs, too, so it’s been overwhelming. But it’s almost here and everything seems to be coming together.
CBS.com: When does your planning for this event begin?
MARTHA BYRNE: Probably in January. I take the holidays off and then start hitting up corporate sponsorships in January and February. It flies by. There are certain things that have to be done in certain months. You have to hit people up for money early on in the year because they get rid of it. We’re always busy doing things.
CBS.com: Fans were thrilled with Michael Park’s [Jack] recent singing on air. Will he be singing at the event?
MARTHA BYRNE: Oh, yes! Of course. I always feel like he is the headliner because he is so loved by the fans and he’s such a great performer. He’s one of the most incredible people on stage that I’ve ever seen. I’m truly impressed with his stage presence. He always brings the house down, and people love it. [The fans are] really the most supportive audience in the world. They just support you tremendously. That’s really nice. It’s so rare in this business that you have an audience that is so supportive and that goes through everything with you. They suffer through the hard times and they put you on a pedestal when the good times come. The fans are incredible.
CBS.com: Will you be singing as well?
MARTHA BYRNE: Yes. I’m going to be doing some original material for the first time this year. It’s a sneak peek [at the record that I’m doing]. So, I’m really excited about it. I’m a little bit nervous because it’s my own stuff but I’m also excited for people to hear it. I’ve never performed the songs. It’s always been the day before I decide what I’m going to sing and just wing it. This year I tried to plan a little better. It’ll be fun. It’s always fun, no matter what.
CBS.com: How would you describe your upcoming CD?
MARTHA BYRNE: It’s like if you took Norah Jones, Sheryl Crow and put it in a blender. It has a little bit of a rock feel to it, but it’s very simple. A lot of acoustic guitar, a lot of live piano. I feel more almost like Sarah McLaughlin. Very emotional material. I decided to dig into my life and write about it and express myself through my music. Really let the audience know who I am. When you’re writing music, you’re really letting into them into a side of you that you’ve really never shown anybody before. It’s very personal. Acting’s one thing – they see you vulnerable and emotional but it’s not you, it’s through a character. So, to do something that is your own, it’s exciting.
CBS.com: When will the CD be hitting the stores?
MARTHA BYRNE: Probably the end of the December. I’m hoping. This is so new for me that I don’t know. It’ll depend on everybody else’s time schedule. I’m just taking it one day at a time.
CBS.com: Will you be touring throughout the country?
MARTHA BYRNE: Yeah, I’ll be all over.
CBS.com: As far as ATWT, will you be taking a hiatus?
MARTHA BYRNE: No, I won’t. I’ll be doing it on the weekends. It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s going to be fun. I love performing. I love getting up on stage and singing. As long as you pace yourself and make sure nobody is suffering in your family. I have a great family and support system. My husband is retired; he’s home now with the kids. That makes my life a lot easier because I can not feel guilty about working or not being home as much as I should. I have my husband there. It gives me that freedom to do my work. Work is fun. If it weren’t fun, I wouldn’t do it.
CBS.com: Lily has been through practically everything. What would you like to see happen for her?
MARTHA BYRNE: You know, I really would like to see her independent. Jon [Hensley, Holden] and I both love each other and love working together, but we would love to see them have some conflict in their marriage and deal with that. Both of us feel that we have great material when we’re apart. When we have tension in the relationship, we have really interesting chemistry. That just seems more fun for us to do. I think that’s kind of what we need to do. I don’t know what will end up happening, but they seem to be building real conflict in their relationship. I’m really, really protective of the character because I’ve been playing Lily for so long. I really don’t want to see her get into the position that is uninteresting for an audience. I think she has a lot of life left in her. We’re always looking for things that will be fun and challenging. I see her as an adventurous person, I see her as a person that gets into trouble and makes huge mistakes – I love that about the character – and ends up shining through it all. I just love the character. I’d love to see her get involved in an adventure that messes up her whole life. Lily [at] her best is when she’s turning her world upside down – innocently, really. Just getting caught up in the romance and the moment and the drama and the danger. She just loves danger. As a woman with three children, when you do things like that, you suffer the consequences. There are other people that are involved. You’re not a teenager anymore, you know? You can’t just run off and have adventures in Atlantic City. I don’t think she’s changed that much. I think she’s still that same girl that likes to get in trouble. I’d love to see her do something that makes sense to a certain extent and suffer the consequences. I think why this character has been around for a long time is that the audience knows that she’s going to get through it, just how is she going to get through it. That’s the interesting part of the story.
Martha Byrne speaks about Lily and Rose
Soap Opera Digest: How has Rose evolved since you first started playing her?
Martha Byrne: Making her part of the family, obviously took it to a whole other level, instead of just being a story about a lookalike girl that came out of nowhere. When I'm talking to Hogan [Sheffer, head writer] about it, he's always like, 'I really feel like it's two totally different people.' Which is really great. And It gives me an outlet for myself and for Lily. People are always like, 'You're crazy - why would you want to do this for so long?' And I was warned by many people that I would be burnt out and I wouldn't want to do it after six months. And I feel the opposite. I feel energized and still inspired by it. The work definitely outweighs the negatives of it.
Soap Opera Digest: Do you miss playing Lily as much?
Byrne: Lily is almost taken for granted in a way, because you do rely on her. She's that person in your life that you always expect to be there. And then when they're not, all of sudden you get letters saying, 'Where's Lily, now that she's come back from Malta?' She'll be around. Don't worry. It's one of those things that people expect to see all the time. It's like when I watch other shows, there are people I expect to see, which is wonderful. I'm grateful for it, but that Rose is popular with some of the fans is great. It's more than I ever would have asked for. Not everybody's gonna love her because she's really harsh, but the fact that anybody has an opinion in general just makes me happy.
Soap Opera Digest: Lucinda's acceptance helped a lot.
Byrne: Having Liz [Hubbard] to work off of -- utilizing her personal ability and history and commitment to work and character development -- really helped establish Rose. All of the supporting players around that story, like Tony Musante [Joe] and Anne Sayre [Mitzi], people who just ground her.... I'm grateful for them, because if it's just her by herself, it's not interesting. It's how she relates to other people.
Soap Opera Digest: What is the dynamic like with Liz when you're playing Rose?
Byrne: Very different. Liz had definite issues with dealing with this whole story in the beginning. And I understood that. Liz is really married to history, which makes her the best person to work with, and the most giving person to work with. And she would relate to me differently when I was playing Rose as opposed to when I was playing Lily.
Soap Opera Digest: In what way?
Byrne: She would say things like, 'I don't like Rose. I can't stand her.' Which is true, and it worked for our scenes together, but it was very strange to hear that coming out of Liz's mouth, having played her daughter for 15 years. It just made the scenes even better, because they didn't like each other and they weren't supposed to. They wrote in hugs and we were like, 'No, they don't hug.' It's not Lily. And in the goal of trying to establish Rose as a part of the family, which is what the writers want to do, you can't forget that there is an animosity that Lucinda has for this person who came into their lives and disrupted it and doesn't have much class and doesn't really fit quite right. And Lucinda wouldn't be very tolerant of a person like that. She doesn't have time for people like that in her life. So it was a different working dynamic for sure and really added to the reality of the scenes.
Soap Opera Digest: How long do you expect to play Rose?
Byrne: [Executive Producer] Chris Goutman, from the beginning, said he wanted to have Rose on the canvas for as long as I'm here on the show. His goal was to have Rose be an established character. Whether it would succeed or not, we didn't know, but in his mind, he wanted Rose to be a major part of the show.
Soap Opera Digest: You won an Emmy partly because of Rose. Why did you make a point to thank "everyone in New York and at the studios in Brooklyn" in your acceptance speech?
Byrne: This place, in general, has had a really bad rep. This building... it's like, 'Ooh, you're out there.' That's all we heard about, for years. And when we had to come here, we were so disappointed, because it was being away from the city. But let me tell you, it has been such a great experience. Getting here is hard, but being here is unbelievable. It's just us, it's our own little haven and a great working environment. It's been so great to be here. I loved the crew back at CBS, but these guys, it's been amazing. They've been here since the beginning. They were there through the hours of switching from Lily to Rose and being here until 3 o'clock in the morning with the blood sweat, tears and exhaustion. And they never had a bad thing to say, they were always there to ask what you need and laugh at your bad jokes, just making your life easier. I'm so grateful to them for that. And I had guys come up to me at the after-party, who came in from home because I won, to give me a hug and thank me for mentioning them. But without them, you don't have anything. I just can't even tell you how much they genuinely care about you and want you to be happy. So I had to thank them. They've gone beyond what my expectations are of being out here.
Soap Opera Digest: Was this Emmy better than your first, for Outstanding Ingenue in 1987?
Byrne: It's apples and oranges, because you're a different person. You don't grasp what it is when you're 17. You don't understand it. I came on the show when it was hot, so we had eight, nine people nominated every year. In a way, it's better now, because I can appreciate it more. We came from a different place: the whole show turned around and it was a lot of hard work. I knew the amount of work that I had put into what I had done, but that, to me, was so rewarding - the actual process of it. And actually being in that seat because of that story was such an accomplishment, because it could have gone the total other way. It could have been a total bomb, and brought the show down.
Soap Opera Digest: Emmys aside, you've had a tough year - your husband Michael was in a very bad car accident in February, and then the events of September 11 really hit home for your family. What was it like coming back to work after that?
Byrne: The first day we were back, it was really awful. You couldn't tell jokes and you couldn't laugh. People were miserable. I was doing the scenes [when Rose convinced Barbara to help save WorldWide] and they were awful. I hated them. I will always look at them now and think of that day. I couldn't remember my lines, I was not present at all, very distracted, as was everybody. But the next day, it got a little better, and I told a couple of jokes and laughed. One of the camera guys came up and gave me a big hug and said "Thank you for giving me something to laugh at."
Soap Opera Digest: n light of all that's happened, do you wish your husband would quit his job as a police officer?
Byrne: No. He loves it. He absolutely loves it. He's had so many close calls, and it has to be his decision when he's had enough. It's just like me. it doesn't matter to him whether I work or not. It's up to me. And that is the way it should be. It will have to be my decision. He'd be just as happy having me home raising babies. As long as I'm passionate about making that decision, that I don't need this in my life anymore, but he respects the fact that I do. We respect that about each other, which I think is really important in any relationship. There are times that I wish he would tell me, because I want to take that pressure off myself. But if you make a huge life decision that is based on what someone else wanted, then if something happens, you're always like, 'Maybe I should have done it this way.' When it comes from yourself, you have peace of mind about it. It just works really well. It works perfectly, actually.
Soap Opera Digest: Michael is back at work after his nine-month leave. How will your son handle that, after having his father home for so long?
Byrne: He'll adjust. He's three. He's had a nice life [laughs]. He's doing just fine. I'm actually there more than people would realize. I'm home a lot. But it's been an adjustment since Michael went back.
Soap Opera Digest: Do you want more children?
Byrne: Absolutely. I want to, I really do. Again, it's one of those decisions that comes from me and how I'm going to handle it at work. My husband would like me to have one every year. But that's also one of those things where he goes, 'Okay, I understand. You'll know.' So even though I know how he feels about it, he's leaving it in my court. There's no pressure from him whatsoever.
Soap Opera Digest: What is a perfect day for you?
Byrne: I think I had it. I just went with my son and husband on a four-mile walk. It was so beautiful. The leaves were changing, and we had a picnic. It was so peaceful and heavenly. That, to me, is a perfect day. Just to relax, don't answer the phone. Get away from the phone as much as I can. And kind of just get out and have quality time. Especially now, after everything that's happened.
The 10th Annual Daytime Television Salutes St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Chaired by Emmy Award-Winning Actress Martha Byrne of As the World Turns
Friday, October 8, 2004
The Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway (at 45th Street)
New York City
Join actress Martha Byrne and more than 90 daytime stars from As The World Turns, General Hospital, Days Of Our Lives, Guiding Light, All My Children, One Life To Live, The Young and the Restless, Passions and The Bold and the Beautiful as they unite on Friday evening, October 8, at the New York Marriott Marquis for the 10th Annual Daytime Television Salutes St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Hundreds of fans from across the U.S. are expected to attend this star-studded affair. Come mix and mingle with your favorite daytime personalities, enjoy a continuous hot buffet, open bar (beer, wine and soft drinks), dancing and entertainment by "The Party Dolls" and many talented actors. Participate in the fabulous live, silent and Chinese auctions; take a chance to win fabulous prizes in our Mail and In-house Raffles; and most importantly, help raise money for the life-saving work of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Our auction contributors provide high-end designer clothing and accessories, jewelry, sports packages and memorabilia, primetime scripts, logo items and tickets, spa and restaurant certificates, hotel stays, club passes, travel packages, theater tickets, baskets of designer cosmetics, beauty packages, children's toys, games and furniture, plus daytime memorabilia and logo items from all your favorite shows.
All proceeds from the event go directly to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Martha Byrne: From The Heart
As she prepares for the American Heart Association's Heart Walk on May 2, AS THE WORLD TURNS's Martha Byrne (Lily) shares the miraculous real-life survival story that came close to her own heart.
"A little over a year ago, we were still living in Rockland County [NY], and my neighbor, Lisa Ross, dropped dead. She literally was playing Play-Doh with her children and just collapsed. Thank God her husband, a New York City fireman, was home. He works crazy hours and he's also a contractor, so he's not home a lot. And they have a huge house, so he could have been up in the shower and not heard anything. But he happened to be in the room at the exact time that it happened. He called my husband, Mike [McMahon], right away, and Mike went over and they performed CPR on her. She wasn't alive -- I mean, she had no pulse, but they kept oxygen going through her body until the EMTs came and shocked her three times to get a pulse. Basically, there was a mischarge in the message from her brain to her heart and her heart just stopped. It's a freak thing; it never would have shown up on any kind of EKG unless it happened at the exact moment she was getting it. It's crazy -- she's 38 years old, with two babies.
"Luckily, all the stars aligned and the right people were there at the right time. My husband did compressions and her husband was breathing for her. Her daughter never would have known to dial 911, even though she's 4. She just freaked out when it happened. My friend doesn't remember it. The last memory she has is seeing a movie that I did when I was 12, which was on TV two days before this happened! She doesn't remember being in ICU. She was there six days, in a coma for three. And they didn't know whether she had severe brain damage or not. But she would watch AS THE WORLD TURNS in her room and kind of [wake up] and look at me and tell her friends that I played a 'tarty girl,' which is good because it meant that she was remembering something. It was very weird, because people who have amnesia don't have it like they do on soap operas. They don't know to be upset that they can't remember their own children. They don't know to be sad; they don't miss something they don't know. She had no sadness about it. It was such an interesting thing to watch as an actress. Thankfully, she's fine now. She has a defibrillator in her heart in case it ever happens again.
"Lisa was the 'Save of the Year' for the American Heart Association and is a 'Celebration of Life' honoree at the [Douglas Cole-Hatchard Heart Walk] at Rockland Community College Fieldhouse on May 2. I'm going with my family, and Kelley [Menighan Hensley, Emily] will be there, and I'm trying to get Michael Park [Jack] to come, too, to kind of support her and get more awareness to taking care of yourself. Because you just never know. She's a dear friend, and it's a relief to have her with us. So, we're going out and hopefully we'll get a nice day, bring the kids and raise some money."