|Died||January 14, 2007 (aged 72)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Bill Woodson (1959–1966) (divorced)|
Kurt Hensch (1970–1981) (divorced)
Darlene Conley (July 18, 1934 – January 14, 2007) was an American actress.
Conley's career spanned fifty years, but she was best known for her performances in daytime television, and in particular, for her portrayal of larger-than-life fashion industrialist Sally Spectra on The Bold and the Beautiful. Conley played the role from 1989 until her death seventeen years later. Darlene's character Sally is the only soap opera character to be displayed at Madame Tussaud's wax figures galleries in Amsterdam and Las Vegas.
Life and career
Conley, an Irish American, was born south of Chicago in Chicago Heights, Illinois, the daughter of Melba (née Manthey) and Raymond Conley. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Conley was employed with the traveling theater group the Chicago Uptown Circuit Players and Playwrights Company. She earned a bit part in the movie The Birds, which was followed by similar small roles in movies like Valley of the Dolls and Lady Sings the Blues. Darlene also appeared in the first episode of the fifth season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show as a prison warden.
Darlene played as the tough kitchen supervisor on "Little House on the Prairie" in 1981, in the episode named A Wiser Heart. Her performance as Rose DeVille on The Young and the Restless followed, with Conley playing many small roles on other soaps for most of the 1980s. She was the tough but basically decent prison warden Edith Hopkins on Days of Our Lives in 1983 during Liz Chandler's incarceration for Marie Horton's shooting. As Trixie on General Hospital from 1984 to 1988, she was an old hooker pal of Ruby's who worked at Kelly's. An encore as Rose De Ville inspired William J. Bell to cast her as flamboyant fashion maven Sally Spectra on his newer serial, The Bold and the Beautiful. She earned two Outstanding Supporting Actress Daytime Emmy nominations.
She was friends with several actors who appeared on "B&B", including Fabio, who has appeared on the show several times, usually under the guise of celebrating Sally's birthday. She was also friends with Phyllis Diller, who also appeared on the show as Sally's friend, Gladys Pope.
Illness and death
Conley became ill in 2004 due to a fall that broke several bones. She recovered from the fall and returned to work (although she was usually seated during her scenes).
Reports surfaced in the media in the fall of 2006 that Conley had surgery and received treatment for stomach cancer. Conley died on January 14, 2007. B&B featured a tribute to Conley; John McCook presented the tribute, which featured her memorable moments on the show.
The show has kept the role of Sally Spectra alive. Sally's absence has been explained by having her son CJ tell his father, Clarke (and viewers), that Sally had taken a permanent vacation in St. Tropez. In late 2007, Sally decided to sell her fashion house. Nick Marone and Jackie Marone have bought Spectra and are running the company, under the guidance of Clarke Garrison. In late January 2017, the show revisited many of the storylines of Sally Spectra to introduce a new younger character, also named Sally, who is the niece of the original Sally Spectra. In addition the show brought back the original CJ to appear in several episodes. Despite Darlene Conley's death some 10 years ago, Sally Spectra was shown to be alive and well on the show.
- The Birds (1963) – Waitress (uncredited)
- Valley of the Dolls (1967) – Nurse in Sanitarium (uncredited)
- Faces (1968) – Billy Mae
- Captain Milkshake (1970) – Mrs. Hamilton
- Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) – (uncredited)
- Lady Sings the Blues (1972) – (uncredited)
- Play It as It Lays (1972) – Kate's Nurse
- Gentle Savage (1973) – Mac Moody
- Tough Guys (1986) – Gladys Ripps