The problem is, Deborah Adair is so good at being bad. Last season she was completely convincing as Dynasty’s superbitch bed-hopper Tracy Kendall, who all but jumped Blake Carrington on a business trip to Hong Kong. “It took a great deal of acting for me to turn her down,” says the politic John Forsythe. Even before that, she was the dark-haired, dark-hearted witch on The Young and the Restless for three years. But the sensuous actress is nothing like that in real life, she insists. Protests the lady (perhaps too much): “I’m one of the most religious people you will ever meet.”
As that comment suggests, she’s interested in presenting herself in a favorable light. Fortunately, she has an outlet for that preoccupation in her current ABC series, Finder of Lost Loves, which pairs her with Tony Franciosa. As self-assured Daisy Lloyd, Adair, 32, finally plays a professional woman with a heart. Nevertheless, Deborah identifies in part with Daisy’s predecessor, Tracy. “I’m the type of person who wants to go just as far as I possibly can,” she says. As an openly ambitious actress, she says of her roles, “I don’t have any moral aversion to sleeping with people and that kind of thing.”
Her family demurs. Her father, a Bellevue, Wash, businessman, refused to watch The Young and the Restless after Deborah hopped into bed with another character. He likewise insisted that Deborah’s mother, a Spanish teacher, tape Dynasty so he could watch Tracy’s amorous adventures alone. After Deborah’s divorce from an insurance man seven years ago, she says, “I think my father assumed I would be a virgin again.”
Adair does share some of her father’s sensibilities, though. In high school and college she taught Sunday school at a Presbyterian church. But Adair can come on like the Pollyanna of a Beverly Hills congregation. “I just don’t buy that particular thing that Jesus is the son of God and rose from the dead so that all of us will be forgiven,” she says. While not a Catholic, she frequents a Catholic church because it’s close to her L.A. town house.
Adair’s upbringing was, she says, “middle-class Protestant.” After graduating from the University of Washington in 1974, she worked on the business side of a Seattle TV station for four years and dabbled in community theater. Her four-year marriage to Gary Baker failed in 1978. So did her subsequent job as a Pan Am stewardess. “I could never learn to say ‘chicken, beef or fish’ in Spanish,” she says. “So I’d make chicken and beef noises.” In 1980 she landed on The Young and the Restless.
Oddly enough, Adair considered Dynasty a dead end. Says Deborah: “The character I played was not sweet enough to be any threat to Krystle and not bitchy enough to be any threat to Alexis.” But Adair has found her career prayers answered in odd ways. She was a spokesperson for an L.A. rape crisis center “because it’s my responsibility to give something to the community, and actually it paid off materialistically.” She believes it led to a Love Boat spot as a rape victim and an abused-wife role on Hotel. Her move to Finder of Lost Loves was unexpected, though. “I’ll never know if I was taken off Dynasty to be put on this show,” she says. “I don’t know and I don’t care.” Particularly since she moved from supporting player to starring role.
Still, Adair insists she’s more like Finder’s Daisy than Dynasty’s Tracy. She is only lately gaining confidence around men. “I used to feel secondary to them,” she says, and an occasional escort, Dynasty co-star Jack Coleman, seconds that. “If she has a weakness,” says Coleman, “it would be a lack of total confidence in herself.”
Although her current series lets Adair display her spiritual side, even she admits that Daisy is too good a do-gooder for her taste. “I’m probably not as nice as Daisy is,” she says. “But then, you know, we only see her for an hour a week. I’m sure on her days off she can be as nasty as I can be.”