The Man Behind The Attitude

August 17, 1993
by Rosemary Rossi
Soap Opera Magazine

After meeting Y&R Michael Tylo, you easily discover it isn’t at all what you’d expect. With that deep, almost threatening voice and the self-assured look of a man who knows his business, Michael appears to be a walking intimidation waiting to happen.

"It’s an attitude I inherited from my family," he says, adding that his wife of six years, Hunter Tylo (Taylor B&B) carries herself the same way. "It’s honesty and truthfulness. It may hurt initially, but at least we sleep at night." Behind that tough disposition lies a man who’s traveled from "greaser" to Shakespeare and is now comfortably resting somewhere in between. "Growing up when I did, even in the best of communities, the were two kinds of people – they called them 'frats' and 'greaser'. Frats were socials who wore burgundy and Madras shirts. Then there were people like me who wore black pointed-toed shoes, Cuban heels and pompadour haircuts…James Dean look-alikes. I was obnoxious. I was loud. I had an imagination, but I also had a temper. I wanted things my own way."

In his hometown of Detroit, MI, Michael attended a Catholic high school for problem children from other schools. The archdiocese started the program with the feeling that putting these kids together in sports coats and ties would cut down their unruly behavior.

While there, Michael’s life turned around when a priest at the school, Father Gerry Schubert, introduced him to the theater. "I’ve always been an old film buff. When I was a kid I watched Cagney and Bogart and those guys. Then I read that Rex Harrison just a street kid from Liverpool. I thought 'If he could do it, I could do it.' Peter O’Toole’s father was a bookie. It’s not like these guys were the sons of lords and ladies of the world."

When Michael finally gave up fast cars and being a typical teenager to become an actor, he had the total support of his father had been a plumber since World War II. "I was lucky because my father wanted for me to become an actor. He said I’d be a lousy plumber, so he fired me. I come from a family that believes you should do what you want to do and were hard at it."

During his first year as a professional actor out of graduate school, he drove around from theatre to theatre auditioning. "I essentially lived out of my car travelling and making a living as a stage actor in regional theatre. When I entered the business you would still make a very good living being a stage actor. I don’t know if it would still be possible today," says Michael who doesn’t want to be affiliated with just one type of acting. "I take pride in the fact that I’ve done TV, films, daytime, stage. I've also done commercials and voice-overs. I recent it when people label me one way or another. An actor’s an actor. We’re supposed to be able to do it all and to be adaptable."

When asked to weigh the difference between New York actors and L.A. actors, Michael says in his best droll voice: "There are enough egos on both coasts. It’s well-balanced, otherwise I think one coast would sink into oblivion."

Michael begun his impressive daytime career with the role of Peter Belton on AW, followed by Quinton Chamberlain on GL, then AMC’s Matt Connolly. "I've been fortunate enough to be given original roles by Douglas Marland, Agnes Nixon and Bill Bell. You can’t do it better than that. And each role has been different," says Michael who fell in love with and married his then blonde, AMC leading lady Deoborah Morehart (Robin), who later became Hunter Tylo.

After heading to Los Angeles, Michael got a promising role on GH as Charlie Prince, a stint which quickly turned sour. "To this day, I still think what they did to me on GH was lousy. They said they had a story for me for the next six months, then fired me two days later. You don’t have to wine and dine me and lie to set me up…and then let me down. Just tell me the truth, I want to know where I stand."

Fortunately, Michael knows exactly where he stands at Y&R. With the recent revelation that Blade had an evil twin brother who created havoc within his family circle, Michael is very excited about the many directions the story can take. "Some people say there are twins. Some say Blade is the evil brother. Others say Blade has a split personality. I'm excited by all of the possibilities," says the actor, who found it difficult for Blade to tell Ashley (Brenda Epperson) that his brother caused his father to have a heart attack and as a result his mother blew her brains out – all within one speech and one day. "That was a big acting challenge. I take it as a compliment from Mr. Bell that he thought I could do that and make it convincing but not maudlin. The whole approach to the character is, 'You want to know? I’ll tell you.'"

Although he is very serious about acting, Michael's first priority is his wife, who tapes B&B right across the hall from Y&R, and their sons Mickey and Chris, who is Hunter's son from her first marriage. At first, Chris wasn't thrilled with having to share his mom. "I told him early on, 'I'm going to be raising you with your mother. You can call me Michael. You can call me dad. You can call me an S.O.B. But this is the way life is going to be. So it would behoove us to get along."

Today, the two Tylo men are great buddies. "Hunter tells me he tries to emulate me. I noticed that one day when we were walking down the street. We both had leather coats on and he was walking the way I am and he had his hands in his pockets the way I do. I thought it was kind of cute. And it's always 'Dad this,' 'Dad that,' 'Dad, I love you.' Then other compliment he gave me was he wanted to take my name," Michael proudly reveals adding "He's my son, that's all there is to be."

When Michael and Hunter decided to have a child together, a lot of people told them it wasn't a good time since Hunter just lost her job. "They thought she should get another job first and that we should settle down and save more money. It may not be easy, but if you want a family, just do it. Hell, my dad raised six kids while he built business and had two and a half bucks in his pocket. But they made ends meet."

Perhaps this attitude best explains why Michael is able to rest comfortably between "greaser" and Shakespeare. "Family is the most important thing. You can't live your life around your job. Your family will be there when you marry and they’re there when you’re buried. When you lose sight that, there's a problem."

The Play's The Thing

When the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival in Center Valley, PA, got started last year, Michael's friend of 31 years, Father Gerry Schubert, the producing artistic director for the festival, got him involved as a fund-raiser and member of the board. Today, Michael also consults on artistic decisions as far as casting, selection of plays and production values.

This past year's event included two three-week shows- "Macbeth" and "Twelfth Night". As a result of his intense schedule at Y&R, Michael couldn't star in "Macbeth, so AMC's James Kiberd (Trevor) stepped into the role with ease. "Shakepeare is the thing that I love doing most. It's a different kind of acting challenge," Michael says, adding, "A lot of actors won't do Shakespeare because it's tough to do. A lot of actors can't do anything else because they get locked into it. My heroes have always been people like Peter O'Toole, Lawrence Olivier and Richard Burton, who could do both."

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