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|Search for Tomorrow character|
|Portrayed by||Maree Cheatham (1974-1984)
Louise Shaffer (1984-1986)
|Occupation||television station owner; former nurse at Henderson Hospital|
Stephanie Wyatt (previously Wilkins; Collins and Pace) is a fictional character from the long-running American Soap Opera Search for Tomorrow. She was played from 1974 to 1984 by actress Maree Cheatham and from 1984 to 1986 by actress and writer Louise Shaffer.
Playing the role of Stephanie marked Louise Shaffer's return to Search after being one of three actresses (the others being Kathryn Walker and Pamela Murphy) to play the character of Emily Rogers Hunter, the daughter of one of Jo's oldest friends, Dr. Bob Rogers.
Jo's biggest enemy
Vampy and sarcastic Stephanie Wilkins came to the fictional community of Henderson with her stepmother, Ramsey Weskitt, and her young daughter Wendy (Andrea McArdle, later Lisa Peluso) after divorcing a man named Dave Wilkins (Dale Robinette). She later discovered that she had an illegitimate son named Brian Emerson. She had a brief affair with Dr. Tony Vincente, who at the time was married to Joanne Gardner.
She was a newly hired nurse at Henderson Hospital who was assigned to look after Jo's daughter, Patti, who was dealing with a very difficult pregnancy. However, her interference in Tony's life, notably by trying to pass off Wendy as his, (Wendy was Dave Wilkins's daughter) inevitably led to a strain between him and Jo.
In fact, Stephanie and Jo were considered to be bitter enemies. What was highly ironic about this was that although Stephanie and Jo were enemies, Wendy and Jo's niece (and later, Stephanie's step-daughter), Suzi Martin, were best friends. Despite the enmity, though, Stephanie was able to ask Jo for help, when she clearly needed it.
She eventually remarried three times after divorcing Dave Wilkins; she first married Clay Collins (the brother of Wade Collins, who was married to Janet Bergman), whom upon his death, became very wealthy; and businessman Walter Pace, the father of Jennifer Pace Phillips; who had caused so much grief for Jo's family, especially when she killed Jo's sister, Eunice Gardner Wyatt.
This led up to Stephanie marrying John Wyatt, after her divorce from Walter Pace. She married him simply out of spite to Jo, since John had been interested in her, since she reminded him of his beloved Eunice. Eventually, though, John himself died, and Stephanie was a widow once more. She is most commonly remembered as Stephanie Wyatt. Stephanie's rivalry with Jo hit its peak when she seduced her husband, Martin Tourenour (John Aniston), ultimately breaking up their marriage. After that relationship ended, Stephanie became involved with wealthy businessman Lloyd Kendall (then played by Peter Haskell) but also had an affair with his son.
When it came to mothering, Stephanie tended to be somewhat pushy and overbearing, but despite her pushiness, she loved her family very dearly; and even Jo had to admit, that in spite of her motives, Stephanie really did mean well; and had her family's best interests in mind. Eventually, Jo and Stephanie came to some sort of an understanding, although there would often be tension when the two were together.
Stephanie wanted Wendy to marry into wealth, like she herself did when she married Clay Collins. So, she was quite dismayed to find that she married poor artist Keith McNeil (Craig Augustine).
However, after divorcing Keith, Wendy married wealthy Warren Carter, whom the ambitious Stephanie found to be more suitable. The thing was Warren had been married to her best friend, Suzi, but she divorced Warren, so Wendy could be with him. Stephanie recovered with a long relaxing affair with the debaucherous Bobby Bero.
At one point, Stephanie had been the head of Henderson's television station, and her assistant was cornpone Country music singer wannabe, Rhonda Sue Huckaby (played to comic perfection by Tina Johnson). Although Rhonda Sue drove her crazy a lot of the time, Stephanie really thought highly of her.
Stephanie also made promising careers for the local television station in Henderson to Wendy, Quinn Mccleary, Chase Kendall and nursing student turned folk singer Sarah Whitting, Jo's Granddaughter.
Stephanie started to have an affair with a circus performer & businessman named, Bela Garody (Lee Godart). Despite the fact that Stephanie was caught up mostly with her work at the news station with reaching deadlines & attending meetings. She stood by Wendy (Lisa Peluso) when she accused Bela for harassing her, when that stopped, Wendy and Bela became fast friends and eventually they wound up in bed together, which made Stephanie become mad and thus being so distant to Wendy because of what she did, betray her own mother (Stephanie) for sleeping with (Bela). Eventually Stephanie forgave Wendy for what they had both done to each other and they both reconciled with each other, right before Wendy left Henderson, right after the holidays, in January 1986.
Stephanie was murdered, by the Henderson Serial Killer, Alberto Rivera (Lloyd Battista) in February 1986, the same killer that killed Sarah Whiting, Jo's granddaughter. At peace with the past, Jo was able to see Stephanie for the good that was within her, rather than the hurts of the past, and helped her niece, Suzi, mourn for her stepmother. This occurred before the infamous flood that nearly destroyed Henderson.