Disney World chef also is ‘All My Children’ legend
September 19, 2011, 4:11 am
Michael Bersell is a Disney chef and a soap-opera legend. He’s not the evil twin/back from the dead/ married a dozen times/back-stabbing kind of legend. His fame came by going upstairs — and never coming down.
In 1970, Bersell was selected for the original cast of ABC’s “All My Children.” At age 12, he played Bobby Martin, the youngest son of Dr. Joe Martin. But after what Bersell calls “a handful” of episodes, the character was written out — and never spoken of again for 40 years, despite the Martins being mainstays and the moral center of the daytime drama for decades.
“There’s two stories in our family. We don’t really know the actual truth,” said Bersell, now 54. “I went off to camp or I went up to get my skis and never came back. But I went up the stairs, nonetheless, and never came back down.” Since then, Bobby has obtained almost-mythic status with “All My Children” fans. The show has made him an occasional inside joke: a scene in the attic with skis in the background or another Martin offspring refers to a Halloween party skeleton as his brother.
When actress Sarah Michelle Gellar recently announced she was returning to the show for one episode, she joked that she could play “Bobby Martin’s ski-bunny wife.” “There are some soap-opera trivia books that have me down as the most ludicrous write-out of a script,” laughs Bersell, who now lives in Winter Garden. He remembers the adults in the cast treating him nicely, including star-in-the-making Susan Lucci and his TV sister, played by Karen Lynn Gorney. “I remember them being on either side of me in makeup,” he said. “They were very friendly and professional.”
When he took that final walk upstairs, he didn’t know he wasn’t coming back, Bersell said. But because he had been acting since he was 6 years old, the show was just another gig to him. His father had owned a theater in Coconut Grove, and he had done commercials, print advertising and an off-Broadway play by the time he started “All My Children.” His family would drive up Interstate 95 from Miami to New York for acting jobs.