The Heartbreaking Death Of Guiding Light Star Lee Lawson

Soap opera veteran Lee Lawson, known best for playing the beloved Bea Reardon on "Guiding Light" for nearly a decade from 1981 to 1990, died on Sunday, May 22, at the age of 80. According to a Facebook postĀ from Lawson's daughter, Leslie Bova, her mother had fought both cancer and COVID-19.

Lawson, a New York City native, was born on October 14, 1941 and began her career on Broadway in the comedy "Cactus Flower" and appeared in several stage productions throughout the 1960s and 1970s (via People). In 1970, she married Joseph Bova, who starred with her in "An American Millionaire." The pair remained wed until his death in 2006 (via Soap Hub).

Although Lawson made several episodic primetime appearances on popular shows like "Maude" and "Kojak," she really made a name for herself on daytime television, landing her first soap role while she was still making stage appearances in the 1960s (via IMDb).

Lee Lawson became a beloved soap actress

Lee Lawson began her soap opera career in 1965 as Barbara Sterling on "Love of Life," appearing in 29 episodes, according to IMDb. She didn't appear on daytime TV again until 1979 when she became the second actress to play Wanda Webb Wolek on the ABC soap opera "One Life to Live", only appearing in a handful of episodes. Two years later, when Lawson landed the role of boarding house owner Bea Reardon on "Guiding Light," she finally became a well-known soap entity.

Ellen Dolan, who played Bea's daughter, Maureen Reardon, recalled how Lawson would read the teleprompters during their "Guiding Light" days. "Lee used to wear one contact so that she could read the prompter and left the other contact out so she could see the actors," Dolan told Soap Hub after Lawson's death. "I was constantly amazed that she didn't tip over on set."

Actress Harley Jane Kozak, who played Annabelle Reardon on "GL," also remembered Lawson fondly. "I would just love to reiterate what I am very sure others have said: she was a fine, fine actor and a joy to work with, with a happy heart, and beautiful smile and great spirit," Kozak told Soap Hub. "I was lucky to connect with her decades after working with her, very briefly, and I suspect she was happy until the end of her days."

Lawson was survived by her three children, Leslie, Chris, and Gaby, as well as three grandchildren, Gianna Wilder, and Sterling (via People).