Soap star returns to town for eye surgery
By APRIL BARBE, The Daily Sentinel Staff
Soap-opera star Brad Maule, left, gets his eyes examined Wednesday by Dr. Robert Lehmann at the Lehmann Eye Center. Maule a SFA graduate who went on to play a doctor on the show General Hospital for more than 20 years, said he returned to Nacogdoches for LASIK eye surgery after research showed Lehmann was the most qualified. Soap star returns to town for eye surgery
Why would a famous soap opera star come to Nacogdoches to have an eye procedure performed? "The reason I'm here is because just about the best doctor in the country for this (LASIK) procedure is here," Brad Maule, best known for his role as Dr. Tony Jones on General Hospital, said on Wednesday. "I can't go to Los Angeles or New York and get a better doctor and the barbecue is better here," Maule said.
Next week, Dr. Robert Lehmann will perform LASIK surgery on "Dr. Tony Jones", according to Kathy McGough, LASIK refractive surgery coordinator at Lehmann Eye Center. McGough first met Maule in 1977 through a play at the Lamplite Theater. Since that time, she has been in contact with Maule and followed his accomplishments as an actor, singer and songwriter. "I came to work here more than 10 years ago, and I kept asking him if he was ready to have LASIK done, and he finally said he was ready," McGough said.
Maule is originally from West Texas. He grew up on a farm about 20 miles from Snyder. He graduated from SFA in1974 with a bachelor's of fine arts degree in theater and English. He said he had never been to Nacogdoches before attending SFA, but he picked it on a map. He said he heard it was beautiful and green (as compared to West Texas).
After Maule moved to Los Angeles, he came back to Nacogdoches in 1977, to perform for a fund-raiser at Lamplite, and he also donates to various organizations in Nacogdoches and around the world when asked.
"It's (donating and supporting charities) an easy way to help somebody," Maule said.
Before coming to SFA, Maule performed for two summers with "Texas" in Amarillo, and while at SFA, he did plays during the summer with Casa Mañana in Fort Worth.
"I always knew what I wanted to do. It was never a question. I never looked into anything else," Maule said.
He is now an SFA distinguished alumni, which Maule jokingly said means he has gray hair.
After graduating from SFA, Maule moved to Los Angeles, where after six weeks of unsuccessful auditions, he faced the question many performers have to deal with when entering the entertainment industry.
"Everyone who goes to New York or Los Angeles is limited by how long they can last on the money that they have," Maule said. "I was at that threshold."
Then it happened. Maule got a job with The Serendipity Singers, and he was to join the group the next day in Houston. Maule said he was living in a small apartment in Los Angeles, and he threw his few pieces of furniture out a back window into a dumpster. Then he crawled through the window himself because he was breaking his lease to go to Houston.
Maule's experience with the singing group gave him his first opportunity to see the country, he said. The group's tour ended with a performance in Hawaii, where Maule was hired with his girlfriend to work on the Don Ho Show. After a year in Hawaii, Maule returned to Los Angeles.
Shortly after his return, Maule became a performer in the chorus of the first national company of "Evita," and was later offered a guest appearance on "Charlie's Angels." Maule had to choose whether to stay with "Evita" or venture into the world of television, which he had come to Los Angeles to do in the first place.
Soon Maule was making appearances in everything from "Three's Company" to a television movie called "Malibu," eventually landing the role of Jones in "General Hospital" in 1984.
While on "General Hospital," Maule was nominated twice for Emmy Awards as best actor and supporting actor, and won an award for best supporting actor from Soap Opera Digest. He also won a theater award from LA Weekly.
Maule said his favorite actors to work with on GH were Jack Wagner (Frisco), Anthony Geary (Luke) and Kin Shriner (Scotty). More recently, Maule began working on a new soap called "Passions," where he plays Dr. Abel.
"I'm still on GH, but I'm not contracted. I taped six episodes of "7th Heaven" last year, and three so far this year, 20 episodes of "Passions" and I've been on and hosted many talk shows," Maule said. "And you know you've made it in Hollywood when you become a trivia question on "the Weakest Link."
Recently, Maule visited the Nacogdoches Blockbusters' store and found himself unable to rent a movie, because he was using his friend Shirley Watterson's movie rental card. He then told the clerk who he really was, and she didn't believe him. Maule said people usually recognize him, but often don't know where they know him from. Even after he told the clerk he was George on "7th Heaven," she said that she watched the show and that he was "not George."
While at the Dallas Zoo two weeks ago with his daughter, Maule had a long visit with box office workers who thought he looked just like Dr. Tony Jones from GH, but when he said he really was Jones, they didn't believe him.
"The last thing you want to do is tell someone that you're famous, because if you have to tell someone you're famous, then you're not famous," Maule said.
Maule said the two ingredients for his creative success are joy and making people comfortable.
"When you're performing, if you have a sense of joy that comes out of you, that makes the audience joyful. And if an audience (personal or professional) feels at ease or comfortable when they're with you, then you're successful," Maule said.
Maule is also a singer and songwriter. He has two albums, which were recorded in Texas and contain original songs. He is in the process of looking for a new home in Texas and a location for an art gallery (he's also an artist) in the Hill Country. He said that he will still work in Los Angeles, but he's ready to come home. He has two children, Lily and Hunter.
Maule will be a part of a telethon in Abilene Saturday before coming back to Nacogdoches to have LASIK surgery.