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The Day Malcolm Groome
Saved Ilene Kristen's Life
Soap Opera Serials Magazine, December 1977
Francine L. Trevens
Article Provided By Wanda

On Ryan's Hope they play Pat and Delia Ryan, a not always loving couple who were high school sweethearts and only recently made it to the altar.

In real life, they met not long after high school when both appeared on Broadway in Grease and have been good chums since, though romance was never in their picture.

They're Malcolm Groome and Ilene Kristen, who tease and josh each other with the easy camaraderie of lifelong friends or a brother and sister act.

They have many funny stories to tell about their relationship, including love scenes where their stomachs never stopped talking or intimate scenes in which stage lights made obscene-sounding noises. Then there was one time Ilene could not get herself to kiss Malcolm because he a strange kind of breath - "peanut breath!"  "It broke me up," Ilene confessed, "And I couldn't do the scene, it was awful."

Far being being insulted by the incident, Malcolm joined in to tell us, "I had been eating peanuts before this intimate scene with Ilene and she just couldn't get through it because of my peanut breath so I started laughing."

There were few laughs the first time they worked together back in Grease. It was a night neither will ever forget.

Ilene began explaining it. "I came to the show that night with a stomach virus and l03 degree fever and I was late. It was raining out and I'd been stuck on the west side Highway. When I got to work I found out the guy I was supposed to dance with at the prom...."

"Was having a baby, " Malcolm cut in, giggling. "His wife was having a baby," Ilene corrected. "And guess who was going on for him?" Malcolm, unable to be still, asked with a devilish glimmer in his eyes.

But then he told us how he really did save her life recently.

"It was on the show this summer. It was a sequence where Ilene got thrown in the river."

The character Justin Deas portrays threw Ilene in the Hudson in this scene, and presumably she nearly drowned. In real life, Ilene was in equal danger, but not from drowning.

"She was in this tin of water, like a 9 by 6 tin of water, fairly shallow...." Malcolm explained. Ilene added, "I tried to submerge myself in this very shallow water to get all wet."  We got the picture. In fact, we vividly recalled the sequence and how utterly drenched Ilene was when she was rescued on TV.

Malcolm continued his recounting of the event. "We kept having to do it over and over again because of technical problems and I was standing up on the deck and I noticed  the water in the tin since Ilene was immersing herself in it was spreading out. It was spreading into some wires, into some connections and live plugs!"

Malcolm's voice was growing tense even as he told of the incident, for the water was mere inches away from danger!

"And Malcolm said, 'oh my God! Ilene might get electrocuted!'" Ilene interrupted this time.

Malcolm commented that no one was even checking what was happening to the water.

"I was standing up there so I saw it, " he said gratefully. "So we got the power turned off on certain wires and went on with it.  But it could have been a very nasty situation."

You could tell Malcolm was still somewhat shook by the incident,. Ilene sounded much calmer, although she agreed. "A very awful situation, absolutely."

"It was inevitable, it would have happened," Malcolm said. "She could have been electrocuted."

Not once did he think of himself as the hero in the situation, he only thought with gratitude that he had seen it in time to avert disaster.

That was far and away the worst thing that ever happened to Malcolm and Ilene working together. More often than not, their working days together are marked by laughter and good times. But it was an experience which neither one will ever forget, and it bought them even closer together than they already were. Ilene will never stop being thankful to her friend and on-screen husband for averting a catastrophe, which could have cost her her life.

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