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Actress' Strong Light Guides Her Life

April 11, 1993|LYNDA HIRSCH

To the outside world, Fiona Hutchison, Jenna on "Guiding Light," seems to have the perfect life. She's beautiful, talented and enjoying a long-term relationship with former "One Life to Live" co-star John Viscardi, who played Father Tony to her neurotic Gabrielle.

But, in reality, perfect lives are often a facade.

"Perfect?" she says with a throaty laugh. "Oh, no! Wouldn't want it to be either. Every adversity moves you ahead." If this is true, Hutchison should be at the head of the class.

Born to British parents in Florida--she maintains dual citizenship--Hutchison began ballet lessons at age 4. By the time she reached her early teens she had piled up prestigious dance scholarships and had trained with such legendary dancers as Mikhail Baryshnikov.

But when she reached 18, both her personal and professional lives took a downward turn.

Her father, a doctor, died and six months later an injury during a ballet rehearsal ended her professional dance career.

"At first I didn't believe I would ever dance again," she says. "The doctors were fearful about my even walking again. I was in therapy for two years. I was angry and depressed. My mum took the brunt of my anger."

Hutchison's next bout with anger stemmed from her troubled marriage.

"He was an alcoholic--mentally and physically abusive. He chipped away at my self-esteem and kept telling me how awful I was. Through therapy, marriage counseling and my mother's support, I realized I'd done everything I could to save my marriage. I was tired of being this black-tunnel person and decided it had to end."

What also ended was her anger.

"I took a trip to see my mum in England. Four days later she died. I decided to handle my grief the way she would have: Miss her, which I always will, but get on with my life."

Getting on with life has always been a creed for Hutchison, even during the dark times. She never gave up her dream of dancing and secretly took ballet classes in her spare time.

By 1989 she was able to dance a ballet dream sequence on "One Life to Life." That same year the Columbia City Ballet, where she once studied, featured her as the black swan in "Swan Lake."

It was a prized moment, but a comment at the time by one of her brothers is probably her most treasured compliment: "Oh, you sound just like Mom."

Her reply, "Good. I'm glad."

"Guiding Light" airs weekdays at 2 p.m. on CBS.

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