/ 17 March 2007

Days’ Sister Marie dies of multiple sclerosis

Lanna Saunders, who followed her father and grandfather into the family craft of acting and was best known for her long-running role on the TV daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives, has died. She was 65.

Saunders died on March 10 of complications from multiple sclerosis, her husband, Lawrence Pressman, said. Saunders battled the disease for 25 years, he said.

”She fought like a tiger and had the demeanour of a lamb,” Pressman said.

The only job she ever had was as an actress, he said. ”She used to complain that she had never worked in a bookshop or waited tables like other actors,” he said.

The couple’s son, David Pressman, is also an actor.

Saunders was just 13 when she started performing on Broadway.

She met her husband while studying with Elia Kazan. Saunders later joined Kazan’s Lincoln Centre Company and performed under his direction in Arthur Miller’s After the Fall. She joined the cast of Days of Our Lives in 1979.

”As an actress, as well as a person, Lanna Saunders had an elegance and grace that bespoke the deepest qualities of her soul which made her character, Sister Marie, honest and believable, yet so easy to look at,” said Ken Corday, executive producer of Days of Our Lives.

She left the show in 1985, when she became too ill to continue, Pressman said. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1982.

She remained an avid theatre-goer despite her illness, Pressman said, calling his wife ”a fabulous critic”. — Sapa-AP