Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Masaryktown lands soap star Walt Willey turned comic

MASARYKTOWN — A TV star coming to perform in "little ol' Masaryktown"?

"That's what everybody is asking," says Donna Roberts, event chairwoman for the Masaryktown Community Center.

In a nutshell, the booking came through "a friend of a friend," Roberts said, adding: "Isn't it wonderful? Imagine that! A star in our county."

Walt Willey, best known for his 24-year role as Jackson Montgomery on the soap opera All My Children, will perform his stand-up comedy act, "Wild and Willey," at 8 p.m. Friday at the center.

Although Willey, 65, is most widely known through daytime TV drama, the actor says on his website that comedy "is an absolute passion of mine."

Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the last episode of All My Children, and Willey says the anniversary played a role in his decision to come to Florida this weekend.

"Last year around this time, I was in Florida (doing comedy shows) in Tampa and Sarasota, Lauderdale, West Palm," he said in a phone interview. "This is too much like serendipity. It worked so well last year, so why not this year?

"My career and my life have been so dominated by coincidence, serendipity, happenstance — call it what you will — that I don't choose to ignore it."

Willey said he prefers small venues such as the 350-seat community center hall in Masaryktown.

"Most comedy clubs, even the big-name ones, seat about 250. I'm pretty much doing this in theaters of less than 500. It just fits the situation," he said.

Willey said he talks about life in his routine — "parents, children, sex, pets, the same kind of gist most comics talk about."

The two-hour show will open with two warm-up comedians, followed by Willey's one-hour act. At the end, he is expected to include a question-and-answer session and a meet-and-greet with audience members.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Roberts said the community center's directors and volunteers have been "dolling up" the hall for a year, "an absolute facelift, all the way to the parking lot. I thought it was a shame to use that hall just for bingo," she said.

Volunteer Joann Tuten heard Roberts' regret. Tuten said her daughter, Amy Tuten, works at a Sarasota TV station and knows Willey, having accompanied him on soap opera-themed cruises. Joann Tuten put Roberts in touch with her daughter, who in turn contacted Willey. A deal was struck.

"Walt called, and we spent an hour on the phone," said Roberts. "He is a sweetheart of a person."

She said she was a bit shocked by the act's sticker price, but that everyone is happy to be bringing Willey to town.

Tickets are $20 and available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday at Giddy-Up Saddle Shop on U.S. 41. Tickets also can be obtained by calling Roberts at (352) 232-3308.

The actor, who owns a bed and breakfast with his wife in Santa Fe, N.M., will stay in Spring Hill and is scheduled to dine this evening at Glen Lakes Country Club.

The nonprofit center's share of the proceeds from the show will pay for maintenance and upgrades at the center, Roberts said.

"We've already book our second show, another big name, in November," she said.

But she's not telling who just yet.

Beth Gray can be contacted at

If you go

Walt Willey will present his "Wild and Willey" comedy show at 8 p.m. Friday at the Masaryktown Community Center, 539 Lincoln Ave., Masaryktown. A performance of his "Wild Bill! An Evening with James Butler Hickok" show, which had been scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, has been canceled. Tickets are $20. For information or tickets, call (352) 232-3308.

>>if you go

Catch a soap star

Walt Willey will present his Wild and Willey comedy show at 8 p.m. Friday at the Masaryktown Community Center, 539 Lincoln Ave. Tickets are $20. For information or tickets, call (352) 232-3308. A performance of his Wild Bill! An Evening with James Butler Hickok show, which had been scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, has been canceled.

Masaryktown lands soap star Walt Willey turned comic 09/19/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 8:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75


    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  2. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the warm response from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute were proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.
  3. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette


    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  4. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494
  5. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 139, collapses buildings in Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 139 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]