Biography

Celebrating Seniors - Nicolas Coster is 83, Part 2 (1980-2016)

Broadway, Movie & TV Soaps From One Life to Live & Santa Barbara to Internet Soap The Bay.

Below, Coster receives recognition in 1988 for his performance on Santa Barbara.

In the spring on 1981 Nicolas Coster began co-starring in the play The Little Foxes starring Elizabeth Taylor, which made it to Broadway and toured other major U.S. cities, landing in London, England for 16 weeks in 1982. Nicolas Coster told We Love Soaps that he and Elizabeth Taylor: 

"We were very good chums. We had gone on to the same private school in England before the war. We went back to London, had a great time. When we got back to the L.A., she said to me, 'Nicky, come here I’ve been offered a soap opera (General Hospital), what do you think?' I said, 'Oh Elizabeth, you don’t need to do that for God’s sake.'  She said, 'They’re going to give me $40,000 of clothes, I’m gonna do it.'"

nicolas coster 1975, american actor, 1970s movies, younger(Nicolas Coster 1975 Photo: Addison, Goldsetin & Walsh | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

By the time he returned from England and moved to California in 1982, Nicolas Coster's marriage to Candace Hilligoss had ended in an acrimonious divorce (in 1981). 35 years later, Hilligoss' lasting bitterness was revealed in her memoir The Odyssey and the Idiocy - Marriage to an Actor (2016), in which she accuses Coster of sexual affairs during their marriage, and trying to intimidate her during divorce proceedings. 

For his part, Nicolas Coster had moved on, and married Beth Pantel in January 1982.

The following year he turned 50 and throughout his 50+ years in the 1980's and 1990's, continued to act steadily in movies, regular roles on daytime television, and guest-starring episodic prime-time television. Left, Nicolas Coster circa 1980's. (Photo: Pinterest)

He had a recurring role for 15 episodes as Chief/Chief of Detectives J. E. Carson on The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo starring Claude Akins (1980-1981). Claude Akins and Nicolas Coster had both been in the TV movie Ebony, Ivory and Jade (1979) with Debbie Allen, Frankie Valli, and Ted Shackelford. 

Nicolas Coster had become an avid boat lover and scuba instructor (since 1974), telling We Love Soaps that he'd formed a scuba school while in New York and taught John F. Kennedy Jr. how to scuba dive. He became an instructor-member of the Handicapped Scuba Association and began teaching scuba diving to the disabled in 1982. 

In the early 1980's, Coster accidentally walked through a closed glass door in the dark and his arm was almost severed in a potentially life-threatening injury, as he related to We Love Soaps:

"When I got to the emergency room, Nurse Ratchet was there.  She told me to take my thumb off the wound.  I said, 'Gee, I’m a scuba instructor, I think I’d better keep my thumb on the vessel.'  She said, 'Did you hear me? Take that thumb off that vessel.'  I said, 'Can I repeat that? My thumb is on the blood vessel.' She told me to take it off.  So I took it off and blood spurted all over her [laughs]."

His arm was paralyzed, but despite the odds given by his doctor, Nicolas Coster regained feeling in his fingers within a year, and the use of his arm. 

In 1997, Dirk Blocker and Nicolas Coster were in an episode of the television series Gun starring Daryl Hannah, Sally Kellerman, Randy Quaid, Jennifer Tilly, Sean Young, and John Considine (an 80's co-star from Another World). Six years later, Dirk Blocker and Nicolas Coster were regulars on the short-lived TV series Ryan's Four in 1983 co-starring with Tom Skerritt and Timothy Daly. Coster played Dr. Morris Whitford on Ryan's Four, which lasted for only 1 month before being cancelled. 

Baby boomer and senior citizen fans of daytime TV in the 1980's enjoyed watching Nicolas Coster as a regular cast member on several soap operas: 

One Life to Live (1983-1984) as Anthony Makana.

His producer on One Life to Live was Paul Rauch, whom Coster had first worked for on Another World during the 1970's. When Nicolas Coster first began working on One Life to Live, his arm was still recovering from almost being severed, and he told the executives that he would need to keep his hand in his pocket most of the time. He formed a lifetime friendship with his One Life to Live co-star Robert S. Woods, with whom he shared a dressing room. 

Santa Barbara (1984-1988) as Lionel Lockridge.

Santa Barbara producers lured him away from One Life to Live, where he worked again with Paul Rauch. One of the subjects addressed on Santa Barbara (more than once) was impotency/erectile dysfunction, as Coster's character Lionel Lockridge suffered from it. Coster was successful in insisting to the Santa Barbara powers that be, that "Look, I know we’re making a comedy about this, but I must tell you that millions of men suffer from this dysfunction. This was in the days before you could advertise Viagra on television. I said, “I would like to be allowed to put in a disclaimer on this show within a show, as Lionel, to tell men that if they have this condition to see a physician, or a psychotherapist, or both.” 

During his time on Santa Barbara, Nicolas Coster was paired romantically on screen with several actresses, including Marcy Walker as Eden Capwell, Judith McConnell as Sophia Capwell, and actress Louise Sorel (as Augusta Wainwright). Of Louise Sorel, Coster told Santa Barbara - le site Francais, that "Louise Sorel and I just hit it from the beginning. I had known Louise for some time before (they both guest-starred on an episode of Hart to Hart in 1982). I knew her gifts (so to speak) and we trusted each other's intelligence and wit."

He was also paired with actress Lenore Kasdorf (as Caroline Wilson Lockridge), of whom he has said he will never forget because of her "genuine and unselfish nature." Below, Nicolas Coster, Louise Sorel, and other cast members in a clip from Santa Barbara's first season.

In 1987 in real life, Coster was (once again) almost fatally injured (from a car crash this time) and had been in a coma; he returned to work at Santa Barbara a week later and never told the producers about his accident or resulting memory loss.

"I told Lenore Kasdorf...I made little notes with my lines on them and left them all over the set. As I would walk to a spot, I would look down and see the note. I also asked Lenore to forgive me for looking at the teleprompter when I was off camera (the red light is on when one is ON camera, when it went off, I looked at the prompter), which is most distracting to the other actor. She was SO patient and forgiving and understanding... After a week or so my memory came back enough to not stumble so much... The producer, having no idea how seriously hurt I was, did ask whether I had been partying too much and would I get some rest? I assured her I would and somehow with the magnificent help from Lenore, I got through that awful time." 

All My Children (1988-1989) as Steve Andrews.  

Nicolas Coster played the romantic love interest (albeit a terrorist) of long-time All My Children actress Susan Lucci's (Erica Kane). 

Other acting roles on television and in the movies for Nicolas Coster during his 50+ years in the 1980's included guest-starring on Magnum, P.I., Knight Rider, L. A. Law, Thirtysomething, Murder, She Wrote, Who's the Boss?, Hunter, and Life Goes On. His baby boomer fans could also see him on television in: 

  • Guest-starring episodes on Simon & Simon starring Jameson Parker and Gerald McRaney. Between 1981-1983, Coster appeared 3 times on Simon & Simon, including a 2-part episode as City Attorney David Stallings.
  • A recurring role from 1982-1983 as Bill Spangler on Nine to Five starring regulars Rita Moreno, Peter Bonerz and guest-star Lyman Ward.
  • A 1983 guest-starring stint on T. J. Hooker, starring William Shatner, Adrian Zmed, Heathr Locklear, and James Darren, with Helen Shaver and Richard Herd. 
  • From 1982-1988 Nicolas Coster had a recurring role on The Facts of Life, appearing 5 times as David Warner, father of Blair Warner (Lisa Whelchel); he had scenes with The Facts of Life regulars Charlotte Rae, Kim Fields, Mindy Cohn, and Nancy McKeon. 

Nicolas Coster's movies in the 1980's included two films with actor Treat Williams. His first movie with Treat Williams, Why Would I Lie (1980) also had Gabriel Macht and and fellow soap-hopper Ilene Kristen; the second movie with Treat Williams was the thriller The Pursuit of D. B. Cooper (1981) starring Robert Duvall and Kathryn Harrold. 

Baby boomers may remember seeing Nicolas Coster as a member of a large cast in other popular feature films and TV movies as well:

  • Little Darlings (1980) starring Tatum O'Neal, Kristy McNichol, Armand Assante, and Matt Dillon.
  • Stir Crazy (1980) starring Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Georg Stanford Brown, JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Barry Corbin,  Nicolas Coster plays neighboring prison Warden Henry Sampson, who helps run a crooked rodeo operation.
  • Reds (1981), a biographical drama set in Russia written, directed by and starring Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, with Edward Herrman, Jack Nicholson, Paul Sorvino, Maureen Stapleton, and M. Emmet Walsh. 
  • Princess Daisy (1983), a romantic TV drama starring Lindsay Wagner, Paul Michael Glaser, Robert Urich, Claudia Cardinale, Rupert Everett, Sada Thompson, Stacy Keach, Barbara Bach, and Ringo Starr.
  • Beverly Hills Madam (1986), a TV drama starring Faye Dunaway, Terry Farrell, Gary Hershberger, and Louis Jourdan, 
  • Big Business (1988), a comedy starring Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, Fred Ward, and Michael Gross. 
  • Two movies with Philip Baker Hall - the romantic comedy How I Got Into College (1989) starring Anthony Edwards, Lara Flynn Boyle, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Richard Jenkins; and the TV thriller Incident at Dark River (1989) starring Mike Farrell, Tess Harper, and Helen Hunt. In 1998, Philip Baker Hall and Coster both appeared on an episode of Faith starring David Caruso.

Nicolas Coster and wife Beth had their son Ian Russell Coster in July 1990. Coster had been on location in North Carolina filming the movie Betsy's Wedding (1990) (above) with Alan Alda, Anthony LaPaglia, Catherina O'Hara, Joe Pesci, Burt Young, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy.

After Ian's birth Nicolas Coster returned to work in California, and began appearing once again on Santa Barbara from 1990-1993. He remained friends with many of the actors and executives associated with Santa Barbara, including Louise Sorel, A Martinez (Cruz Castillo), and John Allen Nelson (Warren Lockridge), whose wedding in France Coster officiated at. 

During the 1990's, Nicolas Coster appeared in several movies that included the thriller By Dawn's Early Light (1990). By Dawn's Early Light starred Powers Boothe, Rebecca De Mornay, James Earl Jones, Martin Landau, Darren McGavin, Rip Torn, Jeffrey DeMunn, Peter MacNicol, and Daniel Benzali.

From 1993-1995, Nicolas Coster played the new character of Eduard Grimaldi on daytime soap As The World Turns, once again a love interest/husband for co-star Eileen Fulton (as Lisa Hughes).

Several familiar night and daytime soap stars appeared in the dramatic TV movie Hearts Adrift (1996) with Nicolas Coster: Sydney Penny (B. J. Walker on Santa Barbara), Scott Reeves (Ryan McNeil on The Young and the Restless), Kathleen Noone (Claudia on Knots Landing; Ellen Shepherd Dalton on All My Children), Don Murray (Knots Landing), and young actress Julie Benz (Roswell, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). That same year, Coster co-starred in the romantic drama TV movie Full Circle (1996) starring Teri Polo, Reed Diamond, Erica Slezak, James Read, and Corbin Bernsen. 

Episodic television for Nicolas Coster during the 1990's, although steady, was as a slightly slower pace than previous decades. Seniors and baby boomers might remember seeing him on popular series such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, and:

  • MacGyver, starring Richard Dean Anderson, with John Considine.
  • Matlock starring Andy Griffith and Nancy Stafford, in an episode with Mike Farrell and Diana Muldaur. 
  • Jake and the Fatman starring William Conrad (Cannon) and Joe Penny, in an episode with Marcia Cross. 
  • On Beverly Hills, 90210 Coster played George Azarian, father to Roger Azarian (Matthew Perry).
  • He guest-starred twice on Law & Order, in episodes with Paul Sorvino, Chris Noth, Dann Florek, Michael Moriarty, and Jerry Orbach. 
  • Nurses starring Loni Anderson
  • Coach starring Craig T. Nelson, Jerry Van Dyke, and Shelley Fabares, in an episode with Katherine Helmond. 
  • Silk Stalkings, with Patrick Wayne and Chris Potter.
  • Pensacola: Wings of Gold, starring James Brolin.
  • Coster guest-starred twice on the sitcom 3rd Rock From the Sun with John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, and Jane Curtin. 20 years earlier, John Lithgow and Nicolas Coster had both appeared in The Big Fix.

In 1998 Nicolas Coster became a senior citizen and co-founded the non-profit Challenges Foundation, which provides sailing and boating experiences to youth, disabled adults, and veterans who have life and/or physical challenges. Below, Nicolas Coster explains about the founding and work of the Challenges Foundation.

Coster had no notion of retiring from acting, and over the next 5 years began to shift his focus to moves vs television. 

Nicolas Coster was in several movies including Freedom Strike (1998) starring Michael Dudikoff, with James Karen and Michael Fairman; the romantic comedy Love Happens (1999) with Jenny O'Hara; and the TV movie The Dukes of Hazzard: Hazzard in Hollywood (2000) starring Tom Wopat, John Schneider, Catherine Bach, and country music singers Toby Keith and Mac Davis. 

In one of his now rarer television appearances, he guest-starred on an episode of Judging Amy 2001 starring Amy Brenneman with Jessica Tuck, Tyne Daly, and Reed Diamond. Reed Diamond and Coster had both been in the 1996 movie Full Circle.

As a new septuagenarian senior citizen beginning in 2003, over the next decade Nicolas Coster continued to act in movies and the occasional television guest-starring role. He starred or co-starred in several short films including the horror short A Helping Hand (2012), with Sandra Oh and Howard Hesseman. 

Full-length feature films for septuagenarian Nicolas Coster included Plot 7 (2007) starring Linden Ashby, Stephanie Beacham, Gabrielle Carteris, and fellow daytime veteran John McCook; and the Hallmark Channel TV romance movie Flower Girl (2009), starring Marla Sokoloff, Marion Ross, and Christina Pickles. Nicolas Coster and Marion Ross had worked together 23 years previously, on an episode of You Are the Jury in 1986 hosted by Robert Vaughn, with Ken Kercheval, Peter Scolari, and Anthony Geary. 

From 2011-2016, Coster has been regular on the internet series The Bay as Mayor Jack Madison. His co-stars on The Bay are a who's who of former daytime stars, many of whom he worked with on their traditional TV soaps. Below, Charles Shaugnessy, Sandra Dee Robinson, Lane Davies, Real Andrews, Mary Beth Evans, Brody Hutzler, and Nicolas Coster appears in a funny blooper reel from The Bay

Some of The Bay actors and former co-stars of Nicolas Coster, from the world of daytime TV soaps:

  • General Hospital - Tristan Rogers, Lilly Melgar, Jacklyn Zeman, John Reilly, Mary Beth Evans, Alicia Leigh Willis, Ignacio Serricchio, Sean Kanan, Ilene Kristen.
  • Another World - Anna Holbrook, Sandra Dee Robinson.
  • Santa Barbara - Lane Davies, Jed Allan, Judith McConnell.

In addition to his acting career, Nicolas Coster completed a screenplay in 2009 and in 2001, began teaching Theatre and Film Studies at the University of Georgia as an Adjunct Professor, a role he continued with until 2009. He also participated in films at USC Graduate Film School at the American Film Institute (AFI). 

He told We Love Soaps in 2010 when asked if he ever thought of retiring, that his retirement would coincide with "When they carry me out with my toes up." At the age of 76, Coster was still regularly skin diving with no tank, and sailing weekly with the Wounded and Disabled Veterans. 

In the past 3 years since he became an octogenarian senior citizen in 2013, Nicolas Coster has appeared in no less than 7 movies, including Cold Turkey (2013), a comedy-drama starring Alicia Witt, with Cheryl Hines and Peter Bogdanovich. Most recently Coster's aging baby boomer fans and seniors could see him on screen in a 2016 episode of The Young Pope starring Jude Law, Diane Keaton, and James Cromwell.

He's recently completed filming a few feature films scheduled for release in late 2016/2017. In Winter Rose (2016) starring Billy Zane, Edward Furlong, Theresa Russell, Paul Sorvino, and George Lazenby, Nicolas Coster plays a drunk. In the comedy Blood Type (2017) starring Deborah Shelton, he plays a bum. For a change of pace, in Saving the King (pre-production) (2017) he has a starring role as Mr. Carlisle, a family lawyer. 

Nicolas Coster just turned 83 on December 3, 2016; he and his wife Beth Pantel live in Hollywood, California. In January 2017, the couple will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary.  

Previously: Nicolas Coster, Part 1 (1933-1979): Broadway, Movies, and & Television Soaps From Live TV (Young Doctor Malone) to Another World.

Anita Hamilton

Baby boomer Anita Hamilton has always been interested in the "real people" stories behind the characters that create and inhabit the world of music, books, movies, television shows, current events, history, etc. A lifelong love of research (ok, nosiness) and writing, combined with a loving and supportive family (complete with 3 mini-dachshund minions), keeps her busy.

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