With the loss of Whitney, I thought I’d share a journey that Whitney and I had in the very early, developing days of her career…

A song I wrote, “Nobody Loves Me Like You Do,” (with Pamela Oland) – and its demo version (with me singing) played about a hundred times on “As the World Turns” – as Betsy (Meg Ryan) and Steve (Frank Runyeon’s) theme song.

Because the song was gaining popularity on “As the World Turns,” the producers involved me as an actor in the storyline of the series. In the episodes over a couple-month period, I supposedly wrote the song with Meg Ryan (my character name was ‘Jimmy Dunne’) – and Meg’s best friend, Tonya Pinkins, and I sang it as a gift to Betsy – at her wedding. (I was a groomsman.) The frenzy around the wedding episode was astounding; the wedding episode garnered the 2nd biggest audience in the history of daytime television – second only to ‘Luke and Laura’s’ wedding on “General Hospital.”

The cast was great; Meg Ryan, Marisa Tomei, and I was dating, at the time, one of the other actresses on the show… Lots of fun.

The day after the wedding episode, a pillow company sold 10,000 pillowcases with the lyrics to “Nobody Loves Me Like You Do.” The producers said requests for the song generated the greatest amount of mail in the history of the series. The truth is; it had little to do with the song – it just happened to be in the key moment that celebrated these tremendously loved characters in daytime television.

Meanwhile, in real life, Clive Davis (at Arista) recorded the song as a duet with Jermaine Jackson for Whitney’s record (produced by Jermaine Jackson).

(I didn’t know who Whitney Houston was, but I was excited Jermaine Jackson was doing the song – the Jacksons were on fire at the time.) Working with Clive Davis and the producers on “As the World Turns,” I arranged to have Whitney and Jermaine perform the song on the series; and we worked it into the storyline of the series. Nobody knew who Whitney was at that time – so the storyline was about how Betsy’s friend on the show got her personal buddies, Jermaine and Whitney, to sing Betsy and Steve’s wedding song at a party.

In real life, Jermaine, Whitney and I had a terrific time on the set that day; and Jermaine played me their recording for the first time. (They used my piano player from the demo, Steve Rucker, and Jermaine mirrored our demo’s arrangement and vocal harmonies.)  Whitney was nervous about performing on TV… I continued to be the ‘Jimmy Dunne’ songwriter character in that episode…

Whitney was incredible on the show, and it garnered another day of huge ratings for the series. (Here’s a clip from that show: http://www.welovesoaps.net/2012/02/whitneyatwt.html.)

Because the show wanted to capitalize on the interest in the song, they built it into the daily storyline over the following months. In the storyline, Betsy (Meg Ryan) was travelling in Vermont, and literally fell off a truck and had amnesia – and couldn’t remember where she lived or who she was married to. (Only in the soap operas…) Meanwhile, in real life, the song was a #1 hit on the radio with Anne Murray and Dave Loggins (as a country version), so the producers/writers worked that into the storyline as well. In the series, Betsy heard Anne Murray’s song on the radio, and knew she was somehow connected to the song. The deejay, on the radio, said the song was written by Jimmy Dunne. Betsy’s mission became finding ‘Jimmy Dunne.’ She tracked my character down, her distraught hubby, and came back home to her town…

The song was one of Whitney’s first TV appearances…

Months later, Whitney’s CD launched around the world, and became the biggest-selling female record of all time.

A fun ride for all of us…

Yours,

Jimmy Dunne.