These days, Melissa Reeves is a Days of Our Lives veteran, who portrays a widow and the mother of two grown children. But 27 years ago –- on October 9, 1985 to be exact – a teenage Reeves made her premiere as Jennifer Rose Horton.
Jennifer first surfaced in Salem with her friend, Nancy. They were runaway teenagers, who turned up at the local hospital. Nancy was sporting a black eye and a bruise on her arm, courtesy of some creepy guy.
Kimberly Brady was eager to help and asked if there was a way to get in touch with the girls’ parents. “Uh... they’re dead,” responded Jennifer.
When Dr. Mike Horton walked in, Jennifer made a hasty retreat, not wanting to get recognized by her big brother. Nancy followed her friend and asked what was up. They’d found a place to stay and get food, not to mention that cute doctor.
Having heard Mike and a co-worker make plans to head to the Cheatin’ Heart for a bachelor party that night, Nancy coaxed Jennifer to go there for some pizza and fun.
The two gals arrived at the bar and started chatting with a couple of guys. Then, Mike showed up and was stunned to see his little sister. Jennifer ran off, and Mike chased her down the alley, before catching up with her.
“What are doing here?” asked Mike. “Why are you dressed like this and why were you trying to pick up guys in that sleazy bar?”
“It’s none of your business,” retorted Jennifer.
Mike begged to differ and demanded his sister tell him what was going on. Finally, she explained that no one knew she was back in town. In fact, their parents thought she was staying with a girlfriend, but she was really living at an old abandoned warehouse near the pier with a bunch of cool kids.
Mike knew those “cool kids” and lectured Jennifer about them being the roughest kids in the city. He told his sister he was taking her home with him, even if he had to drag her there by her hair. Realizing she didn’t have a choice, Jennifer relented.
“I was 18, when I joined Days,” said Melissa Reeves, reflecting on her debut, years later. “Jennifer was a troubled teenager back then.”
She still remembers her audition scene opposite Michael T. Weiss (Mike). “I had a mad crush on him,” admitted Reeves. “I was so excited he was going to be playing my brother.”
Looking back, Reeves never imagined she’d be playing Jennifer over two decades later. Having originally signed a three-year pact with Days, she assumed she’d be gone when it expired.
“I figured I would have to look for another job, because they’d be completely bored with me by then,” noted the actress in 1993. “But the writers keep coming up with stories. I don’t know how they do it.”