The role was originated in 1978 by actress Andrea Evans, whose first stint lasted until 1981. The character twice recast in 1984 with Kelli Maroney and Marsha Clark. Evans returned in 1985, in a storyline credited with putting the series "back on course" and ultimately bringing Tina to her height of popularity. Evans appeared on the cover of Soap Opera Digest five times, once every year from 1986 to 1990. In 1988 Evans was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Ingenue in a Drama Series" for the role, but left in January 1990.
Tina was recast again on May 10 1990 with Karen Witter, who played the part for four years until February 14 1994. Witter was succeeded in the role by Krista Tesreau on July 6 1994. On June 12 1996, Tina was written off the show; Tesreau reappeared in September 1996 and again from January 21 to January 24 1997 to facilitate the departure of John Loprieno (who played Tina's ex-husband, Cord Roberts).
ABC.com announced in April 2008 that Evans would soon return as Tina; she reappeared onscreen on June 11 2008. Executive Producer Frank Valentini noted, "Even though Andrea has not appeared on OLTL since 1990, she has remained among the most requested characters to return to the show ... I welcome her home to OLTL and to the role where she made an indelible mark on our audience."
In 1978, longsuffering heroine Viki Lord Riley takes in 16-year-old Tina Clayton as her ward after the death of Tina's mother, Irene Manning Clayton, Viki's best friend from her teenage years. As Viki adjusts to the responsibility of raising a teenager, Marco Dane sees the perfect way to get revenge on Viki.
Marco befriends Tina and opens a modeling agency with a plan to photograph the teen, superimpose her image onto pornographic photos and humiliate Viki by releasing them. Soon Marco grows fond of Tina and changes his plan, but eventually he blackmails Viki with the photos. When Viki stumbles upon Marco's dead body, she takes the photos and flee. She is arrested for his murder, but later exonerated.
Tina becomes involved with Greg Huddleston, and by 1980 she is both seducing Mick Gordon (her best friend Samantha Vernon's boyfriend) and pursuing country-western singer Johnny Drummond. Tina's father, Ted Clayton, comes to town under the guise of reuniting with his daughter but with an ulterior motive — to somehow con Viki and Tina out of as much money as he can.
Ted pits himself against Clint Buchanan, who had taken more than a professional interest in widowed Viki. When Ted learns that Clint is about to propose marriage to Viki, he masterminds the kidnapping of Tina to distract and get close to Viki, and of course get his hands on the ransom. When Tina is safely returned home, Ted proposes to Viki. Flustered, but touched by his request, Viki opts for time to consider the offer; Clint drops out of the romantic triangle. But when Ted is later killed in 1981, a traumatized Tina leaves town.
Cord's mother Maria brings her old friend Max Holden to town that year to romance Tina, whom she despises, and keep Tina from reconciling with Cord. Pregnant with Cord's baby and — thanks to Maria's scheming — thinking that Cord knows and does not care, Tina leaves with Max for Buenos Aires, Argentina. Learning Tina is pregnant, Cord follows her to Argentina, but Max and Tina have gotten mixed up in a drug ring and a captive Tina plummets over the Iguazu Falls in a raft. She and her unborn baby are presumed dead.
Tina turns up alive and appears in Llanview at Cord's wedding to Kate Sanders, at first passing off Max's infant son with Gabrielle Medina as her own son with Cord. Tina is convicted of killing Maria and the baby's true parentage is revealed during the trial; Tina is later exonerated and in 1988 she and Max find her real son with Cord being cared for in the Argentine jungle. Tina and Cord name him Clinton James Roberts after Clint. They ultimately remarry in November 1988, but by 1990 their marriage had once again fallen apart due to Tina's lies.
In 1990, a pregnant Tina is unsure whether the father of her baby is suave Johnny Dee Hesser, son of mobster Carlo Hesser, or ex-husband Cord. Finding out about the baby and Tina's plans to reconcile with Cord, a distraught Johnny bursts into Llanfair, knocking Tina unconscious and attempting to kidnap her. Viki, incapacitated by a stroke and unable to walk or speak, realizes that Tina's life is in danger; her alternate personality Niki Smith emerges. As Niki, Viki is able to stand — and shoots Johnny to death. Initially, both Viki and Tina have no memory of what happened, and Tina becomes the prime suspect in the murder. However, an audio tape recorded in the room later exonerates her, and proves that Viki had acted in self-defense. Tina flees to Texas as Carlo makes clear his intention to take his grandchild from Tina when it is born. Cord follows with medical proof that the baby is his, and their daughter Sarah is born in a snowstorm in February 1991. Cord and Tina return to Llanview and remarry, but Cord is presumed dead later that year; he turns up alive around a year and a half later to discover that his supposed widow Tina has taken up with Cain Rogan. Unable to reconcile, Cord and Tina divorce for the final time in 1993.
As Dr. Dorian Lord is on trial for the 1974 murder of her former husband (and Tina's father) Victor in 1994, a man named David Vickers comes forward with the diary of Tina's mother Irene. The diary exonerates Dorian and reveals the existence of Victor and Irene's second child — a son, who would stand to inherit a fortune hidden for him by Victor himself.David claims to be that son. Tina returns to town, and despite their connection as full brother and sister, David and Tina find themselves attracted to each other. They sleep together, but David immediately reveals to Tina that he is only pretending to be the missing Lord heir. The couple conspire to take the inheritance, even marrying in 1995 to secure their claim. Eventually town pariah Todd Manning is revealed to be Victor and Irene's son, and David is arrested. With Viki again under the influence of her dissociative identity disorder, her icy alternate personality Jean Randolph forces David to divorce Tina in exchange for his freedom.
In 1996, Tina moves with C.J. and Sarah to Baltimore, Maryland to become a professional shopper for Logan's Department Store.
When Sarah returns again in 2007, she notes that her mother is "off doing one of her things" and that Tina rarely corresponds but sends her money from time to time. Sarah says that Viki and Clint would have a hard time finding Tina, adding "she's where I got my run and hide genes." Clint confirms that he and Cord cannot locate Tina.
In Mendorra, Tina gets the royal treatment from her palace staff and is reunited with her husband, Crown Prince Helmut Krakoff — really Cain Rogan in yet another disguise. Meanwhile, the real mastermind behind the kidnappings reveals himself to his daughter Talia: Carlo Hesser. Cain is anxious to keep the jewels they have worked so hard for, but Tina is desperate to exchange them for Sarah. She bemoans her lot in life, saying, "I should have gone back to Cord! Carlo, bent on revenge for Tina's part in Johnny Dee's death, exposes her and Cain's fraud publicly and reveals Jonas as the true heir to the throne; he adds that, per Mendorran law, Cain and Tina will be beheaded for their treason. Carlo and his minions first drag Tina, Sarah and Cristian to the river above the treacherous Hohenstein Falls. Tina is horrified as Carlo reveals his intent to send Sarah over the Falls to her death, deliberately echoing Tina's own nearly-fatal plunge over the Iguazu Falls in 1987. Cristian manages to escape Carlo's guards and swim to Sarah's raft; Tina watches history repeat itself as Sarah and Cristian go over the Falls on 22 July 2008. Cristian turns up alive but Sarah is presumed dead. Cristian saves Tina and Cain from the executioner's axe, but not before Tina responds to Cain's declaration of love with a thoughtless "I love you too, Cord!" — a mistake she had also made in 1988 while at the altar with Max Holden. Sarah reappears alive, just in time to join the others in their escape. A duplicitous Cain later parachutes from the plane with the Crown Jewels — not knowing that Tina has already switched the gems with fakes — and in Llanview, Tina is soon reunited with Viki, and then with Cord. After Cord hears about the drama in Mendorra, Tina is devastated when he tells her that she has not changed, and they can never be together.
As Tina settles into Llanfair, she takes care to hide the stolen Mendorran Crown Jewels in Viki's wall safe, fearing she will be apprehended by international authorities. She grows increasingly suspicious of "Jessica's" strange actions when she discovers her niece has ordered construction to be done in the basement levels of the house. "Jessica" claims the construction work is a surprise for the family, but when Tina and her beloved shih tzu "Princess David Vickers" go snooping in the basement, they discover the lavish, soundproofed secret room Tess has built below the house. Tina reflects on her memories of Victor Lord's secret room, and its significance to Viki and her alters, who imprisoned Dorian Lord below Llanfair. Remembering her own complicated relationship with Viki's alters such as "Niki Smith," Tina comes to the horrifying realization that Jessica is no longer Jessica, but actually "Tess," who Viki has told her about. Before Tina can alert the family, Tess traps Tina and "Princess David Vickers" in the new secret room, but later releases her, and traps Natalie in the secret room instead. Tess stumbles upon the Jewels in the wall safe, and blackmails Tina into keeping quiet about her plans, or else she will call the police and have Tina arrested for stealing the Jewels.
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