One Life To Live at 40: That’s Entertainment!

OLTL cast

Thinking Fans Comment Update July 18: EricMontreal22 recalls OLTL 1980 … Dale salutes Phil Carey … norn calls Llanview home away from home … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Happy 40th birthday, One Life to Live!  I’ve been wracking my brain for weeks, trying to come up with an overall through-line for the four decades this show has been broadcast daily on ABC.  But it’s hard to find one, because, within that span of years, the drama has gone through so many different eras and been presented in so many different styles, by so many writers and producers with individualistic approaches.  So why have I continued watching through it all?  Forty years is  a long time, indeed most of my adult  lifetime!

And then it struck me:  I’ve watched OLTL so long simply because it has always been entertaining, and in so many ways!

I loved the social  relevance and the breakthrough ethnic and racial diversity of the early Agnes Nixon years.  When Carla Gray, who was black and passing for white, confessed all her problems and her pain to her earth mother Sadie, I was totally absorbed both by the content and the terrific, heartfelt acting of  Ellen Holly and Lillian Hayman.Asa Buchanan

When the show took a different path and three Texas cowboys named  Buchanan galloped into Llanview, Pennsylvania, giving the show a slightly B western movie  feel,  I liked that, too.  When Paul Rauch, in a touch of pure originality and fantasy and 80s camp, sent Viki to heaven to see her dead friends and relatives, I was on board, relishing every minute. When Ursula (the great Jill Larson) comically blew up the cake, I laughed out loud.  And just last week, during a magnificently acted scene in which Viki and Charlie (Erika Slezak and Brian Kerwin) declared their mutual love, but agonized  because his problems with honesty  kept them from being together, I actually broke down and cried.  I reveled in  the sheer heartbreak of it!

Bo and Nora“Oh, Marlena,” chided my friend pjs, the writer-producer and occasional contributor to this site who is a true soap connoisseur.   “How can you say  One Life to Live is  entertaining?  What about the time that awful cartoon villain Ivan Kipling implanted the chip in Larry’s brain? What about Eterna?  What about Mendorra?  What about the way Jill ruined Nora and took away her brain? What about Dena Higley?”

I asked pjs how long he has been watching OLTL.

He said sheepishly,   “Oh, from the day it premiered  in 1968.  Just about every day.”OLTL

I rest my case.  Sure, OLTL has had bad storylines and some bad times (see pjs’ objections above).  But overall, I always watched.  Or came back to watch. Thank goodness, as of now the last bad era is all over and today’s OLTL seems back on the right road  to being a great, intelligently written, classic soap, as it celebrates its 40th anniversary.  I find  today’s show is very, very watchable on a daily basis in a soap world where not much else is.

Happy  anniversary, One Life to Live!   And thanks for always, always being entertaining!  

Comments

  1. esther says:

    Well said, Marlena. There has been some incredibly heartwrenching drama, exciting adventures and campy antics that have kept this show going for 40 years. Some of my personal favorites are the era of Karen Wolek (and ALL the stories going on then), the romance of Bo and Nora along with the introduction of Sam and his brother Ben. Today is chock full of good stuff too and I’m glad this ABC stepchild of a soap is still going strong, despite not being as flashy as it’s more beloved sister shows.

  2. EricMontreal22 says:

    Great piece. One era that I think never fully gets its due, Karen Wolek on the stand aside, is when Gordon Russell was headwriter from around 1973 till his death in ’81 I believe. It’s no secret that Agnes Nixon purposefully groomed him and, while I’ve only seen a number of episodes from that era, I think they really hold up alongside vintage AMC .

    Recently I found two episodes from 1980 — with Tina, Dorian pretty newly played by Robin Strasser, but still Carla Gray, Larry (where is he?? I wish they’d bring him back for the anniversary). This was when the show was starting to transform due to the Buchanans (by the late 80s Rauch had pretty much gotten rid of all minorities and poorer characters) but under Gordon’s writing it was still just such good, classic soap. So glad to see OLTL finally back in a good healthy state for its birthday.

    Marlena says: Hi Eric. I am always very impressed by your thirst for soap opera history. I think that if Rauch in fact had gotten rid of all the minorities and poor characters by the late 80s we in the soap press then would have bitched about it. I still remember the relatively middle class Wanda Wolek being on the canvas, and a few diverse characters (such as a young doctor briefly played by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee’s son) on the periphery.

    Still I humbly think the magnificent Ellen Holly (Carla) should have stayed on the show forever, instead of being cruellyfired by Paul. And OLTL not bringing back Michael Storm’s Dr. Larry Wolek (who really was a human throughline throughout most of the history of the show) for the current anniversary celebration is a crime. I interviewed Storm once, and he was just wonderful to talk to, very, very dedicated to being an actor.

  3. EricMontreal22 says:

    I think I was going off of Erika Slezak’s controversial comment (that she cleared up recently on her blog but that Ellen Holly misinterpretated)–something to the extent that Llanview was now for the rich and the white. OLTL in the 80s–again from all I’ve tracked down and seen and read–was still pretty strong under Sam Hall and Peggy O’Shea–its when her associate Michael Schnessel became headwriter sometime after the ’88 strike that I think Rauch’s campiness really became maybe a bit much–and eventually led to the show sorta going back to its routs with Malone/Griffith/Gottlieb at the helm.

    But your right there was still some diversity–and its one of the few soaps I can think of at the time to have a fairly large latin base with characters like Maria, etc.

    I have heard that Storm is eager to come back in any capacity the show will have him in. Remember how in the 90s he was a sort of surrogate father to Marty? Howabout bringing that up–or bringing his son Danny who’s a doctor, and is VIcki’s nephew and I think has children of his own.

    Oh well–it’d just be nice to see him back atleast for the anniversary (I believe he returned in some hospital scenes five or so years ago so I assume he’s still meant to be in Llanview… somewhere). Anyway, I’m excited for the anniversary (even if the episodes are oddly a week after) and loved reading this piece.

    Marlena says: Oh thanks, sweetie! You really know your OLTL stuff, Eric. And if you ever want to ask Marlena any more questions about its history, feel free!

    I want to suggest to my readers that the very best book on OLTL is Gary Warner’s One Life to Live, Thirty Years of Memories (ABC Daytime Press, Hyperion) which came out ten years ago. Gary, an OLTL authority who worked at ABC Daytime for many, many years, filled the book with all kinds of inside the network photos and personal show interviews. I was a minor contributor. Anyway, Gary, wherever you are, your best soap frends miss you and would love to hear from you!

  4. JONNYSBRO says:

    Marlena the biggest question is what was your favorite era of OLTL and least favorite? I really loved the Gottlieb/Malone years. The show was so well done. I heard Linda Gottlieb was the most scary tough woman to work for but impeccably dressed. She shot OLTL like a movie but man did she produce some amazing TV. Her with Malone was the right combination to take OLTL into the 90′s.

    I liked the Rauch years, they were fun and entertaining and the 80′s. Once AE left and he kept telling those campy stories in the early 90 to 91, it did not work anymore. The times were changing and people wanted grittier,more realistic soap opera at the time. I also liked parts of the Labine tenure. I felt the Labines never got to really get there feet wet at OLTL and mainly because they were missing that Wendy Riche from the GH days. I loved early Todd and Tea under the Labines and Dorian/Mel. I never felt their vision truly made it onscreen.

    My least favorite eras. I despised the JFP era more then anyone. First of all never been a fan of JFP with her bringing all her friends to OLTL and pushing vets out right and left. That woman was so smug she was the head writer of OLTL in 1999 when OLTL had no head writer for a year. The worst to me what she did was pushing RS/Dorian off the show. She fired Mel, Cassie, and then made Dorian a loner loser. The beginning of the end having Dorian hit Jessica and killing her unborn baby. RS in her new hotline which just reopened has said there is no secret there is no love loss between her and JFP. She said JFP had a hit on her from day one and got her blacklisted from ABC. She only returned when Frank V became EP and Brian Frons was the president. There is a lot of bitterness between them.

    The worst tenure was Dena Higley. She butchered the show in the worst way. She did not even know the show or the characters and just destroyed with horrid writing. I will never forgive that woman. So glad OLTL is back to the forefront with Ron and cannot wait for the anniversary shows.

    Marlena says: My favorite OLTL era is the one that hardly anyone writes about — the mid-70s. It was the era of the remarkable Marco and Karen, the years Viki married Joe and Steve and lost them both, when Jenny suffered the pain of being married to Brad. Strasser was getting her feet wet as a replacement Dorian. It was an era of pure soap opera, when all the drama you had to care about was on the screen, not in the producer’s or writers’ offices.

    I’ve never understood why current soap viewers are so obsessed with the history of writers and producers. Save for Higley, I knew and interviewed all the ones you’ve mentioned above and believe me they are fun to talk about. But their personalities and peccadillos are not the entire story of what happens on the soap opera screen. A lot of times when I read the passed-down gospel about past producers and writers I actually knew, I laugh about how false or exaggerated it is. But Jonny, my dear old friend, you got one thing undisputedly right: Linda Gottlieb was always well-dressed!

  5. Kade C says:

    Hey Marlena, thank you for all of the great OLTL articles. They’ve sure brought up some great memories! OLTL has certainly had its ups and downs – especially in just the past few years! The highest praise I can give this show is that I’m still watching. Perhaps that sounds flippant, but I don’t mean it that way. I was exposed daily to all three ABC soaps since I was in utero (thanks Mom!). I started watching them on my own as a pre-teen, and once I started home-schooling at age 12, I was a daily viewer. Back then (early/mid 90s) if you’d asked me which one was my favorite, after much hemming and hawing, I probably would have said GH – maybe AMC. But now, I can’t stand to watch either of them. OLTL is the only ABC soap that has held my interest for the past fifteen years, and I am so excited for its 40th birthday (which was also my 26th birthday – we were destined to be together I suppose).

    My earliest memories are of Clint and Viki holding newborn Jessica, but I can’t remember much beyond that. The first episode I saw, and actually watched, were Cassie and Alex on location at a real lake somewhere (to this day I love locations). Alex, jealous of Cassie’s relationship with Bo, threatened to overturn the boat on poor Cassie, who couldn’t swim. The excitement! I was so disappointed to go back to school the following Monday. What would happen to Cassie? The next time I watched again was with Billy, Andrew, and the AIDS quilt. What a story. What words can do that story justice? They’ve all been said before, and all I can do is agree. I was hooked then, in 1992. And, apart from a year of Real Life interference and select periods of the Higley Era, I’ve been hooked ever since.

    As a Thoughtful Fan commented on your July 8th, article, part of OLTL’s magic was the chance for we viewers to see something new in the world, something that we wouldn’t normally see – be it different classes, races, ethnicities, or what have you – just a different slice of life. I think that’s been lost in recent times (and not just on this show). Here’s hoping that OLTL can bring that forgotten gift back in the future.

  6. Dale says:

    Hello, Marlena! Thanks for all the OLTL lately!!!

    When I think of OLTL all the obvious names and memories pop up….Viki, Dorian, split personalities, Eterna (!), Karen Wolek, The Aids Quilt, Marty’s rape trial, the list goes on and on!

    It irks me that one of OLTL’s legacy actors is often overlooked – the great Phil Carey. Phil/Asa reigned in Llanview for almost 30 years and I don’t think that Phil or Asa ever go the recognition they deserved. Not even one Emmy nomination! Asa was the primary star of so many stories I’ve lost count, and he was the catalyst for many other storylines.

    Here are some of my faves: Asa marrying Becky to give baby Drew the Buchanan name, while sticking it to Bo at the same time; his two phony funerals in 1983 and 2001 – remember the Ex-Wives Club? LOL!; his Egyptian wedding to Alex; his manipulation of and desire for Blair when she first came to town – later, as his wife, she left him for dead in the Buchanan living room, remember?; his always amusing interactions with Nigel; his love for his adopted grandsons Joey and Kevin – they WERE Buchanans in his eyes!

    I could go on, but you only have so much room!

    Phil Carey was a presence on OLTL! That booming voice! And how tall is he, anyway? Phil could play anger, rage, love, comedy, manipulation, tenderness. Phil is not what I’d call a subtle actor. Can you imagine a sublte Asa?! No way! I loved his bluster and the way Phil commanded the screen in his scenes. Really, could you ever turn the channel when Asa was on?

    While I sorely miss seeing him regularly, I am thrilled that the current OLTL regime has wisely showcased how all the Buchanan’s lives have been impacted and altered by Asa’s death. His presence is still very much felt. I was thrilled to see him back for today’s eppy and can’t wait to see more of him next week!

    It is fitting that Phil’s birthday is July 15, just like OLTLs’! And in honor of the man who gave us SO many years of fun and drama on the show we are celebrating this week, here’s my OLTL trivia question for you Marlena:

    Name ALL of Asa’s wives! All 13 of them!

    Marlena says: OK, darling Dale. I’ll try to name all of Asa’s wives if you send me the name of five Phil Carey movies. You know he had a long Hollywood career before he ever came to soaps!

    Here’s my stab at the wives: with no reference materials of course — Olympia, Delilah, Blair (when she was played by Mia Korf, not Kassie DePaiva), Alex, Rene (more than once, right?) Becky Lee, Pamela Stuart. Oh my God, that’s as far as I can go! Was he married to Gabrielle? I can’t remember. Ok, I give up!

    Phil Carey was always an absolute gem as Asa! I can only think of one daytime reporter who wasn’t too intimidated to interview him and befriend him! He was always entertaining in every single damn (as Asa would say) scene and such a big part of OLTL history. My favorite Asa scenes overall were his with the divine comic Nigel. I love, love, love Peter Bartlett (and he knows it!) Asa and Nigel never failed to crack me up!

    It was great to see Carey on today’s show, loved hearing him yell at Bo like old times. I had to laugh, though — there were two dead characters on today’s show — Asa, and Nash who was hanging out with Tess. Loved the way “dead” Asa was up on all the events of Bo’s life, including his almost marriage to Lindsay. What else do the dead know?

  7. Dale says:

    Marlena, I have done as well at Phil’s movies as you did with the wives! I only know of and have seen two of his films: Calamity Jane and This Woman is Dangerous, but I know he has a loooong list of movie and TV credits prior to OLTL.

    Here the list of the 13 Mrs. Asa Buchanans:

    Olympia, Samantha, Delila, Becky, Pamela, Renee, Blair, Alex, Alex again, Renee again, Gabrielle, Rae and Renee (again!!!).

    Marlena says: Anyone can look up the titles of Phil Carey’s movies and his TV appearances on imdb.com. He was certainly hunk-alicious in his movie days! Check him out in a uniform, as you said, in Calamity Jane and he played a shirtless sailor in Mr. Roberts. Oh Marlena!

    As far as Asa’ wives go, I forgot Rae. That was a sham marriage, no? Linda Dano and Phil Carey in my mind do not compute.

  8. Marilyn Henry says:

    Oh, Marlena, we have the same favorite periods of OLTL. I loved Marco and ‘brother’ Mario, Karen, Larry, Dorian, Jenny, Marcello, and Wanda. Brad, too–he was such a slick vilain. Another favorite period was when Karen was hanging out with a low-life criminal played by Robert DeSiderio. Their chemistry just leapt off the screen and even though he was a a bad guy, I wanted them together (just like I want GH’s Jerry Jax and Alexis together–another pure chemistry couple). Anyway, the chemistry must have been very real–Judith and Robert left the show together and stayed together. Did they ever marry? Are they still together? He was a painter as well as an actor, as I recall.

    The whole cast was so great in those days. Wasn’t one of Asa’s wives a woman played by Arlene Dahl, Lucinda? Can’t remember the story now. And oh my, how I loved Patrick as played by Thorston Kaye. He got me addicted to the show again.

    I don’t know why, but I would come and go with OLTL. I really liked Linda Dano, though she didn’t have a large role as Greta. And the singer who played Marco’s secretary–she’s on Broadway alot. Drat, the name won’t come, but she was great.

    And I loved the Anthony Macana story with Nick Coster as this shady nightclub owner and small time crook who owned The Jungle–that was a great set. I think Delilia worked there. The story petered out though.

    Funny, you say that much that goes wrong with soaps gets blamed on EPs and other excecs, and it is true, we do tend to remember certain regimes where things weren’t going well. I still think of Paul Rauch as a show-killer. He turned me off OLTL when he took over and gave the whole show to Tina who is better taken in small doses. His fantasy stuff –didn’t like it at all and finally tuned out. I always remember he made some obviously jealous comment when Santa Barbara won its 3rd (and deserved) Best Show Emmy in a row, comparing the genius of his own show and referring to SB as ‘that little show nobody watches’. I never quite forgave him that. (At it’s worse it pulled in higher ratings than Y&R does today!) I wondered if it was revenge when later he went to SB as EP and proceeded to kill it. JMO, as they say.

    Anyway, I am loving this celebration talk here for OLTL’s anniversary and your insightful commentaries. I look forward every day now to watching OLTL and it has been a long time since I felt like that about a soap.

    Marlena says: Poor Paul! Does anyone in soaps have a worse image problem? I actually knew him well for over twenty years — a very complex man! I had the same love/hate relationship with him as so many others in the soap world had. (I have great personal Rauch stories, as does everyone!!). But I never had to work for him, so I can say this freely: I consider the man a daytime genius. I loved his AW in the 70s! During the 80s on OLTL he had to compete with publicity hogs AMC and GH, and I think he did a great job. Even if I personally didn’t like Tina! I hated the Igazu Falls! But I loved Heaven, and the show was so watchable in the 80′s. Please, he knew what he had in his leading lady, Erika Slezak, and always kept Viki centerstage.

    Fans, please, I know all about his poor SB and GL and his bad run-ins with actors, etc. But overall, I think we’re lucky to have an innovative thinker like him back now as a newly named consultant to Y&R. Let’s see if he can contribute fresh ideas to Y&R, which I personally consider now to be the most boring soap opera I remember since Love of Life.

  9. BillB says:

    Marlena,
    I think that was a great homage to OLTL. I myself liked the 80s camp and the early Asa years — and you talk about three cowboys riding into town — Phil Carey was a star in cowboy western movies (and others probably) … but they were pretty good too!

    Marlena says: Thanks, Bill

  10. Richard says:

    Marlena,

    I can’t tell you how great it has been to discover you on the web and be able to once again read and share intelligent thoughts on soaps. I actually stopped buying SOW after you left……I’m glad you’re back!

    I’ve been an avid soap watcher for 35-years, getting an early start thanks to grandmothers who referred to their “stories” by their favorite characters. Between the two of them, I watched Vanessa (LOL), JoAnn Tate (SFT), “that hussy Lisa” (ATWT), Bert Bauer (GL), Amy Kinkaid (SS), Nurse Jessie and Dr. Steve (GH) and Adam and Nicole (EON).

    I have to say though, that although all shows have their peak moments and storylines, none has kept me as a loyal viewer except for OLTL. I started watching in 1973 and have never stopped…it flat-out drew me in. As mentioned earlier, these were real people that talked to one another just like my own family. You immediately became wrapped in their lives, and they kept you coming back.

    Viki was married to Steve Burke, and Joe Riley had returned from the dead, Meredith was alive, married to Larry and living in a garage apartment at Llanfair with baby Danny (her death impacted me like no other on this show until almost 20-years later when Megan died in Jake’s arms). Mark and Julie Toland were struggling with their marriage, Dorian and Melinda came into town. Ed and Carla, Sadie, Vinnie and Wanda, Jim and Anna, Eileen, Cathy Craig…what a great era. Thirty-minutes and you wanted more.

    I remember the long-awaited remarriage of Joe and Viki…their carriage ride and dance in Central Park, Kevin’s birth, the impact of Joe’s death…and wondered how it would impact Viki’s (and the show’s) future. I enjoyed the sweetness and tragedy of Jenny Wolek and Tim Siegel’s romance. Larry finally remarried, and Karen and Judith Light made it must-see TV…even for friends that weren’t regular viewers. The University I attended had three TV rooms in it’s Student Center…one for each network, and I remember the ABC room was packed the days Karen was on the stand.

    I agree, there have been times it was a stuggle to watch. VCRs and a fast-forward button have been a god-send in some storylines…but they allowed us to capture some fantastic periods as well. I loved the Heaven storyline, and savored every moment of seeing Meredith, Tony, Samantha, Vince, Peter, even Victor…before we knew what he had done to Viki. David and Jenny were magic, so were Megan and Jake. I think Bo and Nora brought us a flavor of the Wolek days…sure, this couple had money, but they were REAL…the dancing, the rented movies, the junk food…loved it.

    Marty’s rape and subsequent trial, the AIDS quilt storyline…both so powerful. I’ve watched the Viki/Dorian rivalry since it’s inception before Dorian’s marriage to Victor….got to keep it going. Erika Slezak has earned every one of her Emmy’s…Robin Strasser is hands-down due for one this year.

    The shows recent resurgence with it’s focus on family with Asa’s death truly stirred something in those of us that have watched this for years. Watching Kevin, Joey, Jessica and Natalite sharing a toast to Asa after his funeral and dancing/singing/laughing with one another to one of Asa’s favorite songs while Viki and Clint quietly observe from the doorway…that was a true moment of the power and committment of family this show has that originally drew me in 35-years ago.

    I also think one of the best elements OLTL has incorporated that other shows don’t as often is humor. I’d loved to see the Daisy Awards again. Niki (and/or other alters) tortuing Dorian over the years From Vinnie and Wanda to Roxie, Nigel, David Vickers (they’ve got to keep him around!), even Asa…this show can (and has regularly, of late) make you laugh out-loud.

    Let the others have their epidemics, mobsters, and disasters of the sweeps-week. Give me Erika Slezak, Robin Strasser, Bob Woods, Hilary B. Smith, Tuc Watkins, the Lords/Buchanans at the fore-front, storylines that grab you while keeping us laughing…yep, that’s entertainment.

    Thanks for listening…I appreciate you.

    Marlena says: Well, I appreciate you, Richard! Thanks for remembering those long ago mag days. I’ve been on-line for almost two years now, and I hope you read this site’s older columns here when you have the time.

    And what a nice stroll down OLTL’s memory lane you’ve provided here. Keep watching … and keep reading moi!

  11. Debby69 says:

    While it has been great seeing PC as Asa, I miss Clint Ritchie as Clint. Sorry but JVD doesn’t do a thing for me as Clint, The dynamic isn’t there with Bob Woods and JVD as brothers.

    I miss the 80s and when Clint R. and Erika S. were an onscreen couple. They overcame a lot of obsravles. That is what mde them a couple to root for! How I long for a storyline which would reunite them as a “couple.” Forget Ben. Forget Charlie,. I want my original Clint back!!!!!

    I have so many memories since I started watching OL in 1970. I remember when Joe and the original Viki were married. Remember when Joe returned from being presumed dead after Viki marride Steve Burke.

    Remember Dorian and Mark Toland overdosing Larry’s patient. Then Mark left leaving Dorian holding the bag. This was the nasty Dorian….LOL!!!

    Remember Karen Wolek testifying at Viki’s trial. That was some scene! Definitely Emmy worthy! Miss Judith Light… Guess she is on Ugly Betty but I don’t watch that show,

    Also remember characters like Marco (may Gerald Anthony rest in peace), Brad, Carlo, and a few orhers….

    There is so much to say about OLTL over the last 38 years that I have watched….. I know I have left out some characters, actors, storylines, etc.

    Marlena says: Hi Debby — I know from your past letters that you are original Clint’s #1 fan. They should have given Jerry ver Dorn a different character name. Now finally, however, I’m beginning to accept him as Clint … well, a smidgen. Except to me, the more Jerry settles into the show, the more he seems like Ross Marler again (he played him Guiding Light forever.) And you’re right, there is so much to remember about OLTL. Thanks for sharing your memories!

  12. Carl says:

    Ha. That first photo has many of the reasons I lost interest in OLTL (Natalie, John McBore, Todd, Jessica, Antonio). I do like the others.

    My favorite era of OLTL was the baby switch with Jenny Wolek. One of the very few heroines who actually was a nice person, instead of a raging monster propped up by the writers (paging GH’s Shrewlu). The scenes where she gave Jenny back to Katrina, and had to tell her daughter she was now going to go live with Katrina, they absolutely broke my heart.

    I loved that Daytime to Remember, the fill in between The City and Port Charles that Reba McEntire hosted. Such an amazing tribute to the years of ABC Daytime. Now we have Frons, who seems to hate and be ashamed of traditional soaps.

    Marlena says: That baby switch plot went on seemingly for years and was very dramatic and touching. Daytime to Remember was fantastic, another of Gary Warner’s projects while he was at ABC Daytime. Wish they’d reshow it now. You know Frons was around during the apex of soap popularity in the 80′s–he was vice president for daytime at NBC during those years. Santa Barbara was his “baby.” I guess he thinks he’s moving with the times right now.

  13. norn says:

    I’ve so enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts and feelings about OLTL! I absolutely agree that the two aspects that keep me loyal to OLTL are FAMILY and HUMOR.

    One poster mentioned that when he sees the library at Llanfair, it’s like seeing his own home. I know the feeling! I’ve been looking at that set and thinking of it as a place of comfort for longer than I’ve actually had my own living room! Llanfair IS home; Viki IS family.

    But it’s the HUMOR that makes OLTL a must-see … those brilliant one-liners dont make it into the recaps, so if you miss one of Dorian’s brilliant barbs, Roxy’s malaprops, David Vicker’s outrageous comic timing … you’ve missed it for good! That will always make OLTL worth tuning in!

    Marlena says: Norn, your statement about Llanfair being home and Viki is family is SO powerful. Viva, Viva One Life to Live!

  14. renee says:

    Oh Marlena, Marlena, Marlena. I was not going to read this montage to One Life to Live. Our Di has been going on and on about the show and AMC has gotten quite ‘slow’ and I did want to watch the 40th reunion show, so ‘all’ convinced me recently to start watching OLTL again. Read two weeks of summaries, dived in for two days, and COULD NOT STOMACH IT. LOL It was worse than watching that witch on Passions. Even Tom Christopher couldn’t act anymore. I screamed at our friend to explain why she was so high on this show anymore and the most I got was it’s better than the worst. LOL

    Maybe i will watch the retrospect, because I cried reading all these comments. I’ve watched soaps since 1959, age 3, sitting in front of the black and white, drinking ovaltine eating raisin bran with my now dead grandma. I left work, went to Macy’s, and watched Luke and Laura get married with about 300 other skippers. Macy’s got smart and started selling sandwiches and soft drinks. College classes were scheduled around soaps. At the height of my obsession I had two tv’s and 3 vcr’s to tape all 3 networks of soaps.

    What glorious days of writing we’ve had on these soaps, and OLTL was right up there. Ellen Holly passing for white. As an African American whose mother was half white, and who had seen a lynching. I experienced the white color toilets down south. This HIT home. Karen being raped. I’d gone through that. I agree the years of Karen and Marco were the best.

    I don’t know who generally writes for soaps. I’ve learned a lot through our friend. I do know they aren’t the same over the last ten or so years which explains why I am more satisfied reading summaries and only watching when a show’s storyline or appearance grabs me. Few do. Too many have decimated the integrity of a character’s history and fans know it can’t be redeemed that easily.

    Anyway, thank you thank you thank you for this trip down my life’s memory lane with OLTL. It’s why I LOVE your column. You truly care about the soaps. Much more than their caretakers seem to. LOL

    Marlena says: Aw, thanks so much for saying that I care about soaps! And I love your observations about OLTL and how you especially appreciated it because of your personal background. And I love your college memories.

    Gosh, Karen and Marco were heaven, IMHO the two most entertaining and charismatic OLTL characters ever! I always wonder if Judith Light and Gerry Anthony would be cast if they auditioned for the show today. Casting today is all about model perfect looks. And look at the kind of talent we must miss out on!

    But Renee, I have to ask, who is Di?

  15. Cherry Ames says:

    Dear Marlena, For me, the best years of One Life were the Joseph Stuart years. Of course, I originally started watching OLTL in high school. I had followed my favorite romantic couple ie. Steve and Alice to Llanview after that rat fink (“fink”sounds better than the other word I was thinking) ,Paul Rauch, fired them both from A.W. I doubt that I was the only Another World “refugee” to soap hop. At any rate, tuning into the mid 70′s era of OLTL was like the best of both worlds. So many actors and actresses from AW were now playing great roles on OLTL. Not only that, but one of my all-time favorite actors (he really should have had much more success) Al Freeman Jr. was starring as Ed Hall.

    So many terrific stories and so well-told and acted!
    I will never forget the day Brian Kendall and his mother , Pat Ashley ,had a terrible fight and Pat slipped and told Brian that Tony Lord was his real father. The poor kid ran out the door and right into Talbot Huddleston and Karen Wolek in their limo. I felt that Jacquie gave a tremendous performance at Brian’s bedside but she was outshone by Judith Light’s riveting testimony in court a few months later. Oh my! What a tour de force Karen’s breakdown on the stand was and it is still a defining moment of the show.

    I remember not being too crazy aqout JR light -that is, Asa, but eventually he and the Buchanan boys grew on me. I’ll never forget Bo pursuing Pat for what seemed like a year and he finally followed her to Paris for the first overseas location soap shoot. (At least, I think it was the first). But then Pat and Bo broke up within a month or two and it seemed odd that ABC would spend money on the couple and the location only to scuttle the couple permanently. (Lots of backstage gossip around this time period, I recall).

    I was very busy with my own life to live during Paul Rauch’s tenure so I have no opinion. It sounds campy and I have seen clips of Viki’s trip to heaven. I think the material was good but why oh why did it have to be on a spaceship?

    I really only got hooked back into the show when Natalie showed up. Well, to be honest, it was more Roscoe Born as Mitch that got me hooked and the fact that I had more free time. The Natalie story was so distasteful (Victoria had been raped by Mitch and had sex with Clint apparently within hours of each and gave birth to twins but conveniently “forgot” . (Can’t say as I blame her!) I stayed because it was good to see Viki and Dorian again. Hated the Malone years-spine tinglingly bad (and not in a good way!) those Santi’s were and I still don’t know why the MBK was so unhappy and became a serial killer and killing Gabrielle in the public potty was just not nice!

    I even sort of liked some of the Higley years. Outside of Margaret raping Todd on Valentine’s day and a few other lapses in good taste and good sense, I certainly felt entertained.

    Now , with Ron C. writing, OLTL feels almost as good as it was in the good old days. I just hope it lasts because I am down to only one soap and I only watch OLTL 2 or 3 days as it is now.

    I don’t want to get myself into trouble but I have to wonder about something. Why Jacquie Courtney is a like an after thought or never even mentioned as being an integral part of OLTL. She really was a major player during my favorite era but her character isn’t even listed as being on OLTL on a number of soap sites. Is there any truth that she did an interview with a soap mag. and had a picture of the E.P. on the bedside table in plain sight during the interview and that she was trying to take over the role as OLTL’s major heroine and shove Erika Slezak out? Oh dear. I have read this on a number of occasions and I really have lost some respect for the actress if this story is true. if the story is not true, then shame on the nasty gossips who swear up and down that she was trying her best to usurp Erika Slezak’s rightful place as the premiere heroine of OLTL. OH my. I’m sure you won’t be able to reply to this question and I’m not sure why it even matters now. I cannot believe I even know this much about behind the scenes gossip-looks like I need to get a life!

    As usual, a very good read and thanks a million. I’m afraid that sooner or later the daytime serial will be a footnote in the television history archives. And maybe that’s as it should be. All things eventually run their cycle and come to an end. Bonjour /bon nuit.

    Marlena says: Well, Cherry you’ve come to the Source. I was editor of Afternoon TV magazine in about 1982 when we shot an at home photo layout with Jacquie Courtney and there turned out to be a picture of Joe Stuart on her nighttable. It was an accident, something we didn’t notice until it was published. To their credit, ABC didn’t give us a hard time. And to my knowledge, Ms. Courtney did not try and push out Erika Slezak as leading lady. She was very low key and a real pro, just like Erika is.

    The very first issue I did of Afternoon TV sports a cover of Bob Woods and Jacquie (March 1981) — I have it framed, hanging over my desk as I write this. Woods was new to the show at the time of that Paris shoot, and so adorable that every actress on the show wanted to be his co-star. The ladies at ABC Daytime flipped for him! He had originally been brought in for Slezak, but she promptly left for maternity leave. That’s how Jacquie got him as her character’s love interest. He certainly had a zillion leading ladies after that! I first met him back then — the man had great charm!

    That was a long time ago, Cherry baby!

  16. Matthew J Cormier says:

    I’ve only been watching “OLTL” since the early 1990′s but i agree with everything you’ve said, OLTL even in it’s worst time has always been entertaining. Even the god awful stuff with Natalie and Jessica being twins, while a horrid re-writing of history was spetacular to watch because of the acting from all involved. To me it has been Erika Slezak that has kept this show running all these years. Through each incarnation she has been able to flourish and make the show come alive. Even to the point that many of us ask ourselves, Gillian who? in regards to her predecessor.

    Marlena says: I am a primo Erika Slezak fan. But I am old enough to remember Gillian Spencer as Viki and she was mighty fine. Gillian went on to become a respected soap writer, and she charmingly played Daisy/Monique (Nina’s real mother) on All My Children for Years.

  17. Kade says:

    Wow. What am I missing…just doing the UK soap thing these days I’m kind of missing watching a soap on TV and not online so I was seeing the non-stop OLTL love here at one of my fave sites and considered jumping in … until I saw a promo today featuring TIME TRAVEL, VISITS TO HEAVEN, and “Please don’t make me go over the falls again (Dax from Guiding Light)”, “Oh no, it won’t be you going over the waterfall … it will be YOUR DAUGHTER (insane laughter)” … this looks worse than Passions! LOL! Again, what are ya’ll seeing I’m not!?!

    Marlena says: Honey, you tuned in in time for the first of two 40th anniversary shows which aired today. Of course it’s over the top — they are paying homage to the big storylines of the past. Your Dax from Guiding Light is none other than actor Thom Christopher who first became a bigtime soap star playing villain Carlo Hesser on One Life to Live in the late 80s and 90s. I don’t care how nutsy Carlo seems in these episodes. (Thom IRL is a pussycat!) He is one of my all-time favorite soap actors and people, and even better, the best baldie EVER to appear on daytime.

    So don’t be discouraged by tomorrow’s anniversary episode. Turn in OLTL on Wednesday for a normal show and tell us what you think.

  18. Gloria says:

    I enjoyed those days of Karen and Marco also, those were some great years and as an African American female thats all we had to watch, not saying we had to watch it but it was entertainment in itself and the Holly woman passing for white seem to bring OLTL to the forefront of adding race to its show. I must say though now is a different time and I have to say I have not watched OLTL since it was obvious that Renee Goldsberry was not going to come back to the show any time soon and they were not that interested in replacing her, I could have stood a replacement as long as the one they chose was very similar to Renee, but casting folks never seem to get that right at times, especially with AA, except I must say the guy they chose to play Jesse’s son on AMC looks in some ways like Jesse, so that was a slam dunk on castings part. I was really upset that Renee did not return to OLTL but after thinking about it the negotiations probably had to do with her taking time off to do other projects and they would not allow. Well all I can say is they had one of the best storylines going on with her and Trevor StJohn and I just think that it was all wrong the way it was here today and gone tomorrow. Its times like this that yes I think back to the old days when such a thing was not put on the soaps and I would just as soon watch those old shows, because OLTL should not expect AA to want to watch if we can not see ourselves sometime. It makes me wonder sometime about the people who cast and hire, they can put someone like Epiphanys’ character on the show, who would she show up, no one but not all of us look like Epiphany and so I look at it as an insult

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