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Erika Slezak Library

Soap Opera Update
December, 1991

20 years and 20 quotes

By: Bill Lieberman

Erika Slezak has been portraying Victoria Lord Buchanan on the ABC daytime drama ONE LIFE TO LIVE for 20 years. We offered for her commentary 20 subjects pertaining to her character; her storylines, her life and the world around her. Here are her replies.

Twenty years on ONE LIFE TO LIVE ** "Just unbelievable. I mean if you told me, I wouldn't believe you. It's crept up on me. I still picture myself as that 23-year-old girl who walked in here, had never been on TV before; and managed somehow to get through the first day. I still know how I felt, I still see the studio, I still picture it- I can tell you everything I did that day. And I know that the costume designer Hazel Roy came before we started to tape and put a penny in the pocket of my suit jacket. I kind of looked at her questioningly and she said, "That's for luck. I think I saved the penny; I sure as hell should have because that's the luckiest penny I ever had in my life.”

Clint Ritchie (Clint)** It's odd. Clint and I have been married on the show for ten years or something. ..or nine year. He knows, I don't. It's like he is my other husband. I treat him so familiarly without any kind of real personal relationship. We get along beautifully, we laugh together, we rehearse. We have all the advantages of being married and being happy together, "without the difficulties...because we don't have to go home together."

Niki Smith** "She's a delightful character. A wig -- which means extra hair and makeup time. It means long hours, but it means fun.”

Heaven storyline** "It was beautiful, it was fun, I got to talk to everybody and see all these wonderful friends who had "left the show. And I was comfortable the whole time~ I wore flat shoes and white chiffon. I always said; 'I hope when I die, that's how I go -- in white ballet flats and white chiffon with my hair neatly combed and almost no makeup on.”

Eterna** “Eternal. Eterna was a very good idea that went on too long, and as far as I was concerned involved too many people. I think that was the problem with it. It was an awfully good idea-- the device of being stuck underground and finding out all these things and all the people with all the relationships. They were all very interesting people and all interesting things that were happening, but the device of placing nine major characters in danger just went on too long. And we ate a lot of dirt --especially the last two days.”

The Old West** "'My favorite story. I loved it. I have this personal affinity for the desert. I am fascinated by the desert. I love it. I had never been to the desert until I went out there to shoot. And I was only there 18 hours. I arrived at 11 0' clock at night because we had terrible flight connections, and when I got up at four o'clock, in the morning and went to hair and makeup, I had essentially never laid eyes on it. I hadn't seen daylight. And at five o'clock in the morning we left to drive to Old Tucson, and I sat with my mouth open in the van. I was stunned by the beauty of that country .And the whole Old West story is totally wrapped in that kind, of feeling for me. I loved Miss Ginny -she was, my favorite character of all time. I truly loved her."

Viki having a stroke** "A very viable, real story; probably the most real them they've done in terms of what can really happen to people. Very few people run around and get amnesia and have comas and come out of them and do all the silly of people have strokes and have comas and come out of them and do all the silly things we do on soaps. Millions of people have strokes and have to suffer and come back. It's not something that's automatically going to kill you. It's something that is desperately difficult to live with and to deal with...for the stroke victim, for the family. And I was very, very pleased that ABC and Paul (Rauch) decided to do the story .I was delighted that they let me do it. I found that whereas it's th e most difficult story I've ever had to do. It was also in many ways the most rewarding."

Worst storyline** "The worst storyline I've ever been involved in I wasn't involved in, because I was clever enough to get pregnant with my second child and they wrote me out and they replaced me with Christine Jones. And thank God – that was the worst storyline. I played it for about two months. ABC was very nervous because it was a story about drugging Viki. And I was really pregnant and ABC said, 'No, We don't want to be drugging a pregnant woman. We're just going to replace you for about eight months, so go and have your baby,' And I said, 'God bless you!"

If ONE LIFE TO LIVE wasn't in your life"** "Hopefully I'd be acting someplace else. When I came to New York and auditioned for this job, I auditioned and immediately left to do Othello in Buffalo. And, then I came back and auditioned again for this If I hadn't received that second audition, I would've auditioned for something else. I might be doing a lot more theater, which is kind of what I love, but there's simply no time for. Or maybe I would have dropped, off the end of the earth -- maybe I would've married some nice gentleman some place and be living in Iowa…and being very happy ."

Would Erika Slezak live in Llanview **' Yeah. It's a nice little town, That's what I like -- I like living in nice little towns. Even with all of the heartbreak and trials and tribulations and all of the gossip…it wouldn't be happening to me -- it would be happening to that woman Viki Buchanan, who lived at the other end of town in the big house."

Winning two Emmys** "That's an honor, that's a joy, that's a thrill. Every time I pass them in the living room, I kind of go “Wow!' I stop myself and I think, 'Wow! They're mine! That's really fabulous! How neat that somebody gave me those.' I mean that. That's not a lot of horse you-know-what. I am really honored by that. I work very hard, but a lot of people work very hard, and a lot of people don't get recognized…ever. To be nominated four times and to have, won twice is just neat! It's wonderful!"

Actors that you miss Lee Patterson (Joe), Robin Strasser (ex-Dorian), Brynn Thayer (Jenny), Steve Fletcher (Brad) and Judy Light (Karen) of course.

Fame and fortune** “Fame an fortune are nothing if you're not happy and healthy. And I think it's wise for all people in this business to bear that in mind. What we do is so totally insignificant and stupid in view of the world. What are we doing? Please! Are we inventing a cure for cancer? No! The guy whose inventing a cure for cancer should be famous, but he's not. Nobody ever heard of him. They hear about the buffoons – the ones who put themselves on the screen, whatever screen it might be. And it's kind of shallow of people to put people like actors on a pedestal, which they do, simply because we appear on television. And I'm hoping that over the next 20, 50 years, whatever, the mystique of television and film and all that will diminish somewhat, and people will leave us alone to get on with our jobs.”

Daytime's future** "This is a medium that has no ending. Daytime has been successful all these years because it caters to a very real need in the audience -- to see something that's not nighttime fantasy. People watch daytime because it's like their lives. When the characters are true and real, they're like your neighbors- somebody you can care about and root for and be concerned about and worry about, as well as being entertainment. I don't see that ending at all."

Untrained actors** "You're going to get me in trouble now. It's not their fault. There are lots of people in the world who do have the advantage of going to a good drama school and just decide that they want to be actors. There's nothing wrong with an untrained actor; they have to get their training somehow, they have to learn. If they want to learn on a soap, that's fine, but I think that they should develop an enormous sense of humility."

Your children becoming actors** "You just sent a lightning bolt through my heart. I don't want them to be actors. I am wise enough to know that when they're grown up, they will do exactly what they want to do. I am hoping they will not choose this life because it is too uncertain"

Most memorable piece of mail** "I have two. One of them is not so nice. Somebody sent me a pile of human excrement in the mail…many years ago. Probably the sweetest, most flattering letter I've ever had was from a gentleman who had come back from Vietnam and was deaf. And he wrote to me to thank because he said, 'I enjoy watching your show because I can read your1ips.' Thank you your enunciation. 'You ' re one of the few people who actually move your mouth enough so that I can read your lips.' This is in the day obviously before closed captioning."

Happiest time of your life** "Probably the last 20 years, It certainly would have to be; it includes my getting married, my children, and that's the happiest time of my life. It's still going on.

Unfulfilled dream** "I'd love to be on Broadway. I guess I have wanted it because my father, among other things, worked on Broadway. That was the pinnacle to me -- to be on Broadway.”

The Persian Gulf War** “It's obviously justified, but it is dreadfully sad that one man can cause this kind of international disaster. It has such a wide-reaching effect all over the world. I'm a Democrat, and I have more admiration for President Bush than I have for anyone, probably in my 1ife, the way that he's handled, himself, the way that he's handled this crisis. He's an extraordinary man. He's a gentle man and a gentleman. And a strong man and a fair and a wise man. And I realize why he obviously had to do this. It's just a disaster that hopefully will be ended very soon.”

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