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Erika Slezak Library

Soap Opera Digest
March 19, 1996

Thank the Lord, Says Erika Slezak


OLTL's Victoria Lord Carpenter has been to heaven and gone through hell

OLTL's Erika Slezak has seen her character Victoria Lord Carpenter grow from a young innocent woman to a sensitive loving wife and mother, to a distraught victim of multiple personalities. And, along the way she has become one of daytime's most popular heroines.

The four-time Emmy Award winner was born in Hollywood, the daughter of actor Walter Slezak. “I can't recall a time when I didn't want to act,” she says. “One thing my father did for me was not discourage my ambitions – but he made sure I had no illusions about the acting profession,” she declares. “He explained that it was going to be harder for me because I had a famous father. I would have to prove myself more than others and, as usual he was right!”

Erika says she was shocked and nervous when she got the role of Victoria – especially when she learned she had to start the next day, St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1971.

“When I was hired, I was so stupid I thought I had a two-year contract,” she recalls. “I didn't know they could let me go at any day. I just thought, 'Oh, they have to keep me for two years,' “ she laughs. “Well, no, they don't – they can say goodbye today.

“I'm very lucky because I get to do what I love to do,” she adds. “Very few actors are lucky enough to work steadily for all these years. There are some ladies and men on daytime who have had that, and I think they'd all say the same thing – 'Thank the Lord' – because actors are not supposed to work all the time.”

“It's just been the most incredible joy ride. For the most part, I've had wonderful stories – the 'heaven' story, and 'Eterna' and then the 'Old West,' and it was fun. You do get bored after a while and those little flights of fantasy off into 100 years ago that take your mind off everything for a while. I've had wonderful ups and downs, highs and lows, and all I can say is, 'Thank you.'”

Erika as she looked when she took over the role of Victoria Lord in 1971.

Viki fell in love with Joe Riley (Lee Patterson) in 1979. Against her father's wishes she married him, only to have him die in a car crash. Viki then married Steve Burke, but lo and behold, Joe returned from the dead. He and Viki remarried, had a son, Kevin, but while Viki was pregnant with their second child (Joey), Joe was diagnosed with a terminal illness and died.

After Joe's death and the birth of Joey, Viki went back to work at The Banner, and Clint Buchanan (Clint Ritchie) was the man who helped her keep the paper going. They married on November 12, 1982, later divorced and remarried on April 17, 1986.

In 1987 Viki and Clint were blessed with a baby daughter, Jessica.

Niki Smith, one of Viki's alter personalities first emerged in 1985 when Viki found herself unable to cope with the problems her father was causing over Joe Riley. Niki has emerged several times – always bringing trouble with her.

In 1987, doctors discovered Viki had a brain aneurysm. She underwent surgery, slipped into a coma and had an out-of-body experience. She was in heaven surrounded by members of her family who were dead, and now faced a choice: Remain there with them or return to earth. She chose earth and Clint.

In 1988 Viki, who had been searching for Clint, who was blind at the time and had been thrown from his horse, found herself back in 1888. She arrived just in time to stop Clint from marrying her great, great grandmother, Virginia Fletcher. Erika, who said these Old West scenes were one of her favorites storylines, not only played Viki, but also Virginia.

1989 found Viki and several Llanview residents inside the ruined city of Eterna, deep inside Llantano Mountain. During her Eterna experience, Viki learned that she had secretly married Roger Gordon (Larry Pine), above, and that he was the father of her daughter Megan (Jessica Tuck).

In 1990, Viki ran for mayor of Llanview – and won. The muckraking mayor wanted to run underworld elements out of town, but was felled by an assassin's bullets, which led to a stroke. Confined to a wheelchair, Viki had to learn to walk and talk again but after months of therapy, she finally recovered.

In 1992 Megan was suffering from lupus, which grew increasingly worse. As her condition worsened, Viki sat by her dying daughter's bedside.

Viki met Sloan when he came to Llanview to write a book about her father. They fell in love and Viki divorced Clint, but Sloan had a terminal illness. When he discovered he was no longer in remission, he called off his engagement to Viki, not wanting to be a burden. When she found out the reason he'd left her, Viki went to him, and they were reunited and married in 1993.

Vengeful Tori, one of Viki's alter personalities, was on a mission to destroy everything Victor Lord had built. One of her plans was to burn down Llanfair, Victor's and now Viki's home. Tori thought no one was home, but Jessica had returned and was trapped upstairs in the blaze. Her cries for help made Viki re-emerge just long enough to save her life.

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