Friday, February 15, 2008 11:28 PM| By Scotty Gore
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — Another look back at “One Life to Live” over the years.
Hello all. I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful Valentine’s Day, and that it was everything you dreamed of and more. How is everyone? Hope life has been treating you kindly. As for me, I am in the process of putting together my student teaching portfolio at the moment, something which has become a rather cumbersome task. But really, I am enjoying student teaching so far. The kids are great (well most of them anyway), and I like their enthusam. However, as you can imagine, planning lesson plans and making out tests is a time consuming task. And so, because of that, I’m afraid I haven’t a great deal of time to devote to this column at the moment. For that reason, I felt that it would be appropriate if we took one last look back at some memorable moments from “One Life to Live’s” nearly fourty year history.. And now it’s time for “A Blast From the Past!”
This go around we are powering up “One Life to Live” time machine and transporting ourselves back to a time when hippies ruled and groovy was cool to say. That’s right, we’re heading back to 1969.
It was on October 1969, when this article, entitled “The What’s Happening Now Serial” appeared in After Noon TV. I have chosen to include this article because it reflects back on “OLTL’s” first year on the air back in 1968.
On July 15, “One Life to Live” celebrated its first anniversary. This show, in the course of one year, has become one of the most popular soaps on afternoon television.
Encouraged by Bill Kimbrough, the D.A. (Justin McDonough) to do volunteer work, Meredith Lord (Lynn Benish) took a job in an orphanage and met Wendy (Jan Chasmar), an orphan girl who has had a serious operation.
Jan is one child who will never have the problem of shyness. She’s already adjusted well to TV work.
Hospital aide and everybody?s friend is Sadie Gray (Lillian Hayman). She has come to see Larry Wolek, (Mike Storm), who is in the hospital after an accident. Sadie tells Larry about the day that Vince and Viki ran away.
One lovely day in the park for Sadie Gray, Wendy and Meredith Lord. When Meredith was very ill, she broke up with Larry Wolek because she did not want to be a burden to him. Now she is well, but Larry has been forced into marrying Karen Martin (Niki Flacks) because she is pregnant.
Vince Wolek (Antony Ponzini) is in love with Niki – the split personality of Victoria Lord (Gillian Spencer). The other part of Victoria’s personality, Viki, is in love with Joe Riley (Lee Patterson).
Viki had agreed to marry Joe Riley, but in the middle of the wedding ceremony the personality of Niki came out. Vince wants to marry Niki. Though she likes having fun, Niki is not crazy about the idea of getting married.
Now, while the time machine is still powered up, let’s jump ahead to 1985 when the “OLTL” theme song was the highly popular ‘Tour of Llanview’ version and Peabo Bryson was gearing up to add lyrics to the theme in only a few short months the following the year. It was alos a time when Andrea Evans was at the height of her popularity on “OLTL” as the rebellious Tina Clayton Roberts.
It was on August 10, 1985, when this article, entitled “It’ll take more than a bubble bath to clean up Andrea Evans’ act as daytime’s diva of dirt” appeared in People Weekly. The article was written by Alan Carter and takes a closer look at both Andrea and Tina.
As daytime’s answer to Alexis Carrington, Evans doesn’t wear dresses as fancy as Joan Collins’, but she certainly wears fewer clothes than any other actress in the afternoon soaps. For one recent shower scene, even the ABC censor visited the set. “I thought the scene was very sexy,” insists Evans. “People were coming up to me for weeks after that scene and saying, ‘Were you naked in there?’ and I’d say, ‘Well, do you wear clothes in the shower?'” Despite her sass, in Evans’ case the answer is affirmative: She wore a body stocking for the scene. With Evans, ABC’s One Life To Live has undressed for success, now ranking a strong third in the competitive daytime soap ratings. “She makes a tremendous difference to our show,” says producer Paul Rauch. “Her ability makes her go beyond the ordinary viper. In large part, she’s responsible for the show’s recent success.”
Evans sees herself as “a tigress,” which is in marked contrast to the “scared doe” one reporter called her four years ago. At that time the University of Illinois theatre graduate was making news by marrying her older (30ish) “One Life” co-star, Wayne Massey. They Valentine’s day ceremony took place in Evans’ hometown, Downers Grove, Ill., and was attended by her mother, Audrey, a piano teacher at Chicago’s American Conservatory of Music, and her father, Robert, a semi-retired apartment building manager. “I was very young then,” says the strawberry blonde. “I depended upon Wayne quite a bit. He took more control of things and I was like a scared doe. Now I’m on my own. The scared doe doesn’t exist anymore.”
Having played Tina Clayton since 1978, Evans left “One Life” in December 1981 with Massey, and the couple moved to Nashville. While Massey pursued a career as a singer (he now duets with his new wife, country crooner Charly McClain), Evans took it easy for a year. Then she landed the role of Patty on CBS’ “The Young and the Restless,” which is filmed in Los Angeles. “I don’t think it’s possible to run a marriage across the country,” says Evans, and hers didn’t travel well. The couple divorced last year.
Evans returned to One Life last January. “I’m more confident,” she explains. “I’m able to have fun with the character and have fun with myself.”
Like Tina, she’s also shrewder than she was in an earlier incarnation. In the tradition of her trade, Evans likes to shave four years off her past and give her age as 24. She insists that there is a typo in her college records. While in college she entered and lost the miss illinois pageant back home. “I’m not against beauty pageants,” she says now, “but I’m torn because I tend to be feministic in a lot of ways. Is feministic a word?” Savvy about cross-promotion as well as self-promotion, Evans recently signed with the Elite agency as a model. On the subject of romance, she is circumspect. Her current man is a publicity-shy L.A. producer. Though her marriage couldn’t withstand long distance, this relationship “gets a lot of help from GTE Sprint, People express and MCI,” says Evans.
The steadiest males in her life are still Grompit (a nonsense word used by her father) and Uff da (a Norwegian expletive). The dogs even accompany Evans to work. “They sit in the makeup room under a sign that says, ‘Permanently reserved for the Evans boys.’ Bob Woods [a “One Life” co-star] said that if he’s ever reincarnated, he wants to come back as one of my dogs. Of course he said that after he found out they sleep with me.” Arf, arf.
And lastly, we’re moving full steam ahead to 1991 and look at an article honoring Erika Slezak on her twenith anniverary with “One Life to Live.” The article, which was written by Michael Logan, appeared in a March edition of TV Guide, and was entitled “Brain surgery, blackmail and amnesia … Erika’s a true soap survivor.” I felt this article would be appropriate since Ms. Slezak celebrates her 37th anniversary on “OLTL” next month.
This week, Erika Slezak celebrates her 20th anniversary as the Queen of Unsolved Miseries – a title no other daytime diva comes even close to owning. As Viki Lord Buchanan on ABC’s “One Life To Live,” Slezak has endured the requisite suds tragedies (murder charges, kidnapped kids, custody battles). But she has also suffered through some humdingers, including pornographic blackmail, an 8-year memory lapse and a slutty split personality named Niki. During brain surgery, Viki had an out-of-body experience that put her in Heaven. She has also regressed to the Wild West. And visited the lost underground civilization of Eterna, where she discovered a daughter she didn’t know she had.
Lest we feel too sorry for Slezak, it should be noted that she’s won two Best Actress Emmys for her troubles – and is currently being touted for a third. And, at age 44, she is having the time of her life. “I’m lucky – there are only a few parts that have ever lasted this long!” remarks Slezak, who thought she had died and gone to Heaven when she landed OLTL in 1971 – at a whopping $190 a week. “Some days I wonder why nobody’s caught on to me. I still feel like that nervous little girl who walked in here with no TV experience.”
Though Slezak (the granddaughter of Metropolitan Opera legend Leo Slezak and daughter of actor Walter Slezak) seemed chromosomally destined to shine, she has never ventured into primetime or feature films. And while she’s a graduate of London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, her most notable extracurricular activity since joining OLTL was a series of Sunsweet prune commercials. “I cling to the soap because it affords me the best of both worlds,” says Slezak, referring to life on Long Island with her spouse, Broadway veteran Brian Davies and their children Michael, 11, and Amanda, 9. “The show lets me off for school plays, field trips and Parents’ Night. I don’t think there’s another job that would give me that freedom.”
Or such outlandish theatrics. Still Slezak claims she’s prepared for another decade on “OLTL”. And she doesn’t think her storylines are that screwy. “The show has done others that were more far-fetched – like the time several characters had mind-control devices implanted in the backs of their heads. I wasn’t involved in that one.” That’s comforting … but is she bragging or complaining?
Moving back to the present, I have a few quick comments. I like how “OLTL” has brought back Allison Perkins. She’s one my favorite Llanview psychos. It’s also a pleasure to see Viki’s long time maid Lois grace our screens again. Although, she is often talked about on the soap, we hardly ever get to see her. She is truly a sight for sore eyes. Call me crazy, but I’ve always thought it would be interesting if they hooked her up as a love interest for Nigel. Just imagine the secrets and gossip those two would have to talk about. But, is it just me, or was Olivia Sklar’s hair always brown? But when we saw her this week, it looked red. Hmmm…she looked better as a brunette. Now they need to put a face with Dorian’s “Cook” that we always her talking about as part of her domestic staff. Moving along, why does Nash suddenly have a ponytail? Honestly, why? I think it looks stupid and tacky. Why not just give him a haircut? Afterall, this is 2008, not the 1990s when ponytails were at the height of their popularity. Just give him a haircut and be done with it. And I have to give “OLTL” praise once more for continuing to utiliize their veteran castmembers and characters. Give up the good work people! Also, I’m still not sure what to make about the possiblility of Snoop Dog recording a new “OLTL” theme. A part of me can’t help but wonder if he is a Dorian fan or a Viki fan. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
And, saving the best for last, it’s time to take a quick look at some of the plotlines coming up on “OLTL” a couple of weeks down the road. A husband and father decides to move his family far away from Llanview. A vineyard owner meets with his new partner. A psycho slips into a coma. A young couple begins putting their lives back to together again. And a secret stealer is caught red-handed.
Well, that’s all for this edition of the column. I wish I had more time to write an in-depth analysis of the current state of my favorite soap, but I will in a special edition of my column on February 29th, when I look back on “OLTL’s” ‘Go Red’ Ball and determine how big of a splash it made in Llavniew, and with viewers. See you next time. Take care and stay safe.
And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live” …..
Pictured: My View of Llanview courtesy Matt Smith/Soap Opera Network