(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — On March 17, 1971, Erika Slezak made her “One Life to Live” debut as the third actress to step into the role of Victoria Davidson. Flash forward four decades and Slezak remains the rock at the center of the Llanview universe. In honor of the the six-time Daytime Emmy winner’s 40th anniversary with the show, “One Life to Live” cast and crew, along with a few other special guests, surprised the actress with a party on the set earlier this week. Soap Opera Network has your exclusive first look at the celebration honoring “One Life’s” longest-running cast member.
It was an event four decades in the making, but one that Slezak told TVGuide‘s Michael Logan in an interview last month, that she “was kind of hoping it would all go by unnoticed. I came to this show without a fuss — I crept in rather quietly — and when I leave I want to go out that way, too. I don’t like fuss. It’s a little embarrassing.”
Slezak’s “One Life to Live” co-stars payed homage to the show’s matriarch on St. Patrick’s Day by wearing shirts saying “Erika” when she arrived on the set, for what she thought was going to be a simple celebration honoring the popular Irish holiday. Also in attendance were members of Slezak’s family, along with “OLTL” Head Writer and Executive Producer Ron Carlivati and Frank Valentini. Appearing in the video tribute to Slezak were “Castle” star Nathan Fillion (who portrayed Viki’s youngest son Joey from 1994-97 and again briefly in 2007), the co-hosts of “The View,” “General Hospital” star Tony Geary (Luke Spencer), and “One Life” creator Agnes Nixon.
“One Life to Live’s” Music Director Paul Glass was among the members of the cast and crew sending their well-wishes, tweeting “Happy 40th Anniversary to the incredible Erika Slezak! Such a gracious, generous, beautiful person and amazing, inspiring actress…”
The soap will celebrate Slezak’s 40th anniversary on screen with a special episode dedicated to Viki, scheduled to air on Tuesday, April 26.
Overwhelmed by the gesture from her friends and co-stars, which also included a highlight reel of some of Viki’s more memorable moments over the years, Slezak told Soap Opera Digest that “I’ve been here for 40 years because I love it. I’m so grateful for the job and to you, my family. It’s been just magical.” And your fans thank you Ms. Slezak for all the memories you have given us from the 40 years. Congratulations on reaching such an important milestone and may you have many years of “Life” left to live in Llanview.