OLTL Celebrates 45th Anniversary; Erika Slezak and Kassie DePaiva Share Memories and Proudest Moments (Part One of Two)
The OnLine Network/TOLN
It’s a day that almost never came, but thanks to the team at Prospect Park, “One Life to Live” is celebrating its 45th anniversary on Monday, July 15. In honor of the sudser’s big milestone, iconic actresses Erika Slezak (Victoria Lord) and Kassie DePaiva (Blair Cramer) spoke with reporters about their favorite memories, proudest moments and surprisingly awkward first days.
It’s a day that almost never came, but thanks to the team at Prospect Park, “One Life to Live” is celebrating its 45th anniversary today, July 15. In honor of the sudser’s big milestone, iconic actresses Erika Slezak (Victoria Lord) and Kassie DePaiva (Blair Cramer) spoke with reporters about their favorite memories, proudest moments and surprisingly awkward first days.
“I was in such a daze,” recalls Slezak of her start on the sudser. “I had never been on television before. I had been in repertory theater for four or five years and had done a lot of classics, [and I] had never actually ever seen a daytime serial, because I was always in rehearsal. And my very first day was the day after I auditioned and was hired. So they gave me no time whatsoever. I ran over and got the script, memorized it, showed up the next morning far too early. There was nobody even there… but I do remember that there were three people who totally carried me through the day, and the first one was Sydney Andrews, who was our stage manager, who couldn’t have been more helpful. And then Lynn Benesch, who played my sister, Meredith, and Ernie Graves, who played my father, Victor Lord. Without them, I would never have made it through the day. I was a nervous wreck.”
But whether or not DePaiva had a more awkward first day is debatable! “I was a recast, so I was trying to keep my southern accent under wraps, and I was working opposite the great Erika Slezak and Roy Thinnes (Alex Crown), and I had to wear a bathing suit!” she says with a laugh. “So I don’t know which was more nerve wracking: having to wear a bathing suit, or… not sound like a country girl and work with Erika Slezak.”
There have been a lot of storylines over the 42 years since Slezak’s first day and the nearly 20 since DePaiva’s, and each actress can pinpoint their exact favorites. “For me, it was the Max gambling storyline,” DePaiva recalls. “It involved Luna (Susan Batten) and Cord (John Loprieno) and Max (James DePaiva) and Blair, and it was all about addiction. I was addicted to Max, and Max was addicted to gambling, and Luna was caught in the middle, and it had a lot of darkness to it, but it really gave an opportunity to tell really heartfelt soap opera, and… it was just beautifully written and powerfully executed. I really enjoyed being a part of that.”
Adds Slezak: “I think one of my all time favorites was the Paris, Texas story, and also when I went to heaven. That was lovely, comfortable. And bringing back all the old characters. There are innumerable favorite stories, but those are the two that stick out right now.”
Of course, just because those were their favorite stories doesn’t mean those were their proudest moments! “Mine was living through the live week and just getting through it!” says DePaiva with a laugh. “It was the climax of a great story, when Blair [had] to confront Todd about his lying about Jack’s birth and death situation. So that was, to me, one of the most thrilling moments on the show.”
As for Slezak, she’s most proud of the fact that ‘OLTL’ is headed into its 45th year. “I have so many things that I’m proud of on the show, but I think just the longevity that the show has achieved is I guess what I’m proudest of. That together, we all created something that lasted on television 43, 44 years, and then we moved to the Internet, and now we’re going back on television [on OWN]. And I think I’m enormously proud of that.”
Speaking of the show debuting on OWN, it’s a perfect way to honor the show’s anniversary. “The launch [on] OWN is kind of a great celebration of our coming back to life,” DePaiva shares, adding that it’s a great way for viewers to take part in the anniversary festivities. “Maybe the fans will tune in to OWN and have a celebration at home while they watch, because we’re actually coming back to television, which is really exciting.”
“[But] we certainly should have a bigger celebration when we all get together back in production,” Slezak adds. “Because we do have a lot to celebrate.”