Family & Companions
One of the most durable and popular figures in daytime soap opera history, Susan Lucci reigned as Erica Kane, bitch supreme, on ABC's "All My Children" beginning with the show's premiere in 1970. Lucci's spoiled teenager evolved over time into what TV Guide named "unequivocally the most famous soap opera character in the history of daytime TV." Lucci was among the first daytime stars to achieve crossover popularity, which led to branching out into primetime with guest appearances over the years on "Fantasy Island" (ABC, 1978-1984), "The Fall Guy" (ABC, 1981-86), "Dallas" (CBS, 1978-1991) and "Army Wives" (Lifetime, 2007-13). She became well known as a mainstream TV star with a number of made-for-TV movies, while she launched her own business by selling beauty products on the Home Shopping Network and in infomercials. Lucci's status as the highest paid daytime TV actor earned the actress her share of notoriety, as did her love-hate relationship with the Daytime Emmy Awards. The beloved actress racked up a very public 19 years worth of nominations on her top-rated show before finally taking home an award in 1999. She went on to play Erica Kane for another 12 years before ABC canceled "All My Children" after 41 years on the air. Though upset with the decision, Lucci maintained her hope for the future and set about finding her next iconic role.
Lucci was born on Dec. 23, 1946, and raised in Garden City, NY. While growing up in suburban Long Island, outgoing Lucci loved the spotlight, studying dance and voice, and breaking into acting with community theater. The high school cheerleader appeared in all the school musical productions and had her sights set on the future when she enrolled in the theater department at Marymount College. She graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and moved to New York City to make it big like any aspiring actor. The newcomer spent a relatively short amount of time at the bottom rung of the ladder as an understudy, stand-in and extra, because in 1969 she auditioned for a pilot for a new daytime soap opera. "All My Children" creator Agnes Nixon was looking to bring something new to the genre; something youthful that incorporated current trends and had a sense of humor. The then 23-year-old Lucci proved to have the perfect sass and wit to portray Erica Kane, the bratty teenage daughter of a single mother. As "All My Children" built a loyal following within its target demographic, the show expanded from its original 30-minute format to an hour format in 1977. The following year, it was the number one rated daytime soap opera and Lucci earned her first Daytime Emmy nomination for Best Lead Actress.
The fiery diva was nominated again in 1981 and went on to receive a nod - but never a win - nearly every year during the ensuing two decades when "All My Children" held strong at number two in the daytime ratings. As Lucci's popularity grew during the soap-crazed 1980s, she attracted legions of first time soap opera viewers and even large numbers of male viewers. Her notoriety stretched beyond the soap world and she broke through as the first daytime actress to be featured on the covers of general interest entertainment magazines and to star in network movies-of-the-week. She showed audiences a different side of herself in primetime, playing the only member of the Russian royal family who supports a woman's claim of being the Czar's daughter in "Anastasia: The Story of Anna" (NBC, 1985) and took a turn as Antoinette 'Toni' Giancana in "Mafia Princess" (NBC, 1986). Lucci also made a series of guest appearances on dramas ranging from "The Love Boat" (ABC, 1977-1986) to "The Fall Guy" (ABC, 1981-86), and gained possibly the most attention from a six-episode stint on the CBS primetime soap "Dallas" (CBS, 1978-1991) during its final season.
Meanwhile, Lucci's continuous Emmy losing streak became a running joke; her loss often eclipsing her fellow actors' wins. The good-humored actress poked fun at her status as an Emmy bridesmaid in a series of TV commercials and during a guest-hosting appearance on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ). In fact, it was a long-held belief that one of the reasons the actress failed to take home a Daytime Emmy was that her forte was really in lighter fare, which award voters tended to overlook in favor of the more histrionic performances of her rivals. Nevertheless, Lucci continued to grow with her character, who at various times impersonated a nun, was kidnapped, rescued a lover from prison using a helicopter, stared down a grizzly bear, attended the Betty Ford Clinic to kick painkillers, and was imprisoned and coped with her daughter's anorexia. In primetime, she played a hit woman and her look-alike FBI agent pursuer in "Double Edge" (CBS, 1992) and a distaff Scrooge in the well-received holiday movie "Ebbie" (Lifetime, 1995). She launched her own line of skin and hair care products and her own fragrance, La Lucci, and throughout the 1990s, was a common sight selling her lines on the Home Shopping Network.
A successful business woman and one of TV's best-known actresses in any genre, Lucci finally broke her losing streak and took home a Best Actress Daytime Emmy in 1999. It was clearly a crowd-pleasing moment and an emotional one for the veteran actress who was one of the few remaining original actors on "All My Children." Lucci was nominated for Emmys again in 2000 and 2001, maintaining an around-the-clock TV presence both as a daytime actress and an infomercial hostess hawking her skin micro-abrasion systems and workout equipment. In 2008, Lucci was an inspired addition to the fall lineup of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ) where she was paired with championship ballroom dancer Tony Dovolani. Three years later, in 2011, ABC canceled "All My Children" after 41 years on the air, which left Lucci upset over the decision but hopeful about her future following a staggering 41 years as Erica Kane. Though diplomatic in public, Lucci did criticize ABC Daytime president Brian Frons for his decision in the epilogue to her memoirs, All My Life. Meanwhile, Lucci appeared more frequently outside the daytime universe, appearing as herself in four episodes of "Hot in Cleveland" (TV Land, 2010-15) while landing a three-episode arc on "Army Wives" (Lifetime, 2007-13).
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Failed a Broadway tryout at age 19
Made the finals of the Miss New York pageant, but withdrew in order to complete her college exams
Cast as Erica Kane on the ABC daytime drama, "All My Children"; received an Emmy nomination almost every year since 1978
Made cameo appearance along with many other daytime drama stars in the film, "Young Doctors in Love"
Made TV movie debut in "Invitation to Hell" (ABC)
Played the title role in the NBC TV-movie, "Mafia Princess"
Became a spokeswoman for Revlon cosmetics
Hosted the Lifetime interview show, "The Working Women's Survival Hour"
Appeared as Sheila Foley (a.k.a. Hillary Taylor) in six episodes of the final season of the CBS primetime soap opera, "Dallas"
Played dual roles of a hit woman and an FBI agent who resembles the assassin in the CBS movie "Double Edge"
Portrayed the title character in "Ebbie," a distaff remake of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (Lifetime)
Made Broadway singing debut in title role of "Annie Get Your Gun"; replaced actress Bernadette Peters in the role
Guest-stared in a one hour special of the successful ABC series "Hope and Faith"
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Joined the seventh season of ABC's reality competition "Dancing with the Stars"
Made a recurring cameo as herself on TV Land's "Hot in Cleveland"