Friday, September 23, 2011

Beginnings, Change, And Endings: A Tribute to ALL MY CHILDREN

"Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else's"
-Billy Wilder, Austro-Hungarian-born American movie director (1906-2002)

Happy First Day of Autumn 2011,
Fall began here in the Northern Hemisphere this morning at 5:05 A.M. although it certainly has been feeling like autumn for the past week. It is a time of endings and beginnings. Summer is OFFICIALLY over, folks. This time next month, most will be in preparations for Halloween and then Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's are in quick succession.
I don't know about you but I keep asking where this year has gone!
As I was growing up, I kept hearing that as I got older, it would go faster and faster. Well, it is frightening how fast it is going now! I can't imagine 10 years from now.

I've always been taught to believe that certain things are definite: taxes, death, and change. Originally, I was going to write about Ziegfeld and his women today. I have decided to table that till tomorrow.

This week we have seen the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", a complete overhaul of Facebook (much to the consternation of its thousand of users).
Having seen what the new Facebook has to offer,
I'm intrigued but skeptical.
And today, after 41 years, we are truly seeing the true end of an era in television. Right now, there are only 5 soaps left on TV. One Life To Live is slated to end its run in January of next year. God only knows how long it will be before The Bold And The Beautiful, Days Of Our Lives, General Hospital (which is the next to go after One Life To Live leaving ABC with no soaps)and The Young And The Restless fade to black. There is even talk that The Bold And The Beautiful will merge its characters into The Young And The Restless!
ALL MY CHILDREN ended its 41 years on ABC today.
Don't even think I can cover 41 years in this blog!
What I'm going to attempt to do is cover my two favorite story lines, my favorite actress from the series (sorry Susan Lucci) and touch upon some fun facts, I hope for you. For example, did you know that Mary Fickett who played Ruth Brent Martin was the FIRST actress to win an Emmy, in 1973, for Outstanding Achievement by an Individual in Daytime Drama? Interestingly enough, perhaps, she passed away last week at the age of 83.

Did you know that the first year of ALL MY CHILDREN, Erica Kane (Susan Lucci), was a senior in high school? She was pursuing Phil Brent (Richard Hatch) but he had eyes for Tara Martin played by Karen Lynn Gorney. Erica managed to break them up.

When Hayley Vaughan bopped into town as punk rocker, Tinkerbell from Hell,she ended up marrying her onscreen lover in real was Kelly Ripa of Regis and Kelly Fame! The husband of course is Mark Consuelos.

Last episode today.... so sad it's ending!! I guess the most famous aspect of AMC is Susan Lucci. She was there from the first episode and has remained with the show 41 years!
Susan Lucci is the most famous actress in daytime drama, but her reign came to an end today.
I know I haven’t watched this in years, but I will miss it. Angie and Jesse? Tad and Jenny? Anybody? Just me? OK.

Created by Agnes Nixon, AMC was the first show to actually go on location. From 1970 to 1990, All My Children was recorded at ABC's TV18 at 101 West 67th St, now a 50-story apartment tower.
From March 1990 to December 2009, it was taped at ABC's television studio TV23 at 320 West 66th Street in Manhattan, New York City.
In December 2009, the locale for taping the series moved from the costly New York City to California.

The show ended production on Stages 1 and 2 on August 30th at the Andrita Studios in Los Angeles.
It was confirmed on August 4, 2009 that All My Children and One Life to Live would go HD.
All My Children started filming in High Definition on January 4, 2010 and began airing in high definition on February 3, 2010.
All My Children was the third soap opera to be produced and broadcast in high definition.

Now, you can take Susan Lucci home with you!

"See that moon up there?
You can reach that high.
Never be afraid because you can be anything you want to be."

Susan Lucci was only five years old when her father shared these encouraging words with her. They inspired the highly imaginative child who loved make-believe to craft one of the most enduring characters in television history, an achievement that would earn her a record twenty-one Emmy nominations—the most for an actor in the award's history—and the crown as "Leading Lady of Daytime." She finally won in 1999 for Outstandling Lead Actress in a Drama series. Interesting side note, the show and its performers have been nominated in excess of 250 times!
Read more by ordering Susan's memoirs.

Economically, it has gotten harder and harder for film and television production in New York.

The soap just earlier this year moved its stars to L.A. after taping for over 30 years in New York, but the move didn't viewership quite enough. As always Susan Lucci, AKA Erica Kane is still involved with two men and deciding which will be her next husband. I think the move spelled the beginning of the end.

ALL MY CHILDREN, set in fictitious Pine Valley, started it's life on January 5th, 1970.
(This was the cover of Time Magazine that day). Today was the 10071st episode. Here is the description of the last episode on their website, "Jack is frustrated when a business offer from Kit to Erica interrupts their planning for the wedding yet again. This time, Jack says he doesn't want to live like that anymore. Erica gets a difference of opinion on the matter from the rest of the family. Greenlee and Ryan spend quality time together at the park. JR learns of Dixie and Tad getting engaged and congratulates them, then announces that he's decided to leave town. Dixie helps him see AJ one last time. Scott and Madison agree to move in together again. Adam and Brooke rush to the hospital and learn that Stuart is still alive. The others feel grateful to David for saving yet another life. Adam apologizes to Stuart for shooting him, but Stuart says there is nothing to forgive. Scott informs Marian of the news."

It made Susan Lucci a star. Also Kim Delaney (Jenny Gardner) who went on to star in both Army Wives and NYPD Blues, Kirstie Alley, and Josh Duhmel (Leo). J.R. Martinez, who is currently a contestant on this season's Dancing With The Stars. TCameron Mathison had that distinction in season 5 (The year that Helio Castroneves along with Julianne Hough won).
He is now on Good Morning, America.

Susan Lucci was on season seven of DWTS along with Cloris Leachman (who has never done a soap opera). Season 10 had Aiden Turner who played Aiden Devane (see below) appeared on DWTS.

On newsstands now is a special commemorative PEOPLE MAGAZINE TRIBUTE to All My Children.

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Kendall Hart (1993-1995)
As the conniving, long-lost biological daughter of Susan Lucci’s Erica Kane, 15-year-old Gellar played Kendall so well she won a Daytime Emmy and a place in the annals of soap history as one of daytime’s most devious daughters. After leaving All My Children, Gellar landed roles in I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream 2 as well as the hit show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where fellow AMC alum Michelle Trachtenberg played her sister.

Michelle Trachtenberg as Lily Montgomery (1993-1996)
Before she was Harriet the Spy and the Ice Princess — and long before she made out with her brother in EuroTrip — Michelle Trachtenberg played the autistic Lily Montgomery, whose disorder prompted her mother to embezzle millions in order to pay for private care. The role was later briefly played by Mischa Barton.

Lacey Chabert as Bianca Montgomery (1992-1993)
The future television and film actress shared only a single episode with Gellar as Bianca, whom she played briefly as a child. The character would go on to become daytime’s most prominent out-of-the-closet gay figure. (Chabert and Gellar played half-sisters who shared the same mother — Erica Kane.)

Melissa Leo as Linda Warner (1984-1985)
Melissa Leo, who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in 2010’s The Fighter, began her acting career with another award-worthy performance, earning a Daytime Emmy nomination for her role as Linda Warner on All My Children.

Eva LaRue who is currently on this season's CSI Miami!
Over the years, many Broadway and television stars appeared on the show: Karen Lynn Gorney (who went on to do Saturday Night Fever), Dancer James Mitchell (who was dream Curly in the film version of Oklahoma!)

David Canary, Eileen Herlie, Rosemary Prinz, Ruth Warrick, even Carol Burnett loved the show so much that she was written into a story line! Over the years, I got hooked a couple of times on the show! My all time favorite story line was when Dorothy Lyman was on the show as Opal Sue Gardner, for which she received two Emmy Awards -- as Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role in a Daytime Drama Series in 1982 and for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series in 1983.

She brought a humor to soap operas that was rare. I became a HUGE FAN of hers! Dorothy Lyman (born April 18, 1947) is an actress, director and producer. She is most commonly known for her work as architect Gwen Parrish Frame in Another World (1976–1980,1989) and in All My Children as Opal Sue Gardner, and on the syndicated sitcom Mama's Family, as Naomi Harper.

Lyman was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Violet E. (née Brightwell) and Hector H. Lyman, who was a stockbroker.
She first appeared on her first soap opera A World Apart as Julie Stark in 1971.
Several years later, Dorothy appeared as the evil Elly Jo Jamison on The Edge of Night.
Lyman played Ralphie's mother in Jean Shepherd's Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss from 1988. She appeared in the Tales from the Darkside television series in the 'In the Cards' episode (1985), in ALF as Maura Norris in the episode 'Tequila' (1988), Generations as Rebecca Whitmore (1990–1991), and in The Bold and the Beautiful as Bonnie Roberts (1991–1992).

Lyman attended high school with Jill Larson, the actress who would eventually succeed her in the role of Opal Gardner.
In an appearance on Vicki Lawrence's talk show Vicki!, Lyman noted that she continued to perform on All My Children concurrently with the beginning of Mama's Family's production, flying back and forth each week between New York and Los Angeles. While the commute was brutal, she remembered it fondly, referring to that stage of her career as "All My Paychecks."
When Mama's Family ended its run, Lyman went behind the camera, producing and directing a total of 75 episodes of The Nanny (all episodes of the third and fourth seasons, and all but four episodes of the fifth), even making a special guest appearance on the Fran Drescher sitcom.

After Mama's Family ended in 1990, Lyman had a recurring role on Bob, Bob Newhart's third series. She also made a cameo appearance in I Love Trouble, a film starring Nick Nolte and Julia Roberts.
In 2007, Lyman guest-starred in the third season of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica as Starbuck's mother. Lyman is currently living in New York City after spending time in California. In California, she made a guest appearance on the TV sitcom Reba, playing Reba Hart's mother. She is only 8 years older than Reba McEntire who plays Reba.

When the writers of All My Children had characters Greg and Jenny meet in 1981, after having Jenny move to the fictional town of Pine Valley with her mother, Opal Gardner, they applied four obstacles to the couple's love story:

Age (Jenny is younger than Greg. In 1981, Greg is a senior in high school while Jenny is only fifteen)
Economic backgrounds (they come from different economic backgrounds; Jenny is working-class while Greg comes from a rich family in Pine Valley)

Ex-girlfriend (Greg's ex-girlfriend, Liza Colby (originally played by Marcy Walker from 81-84 during this story line, a short time by Alice Haining, and lastly by Jamie Luner), refuses to allow Greg and Jenny to be happy together and schemes to displace Jenny at all costs)
Parents (Greg's mother, Enid Nelson (played by Natalie Ross), is a snob who thinks that Jenny is not good enough for her son)
Greg and Jenny build slowly on their romance due to the four obstacles.
In 1982, Liza almost succeeds in winning Greg back, but Jenny returns from vacation and his infatuation with Jenny grows even stronger.
Liza rigs the Miss Junior Pine Valley contest so that she will win instead of Jenny; this does not deter Greg, who eventually tells Jenny that he loves her and wants to marry her.
Jenny eventually finds out that her father, Ray Gardner (Gil Rodgers), who she thought was dead, is in fact in prison for rape.
Liza finds out about this, and threatens to tell Greg unless Jenny withdraws herself from his life. Jenny runs away to New York City, followed by her friend Jesse Hubbard (Darnell Williams), who has been falsely accused of attempted rape by Liza, who hates him for his friendship with Jenny. Jesse saves Jenny from being forced into making a pornographic movie, and the two stand up for each other against the odds in the big city. Their summer in New York is considered one of the greatest story lines in the history of All My Children.
Eventually, Jenny and Greg are reunited, as are Jesse and his love, Angie Baxter (Debbi Morgan).

In the summer of 1984, I was doing the American version of the Oberammergau Passion Play in Strasburg, Virginia.
This version was originally written by Val Balfour.
Locals volunteered as extras, and church groups came from all over Virginia, Maryland, etc. to see the play.It was one of the worst experiences of my life (that's a whole other blog!), but every day I stopped to watch ALL MY CHILDREN following the story line of Jenny and Greg.

When she died in that jet ski accident, it affected me so much, I thought I had lost a friend! Greg Nelson and Jenny Gardner were fictional characters and a super couple. Greg was portrayed by Laurence Lau, and Jenny was portrayed by actress Kim Delaney.
They were best friends to fellow super couple Jesse Hubbard and Angie Baxter.
Greg suffered a fall in 1983 and was paralyzed from the waist down.
He wanted the best for Jenny, so he broke up with her romantically and encouraged her to go to New York and pursue modeling. Jenny went to the big city and eventually was engaged to another model, Tony Barclay (Brent Barrett), even though she still loved Greg.

In 1985, I was working for The Green Room Answering Service. At that time,the story line involved Zach Grayson, played by Robert LuPone. When he was killed off, practically EVERYONE in Pine Valley had a motive. The catchphrase was "Who killed Zach Grayson?" I had such a crush on him.
He was one of the clients on the Green Room. One late shift, he surprised me by dropping by with a pizza along with his girlfriend. Just the three of us! I'll never forget that!He gave me a pin that said "I Killed Zach Grayson!"
Marian murdered Zach Grayson in self-defense
Marian was a frustrated homemaker who seduced a very young Tad Martin while he was dating her daughter, Liza. When Liza found out about her mother and Tad's torrid affair, Liza left Pine Valley. After Marian lost both Tad and then her husband Larry (heart attack) Marian turned her attention to Zach Grayson, a hustler and con artist, who blackmailed half of Pine Valley.
Zach Grayson was found murdered and Daisy Cortlandt was convicted.
When Donna Tyler was hypnotized, Marian was found to be the real killer (she claimed self defense). Due to her rewarding the warden with her infamous favors, Marian only spent 6 months in jail.

Then there was Tad Martin.

When it was announced that All My Children, would be the latest victim of the changing times would cancelled, many were disappointed. A lot of my generation grew up watching that soap opera. As I've stated earlier in this blog, I did, and even though I watched it sporadically over the years, it was a fun part of some of my years.
They say it is now moving online with webisodes. How many of you also watch (or have watched) All My Children? Who's planning to watch the show online when it continues in that platform?

I don’t have many friends that watch the soaps, but the ones who do are very loyal to their favorite shows. Also, my friends Glen Charlow and Diana Templeton are tuned in each day. If they miss an episode, they’ll catch it on Soapnet that night. As The World Turns, which starred my friend Eileen Fulton for 50 years, was replaced by a talk show, The Talk, and All My Children will be replaced by The Chew.
(Julie Budd, Eileen Fulton, and myself)

I think today’s audiences aren’t interested much in soap operas the way our generation was.
That old notion about stay-at-home moms doing nothing has long since been debunked. (Interestingly, now dads are also getting the same rap.) At least I hope it has. Moms I know are much more interested in current events, politics, parenting news, health, education, technology, and a host of other things.
Reality TV, anyone?
Soaps can be addictive. Tad and Dixie, Jessie and Angie, and Adam and Erica have all certainly meant something to me. Like many others, I couldn’t wait to see what happened at the Pine Valley Ball and I mourned when Dixie was killed (or kinda killed) and Tad was left distraught after all those years of being Tad the Cad.

Even if you’re not familiar with All My Children, most people know Susan Lucci. Lucci was a pioneer when she filmed the abortion story in the 1970s and soaps were used to highlight the new era of current social drama.
Ironically enough, Lucci says she suffered a miscarriage while filming that abortion story and had not told anyone at the studio about it.
Susan Lucci joined "The View" this morning for the morning gab show's hourlong salute to "All My Children,".
Cast members, former cast members, fans and former fans have expressed consternation as well as sadness since it was announced in April that the soap would be taken off the air.
The daytime drama had been gradually losing viewers, and ABC feared losing money on the production. On Thursday, Lucci, Erica Kane on "AMC," took to Twitter to note her upcoming "View" appearance saluting "41 incredible years."
Show creator Agnes Nixon was on hand for the special, and there were several "surprise guests."
According to Wikipedia, "All My Children (abbreviated as AMC) is an American television soap opera that has been broadcast on ABC in the US Monday through Friday after it debuted on January 5, 1970; repeat episodes air weeknights on SOAPnet. Created by Agnes Nixon, the show is set in Pine Valley, Pennsylvania, a fictitious suburb of Philadelphia. Since its inception, the show has featured Susan Lucci as Erica Kane, one of daytime's most popular characters.
he title of the series. sometimes abbreviated as AMC, refers to the bonds of humanity. The first new network daytime drama to debut in the 1970s, All My Children was originally owned by Creative Horizons, Inc., the company created by Nixon and her husband, Bob. The show was sold to ABC in January 1975.

Originally a half-hour in length, the show expanded to an hour on April 25, 1977. Earlier, the show had experimented with the hour format for one week starting on June 30, 1975, after which Ryan's Hope premiered.

Thanks to ALL the creative personalities that was part of the creation of this landmark series.
May the next 41 years in all of your lives be as exciting if not more so.

Thanks to Glen Charlow and Wikipedia for many of the details of this blog.

Thank you for joining me on these nostalgic journeys! I've added a new aspect to my blog.. Every five days, I answer a question on video that YOU send to me. You can ask me ANYTHING and I will answer your question on video within my blog. Send your questions to
Next question will be answered when I receive it.

"Richard, for supporting the ARTS and calling attention to the STARS of yesterday. You are a STAR in your own right!! With admiration and friendship"
Arlene Dahl

Thank you to all who have encouraged me over the years! Thanks to all who have tried to stifle my art. I have learned from ALL of you!
Here's to an INCREDIBLE day for ALL!


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Tomorrow's blog will be Revisiting Ziegfeld: A Man And His Women


Richard Skipper,

The Great and the Least,
The Rich and the Poor,
The Weak and the Strong,
In Sickness and in Health,
In Joy and Sorrow,
In Tragedy and Triumph,

-Agnes Nixon


  1. Richard ,
    Loved your blog about AMC, it was an amazing Soap , of course watched it years ago , when many of us were watching Soaps. What is amazing about the show it launched so many careers , and created steady work for so many people as well . You covered it all in your blog , great job well done. I always enjoy reading them when I have time , keep up the fun . Hugs from San Diego John B

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