Few actors prove so dominant a presence that they practically define an entire genre, but Susan Lucci did just that in her four decades portraying Erica Kane on ABC’s fabled soap opera All My Children. It is a role that TV Guide deemed unequivocally the most famous character in the history of daytime television—and it earned Susan an astounding 21 Daytime Emmy nominations.
Susan was born in Westchester, New York, although she grew up in Garden City on Long Island. She recalls that she always wanted to be a performer, and appeared in all her high school plays. She was a cheerleader, staff writer for the school newspaper, and a foreign exchange student to Norway. After graduating with Honors from Garden City High School, she attended Marymount College, graduating with a BA in Drama.
She moved to New York City and began going to auditions. Within the year, she auditioned for a brand new soap opera that was to be called All My Children.
She won the role of Erica Kane, and, in the decades that followed, she crafted the character of a notorious diva into the most famous “woman you love to hate” character in the world of daytime TV. In 1978, Susan received her first Daytime Emmy nomination. She was nominated again in 1981, and almost every year since then. Finally, in 1999, on her 19th Emmy nomination, she won.
“My husband picked me up by my elbow and took me up to the stage,” Susan recalls.
“Shemar Moore gave me the Emmy. And when I turned around and I saw the whole room on their feet… I didn’t even know if I could speak, let alone remember a speech! I’ll never forget that as long as I live. It was an amazing, amazing moment!”
Susan received a four-minute standing ovation that night. Now, after 21 nominations, she is considered to be one of the most honored performers in the history of television, daytime or primetime.
She starred in the Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005, and was inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2006. VH-1 named her one of the “200 Top Icons of all Time,” and Susan was also featured as one of Disney Legend Barbara Walters’ “Ten Most Fascinating People.” Her autobiography, All My Life, was published in 2011 and was a New York Times bestseller.
While All My Children ended in 2011, Susan continues to appear in other television roles, starring in Lifetime’s Devious Maids and hosting Investigation Discovery’s Deadly Affairs. She has also appeared on the Lifetime series Army Wives, as well as on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, and has appeared as a guest on Hot in Cleveland along with hosting Saturday Night Live.
Susan’s commitment to her work with children has taken her to Africa in support of Feed The Children, appearing in an Emmy-award winning documentary. She and her husband have been ongoing champions of Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York and have been the spokespersons for the National Facing AFib Campaign. She served as the March of Dimes National Ambassador in 2000 and has also been involved with Broadway Cares: Equity Fights AIDS and currently hosts United Cerebral Palsy of NYC “Women Who Care” Luncheon. Susan is the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the prestigious New York City Gracie Award, and the Muse Award for Women in Film & Television. She was inducted into the American Academy of Achievement Awards, was presented with the Italian Board of Guardians Lifetime Achievement Award, and was the second woman to serve as Grand Marshal for New York’s iconic Columbus Day parade—the first was Sophia Loren.
“Do what you love,” Susan once said, “and if this is your passion, and you need it to breathe—of course, pursue it… learn, keep on growing, always. Not just when you’re beginning, but always.”
Timeless advice from an actress who enjoyed a remarkable career, donated so much of her time to worthy charities, and created one of the most enduring characters in television history.