The long-running ABC daytime drama One Life to Live faded to black yesterday after more than 43 years of being on the air.
The beloved soap was created by the legendary Agnes Nixon, who also created sister series All My Children, which went off the air with a Bang! in October. ABC daytime executive Brian Frons announced last April his plans to ax the two warhorse series to make way for cheaper-to-produce, unscripted "reality" series such as The Chew. (Frons is no longer head of daytime over at ABC after stepping down in December, but alas, too late to save the soaps.)
One Life to Live was set in the fictional town of Llanview, Pennsylvania, and initially followed the trials and tribulations of the Lord and Buchanan families. Popular actress Erica Slezak portrayed the long-suffering character of Victoria Lord Gordon Riley Burke Riley Buchanan Buchanan Carpenter Davidson Banks since 1971. Slezak would go on to win a record six Daytime Emmy Awards for her always-riveting portrayal of Vicki who endured the slings and arrows of life on a soap opera, which included being shot, a cancer scare, multiple marriages and divorces, time travel, becoming trapped in a mysterious, underground city, as well as having Multiple Personality Disorder, when her naughty alter-ego Nicki would emerge.
The soap was an important launch pad for countless rising talent over the years. Stars such as Tommy Lee Jones, Marcia Cross, Laurence Fishburn, Ryan Phillippe, and Roma Downey received their big breaks acting on the show. Who's the Boss' Judith Light won back-to-back Emmy Awards for her searing portrayal of socialite turned hooker Karen Wolek in the early-1980s. (If you've never watched a single scene from One Life to Live over the past forty-three years, do yourself a favor and watch Light's famous courtroom scene below:)
Fans of OLTL that were heart-broken by the cancellation announcement in April were temporarily given a reprieve when Prospect Park purchased the rights to the show and planned to continue the series in an online format. The plans fell through, however, and soap fans around the country heard the death knell for their beloved genre ringing loudly.
As family dynamics and demographics changed over the years, less and less people had time to spend watching an hour long series each and every single week day. With the explosion of the Internet and the rising popularity of cable network television, daytime dramas continued to watch their viewership shrink and decline over the years. During the 1970s, there were 20 daytime dramas on television; with the cancellation of OLTL, there are now only four series left on the air: The Young & The Restless, The Bold & The Beautiful, Days of Our Lives and General Hospital.
My advice to fans of the series still left on the air is to watch and support your favorite. Don't take it for granted that it will still continue broadcasting, no matter how many years you have been an ardent fan...