One Life to Live
|Executive Producer||Frank Valentini|
|Head Writer||Dena Higley|
|Senior Cast Member||Erika Slezak|
|Premiere Date||July 15, 1968|
|Runtime||60 minutes (30 minutes from 1968 to 1976; 45 minutes from 1976 to 1978)|
The show was originally a half-hour serial until it was expanded to 45 minutes in 1976 and to one hour in 1978. One Life to Live was created by Agnes Nixon, who was also responsible for the creation of All My Children (in 1970), and who served as the head writer of Another World and Guiding Light.
The title of the show was originally going to be Between Heaven and Hell. However, the sponsors wished that the name be changed to something less controversial. Even though the name change was made, the first opening titles were of a symbolic hellfire  (in reality, the taped footage was of a burning fireplace, with the emphasis on the flames emitted).
The first sponsors of the show were the Colgate-Palmolive company, who also sponsored The Doctors. ABC bought the show from Agnes Nixon in December 1974 when the purchased all stock to her Creative Horizons Inc..
- 1 Title sequences
- 2 Storylines and characters
- 3 Cast
- 4 Crossovers
- 5 Awards
- 6 External links
The original fireplace opening was replaced in 1975 with a visual of a mountain sunrise. This was replaced around 1980 with a longer sequence which showed not just a mountain sunrise, but also shots of birds and a close up of the sun, and eventually the title superimposed over a shot of a blue sky with clouds. The theme music was rearranged as well.
On December 17, 1984, a new sequence designed by Wayne Fitzgerald debuted, which featured shots of places in Llanview superimposed with headshots of the current cast members, and ended with the headshots being superimposed on to a building, with the title superimposed on top word-by-word in rhythm to a new theme by Dave Grusin. Peabo Bryson subsequently sung lyrics over this new theme in September 1985, and this vocal was used as the new opening theme by 1987.
On January 2, 1992, a new title sequence emphasizing the romantic angle of the show debuted. It featured, in a condensed form, a love story using the elements of a heroine, Mr. Wrong and Mr. Right. Prominently featured in the opening and closing visuals were swirling, windswept satin sheets. It was accompanied by theme music by Lee Holdridge, in a New Age-influenced arrangement.
On November 20, 1995, a new title sequence which featured posterized video headshots of each contract player and tinted action clips from the show superimposed over shots of landmarks and city scenes (reminiscent to the 1984-91 opening) made its debut, with Lee Holdridge and David Nichtern providing a new upbeat theme song to accompany it.
The theme song was remixed in 2004, and accompanied a new set of visuals (all ABC soaps revamped their titles this year), consisting of headshots of cast members, and the title superimposed over the abbreviation OLTL.
Storylines and characters
Set in the fictional city of Llanview, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, the show originally concentrated on the wealthy Lord family, the less wealthy Siegels (the first and last attempt to showcase a Jewish family on daytime television) and the middle-class Rileys and Woleks. Since its inception, it has centered on the character of Victoria "Viki" Lord (first played by Gillian Spencer, she has been played since March 1971 by Erika Slezak). As a result of the sexual abuse suffered at the hands of her father, Victor (Ernest Graves), Viki blocked out the memory his molestation, which led to the development of her Dissociative Identity Disorder, better known as DID (characterized as having many personalities). Over the years, Viki has weathered widowhood, rape, divorce, stroke, breast cancer, and heart disease. Other early storylines focused around the starcrossed love between poor doctor Larry Wolek (played for the longest duration by Michael Storm), and sheltered heiress Meredith Lord.
Inception and the 1970s
The earliest details focused on Victoria Lord, a sexually repressed young woman who lived for her father Victor's approval. When brash reporter Joe Riley began to chip away at her defenses, a fun-loving alter (Niki Smith) began showing up at local bars. Joe's best friend, blue-collar Vince Wolek, fell in love with Niki, but when he realized she was really Viki, he told Joe the truth. A few years later, Joe was presumed dead, and Viki married reporter Steve Burke, who at the time was being stalked by the psychopathic Marcy Wade (Francesca James). Steve went on trial for her murder, and was ultimately cleared by none other than Joe himself. Viki and Joe reunited, but not before he had a child with Cathy Craig. When the child died, Cathy kidnapped Viki and Joe's baby, Kevin.
In the mid 1970s, a feud began between Viki and Dorian Cramer when Dorian married Viki's father after she erroneously believed Viki was partly responsible in her being fired from Llanview Hospital and eventually losing her license to practice medicine. Years later, Dorian regained and lost her license again, and again blamed Viki.
The show was the first soap opera to have a racially integrated cast. Additionally, it was the first to deal with interracial relationships. The character of Clara "Carla" Hall (played by Ellen Holly) was an African American woman trying to pass for white. Her mother, Sadie Gray, who was the neighbor and friend to the Woleks and worked in the Housekeeping Department at the hospital (she later became Head of Housekeeping there), discovered that her daughter, Clara, was pretending to be a white woman, and eventually persuaded her to reveal her true ethnicity.
As social issue-oriented stories on matters such as race and drug addiction played themselves out, ratings fell; in response, in 1975 ABC hired high-priced Another World actors George Reinholt and Jacqueline Courtney to portray Tony Lord and Pat Kendall. The numbers rose, but the pairing never acheived the success expected by executives. Reinholt left after only two years; Courtney was fired in 1983.
Late 1970s and into the 1980s
At the end of the decade and into the '80s, the show found gold in the dysfunctional struggles of Karen Wolek (Judith Light). Echoing the "double life" theme, Karen was Larry's wife, who tried to be content with her husband's meager income. She began to have sex with men in exchange for gifts, and soon her old pimp Marco Dane (Gerald Anthony) showed up and blackmailed her into working for him. Marco blackmailed many Llanview citizens and was murdered in 1979 - Viki was put on trial for the crime, and when Karen tried to testify for her friend, she was badgered into confessing her prostitute past. Viewers were riveted - OLTL's ratings soared and Judith Light won back to back Daytime Emmy awards. Anthony was so popular with fans that he quickly returned (a quick rewrite revealed Marco's heretofore unknown twin brother Mario was killed; Marco impersonated him for several years). Karen was devoted to her saintly sister Jenny (Katherine Glass, Brynn Thayer), who had started out as a nun but left the convent to marry Tim Siegel (Tom Berenger); Tim then died after a fight with her cousin Vince. The Wolek sisters and Marco, along with Jenny's abusive husband Brad Vernon (Jameson Parker, Steve Fletcher), were cornerstones of the show for nearly a decade. Vernon beat Jenny, then manipulated her into taking him back over and over. He also raped Karen. Jenny was in a high-risk pregnancy at the time, and the news of the rape sent her into early labor; when the baby died in the nursery, Karen forced Marco to switch the child with fellow hooker Katrina Karr's child. Several years later, Jenny found out the truth and in a heartbreaking sequence, gave her daughter back to Katrina.The reality-based tales took a turn towards the absurd by the early 80's, as Karen and Larry had control chips implanted in their brains by the evil Dr. Ivan Kipling (Jack Betts) and Larry had to save Karen from Kipling's jungle hideaway. In 1983 Karen fell in love with fugitive Steve (Robert Desiderio, Light's real-life husband) and in spite of Larry urging her to remain in Llanview, decided she would rather go on the run with a man who needed her than stay with her old demons. After finally steering clear of Brad for good, Jenny became involved with pianist and spy David Rinaldi (Michael Zaslow). They left town in 1985, with Brad giving David his passport so that David and Jenny could live life under new names. A decade later, Jenny was killed offcamera in a skiing accident, and David briefly returned in 1998 (Zaslow had been diagnosed with ALS the previous year; he and the show decided to educate viewers about the disease; when Zaslow passed away in 1999 his family asked that the character remain alive offcamera).
When Viki was pregnant with Joey (whom she named after Joe posthumously), her husband, Joe Riley (Lee Patterson) was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Joe was forced to name a successor to own and editorialize Victor's former newspaper, The Banner (then, The Banner-Arizona), so he named Clint Buchanan (Clint Ritchie). When naming Clint, he asked him to look after Viki post his passing. After Clint moved to Llanview, his father, Asa (Philip Carey) decided to move the headquarters of his company, Buchanan Enterprises, to Llanview; Clint's brother, Beauregard, mostly referred to by his nickname, "Bo" (Robert S. Woods), soon followed. These characters were ABC's attempt to ape the success of Dallas.
Template:AmericanSoaps Clint tried to develop a relationship with Viki following Joe's death, but she turned away still distraught over Joe's passing. They eventually became involved with eachother, married, and had a child, Jessica (played by Bree Williamson since 2003), who was actually the child of Mitch Lawrence (Roscoe Born); Mitch previously raped Viki, in which, she blocked out the memory, which led to the return of her alter ego, Niki Smith. Clint and Viki's actual biological child, Natalie (Melissa Archer), was stolen by Mitch, and raised by Roxanne "Roxy" Balsom (Ilene Kristen).
OLTL became a larger-than-life campfest in the late 80's, with executive producer Paul Rauch ignoring past diversity (Carla and her mother were dumped from the show, as Ellen Holly recounted in her autobiography) in favor of time travel (Clint went back to the Old West), a trip underground (half the cast went to Eterna), and a slew of exploits by vixens such as Tina (Andrea Evans, Karen Witter, Krista Tesreau) and Gabrielle (Fiona Hutchison). The two even had a poor imitation of the Karen/Jenny baby switch storyline. Other fan favorites were bad boy Max Holden (James DePaiva) and soap actress Megan (Jessica Tuck), who was revealed to be the long-lost daughter of Viki. Rauch's peak of ratings success came in 1987 when Viki "died" and saw many of her deceased friends, relatives and foes in Heaven (a floating spaceship); the show went to #1 for that week. Rauch had notorious rivalries with a number of talented actresses; many viewers felt he ran Robin Strasser off the show and eliminated formerly important families like the Woleks. In 1991, faced with falling ratings and poor quality, ABC fired him.
After Megan married her true love, rough-and-tumble Jake (Joe Lando), he went on frequent international trips to make money. He was held prisoner in the wartorn country Jaba. The news was too much for Megan. In spite of recently discovering she had lupus, Megan began partying and drinking heavily. She went into kidney failure; although her mother Viki donated a kidney, she took a turn for the worse (Tuck wanted Megan to die of AIDS, but Malone felt lupus provided symptoms which were better for soap drama). OLTL celebrated its 25th anniversary with a weeklong series of episodes where Megan's friends and family sat by her bedside, telling her stories of their past (with flashbacks) to keep her alive until Jake could be found. Recently arrived reverend Andrew Carpenter (Wortham Krimmer), who had fallen in love with Megan, risked his life to rescue Jake. Jake returned just in time to hold Megan in his arms one final time. As they looked at the tree which had been planted during their wedding, Megan took her last breath. This tearjerker, considered one of the show's best stories by many fans, also introduced wild child Marty (Susan Haskell), who started out as Megan's hospital roommate would later become the show's central heroine.
One Life to Live was the first to deal with many issues, including teenage homosexuality. Ryan Phillippe played the role of Billy Douglas, a gay teen dealing with the difficulty of coming out to his parents and friends. The resident bad girl, Marty Saybrooke (Susan Haskell), accused Andrew of having a sexual relationship with Billy. This story affected the entire town, including Viki, as Andrew's stern father Sloan (Roy Thinnes) arrived in town to teach a college class and write an expose of Victor Lord. Sloan and Andrew had been estranged ever since Sloan's oldest son, William, had died of AIDS. Finally, as Llanview held a ceremony for the AIDS quilt which was briefly displayed in their town, Sloan broke down and mourned his late son. Viki, who had been increasingly estranged from Clint due to loss of passion as well as some homophobic statements on his part during the Billy storyline, committed adultery with Sloan. Dorian arranged for Clint to find Viki and Sloan together; after he did, he left the canvas for a while (Clint Ritchie had been seriously injured in a plane crash) and Viki married Sloan.
Marty eventually had an epiphany about her ways, but it only came about after she was gang-raped, which was led by Todd Manning (originally portrayed by Roger Howarth), Viki's half brother. Todd hired Nora Hanen (Hillary B. Smith) to defend him when Marty filed a lawsuit. They nearly won the case when another woman claimed Todd raped her as well. The original plan was for Todd and his frat brothers to be acquitted, but Hillary Smith felt that would send a message, so the writers had Nora realize shortly before her closing arguments that Todd had a history of rape. Nora tried to persuade the jury to find Todd guilty, and a mistrial was declared. Soon after, Marty got Todd's confession on tape and he was sent to prison. He attempted to rape her outside a radio station and Luna (Susan Batten) hit him in the face with a pipe, leaving a scar that would last throughout Howarth's tenure on the show. Todd swore revenge on Nora and Marty. Nora's rivalry with her ex-husband Hank (Nathan Purdee), also a lawyer, provided for more story. Nora and Hank had a daughter, Rachel (Ellen Bethea, Mari Morrow, Sandra P. Grant), who was a law student but ended up becoming addicted to drugs. When Bo's beloved wife Sarah (Jensen Buchanan, Grace Phillips) was killed in a car crash, Bo nearly committed suicide (a story actor Robert S. Woods abhorred). Eventually he fell in love with Nora, and Nora, who suffered from blackouts, thought she had been the driver who had killed Sarah. Woods told the writers Bo would have a hard time loving his wife's murderer, so the story was changed. After Nora was cleared, she learned she had a brain tumor, and went blind while recuperating from the surgery. Alone at the beach house, she was nearly killed by Todd (in a homage to Wait Until Dark) until Bo saved her. Todd was sent back to prison but was pardoned after he saved the lives of Tina's children and Marty. As Howarth's performances captured fan attention, Todd became more and more important to the show's tapestry, and was revealed as Victor's long-lost son.
After Sloan died of Hodgkins' Disease, Viki's hold on reality began to crumble. Around this time David (Tuc Watkins) falsely claimed to be Victor's long-lost son (Tina slept with him even though at the time she thought they were siblings, a story that went too far for many viewers), and Dorian had just been freed from death row after David's diary forgeries cleared her of Victor's murder. Viki was incensed at Dorian's freedom and when Dorian causally mentioned to Viki that Victor had sexually abused Viki as a young girl, Viki splintered into multiple personalities (Tommy, Princess, Jean, Tori, and of course Niki). "Caretaker" Jean kept Dorian locked in a secret room for months, broke up Tina and David. Angry Tori helped Todd start up a rival business to destroy The Banner and burned down Llanfair. Finally, Viki realized the horrible secret she had been keeping was that SHE, not Dorian, had suffocated Victor in 1976. One final alter, Victor, appeared, urging Viki to kill herself, but she managed to integrate him and all the others. The story garnered strong critical acclaim, due to Erika Slezak's bravura performance, but some fans (and Robin Strasser) were not fond of the massive history rewrite. This story was planned to put to rest Victor's murder and Viki's personalities, but later writers revived both story points, to the irritation of the audience.
The storylines during this era (1992-1995) were produced by Linda Gottlieb written by Michael Malone, who later formed a partnership with Josh Griffith. Their stint on the show is generally regarded as the renaissance of the series, although they were not universally popular with fans or cast (at one point, James DePaiva reportedly reduced Gottlieb to tears). Griffith left in early 1995 and Malone a year later.
Gottlieb was replaced by Susan Bedsow Horgan who was replaced in 1996 by ABC executive Maxine Levinson. Around this time the network made major changes to all their soaps due to falling ratings. New headwriters (Leah Laiman, Peggy Sloane and Jean Passante) focused on romance and supercouples, but the stories were criticized as cliched and repetitive (featuring a nun who left the convent for a man, fake paralysis, fake pregnancy, and a poet who recited "Brown Penny" to his lady love over and over again).
Many viewers also felt the writers were ignorant of past history - one of the most glaring examples was the return of Bo and Asa's former wife, Becky Lee Abbott (Mary Gordon Murray). During her previous stint (early-to-mid 80's) Becky Lee had been a sweet, kind country singer who genuinely loved both Buchanan men and never wanted to hurt anyone. Her '96 return cast her as a sarcastic con artist who was embittered towards most of the town for no apparent reason. The character was quickly written out, and on future visits (such as her son Drew's funeral) behaved more like her old self.
In 1995 Roger Howarth had left the series due to disgust at plans to pair Marty and Todd romantically (at public appearances, some fans cried "rape me, Todd!", which unnerved him all the more). When he returned due to the new headwriters, Todd had no sex scenes (reportedly due to a contract stipulation on the part of Howarth) and remained perpetually self-destructive and unhappy. Todd returned from the dead only to find his wife Blair (Kassie DePaiva) had been impregnated by Marty's true love, poet Patrick (Thorsten Kaye).
In 1997, new headwriter Claire Labine "solved" the problem by having Blair's cousin Kelly crash into Blair and Patrick's car. Blair's unborn baby died, and she lashed out at Todd before going into a coma. Desperate to keep custody of their other child, Starr, Todd then married a woman he barely knew, Tea Delgado (Florencia Lozano) who accepted a million dollars to make a fake family life with Todd and represent him in the custody battle. Todd also got a parrot, and spent a number of scenes talking to the parrot about his life. Other stories at the time involved Marty and Patrick's wedding ending in a hail of gunfire and blood, Dorian's struggles to hide her dark family past, Nora struggling with peri-menopause, RJ opening a new bar with a transvestite mixologist, and most bizarre of all, Maggie Carpenter (Crystal Chappell) leaving Llanview to open a clown school in Paris, France.
The stories wandered aimlessly and in early 1998 ABC hired Jill Farren Phelps as executive producer and Pam Long as headwriter. Neither woman was a stranger to controversy, but the first few months of their tenure (featuring a mystery over who killed Nora's crazy assistant Georgie - the killer was Rachel) were well-received. Fans began to complain when core characters (such as Dorian's husband Mel and Bo's son Drew) were killed or (such as Dorian's daughter Cassie) written out, while longtime characters like Nora, Jessica and Viki were only given stories which revolved around the new Rappaport/Davidson family.
Phelps hired many of her favorite actors (Mark Derwin, Kale Browne, John Bolger, Timothy Gibbs) to fill roles. Moments like Todd punching Tea in the face and Nora sleeping with her former lover Sam to give her sterile husband a child provided some powerful drama, but to many viewers, came at the expense of character integrity. Beloved couple Nora and Bo split bitterly and Hillary B. Smith was so unnerved by her character's behavior she actually asked Phelps to kill Nora off the show (which did not occur as Smith is still with the show).
Meanwhile, beloved teen heroine Jessica (then Erin Torpey), who had worried about whether or not she wanted to sleep with boyfriend Cris, lost her virginity during a drunken night with Will Rappaport, the stepbrother she barely knew. She then became pregnant, but Dorian ran her down in her just as she was about to give labor; the baby died in childbirth and Jessica had amnesia, then began stalking Dorian. Soon she went on the run to Ireland with Cris and fugitive Will, singing in a rock'n'roll band. Throughout there was little to no mention of Jessica receiving therapy or counseling for all this trauma, and she spent far more time swapping beds with Cris and Will than she did thinking about what she had gone through.
In early 1999, Long left, and Phelps (with some help from Harding Lemay) was essentially headwriter for an entire year. Eventually Megan McTavish took over as headwriter and created a series of dark storylines involving mobsters, the search for Asa's real son, and tortured love triangles (Kevin/Kelly/Joey; Max/Blair/Skye). The latter meandered for more than a year, as Max faked being Asa's son, developed a brain tumor, strung both ladies along, and was then shot in the back by Blair.
Into the new millenium, more new characters were introduced, including Lindsay (Catherine Hickland)'s sister Melanie (Darlene Vogel) and her husband Colin (Ty Treadway). Colin was killed, but his twin brother was brought on the canvas, only to lose his mind and become a killer. Phelps' tenure saw the departure of a number of long-running actors, such as Laura Koffman (Cassie), Clint Ritchie (Clint), and Strasser (again). In 1999 ABC lured Linda Dano to the show to revive her 70's-era character Rae, who was now a therapist.
When Phelps and McTavish left in early 2001, they were replaced by executive producer Gary Tomlin and writers Lorraine Broderick and Chris Whitesell. Many of the actors hired under Phelps' tenure were let go. Fan favorite Gabrielle returned after a ten-year absence and romanced Max, then Bo. Storylines became more campy; and the show had a much-acclaimed week in May 2002 where the episodes were broadcast live. This experimentation was mixed with truly dark tales such as Todd selling Blair's baby, telling her the child was dead and then passing him off as an adopted baby when he realized he was the natural father. Another story involved Viki returning to her former split personality Niki Smith to block out the painful memory of being raped by Mitch Laurence (Roscoe Born). She had one child with Clint (Natalie) and the other child (Jessica) was fathered by Mitch. Another storyline was Antonio (Kamar de los Reyes) having a one-night stand with a woman who turned out to be his fiance Keri (Sherri Saum)'s mother. She then implanted her embryo into Keri, meaning that Keri was unknowingly giving birth to her fiance's child. Much airtime was devoted to Jen Rappaport (Jessica Morris) and her mother Lindsey. Jen schemed against her boyfriend Cristian (David Fumero) and his true love Natalie.
In early 2003 Malone and Griffith were rehired as head writers with Frank Valentini taking over as executive producer. A new major storyline involved Mitch kidnapping sisters Natalie and Jessica to figure out which one's heart was a match for their grandfather. Victor had been faking his death. He was too ill to have major confrontations with his children and died a few weeks into the story. Dorian then showed up as Mitch's new bride, and she became immeshed in a storyline involving a jewel hunt as well as a "curse" which blinded Mitch. Mitch was then killed by his daughter, Jessica. Another story involved the return of Tina and Cord's daughter, Sarah Roberts, as rock singer Flash (Shanelle Workman). Flash dated and even kissed Joey Buchanan (Bruce Michael Hall), her cousin. Joey, who was a minister at the time, then married Jen Rappaport, but the marriage did not last due to her affair with former husband Rex Balsom. Joey was then sent back to London to live with Clint.
Roger Howarth had come and gone several times but quit for good in early 2003. Mitch had him kidnapped. When the character returned several months later, he was posing as Mitch's brother Walker and was played by Trevor St. John. Apparently Todd had been so badly beaten that he had to get extensive plastic surgery. In spite of much fear that viewers would never accept any other actor as Todd, the talented St. John became popular and Todd, for the first time in a decade, had love scenes as well as a semi-functional relationship with Blair.
Viki developed heart trouble and was saved by a heart transplant from her comatose husband, Ben. One of the most appreciated storylines of the second Malone/Griffith era was Marcie Walsh (Kathy Brier)'s struggle with her self-esteem and her love story with Al Holden (Nathaniel Marston). Inexplicably, Al was killed off despite the couple's immense popularity. But a write-in campaign led by Marcal (Marcie & Al) fans convinced ABC to bring back Al as a ghost. Al's ghost then took over Michael McBain's body, lost all memories as Al, and courted Marcie as Michael McBain. Brooding actor Michael Easton (who had a following as Stephen Clay, a singing vampire, on Port Charles) was hired as Michael's cop brother John McBain. Al's mother, Gabrielle, was murdered by the Music Box Killer, and Al's father, Max, left town, thus removing the Holden family from the canvas. Next came the saga of the Santi mobster family, whom Antonio learned he was related to. Much of the action centered around new characters: Antonio's brother Tico, stepsister Sonia, and mother Angelina.
Writers Malone and Griffith were then replaced by Dena Higley. On the day he was to remarry Blair, Todd was kidnapped by Margaret, who in an homage to Misery, tied him up for weeks in a secluded cabin while he recovered from his injuries. She then forced him to have sex with her, in a throwback to his past history of rape. Todd's niece Jessica developed a split personality -- bad girl "Tess" -- who goaded Viki into a heart attack. John McBain was torn between Natalie and Evangeline (Renee Goldsberry), even as he tried to solve a series of murders based on Marcie's book, "The Killing Club". Kelly Cramer's brother Paul (David Tom) was murdered, and Jen was the prime suspect. The real killer was her boyfriend's father, Llanview District Attorney Daniel Colson (Mark Dobies). Daniel had been framing Jen to cover up his murder of Paul, who had been blackmailing Daniel over his homosexual affair with a college student. Daniel then murdered Jen, staging her death as a suicide. Upon Daniel's arrest and exposure, "OLTL" briefly became ABC's highest-rated soap.
Today, the character of Victoria Lord still remains the center of One Life to Live as the actress who plays her, Erika Slezak, garnered the show six Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Current cast members
- Kristen Alderson (Starr Manning)
- Melissa Archer (Natalie Buchanan)
- Kathy Brier (Marcie Walsh)
- Phil Carey (Asa Buchanan)
- Kamar de los Reyes (Antonio Vega)
- Kassie DePaiva (Blair Cramer)
- Michael Easton (John McBain)
- David Fumero (Cristian Vega)
- Melissa Gallo (Adriana Cramer)
- Dan Gauthier (Kevin Buchanan)
- Renee Elise Goldsberry (Evangeline Williamson)
- Cady Huffman (Dr. Paige Miller)
- John-Paul Lavoisier (Rex Balsom)
- Forbes March (Nash Brennan)
- Nathaniel Marston (Dr. Michael McBain)
- Matthew Metzger (Duke Buchanan)
- Paul Satterfield (Dr. Spencer Truman)
- Erika Slezak (Victoria Lord)
- Hillary B. Smith (Nora Hanen)
- Trevor St. John (Todd Manning)
- Timothy D. Stickney (R.J. Gannon)
- Robin Strasser (Dorian Lord Hayed)
- Tika Sumpter (Layla Williamson)
- Heather Tom (Kelly Cramer)
- Jerry verDorn (Clint Buchanan)
- Tuc Watkins (David Vickers)
- Bree Williamson (Jessica Buchanan/Tess)
- Robert S. Woods (Bo Buchanan)
Recurring cast members
- Eddie Alderson (Matthew Buchanan)
- Peter Bartlett (Nigel Bartholomew-Smythe)
- Jack Briscoe (Jack Manning)
- Josh Casaubon (Hugh Hughes)
- Patricia Elliott (Renee Divine)
- Catherine Hickland (Lindsay Rappaport)
- Janet Hubert-Whitten (Lisa Williamson)
- Ilene Kristen (Roxy Balsom)
- Patricia Mauceri (Carlotta Vega)
- Shannon McGinnis (Ginger Foley)
- Pamela Payton-Wright (Addie Cramer)
Coming and going cast members
- Timothy Adams (Ron Walsh)
Deceased cast members
- Gerald Anthony (Marco Dane), 2004
- Anthony George (Dr. Will Vernon #3), 2005
- Bernard Grant (Steve Burke), 2004
- Ernest Graves (Victor Lord) Original Cast Member, 1983
- Lillian Hayman (Sadie Gray #1) Original Cast Member, 1994
- Dorrie Kavanaugh (Cathy Craig #4), 1983
- Nat Polen (Dr. Jim Craig #2), 1981
- Shepperd Strudwick (Victor Lord #2), 1983
- Kellie Waymire (Emily Haynes), 2004
- Michael Zaslow (David Renaldi), 1998
Before they were stars
Among the many who got their start on One Life to Live are:
- Tom Berenger (Tim Siegel; 1976)
- Yasmine Bleeth (Lee Ann Demerest Buchanan; 1991-1993)
- Linda Dano (Rae Cummings; 1978-1980, 1999-2004)
- Laurence Fishburne (Josh Hall; 1973-1976)
- Tommy Lee Jones (Dr. Mark Toland; 1971-1975)
- Joe Lando (Jake Harrison; 1990-1992)
- Judith Light (Karen Wolek; 1977-1983)
- Ryan Phillippe (Billy Douglas; 1992-1993)
- Phylicia Rashad (Courtney Wright; 1981-1983)
As with many other television series, OLTL has had a number of crossovers with other programs, both daytime and primetime.
In 1970 shortly after All My Children debuted Dr. Larry Wolek (Michael Storm) visited Pine Valley in an attempt to get fans of OLTL to watch ABC`s new show.
In 1996 Nora, Hank (Nathan Purdee), RJ and Nora and Hank's drug-addicted daughter Rachel (then Sandra P. Grant) appeared on the talk show The Cutting Edge, hosted by AMC stalwart Tad Martin (Michael E. Knight). During the heated exchange, Rachel blurted out that Nora and RJ had had an affair during Nora's marriage to Hank.
In 1999, Linda Dano's Rae Cummings appeared on all four of ABC's daytime soaps, searching for her longlost daughter; while on AMC she learned that Myrtle Fargate (Eileen Herlie) was her mother. After Rae returned to Llanview, she clashed with former AMC vixen Skye Chandler (Robin Christopher), and found out Skye was her daughter. Skye tried to win back her ex-husband Ben and then fell into an affair with Max Holden before moving to General Hospital in 2001. Rae left town in early 2004.
From 2004-2005 AMC and OLTL had a complicated "baby switch" storyline. AMCs Babe Chandler (Alexa Havins) learned that her annulment from Paul Cramer (David Tom) had never been finalized. Babe and her friend Bianca (Eden Riegel) were both nine months pregnant. They went into labor at an isolated cabin. Paul helped them give birth. His sister Kelly (Heather Tom) was trying to hide a stillbirth and needed a baby to present to her husband Kevin (Dan Gauthier). Bianca passed out after delivery, and Paul drugged Babe. He passed Bianca's daughter off as Babe's and gave Babe's son to Kelly, leading everyone to think that Bianca's baby had died. Eventually, Babe learned that she had Bianca's child and a short time later found out her son was alive in Llanview. With Jamie Martin (Justin Bruening)'s help, Babe kidnapped her son from Kelly and Kevin's home and left letters behind in Pine Valley explaining who the baby girl belonged to. Kelly discovered their whereabouts but decided to keep quiet because she wanted Babe to be with her child. She even testified on Babe's behalf in a custody battle between Babe and her husband JR (Jacob Young). Meanwhile, Paul was murdered and the suspect list was a mile long. Ultimately, Daniel Colson was revealed as the killer.
The shows, as well as many of its actors and crew, have been nominated for dozens of awards, winning on many occasions. The Daytime Emmy Awards and Soap Opera Digest Awards wins of the 2000s are noted below.
Daytime Emmy Awards
- 2005 "Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for a Drama Series
- Tied with All My Children
- 2005 "Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction/Electronic Camera/Video Control for a Drama Series
- 2002 "Outstanding Drama Series"
- 2001 "Outstanding Achievement in Live & Direct to Tape Sound Mixing for a Drama Series"
- 2001 "Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction/Electronic Camera/Video Control for a Drama Series"
- 2000 "Outstanding Original Song"
- 2000 "Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design for a Drama Series"
- 2000 "Outstanding Achievement in Live & Direct to Tape Sound Mixing for a Drama Series"
- 2000 "Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for a Drama Series"
- 2005 "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series" Erika Slezak
Soap Opera Digest Awards
- 2005 "Favorite Teen" Kristen Alderson
- 2005 "Favorite Triangle" Michael Easton, Melissa Archer & Renee Goldsberry
- 2003 "Outstanding Newcomer" Melissa Archer
- 2000 "Favorite Teen Star" Erin Torpey
- 2000 "Favorite Couple" Erika Slezak and Mark Derwin
- 2000 "Outstanding Villain" Timothy Stickney
Directors Guild of America Awards
- In the 1990's the DGA began to recognise outstanding work in Daytime Television. The Award is presented for a single episode to the director, stage managers, associate directors and production managers. These are the years the award has been presented to OLTL :
- 2004 Larry Carpenter et al.
- 2001 Jill Mitwell et al.