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Erica Kane

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Erica Kane
All My Children
Portrayed by Sussa Lucci
(1970-present)
First appearance January 16, 1970
Created by Agnes Nixson
Profile
Gender Female
Born January 13, 1962 (1962-01-13) (age 55)[1]
Occupation Executive @ Fusion Cosmetics
Residence Seasons East Casino, Suite 1223
Pine Valley, Pennsylvania


Erica Kane is a long-running fictional character from the American daytime drama All My Children. Following the retirement of Dr. Joe Martin to Florida, she is the only original character remaining since the series' premiere episode. The character has been portrayed by actress Susan Lucci since the show's debut in January 1970. Erica is considered to be the most popular character in soap opera history.[2] TV Guide calls her "unequivocally the most famous soap opera character in the history of daytime TV".[3]

Character creationEdit

BackgroundEdit

Agnes Nixon created Erica Kane in the 1960s as a part of the story bible for All My Children, a light-hearted soap that focused on social issues and young love.[4] Nixon unsuccessfully attempted to sell the series to NBC, then to CBS, and once again to NBC through Procter & Gamble.[5] With Procter & Gamble unable to make room for the new soap in its line up, she put All My Children on hold. Nixon became head writer of Another World where she used the model of the Erica character to create a brand new character named Rachel Davis. Nixon said Rachel was Erica's "precursor to the public" but Rachel was a lower-class version. She detailed Rachel's goals as less "stratospheric" in nature since her primary motivation involved marrying Russ Mathews or a man with money while Erica wanted love, independence, and fame. "What Erica and Rachel have in common is they thought if they could get their dream, they'd be satisfied", Nixon said. "But that dream has been elusive."[6][7]

After the success of One Life to Live, a series Nixon created in 1968, ABC asked her to create another soap opera for them. She used the story bible for All My Children to create the new program. The Erica character officially debuted in 1970 once All My Children made it onto the air.[4]

CastingEdit

At the time, soap operas featured mostly older casts. To add a contemporary feel to the show, Nixon focused on younger characters, while also mixing in older ones so as not to lose traditional soap opera viewers. The youths on All My Children were Tara Martin (Karen Lynn Gorney), Phillip Brent (Richard Hatch), Chuck Tyler (Jack Stauffer), and Erica Kane (Susan Lucci). For those parts, the show wanted to cast unknown actors.[8]

In 1969, Susan Lucci responded to a casting call for All My Children. She initially auditioned for the role of Tara Martin. The "character that we were all interested in was not Erica, but Tara," said Doris Quinlan, the show's former executive producer. "She was the sweet young ingenue - the one with all the problems that everyone was supposed to care about...I certainly couldn't cast [Lucci] as a young, innocent, sweet little Irish girl. That's not what comes out. She's much more sophisticated- at least she gives that appearance. She was perfect to play Erica."[8] After a meeting with a casting director, they promised to call her back in six months. One of hundreds of people they called back in, Lucci progressed on from each reading of the part until she received the role.[9] "I saw the audition tapes, and she just stood out," said Agnes Nixon. "There was never a question, ever."[8][10]

Before being cast as Erica Kane, Lucci did not have much success in her acting career. A casting director discouraged her from pursuing roles on television because her hair, skin, and eyes were too dark. Though Lucci's olive complexion held her back from other acting opportunities, it worked in her favor while up for the role of Erica. "Agnes Nixon, the show's creator, really wanted somebody dark to play this part. She has always been ahead of her time," Lucci said.[9] Lucci debuted in Episode 10 of the series.[9] In portraying Erica, the actress drew on the "self-centered" and "haughty" traits she recognized in herself while in college.[10] Lucci said, "I love playing her. I enjoyed playing her when she was a 15-year-old high school girl, the naughty girl in town, and I enjoy playing her now, when she's still the naughty girl, but she's broadened her area of operation to include the entire world."[9]

ArchetypesEdit

Over the years Erica developed into different character archetypes. Soap operas once featured only one-dimensional characters who were either good or bad. By the 1970s characters were written with more depth, fitting into archetypes consisting of the young-and-vulnerable romantic heroine, the old-fashioned villain, the rival, the suffering antagonist, Mr. Right, the former playboy, the meddlesome and villainous mother/grandmother, the benevolent mother/grandmother, and the career woman. Erica was established as the rival to Tara Martin's young-and-vulnerable romantic heroine. As the rival, Erica was written as money and status conscious as well as sexually aggressive. Erica was generally positioned as the antagonist keeping true love pairings, such as Tara and Phillip Brent, apart.[11]

By the late 1970s, a different set of character types were established, including the chic suburbanite, the subtle single, the traditional family person, the successful professional, and the elegant socialite. Erica was in the chic suburbanite category which comprised "flashy", achievement-oriented characters with little interest in family and friends.[12] Like others in this category, Erica was written as "flamboyant", "frivolous and carefree, with little commitment other than their own selfish enjoyment of life."[13]

Overall, Erica is the embodiment of "the bitch goddess",[4][14] a soap opera archetype that "transformed and defined" the soap opera genre. Irna Phillips, Nixon, and William J. Bell created the archetype in the 1960s and it became one of their defining legacies.[4] The archetype is an assertive Cinderella who goes after material things. This was a change from the heroines of the radio soap operas who waited to be rescued by men. As the bitch goddess, Erica started out as "a conniving teenage vixen" and transformed into "the femme fatale incarnate."[4] The characters in this category are outrageous, exaggerated, financially disadvantaged and determined to change that. Other characters in this archetype are Lisa Grimaldi (As the World Turns) and Rachel Davis (Another World).[4] General Hospital's Luke Spencer later became daytime television's first bitch god.[15]

Character HistoryEdit

The Many Husbands of Erica KaneEdit

Erica is one the most married characters in Daytime next to her ex-husband, Adam Chandler she has been married 12 times. She is on the same level as One Life to Live's Asa Buchanan, who was married 14 times. Ex-husband Adam is ahead by one having recently married again, making it 13 times for him.

  1. Jeff Martin (1971-1974; divorced)
  2. Phil Brent (1976; divorced)
  3. Tom Cudahy (1981; annulled)
  4. Adam Chandler (1984-1993; divorced)
  5. Mike Roy (1987; invalid)
  6. Travis Montgomery (1988; invalid)
  7. Travis Montgomery (1993; invalid)
  8. Adam Chandler (1993; vowel renewal)
  9. Dimitri Marick (1994-1995; divorced)
  10. Dimitri Marick (1996-1999; divorced)
  11. Jackson Montgomery (May 24, 2005-August 16, 2007; divorced)

ReferencesEdit

  1. Erica celebrated her 14th birthday on January 13, 1976. Kendall was born 9 months later
  2. H.W. Wilson Company (1986). Current Biography. H.W. Wilson Company. pp. 128 (specific page). 
  3. Harrison, Nancy (1991-06-23). "Susan Lucci, 11 Times a Nominee, 8 Times a Bride, Up for Emmy Again". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE0DE123BF930A15755C0A967958260. Retrieved 2007-10-27. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Simon, Ron; Thompson, Robert J.; Spence, Louise; Feuer, Jane (1997). Morton, Robert. ed. Worlds Without End: The Art and History of the Soap Opera. New York, New York: Harry N Abrams. pp. 34–36. ISBN 0-810-93997-5. 
  5. Hyatt, Wesley (1997). The Encyclopedia of Daytime Television. New York, New York: Billboard Books. pp. 13–18. ISBN 0823083152. 
  6. Simon, p. 28.
  7. Hyatt, p. 29.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Siegel, Barbara; Siegel, Scott (1986). Susan Lucci. New York, New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 31–33. ISBN 0312779631. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Rothstein, Mervyn (September and October 1999). "Suddenly Susan". Cigar aficionado.  Erica is 15 years old when All My Children debuted in 1970.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Upton, Michael A. (1999-06-07). "They Love Lucci". People (magazine). http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20128421,00.html. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  11. Soares, Manuela (1978). The Soap Opera Book. New York, New York: Harmony Books. pp. 57–71. ISBN 0517533316. 
  12. Matelski, Marilyn J. (1988). The Soap Opera Evolution: America's Enduring Romance with Daytime Drama. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 27. ISBN 0899503241. 
  13. Cassata, Mary; Skill, Thomas (1983). Life on Daytime Television: Tuning-In American Serial Drama. Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation. pp. 14. ISBN 0893911380. 
  14. Siegel, p. 3.
  15. "Television's Hottest Show". Newsweek. 1981-09-28. 

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