Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 20 May 2011 00:00
Susan Lucci has come a long way from her growing up years in Garden City: An Emmy Award-winning actress on the legendary soap opera series, All My Children; a lead role in the Broadway production of Annie Get Your Gun; on tour with her own cabaret act; and the creator of a successful line of products. Now you can add the title of a New York Times best-selling author to that list.
Last Wednesday, May 11, Ms. Lucci traveled to Roslyn to talk about All My Life, a memoir that chronicles her life from a Long Island childhood to international stardom.
During her talk, Ms. Lucci jokingly introduced herself as “the woman you love to hate—and I thank you for that!”—referring to the Erica Kane role that has been a staple for decades on the famed soap opera series.
Ms. Lucci was also glad to be back in Long Island, after spending time in Los Angeles taping episodes of All My Children. She used part of her talk to recall the “many happy memories” of Roslyn, especially visits to the Duck Pond.
“My dream is to get into my car and drive to beautiful places,” she said, adding that one of those places has always been the ponds and parks in Roslyn.
Ms. Lucci also explained the dynamics behind the memoir, noting that for the past decade, various publishers have requested a manuscript on that same subject. It was a conversation with her son, Andreas, Ms. Lucci said, that convinced her to write the book. Andreas’s dates constantly asked him what his mother was like. “Everyone knows Erica Kane,” Ms. Lucci recalled her son telling her, “but do they know Susan Lucci?”
And so Ms. Lucci managed to find the time from her always-busy schedule to work on a book that she hoped would “make the reader feel we were just sitting across the table from each other.”
Life in Garden City remains central to Ms. Lucci’s life. After graduating from Garden City High School, Ms. Lucci attended Marymount College in Tarrytown. During the summer months, Ms. Lucci worked as a waitress at the Garden City Hotel. It was there that she met her future husband, Helmut Huber who was then working as the hotel’s executive chef. In humorous passages, Ms. Lucci recalled that Huber, at first, was not at all enamored by the hotel’s newest waitress. It appeared that Ms. Lucci had difficulties in holding a tray correctly, plus her skirts were too short. She was told by Huber to change into something different. Ms. Lucci learned how to hold the tray, but she “purposely” kept her skirt short. “That was the style of the time, and besides, I was about to start college and was working for tips!” she recalled in the memoir.
At Marymount, Ms. Lucci took numerous acting classes, while never having any doubts that show business was where she would find a career. After graduating from Marymount, Ms. Lucci found work on the set of the famed Ed Sullivan Show. She also was a participant in the New York State Miss Universe Pageant. And despite being told by a top television executive that she might be “too ethnic looking” for television, Ms. Lucci auditioned for—-and landed—-the role of Erica Kane for the fledging soap opera that she would make famous.
A highlight of Ms. Lucci’s career, itself an episode that leads off the book, was winning the long-anticipated Emmy Award in 1999, an event that saw the longest applause line in the history of the Emmys, a speech that the program directors allowed to go on well past the usual time limit, and a congratulatory letter from President Bill Clinton.
Even more so than entertainment, Ms. Lucci’s life has been about her family. In fact, her husband accompanied her to the book talk and All My Life is full of family memories, from those of her parents and grandparents in Garden City to her two children and now, an extended family that includes several grandchildren. Throughout her now-legendary career, Ms. Lucci has remained a loyal daughter of Garden City. The photo section of the book shows Ms. Lucci in comfortable surroundings with her “homegirls,” whom she also refers to as her “fabulous friends” from her hometown, Garden City.
On the professional front, the question and answer period was dominated by inquiries about the future of All My Children, which is scheduled for cancellation. In her book and during her talk, Ms. Lucci was full of praise for Agnes Nixon, the creator of both All My Children and One Life to Live. Ms. Lucci couldn’t speculate if massive fan support can save All My Children, but she remains hopeful over the future of soap operas. Ms. Lucci added that gaining a spot on another ABC-TV program, Desperate Housewives, would be a challenging role.