Written by Dr. Cynthia Paulis Friday, 18 November 2011 00:00
A golden glow from crystal chandeliers illuminated the elegant grand ballroom of the Old Westbury Gardens Mansion while 70 fans chatted among themselves about their favorite television star. Then she appeared at the doorway flashing a megawatt smile, giving a vampish pose much to the delight and applause of her adoring fans. Susan Lucci, aka Erica Kane of All My Children was in the house. Wearing a skintight shimmering brown cat suit, which outlined her fabulous figure, it was hard to image that this petite and stunningly gorgeous woman was a grandmother of three. Accompanied by two handsome men, Helmut Huber, her husband of 42 years and her 31-year-old son, Andreas, there was also a surprise guest. Her friend of 30 years, NY Times best-selling author, Nelson DeMille, who had just flown in from California to be at this event.
Standing by the podium and dwarfed by a massive marble fireplace, Susan Lucci thanked her fans for making her career possible. She shared with the audience various events of her life chronicled in her memoir All My Life. A paperback version along with a new chapter about her thoughts on the cancellation of her television soap opera has just been released. The show ran for 40 years.
Lucci credits her son, Andreas, as the inspiration for the book. She recalled when he said, “Mom, I think you should write a book. With all of the girls I date, once they find out you are my mom, they want to know your story. Everybody knows Erica Kane’s story but they don’t know yours.”
Lucci shared some of the stories from the book with the audience including the time when as a college student she was involved in a car accident on the Long Island Expressway. Her head went through the windshield requiring her to be in surgery for four hours and almost cost her the vision in her right eye.
She praised Marvin Hamlisch, who was a fan of hers, for encouraging her to give Broadway a try. She played the role of Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun in 1999 and Hamlisch helped her train for her singing role.
A multitalented actress, businesswoman, and philanthropist, Lucci can also add another something else to her long list of accolades, she is also a comedian. For 30 minutes she regaled the audience with various stories to peals of laughter. In one story, she recounted how being polite almost cost her life.
“Andreas had asked my husband and I to eat dinner at an Italian restaurant with some of his friends from college. I had taken the second bite of chicken cacciatore when I realized that it was stuck in my throat. I saw my life pass before me, I was choking. I didn’t want to embarrass my son. I thought about throwing myself over a chair. I was struggling but no one noticed.” Finally, being in New York, an elderly couple looked over and a man yelled across the room (as Lucci got into character and acted out the old man with a deep voice) ‘Give her the Heimlich.’ The audience burst into laughter as Susan pantomimed the moment. Then her family noticed and Helmut came to her rescue.
Lucci later asked the audience if they had any questions. At first, the audience appeared tongue tied and awestruck. Finally, one fan asked if she could recite all of the names of all of the husbands she was married to on the show. She did, without missing a beat.
Afterward, Lucci autographed books and posed for photos. Champagne flowed and music from the grand piano filled the ballroom as adoring fans lined up to meet their favorite celebrity.
Helmut and Andreas mingled with the guests answering questions. After all of the books were gone and the last guest had left Susan sat down for a talk with Garden City Life about her future plans. She was leaving the next morning for Charleston, SC.
“I am going to be joining the cast of Army Wives. I am playing the wife of a two star general who is also the daughter of a general. I will only be there for a few weeks. I will also be going back to LA to do some work on the show Hot in Cleveland, the Betty White show. They have asked me to come back.”
When asked about another book she responded, “As Nelson DeMille told me, it’s a lot of work and he was right but it has been a wonderful experience, we’ll see.”
I asked her what the key to her success was. “I hesitate to even say it out loud, let me knock on something quickly. I just feel so lucky, so grateful. Erika Cane was the naughty girl in town. I wasn’t sure anyone would even get her at all. But I loved Scarlett O’Hara when I read Gone with the Wind. I thought of her (Erika) as a modern day Scarlet O’Hara. My friends in high school really liked Melanie and I thought well no one is really going to like Erika, so it was much to my great surprise and it really touches me how much they have embraced her.”
With her thoughts on Thanksgiving, Lucci commented, “I am so thankful for my family Helmut, Liza and Andreas who are my world, and now, my grandchildren.”
After meeting Susan Lucci, the one quality that shines through is that she is genuinely a nice person who is very devoted to her family and fans. She has never been touched by scandal, and is a positive and upbeat person, who is also gracious. Susan Lucci is a consummate, hardworking professional, whose work ethic and family values make her a role model for many women. Susan Lucci is one of Garden City’s shining stars.