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One Life to Live

One Life to Live (OLTL) is an American soap opera which has been broadcast on the ABC television network since July 15, 1968. The show is also broadcast weeknights on SOAPnet.

Genesis

Impressed with the ratings success of NBC's Another World, ABC sought out Another World writer Agnes Nixon to create a serial for them. Nixon, "tired of the restraints imposed by the WASPy, noncontroversial nature of daytime drama, presented the network with a startingly original premise and cast of characters. Although the show was built along the classic soap formula of a rich family and a poor family, One Life to Live emphasized the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the people of Llanview, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia." Nixon would go on to create All My Children in 1970 and Loving in 1983.

The title of OLTL was originally going to be Between Heaven and Hell, but sponsors at the time found this too controversial and the title was changed. Still, the first opening titles — closeup footage of flames in a fireplace — seemed to suggest a symbolic hellfire.

OLTL's first sponsors were the Colgate-Palmolive company, who also sponsored The Doctors. ABC bought the show from Agnes Nixon in December 1974 when they purchased all stock to her Creative Horizons Inc. The show was originally a half-hour serial until it was expanded to 45 minutes in 1976 and to one hour in 1978.

History

One Life to Live is set in the fictional city of Llanview, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania modeled after the Chestnut Hill section of the city. The show originally concentrated on the wealthy Lord family, the less wealthy Siegels (the first attempt to showcase a Jewish family on daytime television until the short-lived 1974 daytime serial, How to Survive a Marriage) and the middle-class Rileys and Woleks. OLTL has been called "the most peculiarly American of soap operas: the first serial to present a vast array of ethnic types, broad comic situations, a constant emphasis on social issues, and strong male characters."

Since its inception, OLTL has centered on the character of Victoria "Viki" Lord (originated by Gillian Spencer), who has been portrayed by six-time Emmy winner Erika Slezak since March 1971. Long-suffering heroine Viki has weathered love and loss, widowhood, rape, divorce, stroke and breast cancer, and has been memorably plagued by dissociative identity disorder (or DID, once known as multiple personality disorder) on and off for decades. Viki has also had heart problems, leading up to having the heart of her dying husband transplanted into her, to save her life.

One Life to Live celebrated its 40th anniversary in July 2008 with the return of several former cast members and by revisiting notable plotlines from its past. "Deceased" characters and even creator Agnes Nixon appeared in a storyline in which Slezak's Viki dies and visits Heaven, an homage to Viki's 1987 heavenly trip. Daytime Emmy-nominee Andrea Evans and others returned for a tribute to Tina Lord's famous 1987 plunge over the Iguazu Falls and the 1990 royal wedding in fictional Mendorra. And like the 1988 Old West storyline in which the character Clint Buchanan steps back 100 years in the past, on July 21, 2008, Robert S. Woods began an extended storyline in which his character Bo Buchanan finds himself transplanted back into his own past — specifically 1968, the year of the series' inception — witnessing his family's back-story unfold.

Historical storylines

Title sequences

Original flames The original One Life to Live title opening used from its July 15, 1968 premiere to April 1975. Featuring a roaring fireplace with the words One Life To Live faintly appearing and growing larger as the sequence concluded. The flames were supposed to be symbolic of a hellfire, as the show's title was supposed to be Between Heaven and Hell, but was changed at the last minute as sponsors felt the title was too strong and could engender controversy.

This opening was again seen on July 21, 2008 as an homage to the show's 40th Anniversary special.

Originally, One Life to Live's closing credits were done over a videotaped shot of an empty set or a mimed sequence between two or more characters. For the first ten years on the air, credits scrolled in the center of the screen in the same white Craw Clarendon Bold type as the title logo.

Llanview sunrise The fireplace opening was replaced in 1975 with a visual of an emerging orange and yellow mountain sunrise, concluding with the show title underneath it. The theme music was also changed to a melodious, semi-orchestral piece by Jack Urbont, mainly composed of violins, woodwinds and horns, but augmented by piano as well. During the first few months of this sequence, the title appeared in white, but it changed to yellow thereafter.

In 1978, end credit lettering was changed for the first time, to white Beton Bold. Credits were still scrolled in the center of the screen over the live-action character sequences. This setup would last for the next two years until the final months of this theme package. No later than May 1980, a new credit setup was introduced, that began with the title still & centered, which would then scroll up and run the credits on the left side of the screen while a live-action scene played on. An artsy, modern Bauhaus-inspired font was now used, still in white however, and not long after this format was introduced, copyright notice in small Arial font showed up for the first time under "Videotaped at ABC Television Center in New York" as the credits commensed.

Llanview sky Toward the end of 1980, the sunrise opening was altered with a gray background and enhanced 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.

Jack Urbont's full-length 1975 version of the OLTL theme would remain in use over the closing credits during the run of second "sunlight" visuals. However, the end credit format would continue to see numerous revisions in the next five years. The Bauhaus credit format introduced in the spring of 1980 remained in use for a couple of years into this package. Along the way, in late 1981, a closing display of the title returned to closings after an absence of a few years, and appeared above the copyright. Eventually, in May 1983, "All Rights Reserved" would be added to the copyright.

Around June 1983, the Bauhaus credit setup would be replaced as a result of Jean Arley's arrival as OLTL's new executive producer. The credits would again remain white, but would revert back to being centered as they had been years before. The font changed to a combo of small Helvetica (for production titles/character names) and larger Franklin Bold (for crew and actors' names).

In the fall of 1983, OLTL was the first ABC soap to debut the network-mandated copyright notice that nearly all ABC daytime programs (except General Hospital) would adopt in 1984 onward. The copyright began to appear in an italicized variation of Century Gothic font; within the next year both the copyright notice, and the rest of the credits would appear with a more embossed black shadowing (as opposed to the transparency they had before). Also, during Ms. Arley's last months as executive producer, closing credit scenes would sometimes begin to feature stills from that day's episode, but the live-action scenes would remain. Paul Rauch took over as the new EP in August 1984.

Tour of Llanview
Production
In late October 1984, executive producer of OLTL Paul Rauch set out to create a new opening to bring One Life To Live into the 1980s. Production of the sequence began in mid-November 1984 and was completed the week of December 10-14, 1984.

Debut
On December 17, 1984, the new sequence designed by Wayne Fitzgerald debuted. It featured the new theme by Dave Grusin, with translucent headshots of the cast superimposed over Llanview locations, ending with the title superimposed on a tableau of cast photos.

Full musical arrangement
In the first week of January 1985, the theme was re-done in an orchestral format, that was recorded in December 1984.

Vocal rendition and other changes
In February 1986, lyrics performed by Peabo Bryson in September 1985 were added to the previously instrumental theme. The title display at the end went from giving off a spectrum of colors within the lettering, to becoming solid white embossed in black shadowing, in 1988. By the end of that same year, the closing shot of the "Llanview" bridge was eliminated, leaving the title and picture tableau still as the sequence faded. The last head shot update to this opening sequence was in November 1991.

Closing credits during the entire run of these visuals began a trend that would remain with the program for years to come: a carded-credits only format over key visuals of OLTL's opening. In the case of these Rauch-era "Tour of Llanview" visuals, credits were run over a still, signature view of the Llanview bridge. A double-font combo was continued, this time utlizing a variant of Peignot type for actors and crew members (think Mary Tyler Moore Show font, only with all letters the same size), and Helvetica for crew titles & character names. However, the first letter of every word on the production title/character line would be in the Peignot variant. The credits' color would go from being dark orange in the early months, then yellow from mid-1985 to December 1987, bright orange during 1988, and finally yellow again from early 1989 until December 1991. Also, the font went from being semi-transparent in early months, back to very transparent during the latter half of 1985, and then semi-embossed again in early 1986. During most of 1988, the credits became extra embossed, but from the start of 1989 through the end of 1991, the black embossment was toned down to a normal level.

The new-age era
Production
In July 1991, new executive producer Linda Gottlieb wanted a new opening to bring One Life To Live into the 1990s. Production of the sequence began in late July 1991. She hired Lee Holdridge in August to compose the theme music and had it designed by the television computer artistry group of Greenberg and Schluter. It was filmed and produced in August 1991 at the ABC Television Center in New York City, NY and was set to be released the following January in 1992.

Debut
On January 2, 1992, the new title sequence emphasizing the romantic angle of the show debuted. In a condensed form, it featured a love story—using the elements of a heroine, Mr. Wrong/Mr. Right, love making, implied betrayal, a champagne bottle corked, and a newborn baby. It concluded with swirling, windswept satin sheets displaying the show title. Accompanied by theme music of Lee Holdridge, in a New Age-influenced arrangement.

Minor changes
The ABC logo was added sometime in late 1993 or early in 1994, as it is seen in all 1994 and 1995 episodes on the opening & closing title cards, as well as the commercial break bumpers.


Tour of Llanview II
Production
In October 1995, One Life To Live's executive producer, Susan Bedsow Horgan, decided to create a new opening sequence for the upcoming 7,000th episode celebration in November. She then hired David Nichtern to work alongside Lee Holdridge to compose it. From late October to early November 1995, video shoots of the Philadelphia and New York City vicinities were taken. Both Erika Slezak and Crystal Chappell were called to film opening poses, while the other contract members weren't during the second week of November 1995. Production of both sequences wrapped up on Wednesday, November 15, 1995.

Debut
On November 20, 1995, for the 7,000th episode, the new title sequence which featured posterized video headshots of each contract player and tinted action clips from the show superimposed over images of landmarks and city scenes (reminiscent to the 1984-1991 opening) made its debut, with Lee Holdridge and David Nichtern under the direction of then music supervisor Jamie Howarth, providing a new upbeat theme song to accompany it. New alternate themes and cosmetic changes

In the November 28, 1995 update to remove Roger Howarth, a new alternate theme debuted. It was updated in 1997, May 1998, Spring 1999], December 1999, April 2000, February 2001, Spring 2002, January 2003, and July 2003. On December 22, 1995, a piano version of the theme was used for the Christmas show and a different version on December 24, 1996 with an opera singer for the 1996 Christmas show. It was dropped for the 1997 Christmas season. In 1997, the theme's sound was slightly modified from the 1995 version and this version was used until May 1998. In March 1998, the sequence was seen prior to the first scenes of the show. In the May 1998 updates, the theme was modified a tad bit along with slight cosmetic retouching to the visuals. Sometime in the Spring of 1999 the opening sequence cast arrangements were not updated, but a slightly updated theme debuted along with another cosmetic refreshing to visuals and this format was used until sometime during the week of December 20, 1999, when the sequences were heavily changed.

Second generation

On December 23, and December 24, 1999 the theme music's sound was slightly changed and the opening sequences were refreshed with more saturation and images became more opaque. Also for the first time since the debut of this opening, the version with Robert S. Woods
became opening A with his new posed image and Robin Strasser's
version became opening B with her image zoomed out a bit. The modified alternate theme appeared on December 30, 1999.

Digitalization and re-recording
After less than 4 months, in April 2000 a newly recorded Dolby Digital version of the 1995 theme debuted along with a complete revamping of the cast video shot positions. In February 2001, the theme was re-recorded with a few new notes. On May 7, 2001, the opening that Bo begins was updated, but the other version didn't air that week and this version was repeated until it was updated on May 15, to add Sam Rappaport. The other version finally debuted on May 16, 2001 with Roger Howarth's Todd leading the opening and all cast shots were moved around.

Third generation
In May 2002 the theme was again re-recorded and had a smoother/softer beat compared to the previous 2001 version. The appearance of the sequences was refreshed as well. Character names were added to the opening images starting in November 2002,. In early 2003 the opening music was again modified with a slightly quicker beat.

Last generation
In September 2003, five formats debuted with modified music and this was used until June 11, 2004.

Llanview Collage
On June 14, 2004 (all ABC Daytime soaps revamped their titles this year), the latest opening premiered; it consists of live images of cast members (which had been previously used during bumper sequences) over a black background, ending with the title superimposed over the abbreviation OLTL. It is accompanied by an uptempo remix of the previous theme song.

With the June 16 and June 17, 2005 updates came a more smaller, less bold version of title card.

This opening has been noted to not feature certain contract members. To date, seven actors/actresses have not been included in the sequence. This includes Javier Morga (Tico Santi), Mark Dobies (Daniel Colson), Mike Jerome (Ted Osbourne), Chris Beetem (Tate Harmon), Portia Reiners (Britney Jennings), January LaVoy (Noelle Ortiz), and John Rue (Moe Stubbs).

Also noted, is the failure to remove certain cast members despite their exit. Though David Fumero (Cristian Vega) left in February 2005, he remained in the March update. This also occurred once more after Renee Elise Goldsberry (Evangeline Williamson) left in May 2007.

Starting on May 2, 2008, OLTL began crediting show creator Agnes Nixon underneath the main title card. This is due in part to the main crew credits being moved to the scene after the credits (these credits were originally seen prior to that day's opening starting in November 2003).

On May 8 and May 9, 2008, a re-recorded theme written and performed by Snoop Dogg aired, during his two day stint on the series.

On September 16, 2008, the show brought in the entire cast to shoot new headshots. Look for the updated opening to premiere sometime in the next few months. The opening will keep the current music and two-part set up, but it's possible the opening will feature the new logo and new transition graphics.

Cast and characters

Executive Producers/Head Writers

Executive Producers

Duration Name
January 2003 to present Frank Valentini
January 2001 to December 2002 Gary Tomlin
December 1997 to January 2001 Jill Farren Phelps
October 1996 to December 1997 Maxine Levinson
July 1994 to October 1996 Susan Bedsow Horgan
January 1991 to June 1994 Linda Gottlieb
June 1984 to January 1991 Paul Rauch
August 1983 to June 1984 Jean Arley
July 1977 to August 1983 Joseph Stuart
July 1968 to July 1977 Doris Quinlan

Head Writers

Duration Name(s)
May 2, 2008 to present Ron Carlivati
February 15, 2008 to May 1, 2008 Gary Tomlin (During WGA strike)
September 11, 2007 to February 14, 2008 Ron Carlivati
May 8, 2007 to September 10, 2007 Dena Higley
Ron Carlivati
December 13, 2004 to May 7, 2007 Dena Higley
November 29, 2004 to December 10, 2004 Brian Frons
Frank Valentini
March 23, 2004 to November 24, 2004 Michael Malone
March 10, 2003 to March 22, 2004 Josh Griffith
Michael Malone
February 3, 2003 to March 7, 2003 Josh Griffith
2001 to January 31, 2003 Lorraine Broderick
Christopher Whitesell
January 1999 to 2001 Megan McTavish
January 1999 Richard Backus
April 1998 to December 1998 Pamela K. Long
December 1996 to March 1998 Claire Labine
Matthew Labine
April 1996 to December 1996 Leah Laiman
Jean Passanante
March 1995 to March 1996 Michael Malone
February 1992 to February 1995 Josh Griffith
Michael Malone
February 1991 to January 1992 Michael Malone
October 1990 to January 1991 Margaret DePriest
July 1987 to October 1990 S. Michael Schnessel
July 1984 to June 1987 Peggy O'Shea
December 1983 to June 1984 Sam Hall
Peggy O'Shea
June 1983 to December 1983 John William Corrington
Joyce Corrington
February 1983 to June 1983 Henry Slesar
July 1982 to January 1983 Sam Hall
Henry Slesar
March 1980 to May 1982 Sam Hall
Peggy O'Shea
November 1978 to March 1980 Sam Hall
Gordon Russell
September 1973 to October 1978 Gordon Russell
August 1972 to September 1973 Agnes Nixon
Gordon Russell
July 1968 to July 1972 Agnes Nixon
Paul Roberts
Don Wallace

Current crew

Head Writer Other Writers Producers Directors
Ron Carlivati Elizabeth Page, Anna Cascio, Aida Croal, Shelly Altman, Janet Iacobuzio, Carolyn Culliton, Michelle Poteet Lisanti, Fran Myers, Chris Van Etten, Veronica Sandbridge, Jeanne Marie Ford, Tamiko Brooks, Laudine Vallarta, Jaime Lin-Yu Frank Valentini (Executive Producer), Suzanne Flynn, John Tumino, Shelley Honigbaum, Jacqueline Van Belle Jill Ackles, Larry Carpenter, Danielle Faraldo, Tracy Casper Lang, Howie Zeidman, Mary Ryan, Bruce S. Cooperman, Richard Manfredi, Jill Mitwell, Gary Donatelli, Frank Valentini

Crossovers

As with many other television series, One Life to Live has had a number of crossovers with other programs, both daytime and primetime.

Julia Barr (Brooke English/AMC), Justin Bruening (Jamie Martin/AMC), David Canary (Adam Chandler/AMC), Phil Carey (Asa Buchanan/OLTL), Brock Cuchna (Paul Cramer #1/OLTL), Bobbie Eakes (Krystal Carey/AMC), Melissa Fumero (Adriana Cramer/OLTL) Dan Gauthier (Kevin Buchanan/OLTL), Alexa Havins (Babe Carey Chandler/AMC), Vincent Irizarry (David Hayward/AMC), Michael E. Knight (Tad Martin/AMC), Michael McKenzie (Mr. Emerson/OLTL), Shane McRae (Temporary Paul Cramer/OLTL) Matthew Metzger (Duke Buchanan/OLTL), Alicia Minshew (Kendall Hart/AMC) Eden Riegel (Bianca Montgomery/AMC), Robin Strasser (Dorian Cramer Lord/OLTL), Heather Tom (Kelly Cramer/OLTL), David Tom (Paul Cramer #2/OLTL), Tuc Watkins (David Vickers/OLTL), Robert S. Woods (Bo Buchanan/OLTL), and Jacob Young (JR Chandler/AMC).

  • Since the premiere of All My Children in 1970, Llanview has often been mentioned on AMC, and Pine Valley has often been mentioned on OLTL, underscoring the notion that the two towns are located in the same general region of Pennsylvania.

Awards

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 Award and Soap Opera Digest Award wins of the 2000s are noted below.

Daytime Emmy Awards

Winners: Drama Series and Performer categories

Other category wins

  • 2008 "Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series"
  • 2008 "Outstanding Directing Team in a Drama Series"
  • 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
  • 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"
  • 1993 "Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series"
  • 1986 "Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series"
  • 1983 "Outstanding Direction in a Drama Series"
  • 1982 "Outstanding Direction in a Drama Series"

Directors Guild of America Awards

In the 1990s, the DGA began to recognize outstanding work in Daytime Television. The Directors Guild of America 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, 2001 and 2007: Jill Mitwell

Scheduling/ratings history

For historical ratings information, see List of US daytime soap opera ratings

ABC cemented its reputation as a youth-oriented network in daytime with the addition of OLTL to its schedule, with much of the rest of its lineup consisting of fashionable soaps like Dark Shadows, sitcom reruns, and game shows packaged by Chuck Barris. The network placed the new serial at 3:30 p.m./2:30 Central, against CBS' established hit Edge of Night and the popular NBC game You Don't Say. OLTL replaced the short-lived Baby Game, in a three-way shuffle with Dark Shadows and Dating Game.

Despite the tough competition, the intense tone of the plot and strong characters allowed the show to get a leg up on YDS, wearing that game down to the point of its cancellation in September 1969; NBC replaced the Tom Kennedy-hosted game in that timeslot with three unsuccessful serials: Bright Promise (1969-1972), Return to Peyton Place (1972-1974), and How to Survive a Marriage (1974-1975).

Things greatly improved for OLTL in 1972, when CBS relocated Edge in response to packager Procter and Gamble's demands. The four-year-old show managed to top the ratings for the first time over CBS' declining Secret Storm, and later, the game Hollywood's Talking, which ran only 13 weeks. However, trouble loomed on the horizon as OLTL anticipated its fifth birthday, with the coming of CBS' revival of Goodson-Todman's Match Game. Some months after its debut in July 1973, that show became the daytime phenomenon of the mid-1970s, becoming the top-rated of all daytime shows by Thanksgiving. ABC stood by OLTL, however, keeping it put at 3:30/2:30.

By 1975, though, NBC became a serious player in that timeslot for the first time in over five years when it expanded its strong soap Another World to a full hour, its second half occupying the 3:30/2:30 period. This would cause OLTL to lose a sustantial audience share, but its lead-in, General Hospital, experienced even worse losses. ABC decided to take an unusual approach in addressing the competition: it expanded both OLTL and GH to 45 minutes, with each composing a half of a 90-minute block between 2:30/1:30 and 4/3. Beginning on July 26 1976, OLTL assumed the first position, at 2:30/1:30. ABC bet its hopes on viewers staying tuned past the half hour, making them unlikely to switch channels to AW or All in the Family reruns on CBS (for GH fans, turning to Match Game).

This approach showed some promise, until November 7 1977, when CBS expanded its venerable Guiding Light to a full hour at 2:30/1:30. As OLTL struggled, its neighbor, GH, was in danger of cancellation after a 15-year run. So, in a "make it or break it" ultimatum to GH, ABC finally gave an hour to both shows, on January 16 1978, with OLTL occupying the 2-3/1-2 p.m. slot; The $20,000 Pyramid, which enjoyed three solid years of success at 2/1, got dispatched to Noon/11 a.m. for the rest of its ABC run, to make room for OLTL.

This proved to be decisive for the long-term survival of both shows, as GH rose rapidly to the top spot in the Nielsens through its brash, youthful storylines (culminating in the hugely popular "Luke and Laura" storyline by 1979-1980). As for OLTL, from its tenth birthday onward, it took advantage of the decline in quality and popularity of its competitors, all Procter and Gamble productions. Search for Tomorrow, for instance, spent its last several months on CBS against the last half of OLTL. Its replacement, Capitol, which ran from 1982 to 1987, did little better, and after its cancellation, CBS aligned As the World Turns against OLTL and AW, a configuration that stayed in place until AW's cancellation in 1999. During the 2000s thus far, OLTL has run about even with ATWT, with NBC's AW replacement Passions trailing significantly (Passions was canceled by NBC in September 2007 and moved to the DirecTV channel The 101; the network no longer programs in that time slot).

In summary, One Life To Live enjoyed fair-to-middling ratings throughout most of its first decade, but rose rapidly as it entered its second, along with the rest of ABC's daytime lineup. The 1980s saw the show reach the height of its popularity, occupying a top-four place for almost all of the decade. Since 1991, it returned to the middle of the pack, but its numbers declined, in common with all other soaps. By decade's end, the show rested near the bottom of the ratings pack, and continues to sit in the lower reaches of the weekly ratings.

See also

References

External links

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