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Icons of Drama: The Top Soap Opera Stars of All Time

The world of soap operas is a unique realm in television, known for its dramatic storylines, charismatic characters, and, most importantly, the unforgettable stars who bring these tales to life. Over the decades, numerous actors have made their mark in this genre, captivating audiences with their compelling performances. In this post, we pay tribute to some of the greatest soap opera stars of all time, whose performances have left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of viewers.

Susan Lucci as Erica Kane in “All My Children”

Susan Lucci, perhaps the most iconic face in soap opera history, portrayed the unforgettable Erica Kane on “All My Children” for over four decades. Lucci’s portrayal of Erica, a character known for her romantic escapades and powerful demeanor, earned her 21 Daytime Emmy nominations before she finally won in 1999. Her character became a cultural icon, symbolizing the quintessential soap opera heroine.

Anthony Geary as Luke Spencer in “General Hospital”

Anthony Geary’s portrayal of Luke Spencer on “General Hospital” is legendary, with his character’s wedding to Laura Webber in 1981 watched by 30 million viewers, making it the highest-rated hour in American soap opera history. Geary’s dynamic performance earned him eight Daytime Emmy Awards, making him one of the most awarded actors in soap history.

Jeanne Cooper

Jeanne Cooper as Katherine Chancellor in “The Young and the Restless”

Jeanne Cooper starred as Katherine Chancellor, the grand dame of Genoa City, on “The Young and the Restless” from 1973 until her death in 2013. Her portrayal of Katherine’s battles with alcoholism and her riveting feuds with rival Jill Foster Abbott set a high bar for soap opera acting. Cooper’s work on the show earned her several Emmy nominations and a win in 2008.

Erika Slezak as Victoria Lord in “One Life to Live”

Erika Slezak’s portrayal of Victoria Lord on “One Life to Live” is one of the longest-running characters in soap operas. Slezak played Victoria from 1971 to 2012, earning six Daytime Emmy Awards. Her portrayal of Victoria’s dissociative identity disorder was a groundbreaking storyline in daytime television.

Peter Bergman as Jack Abbott in “The Young and the Restless”

Peter Bergman has portrayed the charming yet scheming Jack Abbott on “The Young and the Restless” since 1989. His nuanced portrayal of Jack’s rivalries, romantic entanglements, and complex family dynamics has earned him multiple Daytime Emmy Awards.

Deidre Hall as Marlena Evans in “Days of Our Lives”

Deidre Hall has become synonymous with her character Marlena Evans on “Days of Our Lives,” a role she’s played since 1976. Hall’s character has been through numerous high-profile storylines, including demonic possession, which remains one of the most memorable plots in soap opera history.

Eric Braeden as Victor Newman in “The Young and the Restless”

Eric Braeden’s portrayal of the formidable Victor Newman on “The Young and the Restless” since 1980 has made him a household name. Victor’s complex character, marked by his business acumen, tumultuous love life, and family disputes, has earned Braeden widespread acclaim and numerous awards.

Kim Zimmer as Reva Shayne in “Guiding Light”

Kim Zimmer’s portrayal of Reva Shayne, known as the “Slut of Springfield,” was groundbreaking. Her character’s complex storylines and emotional depth earned Zimmer four Daytime Emmy Awards.

Alison Sweeney as Sami Brady in “Days of Our Lives”

Alison Sweeney’s Sami Brady is known for her manipulative and villainous antics, which made her a standout character on “Days of Our Lives” for over two decades.

Maurice Benard as Sonny Corinthos in “General Hospital”

Maurice Benard has been captivating audiences with his portrayal of mob boss Sonny Corinthos since 1993, earning multiple Daytime Emmy Awards for his performance.

Katherine Kelly Lang as Brooke Logan in “The Bold and the Beautiful”

Lang’s portrayal of Brooke Logan, a character known for her romantic entanglements and business savvy, has been a staple of the show since its inception in 1987.

Steve Burton as Jason Morgan in “General Hospital”

Steve Burton’s portrayal of Jason Morgan, the stoic enforcer with a complex past, has been a fan favorite, earning him critical acclaim and a Daytime Emmy Award.

Melody Thomas Scott as Nikki Newman in “The Young and the Restless”

Melody Thomas Scott has been portraying Nikki Newman since 1979, bringing depth to a character known for her tumultuous relationships and personal struggles.

Kristian Alfonso as Hope Williams Brady in “Days of Our Lives”

Kristian Alfonso has played Hope Williams Brady since the early 1980s, making her character’s adventures, romances, and challenges a central part of the show.

Laura Wright as Carly Corinthos in “General Hospital”

Laura Wright’s portrayal of Carly Corinthos has been praised for bringing strength and complexity to the character, earning her a Daytime Emmy Award.

Joshua Morrow as Nicholas Newman in “The Young and the Restless”

Since 1994, Joshua Morrow has portrayed Nicholas Newman, a character central to many of the show’s most important storylines.

Finola Hughes as Anna Devane in “General Hospital”

Finola Hughes has been acclaimed for her portrayal of Anna Devane, a character known for her intelligence, strength, and complexity.

Sharon Case as Sharon Newman in “The Young and the Restless”

Sharon Case has played Sharon Newman since 1994, bringing to life a character with a tumultuous personal life and deep emotional resonance.

John Aniston as Victor Kiriakis in “Days of Our Lives”

John Aniston’s portrayal of Victor Kiriakis, the powerful and often ruthless businessman, has been a standout performance since the 1980s.

Ronn Moss as Ridge Forrester in “The Bold and the Beautiful”

Ronn Moss played Ridge Forrester from the show’s inception in 1987 until 2012, making his character a central figure in the show’s narrative.


These stars, with their memorable performances and dramatic flair, have not just entertained audiences but have also shaped the landscape of daytime television. They’ve brought to life stories of love, betrayal, triumph, and tragedy, making soap operas an enduring part of TV history. Their legacies, characterized by unforgettable characters and spellbinding performances, will continue to be celebrated by fans of the genre for many years to come. To understand more about the magic behind these shows, check out our related post, How Did Classic Soap Operas Captivate Audiences? It explores the unique elements and storytelling techniques that made these soap operas a staple in television history.

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