The Interesting History Of The Soap Opera – One Life To Live


One Life to Live, also known as OLTL, is an American soap opera broadcast on ABC television for more than 43 years. It aired from July 15, 1968, to January 13, 2012, on ABC network, and then on Hulu as web series and iTunes via Prospect Park, from April 29 to August 19, 2013. This soap opera was created by Agnes Nixon, who was the head writer of All My Children too. 

One Life to Live was the first daytime soap opera that featured primarily diverse ethnic and socio-economic characters and to set constantly focus on social issues. It went from 30 minutes to 45 minutes episodes on July 26, 1976, and then hour-long episodes on January 16, 1978. OLTL focused primarily on the relationships and members of the Lord’s family. 

Creation of One Life To Live 

Creation of One Life To Live

Impressed by the audience success of Another World on NBC, ABC turned to Another World’s writer Agnes Nixon to create a soap opera for them. Nixon’s concept for the new series was based on the formula of a rich family and a poor family. She was tired of the restrictions imposed by WASPy because of the uncontroversial nature of the soap opera. As a result, One Life to Live emphasized socio-economic and ethnic diversity. 

The series’ initial main titles featured the image of a roaring fireplace. This visual effect was due to the initially proposed title of this daytime soap opera as Between Heaven and Hell. Later on, the title was changed to One Life to Live to avoid controversies. Colgate-Palmolive was the first sponsor of this soap opera. 

In 1974, the show was bought by ABC from Nixon. It was the time when they bought all the shares of Creative Horizons, Inc. In the beginning, the show was 30 minutes episode but it was extended to 45 minutes on July 23, 1976. Two years later, the run time of the episode was one hour on January 16, 1978. 

History of One Life to Live 

History of One Life to Live

One Life to Live takes place in the fictional town of Llanview, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The focus of the show was on the wealthy family of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Lords with the Polish-American Working-Class Wolek Family. At the start of the series, African-American Sadie Gray and the less wealthy Irish Catholic Family Riley attended the show. One Life to Live has been known as the most unique soap opera in the United States. 

Erika Slezak 

Erika Slezak

One Life to Live was the first show to feature a wide range of ethnic types, a constant emphasis on social issues, broad comedic situations, and strong make characters. The first episode was based on the fictional character Victoria Viki, Lord of Gillian Spencer origin. This character was played by Erika Slezak who was the winner of six Daytime Emmy Awards. 

Erika Slezak appeared on the series for longer than any other actor or actress in the One Life to Live from 1971 to the finale of the series on January 13, 2012. The long-suffering heroine has resisted loss and love, rape, widowhood, stroke, divorce, breast cancer, and multiple personality disorder for decades. 

Viki had heart problems and she got a transplant from her dying husband Ben Davidson played by Mark Derwin. Dr. Larry Wolek played by Michael Storm appeared in the first episode of the series and continued for 36 years. His last appearance in the series was in 2004. 

Cancellation of One Life to Live 

Cancellation of One Life to Live

In late 2009, there were possible rumors of the cancellation of One Life to Live. These rumors emerged from the TV Guide Canada after ABC announced that they were moving All My Children from New York to Los Angeles. With the unique presence in New York among ABC soap operas, the non-transition to HD, and struggling ratings, there were higher chances of cancellation of One Life to Live. 

Also, there were rumors that actors and actresses of One Life to Live were offered to join the cast of All My Children in Los Angeles. In 2010, the rumors about the cancellation of All My Children, the General Hospital, and One Life to Live were out because Walt Disney Television announced officially to shut down Soapnet, which was effective in 2012. 

The last episode of One Life to Live aired on January 13, 2012, with villainous Allison Perkins played by Barbara Garrick recounting her take on the people of Llanview. During the last minutes of the episode, Todd Manning played by Howarth gets arrested for the murder of his twin brother named Victor Lord, Jr. played by Trevor St. John. 

By the end of the show, it was discovered that Vitor Lord, Jr. was still alive and kidnapped by the Perkins. The decision to wrap up the soap opera was to open another story on another network at the time the final scenes were filmed. On the last day of One Life to Live, The View hosted a tribute to the actors of the soap opera where Agnes Nixon was also invited on the show. 



In 2002, the popularity of Todd Manning played by Roger Howarth led ABC to market a character’s doll with the signature scar. It went on sale on April 29, 2002, but it was recalled on May 7, 2002, because of the backlash that began when Jack Myers criticized the network’s lawsuit. 

In March 2005, the soap opera won GLAAD Media Award for coverage of LGBT issues. But then it was criticized because Daniel Colson played by Mark Dobies was a married District Attorney who murdered two people for hiding his secrecy about being gay. GLAAD criticized the storyline that being gay is something to be ashamed of as depicted by the soap opera. 

It was then defended by the lead writer and executive producer that this character brings a dramatic story to the soap opera. In June 2009, actress Patricia Mauceri was replaced in her role as Latina Matriarch Carlotta Vega. It was done because she expressed her personal and religious objections about supporting same-sex relationships. 



The cast and crew of One Life to Live has been nominated for dozens of awards and they won it multiple times. For example, Erika Slezak won six Daytime Emmy Awards for her performance. The winning was only matched by Justin Deas and Anthony Geary. 

In 1993, One Life to Live won its first GLAAD Media Award for displaying homosexuality on the screen. Also, the intolerance in the society of being homosexual. In 2005, the series was awarded another GLAAD Media Award for covering LGBT Issues on the screen. 

One Life to Live – Interesting History Facts 

One Life to Live is one of the longest-running daytime soaps, that aired for 44 years with 11,136 episodes. It was created by the famous American television writer and producer named Agnes Nixon. She wrote All My Children, Loving/The City and One Life to Live. This show focused on socio-economic and ethnic diversity. Also, it highlighted the issues of the LGBT community. 

This Daytime soap opera has won Daytime Emmy Awards and GLAAD Media Awards for highlighting the issues on the screen. After all, 44 years, it came to an end, and in 2013, a revival show was aired on the screen but it was not liked by the audience as the previous one. 

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