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One Life to Live’s Ellen Holly Talks Her Groundbreaking Role And Struggles As Carla Gray

Courtesy/TVAcademyFoudation

In a sit-down video interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Ellen Holly best-known for her iconic and groundbreaking role on One Life to Live as “Carla Gray” talks about being the first African-American actress with a continuing major role on a soap opera and the turmoil behind it.

Throughout the over four and half hour’s of interview conducted with Holly, the actress chronicles her struggles with One Life’s creator Agnes Nixon, and various producers to be paid fairly, while also asking for good and dramatic storylines.

Photo: ABC

Holly recalls leaving One Life to Live in 1980, and returning in 1983, only to be fired by then-producer Paul Rauch at the end of her contract.  She discusses what she feels was poor treatment by the network and several producers of One Life to Live, and what she learned from that experience.

There are lots of stories, and behind the scenes moments through the viewpoint of Ellen, as well as how important it was at the time to be cast is such a key role in 1968.

From advice for actors, the civil rights movement, diversity in television, events and behind the scenes stories with her co-stars and producer at One Life, pivotal career moments and more, all of it was covered with the TV Academy Foundation

Now below check out a six segments relating to Holly’s experience and time on OLTL.  Let us know what you thought about what she had to say via the comment section.

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RICKIE BOGUILLE
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RICKIE BOGUILLE

Always loved Ellen Holly and Carla! (From the narrative and having read her book, I presume her dressing room was given away to Jacquie Courtney and her co-star of less sexual wattage than Peter De Anda and Robert Milli was Herb Davis.) However, she misrepresents the span of time Lillian Hayman was on “One Life.” Lillian left about 1970 (replaced by Hilda Haynes and Esther Rolle) and didn’t return to the show full-time until 1977 (the show was 45 minutes at this point; original cast member Doris Belack had been fired and replaced a few weeks prior). Sadie did, however,… Read more »

Jamesj75
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Jamesj75

Rickie, thanks so much for providing such detail and filling in the blanks. I, too, watched OLTL during that time, but my memory of that show is not as vivid.

What I do remember, however, is the mesmerizing allure of Ellen Holly as Carla Gray. A great actress in a groundbreaking storyline — for any medium!

I must thank Michael Fairman for this illuminating feature, including snippets of this riveting interview. For me, it’s so enjoyable when the early days of soaps are honored — and deservedly so!

Steve
Guest
Steve

There doesn’t seem to be any love lost between Holly and Erika Slezak, who she refers to as “the third Viki”

M J
Guest
M J

Lol @ the third Viki. Yikes! That hurt MY feelings… I started watching OLTL as kid in the late 70s, so I missed the initial groundbreaking Carla Benari/Grey storyline, but I fondly remember Miss Holly during the Ed Hall era. It really is heartbreaking how she and Miss Hayman were relegated to bit players when they were clearly and integral factor in the shows success. And speaking of the third Viki, I would imagine that the overwhelming majority of the remaining OLTL fans could never fathom anyone in the role of Victoria Lord Riley Burke Riley Buchanan Buchanan Carpenter Davidson… Read more »

RICKIE BOGUILLE
Guest
RICKIE BOGUILLE

LOL. I was thinking the same thing. In her book, she raves about Gillian Spencer (the original Victoria Lord) and mentions that Joanne Dorian (her replacement) was a good actress who was physically a Xerox copy of Ms. Spencer (the actresses only vaguely looked similar, as I recall). Re: Erika Slezak — I was impressed she had so much chemistry with Lee Patterson (Joe Riley) when he returned to the show (Slezak was cast with Bernard Grant as her love interest; she hadn’t worked with Patterson during his first run). However, Slezak wasn’t a major draw for me personally. Ellen… Read more »

M J
Guest
M J

In going back over the history of the the show, ES didn’t seem to be much of a stand out until they brought back Niki Smith. Prior to that, I believe both Judith Light and Robin Strasser had won Emmys before Slezak won her first. Viki could be quite dull and one note. They really milked the DID storyline to the point of ridicule. As a kid, I remembered it being poignant and heartbreaking to see Viki succumb to Niki Smith. After a while, it just looked like the writers drug out Niki whenever they didn’t know what to do… Read more »

nancy dillingham
Guest
nancy dillingham

Yes–soaps historical OVERDO a once-good thing. 🙁

Thad Bosley
Guest
Thad Bosley

When I watch Ellen Holly, I feel as though I am witnessing a remake of Captain Queeg’s Court Martial in The Caine Mutiny. Whew… creepy.

Isisdawonder
Guest
Isisdawonder

I watched all of this interview. I have her book as well. She dropped quite a bit of info from her years on the show and beyond. Well worth viewing. She is quite knowledgeable of the business and how the game is played. It IS a shame how she and others were treated by those in power at ABC. She deserved better.

fginaspy
Guest
fginaspy

I have always loved Ellen Holly. She is a beautiful and talented actress. She still is. I am sorry TPTB treated her so badly. Thank you Michael Fairman for sharing these videos.

Adrienne
Guest
Adrienne

Ellen Holly’s the reason I began watching OLTL beginning at age five with my big brother and two aunts. I never understood why she suddenly disappeared until reading her book years later. you Ms. Holly

nancy dillingham
Guest
nancy dillingham

So sorry–evil lurks everywhere.

TomJ
Guest
TomJ

I was only 5 years old when OLTL debuted and I watched with my mom and my great aunt. I loved Ellen Holly. Funny that even at my you g age, I never saw Ellen as a supporting or secondary role. She was always a a main star of OLTL in my eyes. Her words in this interview are a much needed cautionary tale for everyone who is new act acting.

Violet Lemm
Guest
Violet Lemm

I was just a young mother, years ago when watching the most romantic relationship between Carla and Ed. I also loved watching Ms. Holly many years ago in The Heat of The Night with Carroll O’Connor. What a two for one treat that was.

Yolanda
Guest
Yolanda

When was she on In The Heat Of The Night with Caroll O’Connor? If you are thinking of the actress he married on there, that was Denise Nicholas of Room 222 fame, Blacula, and other shows and movies.

Violet Lemm
Guest
Violet Lemm

She played Ruth Peterson from 1989 to 1990. You can Google it, if you like.

Yolanda
Guest
Yolanda

Gotcha. But Denise Nicholas has been misidentified often as other actresses. I didnt know Ellen Holly was ever on there..but I only watched it about half the time

Breaking News

48th Annual Daytime Emmys Red Carpet: The Stars Return to Glitz and Glamour (PHOTOS)

Now here’s a first in Daytime Emmy history! The red carpet was actually held ahead of its broadcast, all as a part of keeping with a Covid-19 friendly and safe environment to bring back some of the glitz the award show usually brings to its fans.

While last year’s Daytime Emmy ceremonies were all virtual, this year’s brought the nominees and presenters together for a socially-distanced red carpet event to celebrate their nominations and to strike a pose in front of the paparazzi.

Photo: HutchinsPhoto

Most of all the nominees from your favorite daytime dramas took part including: General Hospital’s Briana Henry, Briana Lane, Carolyn Hennesy, Cynthia Watros, Dominic Zamprogna, Donnell Turner, Finola Hughes, Genie Francis, Jeff Kober, James Patrick Stuart, Katelyn MacMullen, Kim Delaney, Maurice Benard, Max Gail, Nancy Lee Grahn, Sonya Shepherd, Steve Burton, Sydney Mikayla, and Tajh Bellow.

From The Bold and the Beautiful attending were: Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, Darin Brooks, Tanner Novlan, and from The Young and the Restless Bryton James, Brytni Sarpi, Melissa Claire Egan, and Courtney Hope, as well as Days of our Lives’ Cady McClain, Deirdre Hall, Tamara Braun, Robert Scott Wilson, Wally Kurth, Victoria Konefal, George Delhoyo, Cady Mcclain, Victoria Platt, Jackée Harry and Robert Scott Wilson.

Make sure to watch the 48th annual Daytime Emmy Awards this Friday night June 25th on CBS (8 p.m. EST).

Check out the images below from the Red Carpet. Then let us know who do you think wore it best via the comment section below!

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Breaking News

‘The Talk’ Renewed for its 12th Season

After its controversial 11th season and following the departure of original cast member, Sharon Osbourne, there had been chatter that maybe the The Talk would come to an end.

However, news today from CBS has that it has renewed its top daytime talker, and the series will live to see another day for its upcoming 12th season this fall.

Having debuted in October 2010, the show now features Carrie Ann Inaba (who also serves as the show’s moderator), Sheryl Underwood, Amanda Kloots, and Elaine Welteroth as it primary co-hosts.

As with previous amalgamations of the co-hosts, the women discuss the latest headlines, current events, and human-interest stories of the day.

The series put out this tweet on their pick-up sharing: “JUST ANNOUNCED! #TheTalk has been officially renewed for another year on @CBSreturning for a 12th season in 2021-2022! More fun, more topics, more talk!”

So, glad The Talk is continuing on, or did you think it was time for it to go? Comment below.

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Breaking News

‘Ryan’s Hope’ Star and Soap Vet, John Gabriel Has Passed Away at 90

Heartbreaking news Monday morning and to start the week. Beloved Ryan’s Hope soap veteran, John Gabriel (Ex-Dr. Seneca Beaulac) has died.

His daughter, actress Andrea Gabriel (Lost) shared the news of his passing via her Instagram account.

In her statement, Andrea shared: “It is with an unspeakably heavy heart that I share the news of my father’s passing.  John Gabriel was my hero, my role model, and my champion, but above all, my daddy… I will love you forever.”

Gabriel’s run on Ryan’s Hope was in two parts.  He started with the ABC daytime drama series in 1975 and stayed till 1985.  He then returned from 1988 to 1989.  Seneca’s love story with Jillian Coleridge (the late Nancy Addison Altman) was often front and center on the series.

Photo: ABC

As soap fans know, John was married to another former soap star, Sandy Gabriel (Ex-Edna Thornton, All My Children and  Ex-Christine Venet Ryan’s Hope), and is also survived by his other daughter Melissa and their two grandsons.

Throughout his daytime soap career, Gabriel received one Daytime Emmy nomination back in 1980.  He also appeared in roles on General Hospital, Loving, The Bold and the Beautiful, Generations and Days of our Lives.

Photo: ABC

In primetime he was known for his roles on Gilligan’s Island, Mary Tyler Moore Show.  John was also an accomplished singer performing on many variety and talk show through the years.

In 1995, Gabriel produced the late Charles Grodin’s talk show Charles Grodin for CNBC.

No official cause of death for Gabriel was revealed, and no memorial plans as of this moment.

Share your condolences and remembrances of John via the comment section below.

 

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A post shared by Andrea Gabriel (@ondygram)

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