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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

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Cameron Mathison Joins General Hospital

Big casting news! Daytime favorite, Cameron Mathison (Ex-Ryan Lavery, All My Children) is heading to General Hospital.  

Mathison, who will finish up his run as co-host of Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family when its final season ends in August, will be joining the ABC soap opera.

No word yet on what role Cameron will play and when he will debut.  Deadline broke the news of the newest GH cast member,

Throughout his acting career, Mathison has earned two Daytime Emmy Supporting Actor nominations in 2002 and 2004 for his work on AMC.

In a statement on joining the legacy series, Cameron said, “I am absolutely thrilled to be part of the General Hospital family!  Incredibly grateful to (Executive Producer) Frank Valentini and the writers at GH for including me in such an iconic show.  I feel like a kid at Christmas, as I’ll also be continuing making Hallmark movies and be part of that family as well.  So so excited… thank you!”

So excited that Cameron is coming to Port Charles? What role will he or should he play? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Daytime Emmys Land Two-Year Deal At CBS; NATAS Reveals This Year’s Broadcast Set For June 25th

Some great news for daytime fans!  Following a deal announced today between National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) and CBS, the network now has a two-year deal to broadcast the Daytime Emmy Awards.

CBS will present this year’s 48th Annual Daytime Emm Awards, on Friday, June 25 (8:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network and it will stream live and on demand on Paramount+.   This will mark the 15th time CBS has broadcast the Daytime Emmy Awards, more than any other network. CBS also aired last year’s Daytime Emmys amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition, this is the first time since 2008 that one network will broadcast both the Daytime and Primetime Emmy awards in the same year. CBS last hosted both specials in 2005.

 

The Daytime Emmy Awards have recognized outstanding achievement in daytime television programming since 1974.  The awards are presented to programs broadcast between 2:00 AM and 6:00PM, as well as all forms of children’s television programming and certain categories of streaming and syndicated content.

NATAS also revealed today that this year’s Daytime Emmys are the most competitive ever, with more than 3,100 submissions featuring content that originally premiered in calendar-year 2020, judged by a pool of peer professionals from across the television industry.

The 48th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards will be produced by NATAS and Associated Television International (ATI), which produced Daytime Emmy Award ceremonies on The CW in 2009 and on CBS in 2010, 2011 and 2020. Adam Sharp and Steve Ulrich are executive producers from NATAS, while David McKenzie is executive producer and director from ATI.

So excited about the Daytime Emmys will return to network TV for two more years guaranteed, and that we have a date for this year’s presentation this summer? Comment below.

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REPORT: Dan Feuerriegel is DAYS New EJ DiMera

Could Days of our Lives finally found their new EJ? Rumors have been circulating on the internet for weeks that the character of EJ DiMera may finally have a new face and a new actor portraying and heading back to Salem, especially since Sami (Alison Sweeney) is back on the canvas.

The role was previously played by longtime fan favorite James Scott, who had made it very clear he would never return to Days of our Lives.

Photo: DFeuerriegelIG

Now according to Daytime Confidential and their report from setside sources, the new EJ will actually be played by former Spartacus actor Dan Feuerriegel.

The Australian-born actor has been seen in Starz’ Spartacus franchise in the role of Agron.

According to the report, look for the new EJ to make his debut sometime this summer.

DAYS fans know that in story, EJ was brought back form the dead, from the serum from Dr. Rolf, but then was injured in an explosion and had reunited with Sami and had been recovery in Europe.

So, if this reports turns out to be true, what do you think of the new EJ? Comment below.

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