Erika Slezak's Life Story From Afternoon TV - 1975
"We had more toys than F.A.O. Schwartz"
On August 5, 1946, world-renowned character actor Walter Slezak and his
wife, former opera star Johanna Van Rijn, welcomed their second child into
the world. Christened Erika Alma Hermina Slezak, the little girl was
called Ricci (pronounced "Ricki") from childhood - "Except," as Erika
recalls today, "when my mother and father were angry with me. Then it was
Erika describes her parents as "the best parents anyone could have. My
mother, I would have to say, is the most terrific human being I know -
except that she's always right! She's clever, she's beautiful, she's thin.
She has the most gorgeous figure. She's a ceramist, and has one-woman
shows in Europe.
"My father is extremely sensitive and emotional. Very, very warm and
loving. He's kind of a big man in every sense of the word, I think. I love
my father more than anything in the world. I don't love him, I worship
him. Both of them, really.
"I was never treated any differently because of my father," she adds
modestly. "When your father is a character actor and not a glamorous
leading man, it's not very impressive." Although her father knew many
famous people and the house was filled with actors and writers and
musicians, Erika was never particularly impressed because, as she puts it,
"I was just a little kid. I didn't know they were famous!
Although German was spoken in the Slezak home and was the first
language Erika learned, Erika, her older sister, Ingrid, and her younger
brother, Leo, had a thoroughly American upbringing. Until Erika was six,
they lived both in Hollywood (Erika's birthplace) and on a farm in Bucks
County, Pennsylvania. The only thing Erika remembers about the farm is
that she once nearly poisoned the chickens and the dog by feeding them the
wrong food, but she remembers Hollywood quite well, and the rather opulent
life she lived there.
"We had everything a kid could want, plus a lot more. We had more toys
that F.A.O. Schwartz has. We were pretty children, and we were popular,
and everybody who came to the house brought us toys. My favorite was a
record player that was like a jukebox. It lit up, and it had all sorts of
"My father built a playhouse for us. It must have been five or six feet
tall and at least ten feet deep. It had windows and a door. And my mother
painted it so that it looked like the gingerbread house in 'Hansel and
Gretel.' It was gorgeous! We also had tents in the backyard that we were
allowed to sleep in. We'd sleep in them for ten minutes - until we got
scared and ran inside."
Birthday parties, a big event in any child's life, were occasions for
Cecil B. DeMille-type extravaganzas in the Slezak home. "We always had
huge parties with clowns or magicians or some such entertainment. But the
big thing on our birthdays was that my father would get up early and drive
us to Schwab's drugstore to have breakfast. That was a great time for us.
You got breakfast at home, but a drugstore, you could order pancakes! or
waffles! Or anything you wanted. And you didn't have to do the dishes or
anything. And the child whose birthday it was could sit in the front seat
of the car. My birthday came in summer, so the top was down. And that was
"We all got presents on everybody's birthday. The birthday child would
get a lot, and the others would get something so they wouldn't feel left
out- which I think is a good idea."
One birthday in particular that sticks out in Erika's mind is the one
for which her mother hired a magician to entertain the kiddies. "I was
four or five, and I was very, very curious. I was bright enough to know
there was usually an answer for everything. I watched the magician arrive,
and while he was in the house setting up, I went out in the back and went
in the car and let the rabbit go. And when the time came for the rabbit
trick, there was no rabbit. I didn't do it to be mean. I just wanted to
see if he could really make magic."
Despite their privileged childhood ("I had my own room and bath when I
was ten"), Erika says that the Slezak children were not allowed to behave
like spoiled brats. "There was certainly a great deal of discipline. There
was no such thing as talking back or raising your voice - I don't raise my
voice to my parents to this day. The words 'shut up' didn't exist in our
house. We were spanked when we needed it. We were brought up to have
enormous respect for adults. In our house, when you were told to go to
bed, you went. And I think one thing that is very characteristic of our
home is that we were terribly happy. We were very, very close."
Erika and her brother were especially close, although her sister was
closer to her in age. "My sister is only a year-and-a-half older, but she
was always very grown up. She was born at age twenty three, I think. She
had boyfriends galore when she was thirteen. She looked eighteen. She was
When Erika was seven, the family spent a year in New York, where her
father was starring in Broadway's "My Three Angels." When, a season or two
later, he went into "Fanny," he told his wife and kids, "If the show's a
hit, we'll move to New York permanently." The show was a smash hit, and
the move took place.
"My mother had to do all the work," Erika remembers. "She sold the
house in California, packed up everything. We had a nurse, Maria, for
years. She was a wonderful, wonderful woman. She and my mother packed
everything up and, with thirty-nine suitcases, three kids, all the cats,
and my pet turtle, we got on the train for New York. The turtle died
shortly after we left because I decided he was lonely in the sink and I
put a rock in to keep him company. The jerking of the train cause him to
be bashed against the rock all day, and he died a violent death. I was
devastated, but the porter was very nice to me. He said, 'Don't worry,
we'll give him a nice funeral.' We were passing through Albuquerque, and
the porter said, "Give me the turtle and I will find a nice box and bury
it.' I looked out the window and saw him throwing it into a field as we
went whizzing by.
"We had to change trains in Chicago, and my mother stood there on the
platform for hours counting suitcases. We got to New York, and waiting at
the station was my darling daddy, who took us to our beautiful new
apartment on Central Park West, where there was a parrot waiting."
New York's Child:
"I had a grand time growing
Walter and Johanna Slezak didn't really think New York City was the
place to bring up children, so after a year on Central Park West, they
moved to Larchmont, a suburb. "First we rented a beautiful house," Erika
remembers. "We lived in that house for about year and then my father bough
an even more beautiful house on five acres of land."
In Larchmont, Erika's budding desire to become an actress burst forth
in full force and, at the age of eight, she organized a dramatic club for
the purpose of demonstrating her talent. "There were only three members -
my best friend, Nina Resnick, and the guy from up the road, and me. I made
a stage. I had a bedsheet for a curtain. We put on 'Sleeping Beauty' and
'Red Riding Hood,' all the fairy tales. Our parents came to see us, and
any brothers and sisters we could drag in. I used to spend hours making
the costumes and painting the scenery. My mother had drawers of things I
could use - wrapping paper and fabric and scraps and old sheets. My father
had as a hobby, a whole workshop, and I could go and get wood or paint or
whatever I wanted. Or I would get on my bicycle and bargain-shop the five
She also starred in a third-grade production of "Sleeping Beauty," but
remembers a serious flaw in that production. The boy who played the prince
refused to kiss her at the crucial moment! "He shook me awake!" she
declares, adding, "everyone laughed a lot."
Like most American children, Erika had her share of lessons. And, like
most children, she didn't appreciate the spirit in which they were given.
"Piano teachers always wanted you to play Chopin and Bach. You could never
play anything neat. Now I love Chopin and Bach, but to a kid that's not
very interesting. My mother would say, 'You'd better practice, or you'll
be sorry when you grow up.' I gave it up when I went away to boarding
school, and I was so glad to be finished with it. And I am so sorry now."
If Erika was not enthralled with her piano lessons, one of her teachers
at least gave her something to think about. "He was a spiritualist," she
recalls, even now disturbed by the memory. "I won't mention his name
because he's doing very well now. He used to tell me all about ghosts. He
showed me pictures of hands washing themselves. He told me about
poltergeists and ghosts that roam around in the night. I would act very
brave and say, "Tell me more!" and I would go home at night and lie in
bed, petrified. He scared me to death!"
There were also ballet lessons, ballroom-dancing lessons at Honey
Adams' Ballroom dancing School, and violin lessons at public school. Erika
remembers vividly the time her violin attempts ruined the school Christmas
pageant because "I was the only kid who couldn't play "We Three Kings."
The ballroom-dancing lessons were also a trial due to the fact that
Erika nearly always found herself two-stepping with another girl. "There
was always an excess of girls, and the guys asked the prettiest ones to
dance with them. I was not pretty. Cute, but not pretty. I had freckles
and braces. I was also chubby. I was monstrous. I felt very ugly. Today,
when I see kids coming out of a ballroom-dancing school, I think it's so
adorable. But when you're going through it, it's painful."
If she didn't exactly shine in extra-curricular activities, she always
topped her class academically. "I always head E's and A's and 100's. I
skipped the eighth grade, so I never learned a thing about the Civil War.
They taught that in eighth grade.
Being smart, however, was not without its drawbacks. Erika, who had
crushes on "every boy I met," met up with the age old problem of male
chauvinism at an early age. 'There was a guy name Seth who sat in back of
me in fifth grade. We were the two smartest in the class. Nobody talked to
me, and nobody talked to him. But he didn't talk to me either, much as I
wanted him to.'
Still, life was bearable. Much more than bearable. In fact. Despite
ruined Christmas pageants and painful ballroom-dancing lessons, Erika
thinks of her pre-teen years as extremely happy. "I had a grand time
growing up. I had mononeucleosis one summer and I had to spend the whole
summer lying on the front porch reading. Even that wasn't bad. There was
always something going on."
But as she grew from chubby child into an awkward adolescent, some
problems developed that made her life not quite so grand.
"I have had some of the worst
dates in the history of datehood."
Because Erika skipped the eighth grade, she was eligible to begin high
school at the age of thirteen. "I went to boarding school, the Convent of
the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, Connecticut," she relates. "I was younger
than all the other girls, and they wouldn't speak one word to me. They
were a wretched bunch of girls. They were all from very wealthy families.
I had three friends who were nice, and the rest of them were the most
wretched bunch of girls I've ever met. I have rotten memories of that
school. And the nuns."
Her agony ended in her last year of high school, when she switched to
the Convent of the Sacred Heart outside of Philadelphia. "The difference
was night and day. It was a terrific school, and all the girls were nice.
I was elected vice-president of my class and president of the Catholic
Action Council. I was in the Literary Club, too."
She was also at an age to date, but where she had once developed
crushes on every boy she met, adolescence found her boy-shy, and the word
"creep" was frequently used to describe the opposite sex.
"I have had some of the worst dates in the history of datehood," she
insists. "And I suffered through them and kept wishing the evening would
be over. Not that the guys were so terrible. I was so scared. I was not
good at talking to people I didn't know. I could talk to adults, but not
to people my own age.
"I used to turn down dates all the time. My mother would be standing
next to me when I'd be on the phone, and she'd hear me say, "No, thank you
very much." She would say, "Go! Go! She never understood why I wouldn't
go. I would rather stay home and read or watch television than spend a
There was one evening in particular that she wished fervently she had
stayed home instead of being talked into going out. "I went out with an
ex-boyfriend of my sister, who called to ask her out and got so angry when
he found out she was out with somebody else, he asked me out. We went to
his house, where he made me something I had never had before - a martini
in a water glass. At home, we were allowed to have gin and tonic on
Sundays, but with a tiny bit of gin and a lot of tonic. But this was
practically straight alcohol. And I liked it so much I said, "Fix me
Needless to say, Erika's young body could not cope with two
water-glassfuls of martinis, and she did what anyone else would do under
the circumstances: she threw up. The worst, however, was yet to come. "I
got home late. I was supposed to be home by eleven o'clock and I got home
about twelve. I wandered in carrying my shoes. And my parents were livid.
I've never known them to be so angry."
Erika's ventures into the world of greasepaint and footlights continued
throughout high school, and it was then that she began to think seriously
about planning her acting future. First, though, she had to convince her
"In high school, I played Henrietta Barrett in the "Barretts of Wimpole
Street." My father told me I was absolutely without talent and I shouldn't
think of a career in theater. The next year, I played a Chinese man in
"Lute Song." And that's when my father decided I had talent. He thought I
was a very good Chinese man.
"My parents asked me if I was serious about being an actress, and I
told them I was. My father said, "They you're going to do it the right way
and get the proper training." There's nothing worse than children of
famous parents trying to make it on their parents' coattails. My father
also promised me that he would be the first to tell me if he thought I was
bad. Fortunately, he hasn't said anything yet."
Erika applied for admission to several colleges in this country as well
as the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England. She was accepted
everyplace, and chose the Royal Academy. "I had to audition twice," she
says. "Only three Americans were accepted out of about eight hundred
applicants. I was only seventeen and the youngest person ever accepted
there. I was very lucky."
She's also very proud of the fact that she was accepted on her own
merit, not because she was Walter Slezak's daughter. "That was the one
place I knew where my father's name didn't help me one little bit. Because
he'd never worked in England. They didn't know who he was."
Eager as she was to get started at the Academy, she had to wait until
the January following her graduation from high school. So she spent the
time in a practical way, working at Sak's Fifth Avenue in White Plains,
New York. "I started in Infants and Toddlers, and after almost beating
three children, they promoted me to Gloves, Blouses, and Hosiery. My
father used to call me once a day because he liked to hear me pick up the
phone and say, "Miss Slezak - Gloves, Blouses, and Hosiery." I learned the
whole con game of selling. How to talk someone into buying something. I
used the money I made to buy furniture for my apartment in London.
When departure day finally dawned, Erika, accompanied by her mother,
took off for London. They stayed at the exclusive Connaught Hotel until
Erika got acclimated, and then Mrs. Slezak left and Erika moved into a
smaller, far less exclusive hotel across the street from the Royal
"Then," Erika says, "I think began the happiest period of my life.
Being seventeen and on your own is terrifying, and it's also wonderful.
You see so much and discover so much. I cried the night my mother left. I
felt deserted. Then, the next day, I thought, "Well, here I am! Let's do
something about it!" I got myself a map of London and set off on foot. I
just walked for five days, until school started. I went to movies at
night, and the theater."
On the sixth day, she walked across the street to the school that was
to prepare her for the fulfillment of her lifelong dream - to be an
"I worked, worked, worked!"
Erika remembers well her first class at the Royal Academy. "It was a
voice class. Since no one knew anyone, we all just sat there, and the
teacher, Kate Fleming, who was a wonderful, wonderful teacher, gave us a
book which happened to be 'Winnie, the Pooh,' and asked us to read
something. She wanted to hear how our voices sounded. So everyone started
reading in these beautiful English accents. And then the book came to me.
I began to read, and she said, 'Stop! Stop!' I had a very hard kind voice
- very American.
"She said, the master of understatement, 'You are American.' And I
said, 'Yes.' She said, 'We'll have to do something about that. It is urged
that you learn English.'
"I would go home (shortly after beginning classes Erika moved to an
apartment which she shared with three other girls) and talk into a tape
recorder, and within five months I had mastered it to the point where I
could speak English. After about ten months, I was more native than the
natives. My parents were So impressed! They're disappointed that I don't
talk like that anymore."
In addition to voice, Erika studied fencing, movement, dance, period
movement, acting, and mime. "I was so happy in that school," she sighs. "I
worked, worked, worked." There were also History of the Theater classes
once a week, during which the teacher would regale (and in Erika's case,
petrify) the students with stories of ghosts in old English houses.
During vacations, Erika would travel to other European countries,
usually finding a relative or two somewhere along the way to keep her
company. "My brother was in school in Switzerland, so I would meet him.
One summer, my sister and a friend came over and we bummed around Europe
with little or no money. My father put me on a very strict allowance."
Erika fell deeply in love for the first time while attending RADA. The
object of her affection was a fellow student, although he was quite a bit
older than she. "He was twenty-seven or twenty-eight," she remembers,
smiling at the recollection. "For the first time, I thought, 'Somebody
else loves me." The romance didn't last long, but Erika believes it was
sincere, and she thinks of it today with a great deal of fondness.
Students who complete the program at the Royal Academy go through seven
terms of study, and it is only in the last two terms that they are allowed
to work on a play. By the time Erika reached those final terms, she was so
accomplished she netted the lead in her first play, "The Rehearsal," by
Jean Anouilh. "I had seen the play in New York, and it was my dream part.
And, low and behold, they gave it to me! I got good notices, and I was
very happy. Then I was in 'No, No, Nanette.' I played the Ruby Keeler part
which, in the original, has no singing and no dancing. I was in some other
Excellence was rewarded with prizes and speeches, the highest prize of
the winter term being a gold medal. Erika didn't bag that one, but she did
win the second highest award, the silver medal, that term and in the fall
term she walked off with the top prize. "I also won the prize for speech
and diction out of the whole class. At that point, I was the only American
in my class. It wasn't bad at all, now that I think of it."
Graduation found her raring to work, although she regretted leaving the
many friends she had made at the Academy. "I wanted to stay in England,
but I couldn't because of the work-permit situation. They rarely allow
Americans to work on the English stage."
So she came back to this country where, as she puts it, "I despaired. I
was sure no one would ever hire me. I was out of work from April till
September." During that time, she stayed with a friend on Long Island, and
supported herself by going back to her old line, selling. It was not
gloves, blouses, and hosiery this time, though. Instead, Erika plied her
knowledge of "the selling con game" at a dress shop.
"Then," she recounts happily, "a very nice man named Tunc Yalman hired
me to be the leading lady at the Milwaukee Repertory Company."
"There's always something
that makes it fun."
Her first role at the Milwaukee theater was Electra, a demanding debut
for a beginning actress. "I was scared," Erika admits, "because I was only
twenty years old. It's a real power-packed shows; a rough thing to do. I
was very lucky. I got better notices than any actress I've ever heard of."
The fact that the reviewer was a sportswriter from Oshkosh did nothing
to dampen the young star's delight in her raves, nor did it keep her
father from buying seventy-five copies of the paper and proudly sending
the review to all his friends. "I was good," Erika chuckles on reflection,
"but not that good."
She stayed at the theater for three seasons, taking advantage of her
first summer's hiatus to do "The Philadelphia Story" at the Ivanhoe
Theater in Chicago. Erika played Elizabeth Imbrie, the newspaper reporter,
which was the second female lead. The first female lead was played by none
other than Lee Bouvier, the younger sister of Jacqueline Onassis.
"I have rarely had so much fun," Erika says in recalling her experience
with the show. "The people who came to see that play! It was like Who's
Who. (A Who's Who minus Jackie, who was in Ireland at the time.) Lee was
very, very nice to me. She could not have been more charming. At the end
of the run she thanked me and invited me to visit her in London. Of
course, I never took her up on it."
In Erika's second year at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, she married
a fellow actor in the cast. The marriage lasted only two years, but Erika
is not at all bitter about the problems that caused it to fail. "We were
very young and just not suited to each other," she says simply. There are
absolutely no hard feelings. I'm certainly not soured on marriage or
anything like that."
Following her third season in Milwaukee, she spent a season at the
Alley Theater in Houston, then took off for Europe to recuperate from four
years of hard work, marriage, and divorce. "I was really beat. I needed
the rest badly. I had a terrific time in Europe. My parents were there and
they are super people to be with. We went everywhere. They took me to
Florence and all over Northern Italy, where I had never been before. We
ate our way from Switzerland to Spain, where my father was shooting a
Erika had originally planned to stay in Europe for only three weeks,
but at the end of that time, her father said, "Stay another month," and
kept on saying that until, almost before she knew it, seven lovely,
non-productive months had rolled by.
"In January, I decided that was enough of loafing. I came to New York
for the first time. I had never lived on my own in the city." While
looking for an apartment, she stayed with her best friend, Polly Seitz,
whom she describes as a "nurse-midwife."
"She put up with all my carrying on. I thought I'll never work again. I
was in complete despair."
The despair was short-lived, however, because Erika had only been in
New York for two weeks when she was asked to go to Buffalo to play
Desdemona in Othello. "At first, I didn't want to go because I'd just come
to New York and I didn't want to go out of town to work. And I'd heard a
lot of jokes about Buffalo in winter. But I finally went. And I spent six
weeks in the coldest town in the world. My hotel was in the coldest square
in the world, where the winds from all the corners of the earth meet. We
would have snow, followed by ice, followed by rain which made everything
a mess followed by more snow.
"But I have nice memories because we had a lot of fun there. "Othello"
has a very big cast and the actors went everywhere in a group. We never
had dinner, we always had banquets. We went to Niagra Falls six times, and
it was frozen solid. We became very close."
Erika returned to New York on March 1 of 1971 "Again out of work,
absolutely disconsolate, still not having found an apartment. My dear
friend Polly took me in again. Most of my things were in storage. I was
living in few things, just a couple of pairs of pants and two or three
On March 2, disconsolate Erika received a call from ABC casting
director, Joan D'Incecco, who asked her to audition for Doris Quinlan, the
producer of "One Life to Live." She did the audition and was asked to
return to show Agnes Nixon, the show's creator, what she could do.
"On March 17th, at eleven o'clock in the morning, I auditioned for
Agnes Nixon, and at twelve-thirty I was sitting in my agent's office
positive I had done the worst audition ever. And they called my agent's
office and said, "Can she start tomorrow?" I cried and said, "Yes! Yes!"
Then the impact of what I was about to do hit me. I had never been on
television in my life and they were asking me to take over the character
of Victoria Lord on one day's notice. I suddenly got petrified."
She picked up the script that afternoon, and when she reported for work
the next morning - half an hour early" she had her lines down cold. "I
could have said them backwards," she says wryly. "Then I discovered
everybody else was changing all the dialogue. I didn't know what the hell
I was doing. I was certain they'd made a mistake and had called to say
they didn't mean me. I'd never have gotten through that day if it hadn't
been for the other actors on the show and David Pressman, the director,
who tried to explain the plot to me. I didn't know who anybody was. I'd
say, "Who's Meredith?" They'd say, "She's your sister, I'd say, "Oh! My
Although everyone in the cast was helpful that day, Erika particularly
remembers the kindness of Lynn Benish, Ernest Graves, and Nat Polen. "They
kind of took me by the hand and showed me where everything was. I had no
idea what went on - on a television show. Everybody said I behaved as if
I'd been doing television all my life. Sheer panic is all it could have
been. Now, whenever anybody starts on our show, I make it a point to try
and help them because I know what it's like to be so absolutely lost."
Erika says she has enjoyed every minute that she has been a part of
"One Life to Live." "There have been times when I just didn't want to go
to work, there have been times when I've had the flu or a virus and could
hardly get out of bed. But on a soap, you can't just call in and say you
aren't coming in. And I've gone in, and there's always something that
makes it fun."
Perhaps the most fun she's had on the show was during the four days her
father made a guest appearance. "It was brought about because he was going
to be in the country, and Doris Quinlan had been saying for years,
"Wouldn't it be fun if...?" He was contacted and he agreed to come on. He
played my godfather who had come over to solve my problems.
"I had a very good time with him. I was more nervous than I had ever
been in my whole life. Then I discovered he was more nervous than I was,
and I stopped being nervous. He enjoyed it, but he said, in his entire
seventy-two years he had never worked so hard. They gave him pages and
pages to say. But it was fun. I enjoyed doing it. It would be nice if he
could do one or two appearances a year."
Erika also enjoys working with all the regular cast members of "One
Life." We have an exceptional cast. There's no inner fighting, no vying
for star positions. "We're like one big family. And I'd say that is most
due to Doris Quinlan. I like everybody on the show. Alice Hirson is one of
my closest friends. Marilyn Chris is a good friend. We share a dressing
room, so we have to be friends.
"Above and beyond that," she adds, "I'm working!"
"I want to live forever."
Erika has long since moved from her friend Polly's digs and now resides
in a large, two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. "I'm am allowed to live
there by the grace of a little white Maltese named Ludwig, who is possibly
the cutest dog in the world," she laughs, amending quickly, "not
possibly-definitely the cutest dog in the world. I'm very prejudiced."
Her apartment she describes as "bright and warm," she says her excess
of furniture is due to her passions for auctions. "I'm a terrible person
to take to an auction because I buy anything. I also have a lot of plants,
which I love."
Although "One Life to Live" doesn't allow her a great deal of free
time, she takes advantages of weekends and days off to see friends, go for
walks, read, and whip up gourmet meals in her kitchen. "My circle of
friends is kind of small, but I am very lucky in that I have about three
or four close, close friends. They come over a lot, but I don't have time
to really entertain - give parties and that sort of thing. My best friend
is a man I have known since I was fifteen years old. Patrick Hanson. He
comes over and we sit and talk about the problems of the world.
"I go to parties sometimes. I love spending time with my friends in
small, pleasant groups. Or with new people in groups of about ten. I'm
really quite content with my life. I'm very happy with myself, with the
way my life is going now.
"I love to cook. I make really good soufflés and quiches, and I make a
terrific goulash. I learned most things from my mother. My mother is the
world's best cook. I would rather eat at my parents' house than at any
restaurant. She can make anything look good."
In the romance department, Erika admits she is very involved with
someone, but demurs at mentioning his name, or even his profession. "My
private life has always been very much my own in that sense," she
explains. She does say that he is a "nice, nice person; a nice human
being. If I spend the rest of my life with him, I can be very happy."
Although she has not announced any wedding plans, she is candid in
admitting that she wants to marry and have children. "I'd like to have
children and live in a house and raise vegetables. I don't go berserk when
I see a baby carriage on the street, but I do like children. I would love
my own. I didn't have them when I was twenty-one, and by the time I do
have them, I'll probably be about thirty. I think that will be good
because I'll be much more sensible about everything. I would like them to
be as happy as I was when I was growing up."
Asked whether she would give up acting in the event of marriage and
motherhood. Erika allows that she might - but only temporarily. "I don't
want to quit working forever, but I might quit for a bit if I got married.
I'll just have to wait to make a final decision on that."
As a person, Erika describes herself as a creature of extremes. "I live
in dungarees and long dresses. It goes from one end to the other. I love
to sleep in a long, silky nightgown an get up and put on dungarees and
When discussing plans for the future, most actors talk of films and
legitimate theater, sometimes or directing and writing. But Erika's plan
for the future encompasses much more than the world of entertainment. "I
would always like to work, but at the same time, I want to be happy. I
want to keep on loving the guy I love now. I want to get married and have
children. And I want to do things. I want to see the whole world. I've
always wanted to do much more than there is time to do. But I'm going to
do it all."
"And I want to live forever. That's all I want."