Daytime TV May 1972
Memories of Family Love
By R. Marian Rose
Erika Slezak (Victoria Lord) lets you know every chance she gets, that she adores her family. Right now the family is a little scattered. Her dad, Walter Slezak, and mom, Johanna, live in Switzerland; her sister, Ingrid, is married to a doctor and lives in Canada with her two sons; her brother Leo is now in college but spent time with Erika last summer. However, Switzerland is not too far away for any of the Slezak offspring and, whenever they decide to go home, off they go to Mom and Dad.
Born in California on an August 5, Erika spent most of her young life attending boarding schools. They were not the kind that kept you from your family, though. She went to the Convent of Sacred Heart in Greenwich, Conn., but didn't like it there too well so she transferred to the Convent of Sacred Heart in Philadelphia.
“I liked the Pennsylvania school better because the girls were much nicer and the school had a pleasant atmosphere. I was always worried about being accepted by the other girls because I was younger than most. The school was a five-day board school and the family was together on weekends.”
When did Erika first decide she wanted to act?
“I can't recall a time when I didn't want to act. As a child, I knew I'd act, but of course, I didn't realize that it was difficult. When I was in my sophomore year in high school, Dad talked to me about training for a career in acting. At that time, mom stayed out of the discussion, but today I'm more nervous when my mother is in the audience because she's very objective. “Dad goes to pieces when he sees me on stage.” One thing he did for me that time was let me have no illusions about the acting profession. He explained that it was going to be harder for me because I had a famous father. I would have to prove myself more than others and, as usual, he was right.
“All the fame did for me was get me in to audition, but once inside, I was on my own. I
knew most of the producers because I had met them when I was a child, and I had to go through the charade of being introduced all over again. One thing Dad did ask of me was 'If you discover You have no talent, get out of the business. They'll be twice as hard on you.' He also added: 'If I feel that you have no talent, I'll tell you.' "
So far that hasn't happened. And,it probably never will, because Erika is talented and has worked hard over the years preparing for her career. She attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England, and was a member of the Milwaukee Repertory Company for three seasons. During those three years, she was a leading lady in
everything from Chekov to Noel Coward.
"It was a marvelous experience; also rewarding. Theatre for me is most fascinating because it's before an audience but I find daytime television wonderful, too. I'm glad I did
repertory work first, though, because if you're thrown into daytime television too quickly, it's extremely hard. In repertory work, you're given time to polish a performance. With time and experience, you find the easy way to do things. Everything I learned in repertory work can be applied to my daytime work and I find that it makes the load easier to carry."
How does she feel about being on a daytime serial?
"I love it! I get a little peeved too because too many people think daytime actors are secondary people, but that's not true. Some of your finest actors are on daytime shows.
I am enjoying everything about the show. I love my colleagues and the professional atmosphere in which I work."
Erika, as beautiful as she is talented, is "tall, slim, blonde-haired and blue-eyed, so it was only natural the next question be about her social life.
Is there anyone special on the scene?
"I have many friends but no one special. Actually, I don't want to marry yet. I prefer to wait until I'm settled down. I enjoy being on my own and because of work, my
schedule keeps me from a more active social life. When I know I'm performing, I get to bed by 11 p.m. the latest because I have to be up early and in top notch shape.
"I guess I can also say that I'm waiting to find a man with whom I can have the same relationship that my parents have. Daddy never went anywhere that he didn't take my
mother along. Many times, the children also went. But he was never away from any of us for more than a week. Marriage is not easy and whatever my parents have together ,
they've worked hard for. I want the same kind of family life that I grew up in. Guess that's the European upbringing in me. One thing I still enjoy is watching my father and
brother, Leo, who's 23 now, kiss when they meet. Why shouldn't they? They're father and son, and showing love and affection for each other doesn't make them less masculine. I rather like it myself."
How does Erika feel about the Women's Liberation Movement?
"A great deal of it is legitimate but, in some instances, they've gone too far. The arts such as acting, singing and ballet really don't require Women's Lib to help them. These are fields where equal pay is a standard practice and almost every play has love somewhere in its theme, so male and female, both, are required. The publishing field, secretaries and nurses need Women's Lib to help them establish themselves on an equal basis with the
men. I think one thing that the movement has done is call attention to the fact that women are very capable in the business world. Too many people have been led to believe that a woman leaves her mind at home with her family when she reports for work. That is definitely not true. The movement also called the public's attention to the valuable role women are playing and can play in politics."
What about the world situation?
"What can I say except to elaborate on the fact that the whole world seems to have been governed, since time began, by men fighting. War is a single predominant force
in history. I don't feel the Vietnam War will stop communism. The original policy was not to interfere, but it's turned into just that-interference-because of politics. When we
leave that country, the people will do just as they please, anyway. When our young people grow up, the world will have to change. And, if the youth of today maintain their
ideals, the world will be a better place by far. They are more alert at a younger age and that's good."
It was on this note that the interview ended-a most enjoyable two hours spent with a lovely, talented young woman. It was also very heartening to hear a young woman
speak about her family with such love and devotion. Her eyes lit up every time she spoke of home (and that is wherever her parents happened to be living).