TV Radio Talk, November 1974, Volume 8, No. 2
By Linda Rosenbaum
She's got brains, beauty, talent, a delightful personality, a sweet disposition-a guy couldn't ask for more-but Erika Slezak, who portrays Victoria Burke on ABC's One Life To Live, isn't ready to be asked: to get married, that is. While most gals who reach the age of 27 minus a wedding band on
their finger, as is the case with Erika, are on the verge of panic, she's actually hoping the right guy doesn't come along for a while.
Right now she's positively savoring every moment of her independence. No wonder! Not being deeply involved with a man is kind of a novelty for Erika and, therefore, an adventure. She was married for three years when she was in her early twenties. Then not too long after her divorce,
she and her One Life To Live costar Antony Ponzini fell in love and began a relationship that spanned two years, so you can see what we mean.
It's been a year now since Erika and Tony split but she's convinced she's still not ready to become half of a couple again. "If the right person came along now, I'd marry him, but I'd rather he didn't come along at least for another year or so," she candidly points out. "I'm just not ready at the moment. I know that. I can't really explain the reasoning behind this. All I know is that I feel it's necessary for me to be on my own for a while. I've just had it with taking care of people. I want to enjoy myself by myself for a while. I love having my own apartment and living alone."
Erika is very quick to point out that the reason she is not eager to get seriously involved at the moment has nothing whatsoever to do with bitterness toward her former husband or toward Tony or toward marriage in general. About her marriage, she simply says, "The divorce was my decision.
I saw it wasn't working, so I didn't think it was fair to either of us to drag it out any longer." A hint of what might have been one of the main factors in causing the collapse of this union emerges when Erika adds, "My parents were pleased when I made the decision because they were against the marriage from the start. They had nothing against my ex-husband as a person. In fact, they thought he was delightful and charming but he's an actor, and my father always told me, 'Don't marry an actor. Even if he's a genius, you will never have financial security.'
"My father [Walter Slezak], being an actor and always having had to worry about money, wanted his children to have as much security as possible. Like almost every father, he was hoping I would find someone who would take care of me so that I would never have to work. I'm hoping for
that, too. I don't like the pressure of having to work; I would like to feel I'm working only because I love to work."
Here are her comments on her relationship with Tony: "There were no great wounds when Tony and I broke up. In fact, there were no wounds at all. We're supergood friends now. If I ever needed help with anything, I wouldn't hesitate to go to him, but we were wrong for each other. Breaking up was the best thing in the world both for him and for me. We always had and always will have a mutual respect and liking for each other, but we drove each other crazy. Toward the end, we were both very unhappy."
Her feelings about marriage, though not bitter, are most definitely cynical. "It really is damn hard to make a successful marriage," says Erika. "It takes a lot of careful thinking and a lot of hard work. You have to really want it to succeed, otherwise there are too many temptations in today's world which will get in the way. I don't believe marriage and fooling around go well together. If you're
married, you're married. If you want to fool around, why get married? If you feel you can't be faithful to one person, nobody is forcing you to make a commitment to one individual. I suppose there are some people who would not be bothered by an unfaithful spouse, but it would drive me insane. If I'm going to marry a man, I would expect that we plan to be devoted to each other and not bring in others along the way. That's what marriage means."
Not all that many years ago Erika's desire to remain single at her age would have raised eyebrows. Happily for Erika, things are different today, Maybe not as different as they might be, but enough
changes have come about to make being single an acceptable alternate life sty1e throughout a person's life, "It's still true that the world is designed for couples, but it's becoming less so," Erika comments, "It's definitely much more acceptable these days for a woman to remain single longer
than in the past, or not to get married at all, Years ago, if I were 27 and unmarried, I'd be regarded as well on my way to being an old maid forever, That kind of thing, thankfully, doesn't exist any more, It's absurd. Women are getting married for the first time at 35, 40, or 50 simply because they didn't want to get married before then, that's all,"
Needless to say, one great big reason why Erika feels so comfortable in this independent role is because she has a very satisfying career. She truly loves acting, she wants to be successful at it, and she can't imagine not acting, "I've wanted to be an actress since I was a little girl, and I've never wanted to be anything else," she observes brightly, "My career means so much to me. I have to say I've been very lucky-I think the longest I was out of work was two weeks-but I can't tell you how often I think about how wonderful it would be to be a star, not because of the glamour but because of the opportunities stars have to pick and choose among the best work that's available."
With typical candor, Erika confesses stardom would be marvelous beyond words for another reason, one which shows how very seriously she takes her work. ..If I were a star I'd never have to audition. Auditioning doesn't just make me nervous-it makes me sick to my stomach: I want
to cry: I want to die. I go out there and nobody can tell what's going on inside, I'm great at covering it up, I come on like Miss Supercool, but inside, ohhhh!"
So marriage waits for now as Erika gets a few things out of her system. When she decides to give marriage another try. she'll have in her favor a fine model to follow-her folks have been happily married for the past 35 Years.