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Tony Lord
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OLTL's Viki

Soap Opera Digest
March 24, 1998, Vol. 23 No. 12


By: Carolyn Hinsey

This timeline encorporates a timeline from SOD that was in the March 24, 1998, Vol. 23, No. 12 issue along with one supplied by her fans.

As OLTL's Victoria Lord, actress Erika Slezak has "seen and done!" it all in her nearly 30 years

When ONE LIFE TO LIVE debuted in 1968, the Lords were Llanview's most powerful family, headed by Victor Lord, a wealthy widower with two daughters, Victoria and Meredith. Viki, as she was called, suffered from a split personality, explained then as the result of Victor treating Viki like the son he'd never had. Later, the backstory was rewritten to include sexual abuse and numerous other personalities. Viki was created by Gillian Spencer (who went on to play ALL MY CHILDREN's Daisy Cortlandt) and was briefly played by Joanne Dorian in 1970. A young actress named Erika Slezak took over the role in 1971. Twenty-seven years --and five Emmys -later, Slezak remains the heart of this show.

"This is Shepperd Strudwick, who played Victor Lord," relays Slezak. "This [above, l.] is when Victor Lord was still a good guy -not a pervert and a disgusting child molester. He was just a concerned, loving parent who had raised his daughter the best he could." Viki fell in love with fellow newspaper reporter Joe Riley while both were working at her family's newspaper, The Banner. When Joe was presumed dead in a car crash, a grieving Viki turned to Banner exec Steve Burke, and they wed. Joe turned up alive (albeit with amnesia); Viki divorced Steve and returned to Joe. She soon gave birth to their first son, Kevin.


Viki and Joe Riley get married

On Their Wedding Day 1974
Is Love better the second time around? For Viki and Joe it proved to be the charm. Fate threw an endless series of obstacles in their way before they were finally able to find marital bliss in 1974. The newlyweds shared a quiet spring wedding in New York City, then celebrated with a private reception for two in Central Park.

Kevin Riley is born

SOD 1977 - 78
"I remember this scene specifically," smiles Slezak. "[Viki] had called Karen Wolek, played by Judith Light [below], and said, 'Could I come over and talk to you about something?' I went over ostensibly to have drinks, and she made strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas. I was very suspicious because I had caught her two times at the Hotel Wallingford with strange men, and Marco Dane was always hanging around. She was on pins and needles because she was terribly afraid of being found out." Marco was actually Karen's pimp. "We had like four or five scenes, and then she confessed to me that she was, indeed, the Happy Hooker at home and she had all these Johns! I don't know why I have this pained look on my face; probably because I'm saying, 'What in God's name am I going to tell my dear, sweet friend [Karen's husband] Dr. Larry?' That was the beginning of our very close relationship, because I was going to try and help her out of it. And, of course, it led up to the whole trial [when Viki was accused of killing Marco ], with Karen spilling the beans on the stand. "Karen and Larry split.

SOD 1978
"Speaking of Larry, there he is," chuckles Slezak, referring to actor Michael Storm [L.]. "As I recall, this was my own outfit. My script is in the pocket right there -you can see it! That's why actresses on daytime carry their purses all the time -they need a place to put their scripts." Larry and Viki go back to OLTL's early days. "In the beginning, Larry was madly in love with Meredith Lord, my sister. She felt she was too good for him because she was from one side of the tracks, and he was from the other. But he pursued her, and they eventually got married. Then she died, and he was left to raise Danny. Viki and Larry have always always had a very close relationship, which exists to this day. Michael Storm is one of my closest, dearest friends. I love that man so much; I am just crazy about him."


Tina Clayton arrives in Llanview
During the summer of 1978, Viki suddenly found herself faced with the formidable task of raising a teenager! Upon the death of her mother, Irene, Viki's goddaughter, Tina Clayton, came to Llanview and quickly became an innocent pawn in Marco Dane's evil blackmail scheme.
Kevin is kidnapped

Viki goes on trial for the murder of Marco Dane
Viki loses the great love of her life, Joe Riley
Clint Buchanan becomes the Editor of the Banner
Joseph Riley is born
SOD 1979
"Hairstyles from hell," shudders Slezak. "This was a setup shot, probably taken around the time Kevin got kidnapped because we both look so unhappy --1979. Lee [Patterson, Joe, below], he's so dear. I learned so much from that man just by listening to him. And an awful lot about how to conduct yourself in a studio. Lee was the one who said, 'You check your problems at the door. It's much better to keep your counsel private. Do your work as best as you can, every single day, and then go home and deal with your problems.' He was right; you don't mix the two lives. I have never confused the two. I know perfectly well who I am when I walk out the door. Lee is very savvy. He 's living in Montauk [Long Island, NY], working on his boat in the summer; in the winter, he goes around the world."

Little Kevin was returned safely, but Joe was not so lucky. He was felled by a brain tumor and brought crusty newsman Clint Buchanan to Llanview to take over The Banner -and his place in Viki 's life -before he died. "1 didn't realize it was that involved at the time," remembers Clint Ritchie. I had no idea what they had in mind. I started working with Jackie Courtney, who was Pat Ashley. And then Robin Strasser, [Dorian]. I think I had a fling with Edwina Lewis [Margaret Klenck]. And then I got tied up with Erika."

Viki gave birth to a second son, whom she named Joey after her late husband. Clint's father, Asa, and brother Bo followed him to Llanview, and soon became embroiled in the action.

Ted Clayton proposes to Viki


Viki is falling in love with Clint

Viki and Clint kick Dorian out of Llanfair
Viki is sent to jail for not revealing her source
Clint proposes to Viki in jail

Clint and Viki get married at Llanfair

Viki is taken hostage by Mark Pemberton

Tina shows Viki the long lost letter from Victor Lord saying he's her father.
Niki Smith returns
Niki Smith comes out during Tina's murder trial
Niki divorces Clint

SOD 1980-86
Clint and Viki embarked on a complicated love affair. They wed, but in 1985, the revelation that Tina was Viki's half sister caused Viki's other personality, Niki Smith, to emerge. Posing as Viki, Niki divorced Clint. "Niki pretending to be Viki and then Viki pretending to be Niki," recalls the bemused actress. "That was a wonderfully written and constructed story. It was supposed to be six months [long], and it went almost two years by the time they finally resolved it." Clint retaliated by arranging to have Niki walk in on him with Tina, shocking Viki to re-emerge. In 1986, they remarried. "This is at our second wedding, when I told him I was pregnant with Jessica," remembers Slezak. "Look at how young we were!"

Viki overcomes Niki and her and Clint reunite
Viki and Clint re-marry
Viki discovers she's pregnant again
Tom Dennison, Joe's Twin Brother arrives in town
Viki gives birth to Jessica Buchanan
Allison Perkins kidnaps Jessica

Viki underwent surgery for a brain aneurysm and visited "heaven."

During surgery for an aneurysm, Viki had an out-of-body experience and visited her dead loved ones in heaven -including Victor, the father who had abused her. "That was Viki's reality," explains Robin Strasser, who plays Viki's long-time nemesis, Dorian Lord. “She wanted to see all those people in heaven, so she did. Remember: Viki didn't know [at the time] that her father abused her, so it would be perfectly natural for her to see him in heaven."


Viki travels to the Old West


Viki landed in Eterna

SOD 1988-89
After a trip back in time to the Old West Viki and Clint returned to the present --and the underground city of Eterna, where Viki was stunned to discover that 25 years before --as Niki -she had given birth to Megan. "That was the only time I ever got angry with Larry --when I found out that he had delivered my baby, Megan, when I was under hypnosis in the back seat of Daddy's Limousine," notes Slezak. 'Then I got a little annoyed with him: 'You never told me that I had a baby! ' " Megan had a whirlwind romance with Jake. They married, but she later became gravely ill from lupus. Viki donated a kidney, to no avail. Clint was by Viki's side as she mourned her daughter.


Viki's feelings for Roger Gordon rekindled

Viki runs for Mayor and wins
Viki is shot and suffers a stroke
Niki Smith shoots Johnny Dee

SOD 1990
Viki waged war on drugs in Llanview, and was rewarded for her efforts by a bullet and a resulting stroke that landed her in a wheelchair. 'The stroke [storyline] was one of my most fun times that I played Niki, because she would pop out of Viki's head and yell at her. She would say, 'What are you, a lazy bum?' Viki couldn't deal with her, but it was a wonderful twist -'Wait a minute, where did she come from?' Niki was all over the place!"


Viki donates her kidney to her dying daughter Megan

Viki develops a friendship with Sloan Carpenter

SOD 1992-94

Viki developed feelings for Sloan Carpenter (Roy Thinnes, r.), much to Clint's chagrin. Viki and Clint divorced and she wed Sloan, but he succumbed to cancer. "I liked the story with Sloan," laments Slezak. "I'm sorry that had to end."


Viki starts fantasizing about Sloan and has an affair
Dorian and Viki are trapped in Victors Secret Room

Sloan proposes to Viki at his home in Tidewater
Sloan breaks off the proposal when his Hodgkin's disease was out of remission
Viki becomes Mrs. Sloan Carpenter in a tearful ceremony at the hospital

General Sloan Carpenter dies

Viki suffers from DID

Viki confronts the past abuse from her father and starts therapy

SOD 1995
OLTL finally decided to explore the root cause of Viki's personality disorder. "[Then-Head Writer] Michael Malone kept saying, 'Do you think you could do another one?' and I would say, 'Throw another one at me; I'll do it.' He told me the storyline in advance so that I would be able to do some preparation. We had the most fabulous lunch at Le Cirque with [Creator] Agnes Nixon, who was called in to consult on that story."

One by one, Jean, Tommy, Princess, Tori, et al emerged, and Viki struggled to deal with them. The climax came when Tori set the house on fire. "Here we are lying on the floor," says Slezak. "This was at about 1:30 in the morning. Tori burned Llanfair down, and Jessica was stuck inside. Viki went back to save her. Then we came down the stairs and something fell and hit us on the head. The fire department shut us down because the set caught fire -whoof! They screamed 'Cut! ' and the fire department said, 'That's it, good-night.' It was out of control for about two seconds, but that was it."


Carlo Hesser has Viki hypnotized to shoot her son, Kevin
Why would Viki attempt to shoot her own son, Kevin? Blame Carlo Hesser for the near tragedy. In the final stage of his plan to exact revenge on Viki, Hesser ordered psychiatrist Elliot Durbin to hypnotize her into shooting Kevin. Though a shot was fired, no one was hurt, and Kevin gently convinced his hypnotized mother to put the gun down. Naturally, while this was taking place, the real villain slippery Carlo Hesser was nowhere to be found.

SOD 1996

Viki 's half brother, Todd (Roger Howarth, above), returned to Llanview. "I have enjoyed playing scenes with Roger so much since he came back," praises Slezak. "It's a very unique relationship on this show. We are related by accident. We didn't pick each other, but there we are, brother and sister. We want nothing from each other. This is a relationship based on choice. We choose to be friends. We don't pull punches. When I think Todd is acting like an idiot, I tell him. And he says, 'Butt out.' I love working with Roger. I think he's super."

Viki hires Mel Hayes to work at the Banner
Viki starts therapy with Dr. Maude

SOD 1997-98
Boozy newsman Mel Hayes (below) came to work at The Banner. "As far as I know, Mel and Viki are going to be friends," insists Slezak. "They understand each other- the losses, the pain, the difficulties. Viki doesn't judge people; she tries not to, anyway. So Mel, for all his faults, is still a wonderfully rich human being." So... is there a future for Viki and Clint? "I don't know where they're going with that, muses the actress. .'Maybe we'll get back together 10 years down the road, when we 're both in wheelchairs." She pauses at the thought, then roars with laughter. .'Well, no... 20 years!"

Clint asks Viki to re-marry him, she turns him down

In late January of 1999, Victoria Lord Carpenter narrowly escaped death when a plane she was planning to travel on crashed. She had gotten off the plane moments before take off thanks to a mix up with a note meant for her traveling companion, Mel Hayes. In the ensuing weeks Viki began to have dreams of a foggy roadside area at a crossroads she'd never seen, and Mel, speaking to her, trying to tell her something important. One night while driving she actually found the site she'd been dreaming about and had another vision of Mel Hayes, who told her she had been spared for a reason.

Viki meets bartender, Ben at Crossroads and is immediately attracted to him. He doesn't know her name, so he immediately nicknames her "Blondie". At Ben's urging, Viki musters up the courage to sing Karaoke to "I Will Survive".

As Viki comes to realize the tenuousness of Ben's survival from being on the run, Viki becomes more and more attracted to Ben. He tries to push her away by lying to her but she soon realized his deception. Viki and Ben continue to fall deeply in love and this culminates with them becoming lovers and soulmates in the first of many scenes in the Llanfair Attic.

As a result of Ben's past, Viki soon becomes a target for the mobsters. Hugo and Dorian, Viki's long time nemisis, team up together to get even with Viki and Ben and they kidnap Viki and hold her hostage in Dorian's root cellar.

At CrossXroads, the night of Cristian and Jessica's engagement party, Jessica who is nearly ready to give birth is hit by a hit and run driver. Jessica gives birth to Viki's first grandaughter, Megan, who dies shortly after birth. The driver turns out to be none other than Dorian Lord Hayes, Viki's bitter enemy. Ben also has discovered he too has a bitter enemy in Asa Buchanan who has managed to strip him of his medical license and seems determined to destroy his life.


Viki and Ben become engaged on New Years Eve at CrossXroads when he get the final decree of divorce from his brief marriage to Skye Chandler. As the New Year begins the couple are so hopeful that happiness is theirs, but is it?

Shortly thereafter, Ben's anger at Asa explodes as he continues to attack everyone in his family (Sam and Will) and he decides to fight back. His anger overtakes his emotions and he puts revenge ahead of his love for Viki. After refusing to choose Viki over revenge Viki and Ben separate. It is shortly thereafter that Ben discovers that Max is a fraud and that he (Ben) is really Asa and Renee's biological son. This sends Ben reeling into an emotional turmoil.

Unfortunately for Viki, this is the exact time she discovers she has breast cancer and has the fight of her life ahead of her. The heartbreaking and tragic scenes that follow for the next few months were beautifully brought to life by Ms. Slezak as she took Viki through the many stages of feelings and emotions faced by a cancer victim. It was made even more tragic by the fact that she did not have Ben with her to lean on.

Ben ultimately discovers that Viki has breast cancer and immediately realizes what a mess he's made of his life and Viki's. He goes to Bo (who doesn't know Ben is his brother) for guidance and help in accepting the fact that he is Asa's son. Bo tells him that he is not like his father but merely the good son of a bad man. Viki knows that Ben's keeping something from her as well as she recovers from her surgery. Finally, Ben goes to Viki and tells her the truth, that he is Asa's son. Viki reassures him that she loves him for who he is, not who his father is. Viki finally is able to tell Ben about the cancer and they reunite and are again engaged to be married

As the year 2000 winds down, during November Sweeps OLTL fans were treated to Viki's wedding.

True to the tradition of all soaps the reception was marred by an attempt on Ben's life but thanks to a lucky coin that was a special wedding gift from his real mother, Renee (who is clueless that Ben's her real son) his life is spared and Viki and Ben head off on a unconventional underground honeymoon as they try to escape from the mob.

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