As 'All My Children' ends, Susan Lucci recalls top Erica looks
Erica Kane, as brought to life by actress Susan Lucci on “All My Children,” is the epitome of the soap opera diva divine. Alas, after more than 40 years of Kane’s multiple marriages, kidnappings, bribery, blackmail, modeling and even murder, the reign of Pine Valley’s daytime queen is coming to a close with the final broadcast episode of the series, scheduled to air Friday.
Over the show’s decades, styles changed, beauty fads waxed and waned, and Kane rolled out some fabulous — and sometimes fabulously over-the-top — looks. Susan Lucci recently took time out to talk about some of her best and worst Erica Kane moments.
“One of my favorite looks is that  photo that they run in the beginning of the show where my hair is long and parted in the middle -- I love that photo,” Lucci said. She also likes her hair in a slicked-back, simple, almost wet look.
The ’80s were her least favorite years for fashion, beauty and hair -- like the big hair barely contained by her hat, above. She’s uncomfortable “when things get too fussy and too big,” she said. “Especially late in the ’80s, we couldn’t put enough on our bodies, or get our hair or our shoulders big enough, or the earrings big enough. And when I look back on that, my goodness. … There is a shot of me presenting at the Emmys. Actually, Oprah Winfrey and I must have been doing something together -- I don’t know how they got me on the screen. Between my hair and that dress, I had everything on known to man at the time -- it was awful!”
The decade that she likes most when it comes to beauty is the present, exemplified by the photo on the cover of her book, “All My Life: A Memoir,” published in March. “It’s taking the natural look and making it a little more polished and finished.”
The 64-year-old beauty’s favorite Erica Kane moments include a New York modeling sequence that involved photos taken at the Temple of Dendur in the Egyptian wing in the Metropolitan Museum Art and a 13-page, highly choreographed food fight with Adam Chandler, played by David Canary.
“Going on location, riding horses, fighting the grizzly bear, making the prison break by helicopter dressed in a wedding dress and high heels — all of those very physical action things I just always really loved,” Lucci said.
With action like that and a grueling shooting schedule, how does she manage to look her best? The makeup artists on set help, of course, but she prefers keeping makeup as sheer as possible. “Because personally I like to see the glow of a good skin tone... I don’t want to see it caked on like a mask,” she said, adding that she really does use the skin care line Youthful Essence that she endorses on HSN.
She also cut back on coffee in 1999 when she opened on Broadway as the title character in “Annie Get Your Gun” and now drinks hot water with lemon throughout the day instead. Keep skin hydrated, she advises, don’t forget your neck, chest, décolletage, hands and arms and play up your best feature — for most women that’s the eyes.
“And it’s really important to take your makeup off at night,” Lucci said. “If you just do the good things for your skin each day -– just take it a day at a time -- all those days add up.”
Kind of like the years spent starring in a soap opera.
Photos: A look at daytime divas
-- Alene Dawson
Photos, from top: Susan Lucci, ever the glamorous soap diva; credit: Andrew Eccles / ABC. A big-hair look from 1981; credit: ABC Photo Archives. Book cover; credit: Harper Collins. Susan Lucci in the 1970s; credit: Steve Fenn /ABC. Lucci attending this year's Daytime Emmy Awards in September; credit: Dan Steinberg / Associated Press. Erica Kane on her honeymoon circa 1978 with actor Richard Shoberg; credit: Steve Fenn / ABC.