We Love Soaps' Roger Newcomb and Kevin Mulcahy Jr. spent an unforgettable afternoon with Ms. Ellen Holly in January 2012 which resulted in a four-part interview released as part of our annual Black History Month celebration. The beloved actress (and historian) shared her story with us and as we celebrate our five year anniversary this week, we wanted to post the archive as one of our favorite interviews ever.
Part 1 - We take a close look at the early, genial days of Nixon and Holly's occasionally rocky partnership. Join us as Ellen Holly herself takes us back to the late '60s, when cultural revolution, TV innovation, and two brilliant women came together to launch and popularize the one and only ONE LIFE TO LIVE.
Part 2 - We now pivot to a more frank (and somewhat unsettling) discussion, one where race is a major factor in the business of making daytime soap operas. Ms. Holly takes us through the subtleties, and ironies, surrounding the irrational (yet very real) challenges faced by actresses of color trying to land roles on camera in the 60s and 70s. We'll learn about Ms. Holly's early, illustrious theater career, see why the character of Carla was something of a contemporary paradigm, and also touch upon the inevitable exploitation of undervalued minority talent. Join us on a journey through hidden soap opera (and United States) history, as Ms. Holly guides us through tricky creative and racial landscapes that continue to fascinate because they continue, to a certain extent, to endure.
Part 3 - We begin to relate some admittedly ugly episodes from the annals of soap opera history. Some of these behind-the-scenes stories are unpleasant, and even shocking. Some involve ONE LIFE TO LIVE employees behaving badly. We share these blemishes from the past in order to help prevent our beloved genre from making the same sorts of mistakes again. Sunlight can be the best disinfectant, and as long as themes from Ellen Holly's life story continue to resonate in our coverage of the far-too-few black dramatic television actors of today, we will endeavor to let the sunlight in.
Part 4 - We look at Ms. Holly's return to ONE LIFE TO LIVE, more popular than ever, with fresh hope of a long, rewarding career and dreams of building a family. Before long, she finds herself being spit on by then executive producer Paul Rauch; but the beginning of her final contract is surprisingly auspicious.