Tuesday, February 9, 2010

50 Greatest Soap Actresses: #1 Susan Flannery

NAME: Susan Flannery
SOAP ROLES: Stephanie Forrester, THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1987-present); Leslie Stewart, DALLAS (1981); Laura Horton, DAYS OF OUR LIVES (1966-1975)

2009 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
2006 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
2005 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
2003 Daytime Emmy win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
2002 Daytime Emmy win for Daytime Emmy Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
2001 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
2001 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress
2000 Daytime Emmy win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
2000 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress
1998 DGA Award nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Daytime Serials
1996 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress
1996 DGA Award nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Serials - Daytime
1994 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress
1993 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress
1991 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Villainess: Daytime
1989 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Villainess: Daytime
1977 Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series
1975 Daytime Emmy win for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series
1975 Golden Globe win for Most Promising Newcomer - Female

Damon L. Jacobs: Susan Flannery is simply the epitome of grace, dignity, and "bold" passion that makes entertainment so meaningful.  She infuses intellectual depth and emotional gravity into every scene she appears.  Whether she is breathing life into rape survivor Dr. Laura on DAYS,  doomed secretary Lorrie in The Towering Inferno, scheming P.R. agent Leslie on DALLAS, or the fierce fashion CEO Stephanie on B&B, she can always present a pensive portrayal tempered with a glint of sadness.  Stephanie can be ranting angrily to her children on B&B yet you always can connect with the saddened abused girl inside.  Lorrie can joke about meeting her maker in a fire yet you see the fear behind her calm exterior.  Leslie can be seducing J.R. Ewing but you can sense her loneliness within.  It is these very internal disparities that have made Ms. Flannery's talents infinitely fascinating and compelling for audiences to watch for the past 43 years, and have placed her in the well deserved position of topping this list.

Connie Passalacqua Hayman (Marlena De Lacroix): The most brilliant woman in the soap opera world, then on DAYS OF OUR LIVES and now on THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. I have been fascinated by her depth, brains and talent since she starred as Laura on DAYS in the 70s.

Mimi Torchin: Susan always has done it her way. I remember when she decided she didn't want to wear that house-wifey blond wig on BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL anymore. She agreed to do our cover around that time (Soap Opera Weekly) only if we let her wear her own short, gray hair. Why not, I said? We have no "you have to wear a blond wig on the cover policy!" Do your thing. It was the first time she appeared in the press without it. I have nothing but respect for her talent and her individuality.

Jonathan Reiner: No other living actress comes close to matching her skill, nuance and passion for the story, regardless of the writing.

Alan Carter: How many women could pull off and make believable a woman still caring about her 40-something aged kids' love lives...?

Nelson Aspen: What a gift to daytime! This leading lady of film found that she could OWN a show when she signed on as "Stephanie Forrester." She brings 100% commitment and authority to every scene she plays and is absolutely the grounding force of an otherwise fluffy piece of televised confection. I think B&B would be in dire straights without her.

Roger Newcomb: I've heard so much about her DAYS years and only wish there were some video easily available of that time. I first discovered Flannery on DALLAS as Leslie, who seemed to be a great match for J.R. Over the years on B&B, Flannery has helped carry the show and and made even the mundane seem interesting.

Wesley Eure: (played Flannery's son on DAYS) I had such a good time with Ed Mallory who played Bill, and Susan Flannery who was Laura at the time. We went through a lot of Lauras [after Susan left]. She was my first mother. I loved to play practical jokes. I was a kid on the show, or late teens/early 20s. We had this big scene once with Susan Flannery and I had to take my shirt off. Mike was talking about me going out with Trish at the time. It was dress rehearsal and Susan Flannery was this consummate actress, one of the best actresses I've ever worked with. And nothing phased her, not a thing. I went to the make-up room and painted a big heart on my chest that said, "I love you, Mom." So we're doing the scene and she's yelling at me about Trish or coming in late and I take my shirt off and she sees the heart and I can see that recognition go across her eyes. And at that one moment she stops but she continues the scenes, and I continue the scene, and I'm trying to hold it in, and the camera men are laughing and you can hear the people in the booth laughing. Susan Flannery doesn't break at all. The scene ends, and it's a very dramatic scene, and she turns to me sand says, "Don't ever fuck with an actress." And we laughed. It was so much fun.

Ian Buchanan: (worked with Flannery on B&B) I love her commitment to telling the story.  There's nothing false, and she demands the same from others.  She wants the best, and she fights for the best.  Not just what's best for her, but what's best for everybody.  I've learned so much from her. She doesn't like things to be soapy.  She loves great storytelling.  She really thinks character is incredibly important.  She's very enthusiastic, and very passionate. She's gracious with absolutely everyone. 

- In December 2009, We Love Soaps published a four-part interview with Susan Flannery.
- We Love Soaps at the Creative Emmys: B&B Susan Flannery from August 2009.


  1. The clear choice after seeing who else made up the rest of the top ten! I've had a blast following this countdown. Sure, all lists are subjective, but the debate is part of the fun. And the panel comprised people who have been covering the business for a very long time. Personally, I got a certain satisfaction out of the fact that your top 8 were also my top 8, if perhaps a bit shuffled. I missed the boat entirely on 9 and 10, but the top 8 I was in agreement. At the end of the day, when you get to the top 10, or top 8 or 6 or 4, order doesn't matter. They are all exceptional and deserving of the kudos. (OK, for the record, I'd have put Beverlee McKinsey at #1, but there is no way on earth I could argue about Susan Flannery either!) Great list, great job! Now for the men....

  2. Loved the Top 50 Countdown. Great to see the old clips. Looking forward to the Honorable Mention list.

  3. Columbus, doing a little research on that list right now. It is also very impressive. So many wonderful talents have passed through or continue to work on daytime.

  4. This is prabally where I would have put Erika Sleazak, but I do agree that Susan is one of the brightest and the best. Congrats to Susan!

  5. Thanks so much for doing this. A nice trip down memory, celebrating the best of the best. A lot of talented actors have drawn us in. Look forward to honorable mention AND hoping formore!

  6. I also would've put money down that Beverlee McKinsey was #1. I kinda figured the top 5 but I was surprised and pleased Susan Flannery was number 1. She is a powerhouse. On to the Top 50 Men!

  7. The entire list was comprised of fabulous actresses. Today's younger generation of up-and-comings should study this list!
    The best part of this for me, aside from seeing the history of soaps displayed so wonderfully in the on-screen talent of these ladies, was the debate generated by the fans - fans of your site and of the actresses.
    Looking forward to the honorable mention list, and wondering if a top-fifty for actors is in the works?

  8. Excellent list! My #1 would have been Erika Slezak, but I won't complain with Susan Flannery taking the top spot. I can't wait for the top actors list. I don't know if you would consider doing anymore following that, but if so, might I suggest top storylines, couples, families, weddings & trials.

  9. Kudos again for putting together this wonderful tribute & retrospective of wonderful actresses. Like another poster stated, I personally would have picked Beverlee McKinsey for the #1 spot but thrilled with Susan Flannery who is indeed a powerhouse & consumate professional. I'm looking forward to the honorable mentions as well.



  10. I am bummed that Ruth Warrick is not in the top 50.

  11. That is a wonderful list...but I do have to say there are changes I would make to your list....I don't believe Crystal Chappell belongs in the top 10 range. I would put her at #50 and Mary Beth Evans and Marcy Walker in the top 10. I can't believe Vanessa Marcil is ahead of Mary Beth Evans on your list (gasp!), they are not in the same league...Evans is by far a greater actress. I wouldn't even place Zeman and Marcil on this list at all, especially since you left Anna Stuart, Martha Byrne, Frances Reid, Kathleen Widdoes, Robin Mattson, Ellen Dolan, and Ellen Wheeler off the list...they are all FAR better actresses than Marcil and Zeman, in my estimation.

  12. Your 50 Greatest Soap Actresses list is great. Sure I disagree with some of the choices, but it's been fun discussing and debating it with friends.

    We made our own lists, and when you're trying to come up with a list of 25 you really appreciate how difficult it is. btw, Susan Flannery was my #1 pick as well! :)

  13. While there has been some debate on swithching around the top five actresses' position on the list, I think the selections were good. But after watching daytime television for over 30 years I find it hard to believe that Elizabeth Hubbard is not in the top ten. She has the rare ability, as an actress, to not only make the most meaningless scene seem riveting, but also to steal a scene no matter who she is playing opposite. Check out the youtube clip of the 1987 Daytime Emmys, where Kim Zimmer won, and see for yourself that Elizabeth Hubbard is like no other.