1 9 6 8 – 2 0 1 2 (USA)
11,136 x 30/60 minute episodes
One Life To Live debuted on 15 July 1968 as a half-hour drama, moving to a full-hour 10 years later.
Even though set in small-town Llanview (a fictional suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), the plots still managed to involve a surprisingly varied group of people and fantasy elements.
From the start, the series centred on newspaper publisher, university president, former mayor and sometimes waitress, the oft-married Viki Lord Riley Buchanan Buchanan Carpenter Davidson Banks (Erika Slezak) – one of the most durable characters on American television.
Over 43 years, Viki buried three husbands, took a bullet, had a stroke, got breast cancer, endured a couple of child abductions, wrestled with alternate personalities and battled Dorian, her evil stepmother. Slezak won five Daytime Emmys for the role.
Some stand-out moments in the show’s history included Kare admitting she was a prostitute (6 March 1979); the Buchanan Clan going back in time to the Old West (13 May 1988); the 25th-anniversary show (15 July 1993); Viki realising she had killed her father, Victor Lord (8 December 1995); and Bo and Nora being married by David (7 June 2010).
Over the decades, the show tackled teen pregnancy, gang rape, interracial marriage, a black woman passing as white, multiple personality disorders, and a gay love story – all back when such topics were taboo on television.
ABC announced the cancellation of One Life to Live on 14 April 2011, citing low ratings, high production costs and viewers’ changing tastes.
The final scenes were taped on 18 November 2011 and the last episode aired on 13 January 2012. Several characters were taken across to General Hospital. The final episode drew more than 3.8 million viewers, one of the highest ratings in the history of soap opera finales.
The departure of One Life to Live ended 62 years of daytime television soap opera production in New York, following the cancellations of its local brethren – All My Children, Guiding Light and As the World Turns.
ABC’s OLTL and All My Children were shot On 66th Street between Central Park West and the Hudson River, while CBS’s Guiding Light and As the World Turns were filmed on 57th Street near the Hudson. (Another World was shot in Brooklyn until its cancellation in 1999, and the soap Loving taped in Manhattan from 1983-1995.)