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Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Alumni of "All My Children" - 2011 Television Finale

2011 was one of those years in which a lot changed in the world of traditional television.  Particularly in the world of daytime dramas.

It seems hard to believe that in 1991, there were eleven daytime dramas that were on the air, and in 2016, we are now left with only four.

Now, many of these soap operas were cancelled after just a few years.  That was the case with "Ryan's Hope", "Loving", "The City", "Generations",  "Capitol", "Passions", "Santa Barbara", and "Sunset Beach". 

But we also lost some long running shows as well.  "Another World" went off the air in 1999 after thirty-five years.  The world stopped turning for "As The World Turns" in 2010 after fifty-four years.  And in 2009, "Guiding Light" dimmed permanently after a whopping seventy-two years on the air - both on television and on radio.

And by 2011, another show was set to join the soap opera graveyard.

On September 23, 2011, the 41-year-old soap opera "All My Children" aired its final episode on ABC.  Although the show did briefly come back in online form with assistance from Prospect Park Studios in 2013, 2011 is really the date that most fans of the show associate with the end.

Since the show's debut in 1970, millions of fans watched "All My Children" to see what scandals, romance, and mystery the citizens of Pine Valley, Pennsylvania could get embroiled in.  And the show certainly was a popular one.  Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, it was always within the Top 5 most watched daytime serials.  In fact, it was the top rated soap opera in 1978 and 1979!  I can't even list the number of Daytime Emmy Awards that the show received over its forty-one years on the air.  It's been that many.  Heck, Susan Lucci herself was responsible for at least 20+ of those nominations, finally winning an award in 1999 after years of being nominated!

And, of course, Susan Lucci will forever be known as the face of "All My Children" long after the show stopped.  After all, she did play the role of Erica Kane for the entire series run, and probably had more storylines, scandals, and love interests than any of the other cast members combined.

But, what other famous faces got their start on "All My Children" all those years ago?  And what are they doing now?  In some cases like with Peter Bergman, Maurice Benard, Elizabeth Hendrickson, and Billy Miller, they've gone on to other soap operas.  And sadly, some actors such as David Canary and James Mitchell are no longer with us.

But did any AMC alumni find super stardom after the show?  Yes, of course!  In fact, I've found a total of ten superstars who received their first big break on "All My Children" and who will forever hold the soap near and dear to their hearts for kickstarting their careers.

Let's have a look.

Played Hayley Vaughn Santos (1990-2002; 2010)

Obviously this one is a no-brainer.  We all know that Kelly became a huge star interviewer after leaving the show in 2002 to co-host "Live With Regis and Kelly".  And although she's involved in a bit of a feud with her departing co-host Michael Strahan, Kelly's still done well for herself.  And, I think of all the people on this list, Kelly probably has the most fond memories of "All My Children" here.  Not only did she appear on the show for twelve years - returning in 2010 for the 40th anniversary - but she met her husband, Mark Consuelos, on the show!

Played Kendall Hart (1993-1995)

Another person who can attribute their success to "All My Children" is Buffy the Vampire Slayer herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar.  The original Kendall Hart - also known as Erica's secret daughter - certainly wreaked a lot of havoc in Pine Valley, earning her a Daytime Emmy in 1995 for her hard work.  But rumours of a feud between her and Susan Lucci ran rampant, and she left the show the same year she won the Emmy.  But Sarah grew to become a huge film and television star, and she did return to the show for a cameo in 2011 - but since Alicia Minshew was already playing Kendall at the time, she played a random hospital patient.

Played Jenny Gardner Nelson (1981-1984, 1994)

You may remember Kim Delaney from her brief stint on "CSI: Miami", as well as in Lifetime's "Army Wives".  But before all that, Kim Delaney was part of a quartet of young actors who formed some of "All My Children's" first supercouples.  She was paired up with Greg Nelson (Laurence Lau), who became best friends with Angie and Jesse Hubbard (Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams).  And certainly in her initial three years, she experienced a lot of love, and a lot of heartbreak.  Her character's death in a jet-ski accident in 1984 still probably breaks the hearts of fans everywhere.  Her character briefly returned as a ghost in 1994 during the Pine Valley tornado storyline trying to help her brother Tad (Michael E. Knight).

And, let's go on with another CSI: Miami alum.

Played Maria Santos (1993-1997, 2002-2005, 2010-2011)

Eva LaRue has certainly had an interesting career.  She's played Annette Funicello, she was on "CSI: Miami" for the latter part of the show's run, and she briefly appeared as Danny's new wife on the show "Fuller House".  But it was "All My Children" where Eva LaRue really shined.  Sure, she had brief television and film appearances before joining the soap in 1993, but she developed a lot of fans while she was on the show for three separate stints - one of which where she was killed off but brought back to life.  Typical soap opera.

Played Caleb Thompson (1986)

Okay, it's time to add some males to this list.  And here's an interesting fact.  I had no idea that Christian Slater was on "All My Children".  It was one of his first roles, and apparently it didn't last that long as 1986 is the only year that he is credited for.  However, we all know that two years after appearing on the show he scored a little role in a film called "Heathers", and this kickstarted his lengthy film career!

Played Linda Warner (1984-1985)

Another blink and you'll miss her actress came in the form of Melissa Leo, whose character of Linda Warner tried to get in between the supercouple of Nina and Cliff back in the mid-1980s.  But don't feel too bad for her.  Although she wasn't on "All My Children" for long, she has since gone on to appear in some critically acclaimed movies including "21 Grams", "Frozen River" and "The Fighter" - the latter of which won her an Academy Award for Best Actress!

Played Reggie Montgomery (2003-2006)

These days, you may remember him from his two year stint on "Friday Night Lights", or you may have seen him on "Parenthood"...or if you're really unlucky, you might have seen him in that box office bomb "Fantastic Four" from last year - though to his credit, I didn't think his performance was bad.  Prior to all that though, he got his big break on "All My Children", playing the adoptive son of long-running character Jackson Montgomery (Walt Willey).

Oh, let's add another Montgomery to that list, shall we?

Played Lily Montgomery (2004-2008, 2010)
Played Ava Benton (2007-2008)

Yep, that's right.  Much like David Canary and Elizabeth Hendrickson before her, Leven Rambin played dual roles on "All My Children" that could NOT have been more different.  As Lily Montgomery, Rambin played a character who was autistic - which must have been a real challenge for her.  But as Ava Benton, she played Lily's secret sister who was street-smart and charming.  Since leaving "All My Children", Rambin has carved out a great film career.  She was in "The Hunger Games", "Chasing Mavericks", and "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters".  Not bad at all!

Played Lily Montgomery (1993-1996)

Or, mayber there's just something about the role of Lily Montgomery that just attracts famous faces.  Case in point, Michelle Trachtenberg.  She has been in everything lately.  Starting with her lead role in the kids film "Harriet the Spy", she went on to play Buffy's little sister on "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer" (reuniting her with Sarah Michelle Gellar).  She also did a six year stint doing voices for "Robot Chicken", was on "Gossip Girl" for four years, and is currently working on the film "Sister Cities".  Clearly, she shows no sign of stopping her career anytime soon.  And to think it all began on "All My Children"!

Played Leo du Pres (1999-2002, 2011)

It was so hard to come up with just ten people since there were so many to choose from, but I'm sure most will probably throw stuff at me if I didn't include Josh Duhamel on this list.  After all, he's had quite the film career since leaving "All My Children".  And sadly, his time on "All My Children" was cut short as he fell off a cliff and died.  Though he did return in 2011 in a dream sequence featuring himself and Rebecca Budig who played his love interest Greenlee Smythe.

As I said before, Duhamel has immersed himself into the movie industry.  Some movies have been great "Win A Date With Tad Hamilton".  Some not so good "Life As We Know It".  And some ("Movie 43") are best left not talked about at all.  But he did marry Fergie from the Black-Eyed Peas!

Honourable mentions go out to Amanda Bearse, Jesse McCartney, Cameron Mathison, Colin Egglesfield, Lacey Chabert, Kelli Giddish, Shari Headley, Mischa Barton, Laura San Giacomo, Paige Turco, and Lindsay Price for also making a career after "All My Children".  I just only had room for ten names!

Can you think of anyone else who got famous for appearing on a daytime soap like "All My Children"?  I'm interested in hearing your responses!

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