Susan Lucci Agnes Nixon Dead All My Children

Susan Lucci: All My Children Creator Agnes Nixon 'Was All I Hoped to Be'

When Susan Lucci first read for the role of All My Children‘s Erica Kane — a part she’d eventually play for more than four decades and which would become emblematic of daytime television — she had no idea that the strong, flawed, brave, gutsy heroine pulled strongly from creator Agnes Nixon‘s own experiences.

Lucci just knew the character was good.

“I didn’t know for a long time that the story [Nixon] was telling through Erica was so close to her own,” Lucci told TVLine. “When I found that out, I felt so honored to be doing it. All I knew was that the writing I was seeing on the page was so rich and full of conflict and history and character — and also humor. She had such a great sense of humor, and it was all there.”

In an exclusive interview Wednesday evening, hours after Nixon’s family confirmed the news of her death, Lucci shared some memories of her 40-plus-year friendship with Nixon.

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TVLINE | Can you remember your first impression of Agnes?
Absolutely. And actually, I didn’t meet her; I saw her in the distance. It was my final callback audition for Erica Kane and I was put on tape that day. Fra Heflin and I were paired, always, as mother and daughter until that day. Fra was put on tape at a different time. But I was put on tape that day. And when I finished, I saw a very pretty blonde woman in an Yves Saint Laurent pantsuit which I recognized from magazines [Laughs]. She was the first woman I ever saw wearing the designer clothes that I had seen in magazines. And she had a beautiful satchel with her, and she was running down the hallway. As she ran down the hallway in the opposite direction from me, into what I think was the control room, the producer at that time Bud Kloss said to me, “Do you know who that was?” I said no. He said, “That’s Agnes Nixon.” I just had been so taken with the appearance of her. She was the first up-close I ever had to a professional woman who was a working, professional, successful woman in New York. She looked like everything I would have imagined such a woman would look like. I learned later that she was so much more than her appearance, which was beautiful and chic and modern. But she, herself, was all these things and more.

TVLINE | Talk to me about how your relationship with Agnes progressed as your time on the show went on.
The first time I was in her company outside of the studio was for an appearance that we were both asked to do early on in my career, early on with All My Children — certainly in the first year — down near where she lived. Her main house was in Rosemont, Penn. We rode the train down from New York, and that was just a thrill to be with her on the train and she told me about her Irish superstitions. I was just all ears. I was so thrilled she spoke to me that way. She asked me to come to her house to have some lunch, so I did… To go to her house, I saw a home. I knew that she had four children and she was also a very successful professional woman. And those were the things — I had no children at the time — but it was what I had always dreamed of. I wanted to be an actress and she was a writer, but I wanted to have it all. I wanted to have the career and raise the children beautifully, as she did. She was a mentor to me, as well. She was a role model. Her house was a home. And she was really part of that home. She had family traditions and love, and you could just feel all of it. And she was also a great success in her chosen field. That was all I had hoped to be, my whole life. She embodies it all.

TVLINE | Do you remember any times that she bucked you up? Or you talked about where Erica was going? Or that you celebrated with her?
Oh sure, we celebrated many times together. You know, I never really spoke to her about the writing of the character. I just felt so lucky. She would say to me, “You’ve got it.” She was so generous in her comments to me about what I brought to Erica. It was an amazing bond, because it was on the page. It was in her writing. Even before I knew Agnes, I would just think when I read it, “My god, how does someone know this?” It just made me fly. Made me soar. It was her writing. We were very much on the same page. [Laughs] I didn’t mean that as a pun, but yes, there it is.

TVLINE | All My Children taped its last ABC scene in 2011. There was a ceremony and cake, and Agnes was there. She was frail, but from all accounts, it seems like she was holding court, telling stories, still very sharp.
Absolutely she was. Our producer who was producing the show at that time in Los Angeles, Julie [Hanan] Carruthers, said that Agnes was the youngest voice in the room. Whatever room. And she was! She was modern. She was forward-thinking. She fought for storyline that was groundbreaking, that had never been done before anywhere on television. And she prevailed. It took a while, but she prevailed. When she had the opportunity and the greenlight to go ahead and write those storylines, they were rich, they were full and they were full of humanity. There are no words. She really was all that.

TVLINE | Were you in communication with her recently?
Oh yes, constantly. I’m so happy for her, and for all of us, that she finished her book. She finished her book. That will be out I don’t know exactly when, but I’m guessing very soon. In fact, last night, her son Bobby was saying that she asked him please to read the book jacket. She was supposed to sign off on it. That was last night.

Susan Lucci Agnes Nixon Dead All My ChildrenTVLINE | Oh, wow.
Yeah. Yes, as you mentioned, she had become more fragile, certainly in the last few years. But she still went to speech therapy and physical therapy and was always looking forward and ahead. She would still tell jokes! We would go out to dinner and she would still tell jokes. [Laughs] She was just spunky and fantastic in the best sense of the word… One of the loveliest women, ever.

TVLINE | Is there anything you think I need to know before we go?
Yes, one more thing. Because this is Agnes. When Bobby spoke to me, I wanted to personally put a small tribute to her on my personal [Instagram] account. So I had my autobiography with me today — I was in meetings — and I knew there was a wonderful picture of Agnes and me in there together. During one of those meetings, we had spoken of it… I knew when I got back in the car, I was going to take my phone out and take a picture of the picture so I could post whenever Bobby told me that it would be OK to do that. So I got in the car and I took my book in my hand and it fell open to the picture of Agnes and me. And that is Agnes. That was Agnes smiling on me, Agnes and her Irish superstition and her spirit and the little elf in her. That was Agnes, letting me know she was still with me.

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  1. Denise Daniel says:

    What a lovely remembrance by Susan.I’m thrilled to learn Agnes finished her memoir.Agnes gave a legion of viewers characters & stories that will be remembered forever. RIP Agnes

  2. Gene says:

    Susan, thank you for sharing such beautiful memories! Mrs Nixon was a remarkable writer, and you brought her words to life, like no one else ever could! Both Mr and Mrs Nixox were very well known here, on the Philadelphia Mainline, and will be terribly missed! Again, thanks for sharing! Lovely stories, from a Daytime icon, about a lady who told the whole story!!!

  3. CourtTV says:

    What a great interview!

  4. Jennifer Daly says:

    Great interview. I’m glad Susan stayed close to Agnes until the very end.

  5. Martha Mitovich Leiss says:

    Beautiful tribute and memories of an amazing woman! Thank you for sharing from your heart! I’ve been one of your biggest fans for many, many years! Your grace and beauty has shined through, once again, in this tribute to your dear friend and mentor. Agnes’ All My Children was my all time favorite soap until the end. I was always so jealous my brother got to be a part of the AMC world! I met you at Stamford Hospital when I was 16 years old in 1978; one of my life’s greatest thrills and memories!!

    God bless Agnes, and you, Susan Lucci! #AMC

  6. Ellie says:

    Susan was Agnes’s muse. How lucky for La Lucci to be the benefit of such great writing.

  7. Meena Comec says:

    All My Children’s best years were when Agnes was at the helm. She was a true visionary. May she rest in peace.

  8. AHW says:

    They don’t make them like Agnes Nixon anymore. I’m so glad she managed to finish her memoir before it was too late. I grew up near Philadelphia. Having a soap set on the Mainline was marvelous. I’m just sorry she had to witness her creation’s cruel demise. What a lovely tribute from Susan Lucci! You are missed, Agnes and Susan! Thanks for all the lovely memories!

  9. Frances Walton says:

    As a little girl I knew Agnes in Nashville, She was my mother’s star pupil. I was enthralled to hear her speaking fluent French to her then boyfriend on a transatlantic call. In 1973 Agnes visited my mother twice before her death and attended her funeral, such was her loyalty to her former teachers. When I was going through a rough time, she called me, wrote to me,and sent me a book, “The Drama of the Gifted Child” in which she wrote, “From one gifted child to another.” In latter years she was unable to correspond. Perhaps she didn’t remember me, but I guarantee she never forgot Eleanor Dubuisson “Miss Eleanor” Fossick, her first music and speech teacher. Mother shared many confidences with Agnes and had given young Agnes advice. Someday I would like to share those memories my mother shared with me. Oh,and mother was invited to cast parties back when Susan Lucci was a very young Erica Cane!