All My Life

A Memoir

by Susan Lucci and Laura Morton

All My Life

Paperback, 343 pages, HarperCollins, List Price: $15.99 | purchase

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Hardcover, 322 pages, HarperCollins, $25.99, published March 29 2011 | purchase
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  • Susan Lucci and Laura Morton

Book Summary

The four-decade star of All My Children offers behind-the-scenes stories from the show and discusses the joys and heartaches of her life.

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Excerpt: All My Life

All My Life

All My Life

A Memoir


HarperCollins

Copyright © 2011 Susan Lucci
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-06-206184-3

Chapter One

Over the course of the past fifteen years or so, different publishers
and agents have reached out to me asking if I would be interested
in writing a book. Each letter laid out the specific reasons why
they believed people wanted to hear whatever it was I had to say.
While I was flattered by their kind words, writing a memoir wasn’t
something I ever thought was in me. And, to be very honest, I didn’t
have the time it takes to sit down and write one. As a working ac-
tress, wife, mother, new grandmother, and a businesswoman, I live
with a very full schedule. Most of the time I feel like I’ve been shot
out of cannon. I spend a great many days reading and memorizing
scripts, creating the nuances that bring the dialogue and Erica
Kane to life, and then I fill it all up with acting. On top of that,
I’m attending design meetings for my products on HSN, I’m taking
voice lessons, doing interviews, talk-show appearances, and trying
to squeeze in my morning workouts somewhere between four and
five in the morning! When I am not working, I am traveling for work
or spending time with my family. I am always moving forward, so I
wasn’t sure that there would ever be a good time or any time to
look back. Those moments of reflection or “savoring the moment”
have been few and far between for me.
There were many times when my makeup artist Robin Ostrow
and my hairstylist Joyce Corollo, from the New York team at All
My Children, also encouraged me to write a book, because people
who knew we worked together always asked them questions about
me. Robin and Joyce were constantly coming to me with different
ideas about what I should write. They talked about fashion, health,
beauty, and inspirational stories from my life. They were very
encouraging, but at the time I still wasn’t completely convinced that
writing a book was the right thing for me.
In late 2009, I agreed to do a charity event for Francesca James,
one of the legendary actresses of All My Children. She played the
dual role of Kitty and Kelly. She auctioned off a handwritten letter
from me answering whatever questions the winning fan wanted to
ask. When I received the questions, I wanted to take the time to sit
down and thoughtfully answer them. At first, it was just one of many
tasks I had to do that day—something else on my already piled-high
and overflowing plate. Much to my surprise, though, answering the
questions was really fun and intriguing despite the tremendous time
constraints. One of the questions this person asked was “What are
some of your favorite things to do when you are not playing Erica
Kane?” I love those types of questions because they allow me to be
spontaneous in my response. I’ve always liked flying by the seat of
my pants. Answering that letter opened me up, maybe for the first
time ever, as I suddenly found myself thinking about the process of
writing and what it would really take to someday author a book.
In early 2010, my son, Andreas, came to me and said that he really
thought I should write a book, too. He had no idea we had received so
many letters from various publishers and literary agents. I was curious
to know why he felt I should, so I asked him to share his reasons.
“Once the girls I meet find out that you are my mom, they want
to know how you accomplished your goals. They’re eager to know
your story.” Andreas was very thoughtful, enthusiastic, and really
heartfelt in his explanation.
Andreas mentioned writing a book to me a few more times. And
then one day Helmut brought me a folder full of those inquiry letters
he’d been saving over the years. I had no idea that he had kept all
of them. We sat at our kitchen table and began to read some aloud.
One by one, each outlined very clearly a singular message. People
wanted the book to be about me from me. Everyone agreed that
virtually anyone with a television knows Susan Lucci as Erica Kane,
but no one really knows much about Susan Lucci. Rereading those
letters, especially with the encouragement from my son and so many
others, made me realize that maybe now I should make the time to
share my story.
So here I am. After spending forty-one years in front of the
camera playing the unstoppable Erica Kane while successfully
shielding and protecting my privacy and the privacy of my family, I
am closing my eyes and holding my breath as I begin to peel back
the curtain of my life, hoping it is the right thing to do. It’s a little
bit scary and a lot intimidating. But if I am going to take you on
this journey with me, then like everything else I do in my life, I am
committed to going all the way—no limits and no self-imposed barriers
holding me back. To be certain, this process has been different
and challenging for me. But it is something I now fully appreciate
and enjoy. I have never spent time in a therapist’s office; nor have I
ever candidly discussed my private life in public. I have spent many
sleepless nights wondering why anyone would want to read my story,
and to tell you the truth, I still can’t say I know. I am a woman who
pays attention to what those around me have to say, and for years,
they’ve been asking me to share my story with you. So, with respect
for those wishes and without further ado, here is my story.
My parents, Jeanette and Victor Lucci, referred to me as their
“Christmas baby” because I was born on December 23, in Yonkers,
New York. As a little girl, there weren’t too many birthday cakes or
parties for me because of the proximity of my birthday to the holiday
(I’m sure so many Christmas babies can relate to this!) Still,
my parents always tried to make my birthday special. They put up
our Christmas tree on December 22 so my birthday presents could
be slipped under the tree and opened the next day, on my birthday.
Much to my mother’s credit, she always told everyone in our family
that they couldn’t combine Christmas and birthday gifts. After all, it
wasn’t my fault that I was born so close to the holiday.
My parents both grew up during the Depression era. Everything
they did was about making life better for their children. Our family
moved to Elmont, a suburb of Long Island in New York, when I
was two years old. We spent five years there before settling into the
picture-perfect enclave of Garden City.
My father’s parents were Italian immigrants to America. His
father died when my dad was only fifteen years old. His mother
remarried, although I don’t believe my dad was terribly close to his
stepfather. When my brother and I were younger, my father
occasionally took us to visit them, usually without my mother. I didn’t
understand at the time why she never came with us, but years later
I would learn that my Italian grandmother didn’t approve of my
father’s decision to marry a non-Italian girl.
My Italian grandmother only spoke a few words of English. When
we’d visit, she’d smile, grab me by both cheeks, and pinch—hard.
She showered me with lots of hugs and kisses, but we barely ever
spoke. She always offered me a glass of milk—as milk was one of the
few words she could say that I understood. Oftentimes, my father’s
other relatives, including brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles, would
be at his mother’s home when we visited. They’d all sit around the
living room telling big and boisterous stories, speaking only in Italian
gesturing with their hands, waving their arms, and laughing out
loud. I didn’t understand a word they said, but I always knew that
whatever it was, it was hysterically funny. While they talked,
wandered around the apartment, exploring the knickknacks and family
memorabilia my grandmother kept. I especially liked going into her
bedroom, which was very dark except for the glow of the candles
she’d keep lit for the Blessed Mother and the baby Jesus. My Italian
grandmother was a devout Roman Catholic.
As a little girl, I remember thinking her home was very mysterious
because I had never seen anything like it. I wasn’t scared so
much as intrigued by what it all meant. I had great curiosity about
her bedroom in particular. Going to my Italian grandmother’s home
was all about mystery because I never knew what she and the rest
of my relatives were talking about, yet I knew I liked the sounds I
heard and the enthusiasm they had when they spoke.
I believe in mystery. I am drawn to it and am very comfortable
being surrounded by it. Maybe that is part of why I chose to keep an
air of mystery over my own life as I stepped into the limelight years
later. Maybe.
My father was one of thirteen children. Although his older sib-
lings were all born in Italy, my dad was a first-generation Italian
American who wanted a better life for his children than he was
given as a child. My father enlisted in the United States Army
during World War II. He was a real patriot who considered it an
honor to serve his country. Education was everything to him. He
believed that there were no limits to what you could do in life with
a good, strong foundation. Although he didn’t finish college, he was
able to put himself through school with help from his local steel-
workers’ union and the GI bill. He eventually formed a partnership
in a construction business, which primarily helped build the steel
infrastructures for high-rise buildings in New York City. My father’s
business allowed us to live a good but modest life. He worked
very hard to provide all of the necessities—and then some—to our
family. People often assume that because I have Italian features
and have an Italian last name, I grew up in a large Italian family,
but I really didn’t. My father’s family was my only touchstone to
that heritage.
When we moved to Garden City, we didn’t look like the typical
Anglo-Saxon family living there. The community consisted primarily
of Episcopalian families. I think ours was one of the few in the
neighborhood with a vowel at the end of our last name. My father
looked very Italian, with beautiful olive skin, jet-black hair, and big
brown eyes. Although I resembled my mother more, I did inherit
some of my dad’s dark coloring, which made me feel like an outsider
during my youth. I felt and looked different from the other children
in our neighborhood and in school. There were so many times when
people would see my father gardening out in our front yard or doing
landscape work on our grounds and they would ask him questions
as if he were the hired help. My father always laughed it off, with-
out ever giving it a second thought. There was a certain amount
of prejudice that existed in the 1950s, especially if you didn’t look
like everyone else. It hurt me deeply that people judged or looked
down on my dad based on his appearance, especially because he
was such a giving and generous man. If there was a blizzard or a
hurricane, my dad would always be the first one out there after the
storm blew over, driving around the community to see if there was
any damage, downed trees, blocked drains, or if anyone needed his
help. I’d sometimes get to go along for the ride. He’d sit me in the
front seat with him and I felt so proud and privileged to be the one
by his side.
My father was a very smart man, a voracious reader, and we all
thought of him as an American history buff. In my family, we all
referred to my father as the “walking encyclopedia” because of his
vast knowledge on so many subjects. He knew everything about the
great battles our country fought and took great pride in sharing his
knowledge with my brother and me. Sometimes we’d take family
trips to historical sites in upstate New York, including West Point
and Fort Ticonderoga, so my father could teach us while showing
us where these events took place. We’d sit around our kitchen table
while he gave my older brother, Jimmy, and me impromptu quizzes
or fun brainteasers to solve. Sometimes I’d figure out the answer
before Jimmy. I could see the tickled look in my father’s eyes—he
was proud of me whenever I got it right.
On Sunday afternoons, we would take a family drive in my parent’s
car, something my brother and I loathed. Jimmy was six years
older than me. He wanted to be with his friends on the weekends,
not riding in the backseat of our car with his little sister. We’d
usually end up having Sunday dinner at a family-style restaurant that
my parents loved. As we stood in line waiting to be seated, my father
often told anyone who would listen that I was the “brains” of our
family.
My father always encouraged me to get a good education, to do
the things I enjoyed most, and to never be afraid. We’d sit on a
cushioned metal glider on the front porch of our brick house in Elmont,
looking up at the stars together. He showed me the various
constellations in the sky, explained the solar system, and reminded me to
dream big.
“See that moon up there. You can reach that high. Keep your feet
on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars, Susan. You can be
anything you want to be,” he’d say. “Never be afraid because you can
be anything you want to be.”

(Continues...)




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