All About Actress Erika Slezak

Slezak played Victoria Lord on 'One Life to Live' for more than 40 years

Actress Erika Slezak. Copyright by Patti Hughes, 2013

Even though the long-running ABC soap opera “One Life to Live” aired its last episodes on television in 2012, actress Erika Slezak will always be fondly remembered for her portrayal of the show’s central character, Victoria Lord.

Viki, as she was usually called, was the daughter of millionaire publisher Victor Lord. Over her lengthy tenure on the show, the character had no shortage of juicy story lines.

In the four decades she was on “One Life to Live,” Viki was widowed three times, divorced four times, suffered from dissociative identity disorder, was shot twice, spent time in jail and had a slew of dramatic health problems including breast cancer and a heart attack. 

Here's a snapshot of the actress who brought Viki to life in fictional Llanview for more than 40 years.

Erika Slezak Personal Life

Erika Alma Hermina Slezak was born on Aug. 5, 1946, in Hollywood, California and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. She comes from a show business family; her father was stage actor Walter Slezak and her grandfather was opera singer Leo Slezak. Walter Slezak won the 1955 Tony Award for “Fanny.” 

Slezak and her siblings were raised to speak German, and she did not start to learn English until she was 5 years old.

In 1966, she graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts at age 17, one of the youngest graduates of the prestigious school.

She was a member of the Milwaukee Repertory Company for three seasons and a member of the Alley Theatre in Houston. Slezak garnered some notice as a stage actress before joining "One Life to Live."  

Slezak has two grown children, Amanda and Michael. Amanda has followed her mother into the acting business.

 

She's been married to fellow actor Brian Davies since 1978.

Erika Slezak on 'One Life to Live'

Slezak played Viki Buchanan for more than four decades, but she was not the first actress in the role. Viki was introduced in the show's 1968 pilot by actress Gillian Spencer. Slezak assumed the role in 1971. This was after she auditioned for, but did not get, a role on ABC soap opera "All My Children." 

Slezak won six Daytime Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Viki, the most ever to a single actress for one character. 

In November 2002, Slezak was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Silver Circle.

Although her character of Viki was enemies for many years with her stepmother Dorian Lord, Slezak and actress Robin Strasser are good friends in real life.

After it was announced that ABC was canceling "One Life to Live" in 2011, there was talk of an online revival (which lasted only a few months). Slezak said at the time, "You know when you die on daytime, you don't really die. You can always come back, even without a head."

When "One Life to Live" show creator Agnes Nixon, who created the part of Viki and hired Slezak, died in 2016, Slezak expressed her thanks on her personal website: " When she hired me to play Viki she changed my life and my career and I will forever be grateful to her."