|Erika Slezak as Victoria Lord|
|One Life to Live|
|Portrayed by||Erika Slezak (1970–2012)|
|First appearance||Episode 1|
July 15, 1968
|Last appearance||Episode 11,096|
January 13, 2012
|Created by||Agnes Nixon|
|Nickname(s)||Blondie, Queen Victoria, Viki D, Vik (from Todd)|
|Aliases||Niki Smith, Tommy, Jean Randolph, Princess, Tori, Victor Lord |
1177 Regency Drive,
Llanview, Pennsylvania 19100
Victoria "Viki" Lord (formerly Gordon, Riley, Burke, Buchanan, Carpenter, Davidson, and Banks) is the principal fictional character and matriarch of the Lord family on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live. Created as an original plot device by series creator Agnes Nixon, the role was originated by Gillian Spencer on the debut episode first-aired July 15, 1968; Nixon later recast her with Joanne Dorian temporarily in early 1970 and then with Erika Slezak. Slezak has become synonymous with the role, first appearing in the episode first-run March 17, 1970 and playing Viki nearly continuously throughout the series run to become one of the most lauded and longest-serving serial actors in American media. Slezak was on maternity leave in the 1980s by being temporarily replaced by 2 actresses Judith Barcroft and Christine Jones in 1980 and 1985.
The mainstay heroine figure of the serial, Victoria's storylines focus on drudgery, love, and family troubles. One of the longest-running characters on American daytime television, Viki has weathered widowhood (three times), divorce, a brain aneurysm, a near-death out-of-body experience, being shot, suffering a stroke, breast cancer, rape, heart disease, a heart transplant, the abduction of three of her five children as infants, the deaths of two siblings Tony and Meredith Lord who died too early, and the death of her late daughter, Megan Gordon from lupus, And then the death of one of her husbands Sloan Carpenter from a deadly disease. Most notably, she suffers recurring bouts with dissociative identity disorder throughout the show narrative.
One Life to Live series creator Agnes Nixon conceived the central role of Victoria Lord inspired by her own well-to-do upbringing, and by the wealthy Philadelphia Main Line protagonist of the 1939 play The Philadelphia Story, Tracy Lord, portrayed on stage and film by actress Katharine Hepburn.
Casting and reception
Victoria Lord was originally portrayed by Gillian Spencer from the One Life to Live premiere in 1968 until 1969. The role was briefly recast by Nixon with Joanne Dorian in 1969 through 1970 temporarily, and again in 1970 with Slezak, who has become synonymous with the character for so long. Two other actresses have portrayed Viki while Slezak was on maternity leave: Christine Jones in 1980 and 1981, and Judith Barcroft in late 1985 through early 1986. In the summer of 2000, Slezak's real-life daughter, Amanda Davies, portrayed a teenaged Viki in flashbacks. Leah Marie Hays played the role of a young Victoria Lord in a series of flashbacks as well.
Slezak has received six Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress for portraying Viki in 1985, 1986, 1990, 1995, 1996, and 2000. Often compared to film actress Meryl Streep for her acting range, versatility, and numerous award nominations, Slezak holds the record for the most Daytime Emmy wins by a single actress; actor Anthony Geary holds the record for most Daytime Emmy wins by a single actor.
1960s and 1970s
The eldest child of domineering millionaire publisher Victor Lord (Ernest Graves), Viki has little time for romance when One Life to Live begins in 1968. She clashes with reporter Joe Riley (Lee Patterson), but they soon fall in love; Victor disapproves and tries to keep them apart. Torn between pleasing her father and following her heart, Viki develops a wild alternate personality named Niki Smith, who falls in love with Vinny Wolek (Antony Ponzini). Viki's illness — apparently caused by seeing her pregnant mother fall down the stairs as a child — is eventually treated, and she and Joe marry in 1969. Joe is presumed dead in a car accident in 1970, and a heartbroken Viki finds comfort with fellow reporter Steve Burke (Bernie Grant) in 1971. After Steve is put on trial and exonerated for the murder of Banner secretary Marcy Wade (Francesca James), and he and Viki marry in 1971. When a very-much alive Joe returns in-time for the nuptials, having survived his supposedly deadly car accident, Viki is forced to choose between two husbands. Viki initially stays married to Steve out of obligation, but ultimately divorces him and remarries Joe in 1972. Joe Riley sadly dies that year of a deadly rare disease. In 1973, Dr. Dorian Cramer blames board member Viki for her suspension from Llanview Hospital, and a rivalry is born that will last decades. In 1974, Dorian becomes Victor's private physician, then marries him. Viki learns she has a late half-brother, Tony Lord (George Reinholt), and Dorian plots to keep Victor's fortune for herself. In 1971, Victor dies under mysterious circumstances (although viewers are left with the strong impression that Dorian murdered him before she came to Llanview). Dorian wreaks havoc on the Lord family, and Viki and Joe have a son, Kevin Lord Riley. In 1978, Viki takes in Tina Clayton (Andrea Evans), whom she is told is the sixteen-year-old daughter of her best friend Irene Manning Clayton, who is apparently dying of cancer in 1973 long before her daughter Tina Clayton comes to Llandview. Shortly in the late 70s long after Irene dies, Viki goes on trial for the murder of her nemesis Marco Dane (Gerald Anthony), but she is later exonerated following confessional testimony by Karen Wolek (Judith Light). Joe dies from a brain tumor in October 1972, and Viki gives birth to their second son, Joe Riley, Jr., in January 1980 long after Joe Riley's ultimately sad death.
After a disastrous relationship with con man Ted Clayton, who brainwashes and drugs her in an attempt to get his hands on her fortune, Viki marries newspaper editor Clint Buchanan (Clint Ritchie) in 1982; he adopts both of her sons. Echo DiSavoy (Kim Zimmer), seeking revenge on Clint for her mother's murder, seduces him in 1983 to ruin his marriage, then fakes her own death and frames him for it. Clint is later exonerated after Echo is found alive, and he and Viki reunite Echo left town in 1983 and was never seen again or heard from. Viki is shocked to discover in 1985 that her former ward Tina Clayton is in fact her half-sister, the daughter of Victor and Irene Manning, Viki's childhood friend. Thanks to the machinations of Tina's boyfriend Mitch Laurence (Roscoe Born), Viki succumbs to the pressure and Niki Smith returns. Posing as Viki, Niki divorces Clint; Viki later overcomes her illness with the realization that it had actually been triggered by her witnessing Victor and Irene in bed many years before. Clint and Viki remarry in late 1985, and Viki gives birth to their daughter Jessica Buchanan that same year. Jessica is kidnapped shortly after birth by Allison Perkins (Barbara Garrick), a disciple of Mitch Laurence; thankfully, Jessica is returned unharmed, and Allison is institutionalized. In 1988, Viki learns that she had given birth to a baby in high school, but her father had a hypnotist erase the memory. Viki's memory is restored in 1989 when she meets Roger Gordon (Larry Pine), the father of her child, whom she had married at the time but had been presumed dead; Viki has the marriage annulled at Clint's insistence. Roger's daughter Megan Gordon (Jessica Tuck) is revealed to also be Viki's daughter; she and Viki find each other disagreeable at first, but ultimately get past their initial conflicts and become close.
In 1990, Viki is elected mayor of Llanview, but a shooting and subsequent stroke leaves her paralyzed and in a wheelchair; Niki Smith emerges to aid a paralyzed Viki stand up and shoot Johnny Dee Hesser when he attacks Tina. Viki recovers and later donates a kidney to Megan, who is suffering from lupus; despite the transplant, Megan dies, leaving Viki devastated. Having grown distant with Clint, Viki has an affair with Sloan Carpenter (Roy Thinnes); she and Clint divorce in 1994, and she marries Sloan. Sloan dies soon after from Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1995 just as the existence of a second child of the late Victor Lord and the late Irene Clayton's is revealed. Viki's stress reaches a critical point when Dorian (Robin Strasser) tells Viki a secret of which she thought Viki had been aware: the fact that Victor had sexually abused his daughter as a child. With this trauma being what had actually initiated Viki's dissociative identity disorder, she subsequently splinters into several personalities, one of which imprisons Dorian in a secret room below Llanfair. Dorian is eventually freed from her confinement, and Viki recovers after realizing she herself (more specifically, one of her alternate personalities) was the one who had smothered Victor to death in 1971. In 1995, reviled town outcast Todd Manning (Roger Howarth) is proven to be Victor and Irene's illegitimate son; Viki and Todd eventually become close. After a failed reconciliation attempt with Clint, Viki meets and falls in love with Ben Davidson (Mark Derwin), who is eventually revealed to be the long-lost son of Asa Buchanan (Philip Carey) and Renée Divine Buchanan (Patricia Elliott). Ben's first wife, Skye Chandler (Robin Christopher), comes to town and tries in vain to keep Ben and Viki apart.
Viki is diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, but survives after a mastectomy. She and Ben marry later that year. In 2001, a girl named Natalie Balsom (Melissa Archer) makes the startling claim that she is Viki and Clint's biological daughter, which is confirmed by a DNA test. It is ultimately determined that Viki's enemy Mitch Laurence had secretly raped a drugged Viki around the same time she had conceived a child with Clint. Viki had unknowingly become pregnant with fraternal twins, one fathered by Clint (Natalie) and the other fathered by Mitch (Jessica). Mitch's daughter had been taken during delivery, and Viki had never known that she had more than one child. Mitch, however, had wanted his daughter to grow up loved by Viki in the lap of luxury, and had kidnapped Clint's child. She had been replaced with Mitch's daughter (who would become Jessica), and Clint's daughter (who would become Natalie) had been given away. Niki Smith emerges during the ordeal and plots to kill Ben in order to have her freedom, but when Ben is accidentally shot by Antonio Vega (Kamar de los Reyes) during a hostage crisis, Viki returns. Ben is left comatose after the shooting. In 2003, Victor (William Stone Mahoney) is revealed to be alive, as he had faked his death years earlier; however, shortly after he returns, Victor dies — but not before Viki gets a chance to confront him about the sexual abuse he inflicted upon her. In 2004, Viki is diagnosed with heart disease and eventually needs a heart transplant. Coincidentally, a comatose Ben dies just as Viki takes a turn for the worse, and his heart is transplanted into Viki, who recovers but must face widowhood once again.
In 2007, Viki and Clint (Jerry verDorn) start dating again, but Dorian decides she wants Clint for herself and plots to break up the couple. Dorian's schemes succeed, and Clint ends things with Viki to start a new relationship with Dorian. Feeling humiliated and defeated, Viki leaves Llanview for a much-needed vacation and finds herself in Paris, Texas, where she tries to reinvent herself by waiting tables at a local diner. It is there that she meets patron Charlie Banks (Brian Kerwin), a recovering alcoholic, and the two begin seeing one another. Viki ultimately returns to Llanview once her family discovers her secret life, and Charlie's search for his estranged son Jared (John Brotherton) leads him there as well. Viki and Charlie resume their relationship, but break up when Viki discovers that Charlie had lied about the identity of his son in extenuating circumstances. In July 2008, Viki is involved in a car accident with Dorian; Viki's heart stops as a result of the crash, but Dorian manages to revive her. Reexamining her life, Viki reunites with Charlie, and they marry on August 4, 2009. Viki runs for mayor against Dorian and wins; she steps down, however, to help her family deal with the unexpected return of Mitch Laurence, who wreaks havoc on her daughters and murders Jared in the process.
Charlie, devastated over his son's death, quits his sobriety and began drinking, distancing himself from Viki, choosing instead to conspire with Dorian to kill Mitch. Though Dorian tries to stop him at the last minute, Charlie ends up accidentally shooting Jessica, who survives. Devastated by Charlie's actions, Viki asks him for a divorce, but thanks to Dorian's meddling, Viki and Charlie reconcile. Viki and Charlie's marriage is further complicated by the return of Echo DiSavoy, who had almost destroyed her marriage to Clint in 1983. Echo, whom Clint forces to go along with his scheme, begins insinuating herself into Charlie and Viki's marriage, much to Viki's dismay. When a paternity revealed Charlie not to be the father of Rex Balsom (John-Paul Lavoisier), a devastated Charlie turns to Echo for comfort. While the two engaged in an affair, a conflicted Charlie found it unable to decide between his wife and mistress. Dorian, who had suspicions about Echo and Charlie's dealings, forged a truce with Viki to uncover Charlie's misgivings. A devastated Viki finds out about Charlie's affair and definitively asks him for a divorce. After confronting Charlie and Echo, Viki went to court to fight for custody of grandson Ryder while his mother Jessica was ill with her multiple personality. Viki, under tremendous stress, suffered a bout with her multiple personality while testifying for custody, leading the judge decide against giving temporary custody to Viki and instead giving the child to Viki's son and daughter-in-law, Joey and Aubrey Buchanan (Terri Conn).
In summer 2011 a man with the "original" face of her brother, Todd (Howarth), returned to Llanview claiming to be the victim of eight years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of his mother and Viki's college roommate, back-from-the-dead Irene Manning. After medical tests revealed that the "newer" Todd and the "old" Todd (Trevor St. John) to have had identical DNA, Irene returned to town and revealed "the two Todds" to be twins. The man who resembled Walker Laurence (St. John) and who has been living as Todd since 2003 was revealed actually have been born Victor Lord, Jr., brainwashed into believing that he is Todd by Irene. Meanwhile, Viki agreed in court to put Clint in her home under house arrest, after he was convicted of various crimes throughout Llanview. In August 2011, Viki and Bo (Robert S. Woods) act as the maid-of-honor and best man when Dorian and David remarried; Dorian and Viki soon end their feud of nearly four decades when Dorian leaves town become an acting U.S. senator. Viki continues work at The Banner when Tina returns to town for the reading of the will of their recently-deceased brother, Victor, Jr. Clint's first-born son and Tina's ex-husband, Cord Roberts (John Loprieno), concurrently returns to Llanview. Cord and Tina (Evans) rekindle their old flame and soon remarry with Clint and Viki at their respective sides. After months of rehashing old feelings and living under the same roof, Clint and Viki too admit to their unresolved feelings and agreed to give a romantic relationship one more try.
At the finale, a prison breakout leads Allison Perkins to shoot both Clint and Viki, but only after telling the two that Jessica was in fact Clint's daughter and not the daughter of Mitch Laurence. Clint sanctioned another paternity test and, in the presence of Jessica, Viki, and Natalie, revealed Allison's claim to be true. Following all the emotional revelations and tears, Clint again declares his undying love for Viki and asks her to marry him for a third time.
Currently, all six of Viki's alternate personalities are integrated with her baseline psyche, though at times she has been forced to impersonate one of them, particularly Niki and Jean. In order of their first appearance on One Life to Live, they are:
- Nicole "Niki" Smith - a devil-may-care, sexually promiscuous party girl, approximately 26 years old. First appearing on the episode first-run November 15, 1968, Niki appears more times than all of the other alters combined, and is very skilled at masquerading as Viki when necessary to hide her re-emergence. Niki has had two serious relationships with Vince Wolek (1968–69) and Harry O'Neill (1985); neither Vinny or Harry realized at the time that Niki was an alter of Viki. Harry died in 1985 because he was murdered shortly after alter Niki Smith came along from Viki's personalities.
- Tommy - a 19 year old male alter emerged in 1995, who embodied Viki's anger and rage at her abuse. Tommy usually emerged to protect Princess (another alternate personality), and once threw Dorian Lord down the Llanfair staircase.
- Jean Randolph - Jean Randolph is the calm, cool, collected and calculating caretaker of all the other alters, who took over when Viki's abusive childhood was revealed. Her name is derived from that of Viki's recentily long deceased mother from childhood, Eugenia Randolph Lord in the 1950s. Jean blackmailed con man David Vickers into divorcing Viki's sister, Tina, and also freed Viki's son, Joey, from Dorian Lord's clutches by imprisoning Dorian in a secret room in the basement of Llanfair, which led Joey to believe that Dorian left him. Jean then forced Dorian to marry David to keep them both occupied and away from Viki's loved ones.
- Princess - a manifestation of Viki as a seven year old girl. She is a traumatized child who is constantly reliving the molestation by Viki's father. Protected by Tommy, the 29 year old alternate personality, who is most angry about the abuse.
- Tori - Tori emerged in 1995, approximately 39 years old, after Dorian revealed the truth of Victor's abuse to Viki. It was established that Tori was the alter who murdered Victor Lord in 1971. (It would later be revealed that Victor survived and did not die until 2003. However Dorian has planted a seed of doubt regarding that notion, suggesting that the man who re-emerged as Victor in 2003 was a fraud.) Although her declared mission was to force Viki to face the truth, she wreaked much destruction before getting around to that. Tori started undermining The Banner by feeding stories and information to rival newspaper editor Todd Manning, and she torched Llanfair, nearly killing Jessica in the blaze.
- Victor Lord - this personality is the reflective image of Viki's abusive father, Victor who was murdered in 1971. The late Victor Lord personality only emerged two or three times, but one of the instances that he took over led Viki to attempt suicide by cutting her own wrists to "expel" Victor from her body.