One Life to Live’s Ellen Holly on First Encounter With Paul Rauch: “I Saw This Furious Somebody in an Ernest Hemingway Safari Suit”

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times.The soap behind the soap, is the soap! We Love Soaps has been busy publishing one of their multi-part historical soap gems for the past month or so, and this time around the subject is One Life to Live legend Ellen Holly, who portrayed Carla Gray, a black woman, who for a time passed for white on the serial.

Holly was with the Agnes Nixon daytime drama from its debut in 1968 to 1980. She returned from 1983-85. It was during Holly's last, reportedly tumultuous, stint in the fictional Llanview, PA that she allegedly endured volatile run-ins with notororious executive producer Paul Rauch, which, according to the actress in her memoir, One Life: An Autobiography of an African-American Actress, led to her dismissal and that of Lillian Hayman, who played her mother. Check out a few of Holly's shocking, in depth recollections to WLS below!
On her first encounter with Rauch in 1984:

“I saw this furious somebody in an Ernest Hemingway safari suit, stamping across the set, looking like he was about to smack me in the face. He was so close, his spit flew in my face, and I had to pin my arms by my side, because I didn't want to wipe off my face–because I knew that would be taken as an insult.

On Rauch reportedly telling Holly her voice was offensive:

“He posited it as if it were a crisis!” she laughs. “It was made very clear that I should change my voice, but from what to what he refused to say. He told both directors, tried to enlist them, Peter Minor and David Pressman, but they refused. David wouldn't even discuss it, he said, 'That's ridiculous.' Peter realized what a beating I was taking, and when I asked him what he wanted me to change it to, he said, 'he won't say, he won't characterize it in any way. He won't describe it in any way that could pin him down. But here, here's a voice teacher, and I know this is crazy, but if you start with a voice teacher, you'll be obeying his orders, what can he do?

For more of Holly's unsettling interview click here.

13 Responses

  1. Profile photo of MsAgentProvocateur1

    Rauch, in the mildest terms, has been referred to as a ‘controversial figure’. He fired 3 actors in one year on Another World, this was before he landed at OLTL.
    He has also been at the forefront of some of the wackiest (or perhaps wackest?) storylines on OLTL & GL, like cloning & time travel.
    He was also a Consultant & Co-Executive Producer on Y&R from 2008-2011, some of the show’s worst years.
    Is he worth the price of his personality? You do the math…

  2. Profile photo of JeffHB

    While I am sure there is much truth to her statements, I can’t help but feel she is bitter and desperate for attention. She just comes across that way to me.

  3. Profile photo of Llanview76

    This is my theory. In the 80’s, any soap fan will tell you, the prime time soaps ruled the airwaves – “Dallas”, “Dynasty”, “Knots Landing”, “Falcon Crest”. These shows impacted the viewing audience greatly and daytime cashed in on it incorporating the same adult fare succeeded on primetime. “One Life” is NOTORIOUS for their pseudo-Ewing family: The Buchanans. As much as I loved, loved, loved big daddy Asa, dependable Clint, and romantic Bo, they were good old boys and along with their entourage they only managed to push the stories of the Anglo characters and did little to nothing to incorporate the Grays or the Woleks except as “fringe” characters. The only character who had a hint of cultural diversity at that time was Rafe Garretson, Asa’s nephew. Early to mid’80’s Paul Rauch enters the arena. Despite what was rumored to be his intent to bring back the core families of Llanview into the forefront all we ever really saw, though compelling and addictive, were stories about the wealthy Buchanans and the wealthy Lords; Viki/Niki, Tina’s search for her father; cults, waterfalls, Heaven, 1888, Tomorrowland… I mean the show changed dramatically under his tenure that though it was great for ratings (and maybe that is the bottom line) did a disservice to the people who were there at the beginning, giving their talents to make “One Life” distinctive on its own. It had to drive people crazy. I think it was around Eterna when as a young adult I thought to myself why can’t the show do something relevant given what I had read about it and explore it through the characters. That of course wouldn’t come until later, under Michael Malone’s tenure. I swear the show was as fractured as Victoria Lord’s psyche and that is why I will always praise Frank and Ron for integrating it all towards the very end. But back to Ms. Holly. I honestly feel compassion and want to hear more of her sentiment. Because as much as a viewing audience can love Viki and Asa and Dorian and Tina and Bo…there are other people that make up the wonderful life we live.

Leave a Reply