One Life to Live’s Erika Slezak on Ellen Holly’s Claims of Racial Slurs: “That Never Happened”





Legendary One Life to Live actress Erika Slezak is firing back against allegations she used racial epithets against former co-star Ellen Holly.  In Jeff Giles’ book, Love in the Afternoon- The Oral History of One Life to Live, Holly claims Slezak used racist remarks towards her and was the cause of being fired from the sudser.

 According to Holly (ex-Carla/Clara), the actress who played Viki Lord, used derogatory remarks during OLTL’s 15 th anniversary party. Through her fan club president, Slezak released a statement on her official web site:

Let me begin by saying that never happened. I have never, in my entire life, used such language, nor would I have ever said that; especially about two ladies who I greatly admired and respected. I have no idea why Ellen has chosen to blame me for her being let go from One Life to Live. Not only is that an absolute fabrication on her part; it was never in the power of ANY actor or actress to make such a decision and anyone who has worked on One Life to Live would know that. We were owned and run by ABC; this was their decision alone. Furthermore, I would like to add that Ellen Holly was a wonderful actress, a beautiful woman and an essential and vital character on One Life to Live and there was nothing to be gained by her leaving the show. In fact I felt that her absence was detrimental to the show. Agnes Nixon had put together an amazing, multi-racial cast, which was groundbreaking at the time, and by losing two very important black actors, ABC was robbing the show of its diversity. I am very sorry that she has deluded herself into believing that I was in any way instrumental in her being fired, but more than that, I am appalled that she would accuse me of using racial slurs.

 

29 Responses

  1. Avatar of bc1954
    bc1954

    I am so sick and tired of everyone being “racist” for having an opinion! If I don’t like a co-worker b/c she’s not pulling her weight, I’m racist against blacks. NO! That person is lazy and I should not have to count to you how many black friends I have just b/c I stated that a lazy person is just plain lazy! If they don’t want to be judged by the color of their skin…then why in the world do they keep bringing up the color of their skin!?!
    And no, I am not black. And yes, I know racism does still exist, but it isn’t an excuse. Maybe the fact that you carry that race card in your back pocket, ready to pull it out at any second, is the reason people don’t want you around.

  2. Avatar of tmac
    tmac

    The character’s name was Carla, not Carly. Actually her name was Clara but she changed it when she was passing herself off as white.

    I find it hard to believe Erika Slezak would ever use racial slurs. I have followed her career since she joined OLTL and she has always come across as a class act.

  3. Avatar of TV Gord
    TV Gord

    Not only do I find it to be unthinkable that the classy Erika Slezak would use racial slurs against anyone, I am as appalled as she is that she would be accused of something so downright rotten, because there’s no way to prove that she didn’t other than her word. Fortunately for her, her word is good enough for me, and it should be good enough for anyone else who matters.

  4. Avatar of stoney07
    stoney07

    *shrugs*

    I just simply don’t care either way.

    If she did, she did. If she didn’t, she didn’t. The truth will never fully come out. It could’ve been a simple misunderstanding on Ms. Holly’s part, OR Ms. Slezak could be lying. OR Ms. Holly could be lying just for the heck of it. Who knows???

    As for the race card being pulled, I am multiracial, HOWEVER, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And in most cases, the underlying issue IS racism. Of course there are some who are lazy, loud, obnoxious, etc…black, white, whatever race or color. And of course when those types get called out by another race, it will be labeled “racism”, but in a lot of cases, there’s a problem. I say it all the time, it feels like blacks are regressing in terms of where we came from in this country. I know most won’t agree, but that’s just how I see it. But if you haven’t had to walk a mile in those shoes, you wouldn’t know how tight they really are at the end of the day.

    But whatever…as I said, IDK about this situation. IDK who to believe and I won’t take sides at all.

  5. Avatar of ROFO
    ROFO

    As an original viewer of OLTL from day one (07/15/68), let me start this by saying that I absolutely loved Ellen Holly & Lillian Hayman & the work they did on the show. Both are superb, highly skilled actresses and made the show a joy to watch every day! However, I do not for one moment believe that Erika Slezak ever said anything negative about either actress. Ms. Slezak is an incredible actress and a total class act and I do not believe for a second that she said anything, racially or otherwise, that could be interpreted as
    demeaning to either of those actresses, nor do I believe that any actor or actress on a soap has the power to decide who comes & goes. That responsibility falls on the executive producer & while there may have been some backstage friction going on, it wasn’t because of Erika Slezak.
    Ellen, Erika & the late Ms. Hayman will always be highly regarded by me and remembered as three of the finest actresses of this generation. Thank you for sharing your talents!

  6. Avatar of Divatude58
    Divatude58

    How old is ES? She did grow up in an era where saying certain things were more acceptable? And aren’t we talking about something that happened in 1986? I would NEVER rule it out. People said and did alot of things back in the day that they would NEVER do now. To pretend that times have not drastically changed in ES lifetime that would change how she thinks or what she says is being naive.

  7. Avatar of TV Gord
    TV Gord

    1986 isn’t that long ago, especially in the northern U.S., where Erika has always been. I can’t see a woman of her character speaking that way, particularly in the post-Norman Lear era.

  8. Avatar of Divatude58
    Divatude58

    [quote=TV Gord]1986 isn’t that long ago, especially in the northern U.S., where Erika has always been. I can’t see a woman of her character speaking that way, particularly in the post-Norman Lear era.[/quote]

    Brown versus board of education was in 1954 and the southern states were not the only ones that were forced to integrate. Connecticut, where ES was raised, was certainly not immune. I think we have all seen the photos and videos of little kids, aged about 10 or so, screaming slurs and hate at the top of their lungs right alongside their parents. Those same kids are now about 69. I am sure their views and perceptions have changed quite drastically over the years to the point of regretting some of the actions that they engaged in. ES is 67..Like I said, I won’t rule that out. And definitely have to dig deep to give her the benefit of the doubt in her response that she has “never” used a racial slur or made a racist remark. The world has changed alot since she was born is all I am saying. I wouldn’t rule it out.

  9. Avatar of SoapArmageddon
    SoapArmageddon

    [quote=bc1954]…If they don’t want to be judged by the color of their skin…then why in the world do they keep bringing up the color of their skin!?!….[/quote]

    People like YOU are exactly the reason why WE keep bringing it up.

    It is kind of interesting that Erika Slezak is presumed to have good character while Ellen Holly, by implication, isn’t given the same presumption.

  10. Avatar of TV Gord
    TV Gord

    [quote=Divatude58]Brown versus board of education was in 1954 and the southern states were not the only ones that were forced to integrate. Connecticut, where ES was raised, was certainly not immune. I think we have all seen the photos and videos of little kids, aged about 10 or so, screaming slurs and hate at the top of their lungs right alongside their parents. Those same kids are now about 69. I am sure their views and perceptions have changed quite drastically over the years to the point of regretting some of the actions that they engaged in. ES is 67..Like I said, I won’t rule that out. And definitely have to dig deep to give her the benefit of the doubt in her response that she has “never” used a racial slur or made a racist remark. The world has changed alot since she was born is all I am saying. I wouldn’t rule it out.[/quote]

    Divatude, thank you for the education (and I mean that). It certainly colors my opinion, which is why I posted what I did. I wanted the reaction to my opinion. I will think about that, but…

    [quote=SoapArmageddon]It is kind of interesting that Erika Slezak is presumed to have good character while Ellen Holly, by implication, isn’t given the same presumption.[/quote]

    I’m not implying anything about Holly, whom I’ve never heard of before. I’m simply commenting on Slezak’s character, which I think I do know (as much as any fan can). I followed her father’s legacy a bit before I ever watched OLTL or knew she was his daughter, and he always came across as a very tolerant and liberal man to me, who left Austria around the time that filled with with racism and religious persecution (where Hitler thrived at that time). I can’t see the Erika Slezak, who was raised by her beloved father, engaging in the kind of racism that she was likely raised not to tolerate.

  11. Avatar of Divatude58
    Divatude58

    [quote=TV Gord]Divatude, thank you for the education (and I mean that). It certainly colors my opinion, which is why I posted what I did. I wanted the reaction to my opinion. I will think about that, but…I’m not implying anything about Holly, whom I’ve never heard of before. I’m simply commenting on Slezak’s character, which I think I do know (as much as any fan can). I followed her father’s legacy a bit before I ever watched OLTL or knew she was his daughter, and he always came across as a very tolerant and liberal man to me, who left Austria around the time that filled with with racism and religious persecution (where Hitler thrived at that time). I can’t see the Erika Slezak, who was raised by her beloved father, engaging in the kind of racism that she was likely raised not to tolerate.[/quote]

    Cool. Glad we can discuss this rationally. I get where you are coming from here with her father. It is quite rational to assume that a person who has seen persecution and racism first hand, would least likely be racist. But we know that this is often times not the case. Let’s take the New York City draft riots of 1863. Irish immigrants were ill treated at the time. But they refused to work alongside Black workers at the docks (the black people and Irish were on the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder, side by side really). So when the draft for the civil war happened, what was first a protest by Irish turned into race riot with the Irish killing Black citizens at will. Now one would think that the Irish would sympathize with the Black people being that they were both treated horribly by the white native born citizens of NY. One would think they would say, I will never treat anyone the way I am being treated. But no. They saw them as someone to step on to move up. Even now, in the fight for gay rights, you will see marginalized people, whom know first hand what struggle and not being treated equal means, being quite vocal in their opposing views. Let’s take the Cuban immigrant and recent naturalized citizen Rafael Cruz saying that President Obama needs to go back to Kenya or Indonesia. Where economics, way of life, and winning collide with differences, you can be sure most people will use whatever leverage they have to rise. In knowing this, I still am skeptical about ES despite her father’s history. I will never say never. Enough American history and politics though although i find it all very interesting…I know it can get annoying. LOL.

  12. Avatar of Llanview76
    Llanview76

    After reading “Llanview in the Afternoon”…and my gut impression of Erika Slezak in the thirty years I have watched her work and interviews – I don’t believe she said any of these things.

  13. Avatar of TV Gord
    TV Gord

    Excellent comment, Divatude58, and it hits close to home for me. I’m Irish (though Canadian). My grandparents came to Canada and were treated horribly, but I didn’t see that first-hand. I was told some horrible stories, but I was told them under the heading of the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you). Maybe because I didn’t see the atrocities first hand, I believed what my parents taught me, so I was raised to not tolerate any pre-judging of people based on their heritage or family history. I’m not as old as Erika Slezak (I’m 51), but I’d like to think she deserves the benefit of the doubt.

  14. Avatar of nellie-claire
    nellie-claire

    I loved, loved, loved Ellen Holly on OLTL. I, too, was very sad to see Ed and Carla’s story end. I kept on hoping that they would be brought back but that never did happen.
    Anyway, I was always transfixed by Ellen Holly’s grace, poise, beauty and fabulous voice. To me, she wasn’t acting, she was the superbly elegant, intelligent and classy Carla. But, and here comes the part where I am accused of being a racist, for the past five years or so, every article that I read about Ms. Holly, she is blaming someone for something. Enough already. I read the articles about her salary being lower because she was a woman of color. Was this wrong? Absolutely, should she have been given at the very least, equal pay? Of course! Also, I have read other articles where Ms. Holy has blamed other people for her being written out of OLTL. Maybe some of what she says is true, maybe all of what she says is true; I don’t know but I do not believe that Erika Slezak would ever say anything derogatory about Ellen Holly or allow anything derogatory to be said in her presence.
    I do believe that Ms. Holly has experienced prejudice in both her personal and professional life and I do believe that this is completely wrong and if ABC treated her unjustly, she should be made whole. I also hope that Ms. Holly can move beyond her bitterness to find some joy in this all to fleeting life.

  15. Avatar of jeremy in chicago
    jeremy in chicago

    Erika Slezak could not be classier or have delivered a better response to Ellen Holly’s accusations. I think Holly probably believes what she has said, but as an actor myself I can attest to our way sometimes of blaming other actors for roles we lose or something…. actors have NO control over this sort of thing. We are really quite powerless. I would say Slezak is influential, but she is also classy and would not stoop that low. If she did, I think at her current age she would admit it and apologize. Great response.

  16. Avatar of DevinMissesOLTL
    DevinMissesOLTL

    I think Ellen was a wonderful actress as well as the lady that played her mother. Ellen and Al Freeman were golden together! It was very bogus how she was let go by OLTL and ABC. With that said, I do NOT believe that Erika Slezek would ever say anything of that nature. She is a class act and respectable to everyone she encounters.

    Oh…And I am black as black can get, for those that concern themselves to know Lol!

  17. Avatar of Divatude58
    Divatude58

    [quote=TV Gord]Excellent comment, Divatude58, and it hits close to home for me. I’m Irish (though Canadian). My grandparents came to Canada and were treated horribly, but I didn’t see that first-hand. I was told some horrible stories, but I was told them under the heading of the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you). Maybe because I didn’t see the atrocities first hand, I believed what my parents taught me, so I was raised to not tolerate any pre-judging of people based on their heritage or family history. I’m not as old as Erika Slezak (I’m 51), but I’d like to think she deserves the benefit of the doubt.[/quote]

    And so does Ellen Holly…That’s why I won’t assume/call her a liar. Sometimes, one might consider a statement racially insensitive while the person who said doesn’t see the problem. This could be the case. Happens every day…even in the year of our lord 2013.

  18. Avatar of Divatude58
    Divatude58

    [quote=nellie-claire]I loved, loved, loved Ellen Holly on OLTL. I, too, was very sad to see Ed and Carla’s story end. I kept on hoping that they would be brought back but that never did happen.
    Anyway, I was always transfixed by Ellen Holly’s grace, poise, beauty and fabulous voice. To me, she wasn’t acting, she was the superbly elegant, intelligent and classy Carla. But, and here comes the part where I am accused of being a racist, for the past five years or so, every article that I read about Ms. Holly, she is blaming someone for something. Enough already. I read the articles about her salary being lower because she was a woman of color. Was this wrong? Absolutely, should she have been given at the very least, equal pay? Of course! Also, I have read other articles where Ms. Holy has blamed other people for her being written out of OLTL. Maybe some of what she says is true, maybe all of what she says is true; I don’t know but I do not believe that Erika Slezak would ever say anything derogatory about Ellen Holly or allow anything derogatory to be said in her presence.
    I do believe that Ms. Holly has experienced prejudice in both her personal and professional life and I do believe that this is completely wrong and if ABC treated her unjustly, she should be made whole. I also hope that Ms. Holly can move beyond her bitterness to find some joy in this all to fleeting life.[/quote]

    Just because a person tells their story and speaks the truth doesn’t mean that they are bitter. It’s her life’s story she is telling. Just because she doesn’t gloss it over and pretend that certain unfair things didn’t happen doesn’t make her bitter. Anytime Rep John Lewis speaks on the civil rights movement, is he bitter? No. He is just talking about the things that happened in his life.

  19. Avatar of Ms 45
    Ms 45

    I searched online and I guess this is the supposed incident in question:

    Ellen Holly: In July of 1983, One Life celebrated its first 15 years on the air. There was a party at the Tavern on the Green — a big, lavish event where Lillian Hayman and I were celebrated as the shows only remaining original stars. A lot of people looked at that, including Agnes Nixon, and said No, were not going to have two black women as our only original stars forever and ever. Were not going to have Erika Slezak sitting around watching this happen. And Erika Slezak said to Agnes Nixon, Get those two black bitches out of my face. Agnes turned around, and bang-bang! Overnight, Jean Arley was gone, and Paul Rauch, the Terminator, was there in her place.

    I usually figure if a black person says someone is racist, they should know. Just like as a woman, if I find something/someone sexist, I should know. However, this story doesn’t feel credible to me. ES is not some loose cannon who spouts off. She has always been very circumspect in her public and private pronouncements. Would she really call two fellow actors “black bitches” including one very dignified and elderly lady? I just don’t believe it. This story does not pass the smell test.

    What I do believe is that Ellen Holly was jealous of Erika Slezak. Consider these remarks from Ms. Holly’s autobiography where she referred to ES as
    “a rookie performer… without a single significant credit to [her] name.”

    Besides being unimpressed with Slezak’s credits, Holly cites an interview that Slezak gave to Soap Opera Digest circa July of 1988 that deeply offended her. “We don’t have poor people in Llanview,” said Slezak in order to promote OLTL. “We don’t have any more black people in Llanview. We have no ethnic people. No, this is now a story about rich people and richer people. We’re all `haves’ now.”

    I remember this interview and ES made those statements as a complaint about what had changed — and wrongfully changed — about the show. ES was upset about the show’s lack of diversity under Paul Rauch. EH would have us believe that ES was in favor of the changes — no, no, and no!

    This is not a case of different perceptions. This is a case of someone (Ellen Holly) willfully misrepresenting the words and beliefs of another performer (Erika Slezak). By doing so, EH has only tainted her own legacy.

  20. Avatar of milesheightsdiva
    milesheightsdiva

    TV Gord, In Canada Lee’s biography, the Black actor described Victor Slezak as an avowed racist. He called his co-star in “Life Boat” the N word on a regular basis and subjected Mr. Lee to other niceties. John Garfield also reported this treatment doled out by Slezak. Obviously this particular fruit, (Erika), did not fall too far from the Aryan tree!

  21. Avatar of milesheightsdiva
    milesheightsdiva

    TV Gord, In his biography, the Black actor, Canada Lee reported that Erika’s father, Victor, called him the N word on a regular basis. During the filming of “Life Boat Mr. Lee was subjected to less than stellar behavior by Slezak. This was corroborated by John Garfield. Perhaps, the Aryan fruit did not fall far from the beloved tree

  22. Avatar of Ryan45212
    Ryan45212

    Oh please i dont believe it for a second. First the setting and then the words dont even make sense. They were at the party and then this was said? Again makes no sense at all. But clearly EHs book plays on words and to me says she was jealout of Es and blamed her for everything that went wrong. Erika was just another actress on the show at that time. And to take that Soap interview for something it clearly wasnt shows you all the issues eh has. It was show business look at the one who played Pat on the show she was on their for years then fired too same goes for Kim Zimmer but it wasnt Erika who had her fired? She sounds like she could be Victoria Rowells mother.. Never grateful for the fortune they had but blaming others when it ended.. ps back them soap actors didnt make squat Look at the one Tracy Quartemain she was only making 125 a week when she was on first time around and tried to get a raise to 150 and couldnt and hated gloria monty show she left and returned when old girl died. Its business.

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