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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:

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“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.