‘All My Children’ leaves behind rich Emmy legacy

All My Children” airs its final episode Friday after 41 years on ABC. The series was one of the most successful in daytime Emmy history. It racked up a staggering 30 nominations for Best Drama Series, winning in 1992, 1994 and 1998. “AMC” will be eligible to contend at next summer’s awards. 

The cast of “AMC” has won a record 28 Emmys. Just before the launch of the Daytime Emmys, Mary Fickett was recognized at the 1973 Primetime Emmys for her performance as Ruth Martin.

Susan Lucci lost 18 Best Actress bids before finally prevailing in 1999. She was nominated again in 2001 and 2002 for a record total of 21 nominations. Her losing streak drew viewers to the Daytime Emmys; once she won, the ratings for this kudocast began their downward spiral.

Darnell Williams won both the supporting (1983) and lead (1985) awards as Jesse Hubbard, one-half of the first African-American super couple on daytime TV. As Angie Hubbard, Debbie Morgan is the only African-American actress to win a Daytime Emmy Award. After losing her 1986 Younger Actress bid she won the Supporting Actress race in 1989, in a tie with Nancy Grahn from “Santa Barbara.” She was nominated for Best Actress in 2009 and 2011.

Dorothy Lyman, who played Opal Gardner, won Supporting Actress in 1982 and then the lead award the following year.

David Canary reaped 16 Best Actor bids from 1985 to 2008, winning five times. He played two of the most beloved characters in the series history — ruthless businessman Adam Chandler, who cared more about making a quick buck than about his family, and his twin, the sweet, naïve, mentally-challenged Stuart Chandler. Playing two such different people showcased the remarkable range of Canary.  

More than four decades after its debut, the characters created by Agnes Nixon (photo, below) remain fresh in our minds. My first memory of Pine Valley isn’t that of glamorous Erica Kane or wealthy Phoebe Tyler (Ruth Warrick), but of the ongoing struggle between the generations to understand each other.   

While many other daytime drama veered off into fantasy and science fiction in the 1970s and 1980s, “AMC” stayed true to its roots with stories about real issues. “AMC” led the way for the serious discussion of the Vietnam war, racism, AIDS, homosexuality, abortion, rape, incest and substance abuse on daytime drama. 

The continued quality of “AMC” was due to the hard work of its caring creator. It was her passion and vision that kept the series on-target for so many years. “AMC” only went off the rails when other writers and network executives interfered and it became a show about sex and skin. The sense of “home” that we once got from watching “AMC” was replaced by a feeling of “What are they doing to my show?”  

It is with a sad heart that I write this farewell to a show I’ve loved for decades. I thank it’s amazing cast and crew for the decades of joy and enlightenment that they provided to millions of us loyal viewers.

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