Susan Lucci and Her New Book: InspiringBy Michael Karol Posted: Mar 15, 2011
I've spoken with Susan Lucci (Erica, ALL MY CHILDREN) on more than one occasion, and have had the pleasure to meet her more than once (the first time was waaaaay back in 1988, as a freelance writer). I interviewed her last week on the occasion of the release of her new book, All My Life (official release date: March 29). Unlike other books associated with AMC and Erica Kane — 1983's Raising Kane, Erica Kane: Beyond the Pain and 1997's Having It All, the latter an actual book published by ABC Daytime about which it's impossible to know how much, or how little input Ms. Lucci had, other than posing for the cover shot — this book is about La Lucci and her life (she enjoys being called La Lucci, by the way).
There are some things in it that will surprise you, and may even shock you. None of them have to do with celebrity gossip, although Lucci does touch on a number of other famous people whose lives have intersected with hers. No, I can't tell you much more just yet…see the interview in the April 5 issue of Soap Opera Weekly, out March 25. But I can tell you this: Lucci is the real thing. A star, yes, who has had an incredible, and singular, career. She's a person (or mensch, as we say in Yiddish, which literally means "human being," but has come to mean someone who has evolved and has admirable characteristics, like integrity and honor; someone we'd want to know).
Here's just one example. After reading her book and formulating my questions, I realized that more than one note I'd scribbled had to do with things Lucci had written that could be construed as inspirational. Like: "Life happens — use the good and bad to help you prepare for the future," and "When work is the focus of your life, your life is out of focus." I strung a few of them together and asked her, "In a very subtle way, I think your book is almost a self-help book, inspiring…was that your intent?" Her reaction was surprise, as if she'd never considered it, although she said that she did bring up the subject with her agent when they first discussed the project. And that was that, or so I thought.
Two hours after the interview ended, I got a second call from Ms. Lucci. When I saw her number on my phone console at work, I worried that, "Oh, she's probably calling to tell me not to use something she had said." But instead, when I answered, she said, "Michael, I have to tell you. I've talked to four other journalists, and in every conversation the word 'inspirational' has come back to me. I can't tell you how happy that makes me." She was very subtly patting me on the back for being the first one to bring it up. We said goodbye, and I was beaming. She certainly didn't have to call me back. But she did. And that's indicative of what a mensch she is.
In 30 years of celebrity journalism, no star of her caliber has ever called me back right after an interview…unless it was to say, "You can't publish that!" Or, perhaps, after the interview came out, I might get a call during which the person wished I hadn't been so candid…as to publish what they said! Susan Lucci is different. She's in many ways the exact opposite of the diva we know as Erica Kane (except that she, too, cares deeply for her family). And the book does deal with that. As I told her, she's one of the most gracious persons I've ever met. She surprised this occasionally jaded writer and made me feel good. I call that inspirational.