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The Early Years of Soap Opera Queen Susan Lucci — 11 Jaw-Dropping Photos

Erica Kane knew how to work a fabulous '80s look!

Whether or not you’re a soap opera fan, you’re likely familiar with Susan Lucci. The actress, who played the powerful and self-centered yet charismatic Erica Kane on All My Children from 1970, the year the soap began, to its final episode in 2011, is synonymous with the genre.

During the show’s impressive 41-year run, Lucci earned the title of the Queen of Soaps, and was infamously nominated for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series 19 times before she finally won in 1999.

Prior to starring in All My Children, Lucci had just a few bit parts to her name, and she was just 24 when she started playing the role that would, over the course of 1,633 episodes, define not only her career, but the popular conception of soap operas as a whole.

Here’s a look back at Susan Lucci young, in her early days as daytime drama royalty.

A ’70s headshot

Actress Susan Lucci poses for a portrait in circa 1978
The soap star in 1978Getty

Lucci looks lovely in this 1978 headshot, taken eight years into All My Children‘s run — but still early in her career.

Sweater girl

Susan Lucci in 1980
Susan Lucci in 1980Getty

Lucci embraced ’80s style with an oversized sweater, gold jewelry, sunglasses and a curly mane. In a 2015 interview, the star told FIRST for Women that when it comes to her personal style, she’s a fan of “Very easy dressing,” like flowy dresses and jeans with a camisole. As she told us, “I like to keep it simple.”

Disco diva

Susan Lucci in 1982
Susan Lucci in 1982Getty

Lucci looks ready to hit the dance floor in this decadently draped and sequined dress. In a 2014 interview with FIRST, Lucci told us she’s a music lover, and her favorite genre is Brazilian jazz.

Susan and her sweatheart

Susan Lucci and her husband, Helmut Huber, in 1982
Susan Lucci and her husband, Helmut Huber, in 1982Getty

Lucci was married to Helmut Huber, who became her manager, for 52 years, from 1969 until his passing in 2022.

In a FIRST interview in 2023, she said that in dealing with her grief, “I’m a work in progress, but I’m making progress. I find gratitude to be an amazing coping medicine. I am so grateful for the blessings I have now and have had in my life. To have known the kind of love that I experienced from my husband, to be loved like that. I know how lucky I was to have had that, and I would tell him that.”

A soap opera tryst

Susan Lucci and Lee Godart cuddling in bed in a scene from the daytime soap All My Children in 1982
Susan Lucci and Lee Godart in a 1982 episode of All My ChildrenGetty

In this steamy shot from a 1982 episode of All My Children, Lucci canoodles with Lee Godart, who played the wealthy playboy Kent Bogard.

An early award

Susan Lucci holding award from Us Magazine in 1983
Susan Lucci in 1983Getty

Lucci hadn’t yet won her Emmy in 1983, but she did win Us magazine’s award for Favorite Female Daytime TV Star.

Erica and Jackson

Susan Lucci and Walt Willey in a 1989 episode of 'All My Children'
Susan Lucci and Walt Willey in a 1989 episode of All My ChildrenGetty

In this 1989 episode of All My Children, Lucci and Walt Willey, who played the lawyer Jackson Montgomery, one of Erica’s many love interests, have a dramatic moment.

Ready for business

Susan Lucci in 1989
Susan Lucci in 1989Getty

Lucci looked ready for business in a smart white button-down and ostrich skin pencil skirt.

Bringing the drama

The actress in 1994
Susan Lucci in 1994Getty

This red, low-back, lace-embellished gown certainly brings the drama — just like Erica Kane.

A fabulous hat

The actress wearing big hat in 1994
Susan Lucci in 1994Getty

You can only pull off a hat like this if you’re a soap star of Lucci’s stature!

Lovely in leopard

The actress in 1996
Susan Lucci in 1996Getty

This over-the-top skirt suit is the height of glamour.

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