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From Pine Valley to Colonial Beach: Longtime "All My Children" star Mary Fickett recalls her exciting television career
Fickett, 80, recalls her acting days with smiles and laughter.
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Date published: 7/19/2008
By 1978, "All My Children" was the top-rated daytime drama on TV. Ruth and Joe Martin were its "tent-pole" characters, said MacDonnell, "the central moral figures" around which Susan Lucci as Erica Kane and the rest of the show's misbehaving, misbegotten, misunderstood or just plain unlucky characters revolved.
Throughout their many years of TV married life, MacDonnell said, Fickett "never really acted. She just was a wonderful human being and a delight to work with. She was very bright and always cheerful, and inspired natural emotions in me and her fellow actors."
Off-camera, Fickett and her family lived luxuriously in a New York apartment complete with quarters for a succession of housekeepers and nannies. Fickett was famous for her lavish parties.
Her children attended exclusive private schools. Her daughter remembers her mother's walk-in closet.
In summers the family would take off to Cape Cod, where Fickett's grandmother and other relatives lived. Fickett and husband Allen Fristoe eventually retired there.
Fickett left "All My Children" in 1996, hoping that she could return on a recurring basis. But the show's producers gave the role to Lee Meriwether, who played Ruth Martin until 1999. Fickett then returned briefly to play her old role. She retired for good in December 2000.
Soap operas and "All My Children" have declined
lIFE AT THE bEACH
In Colonial Beach, Fickett spends most of her days bundled up in bed or in a reclining chair in her room. She shares the little rented house on Ninth Street with Congdon and her husband, four of their kids and three dogs.
"Mom never had this much chaos and noise before in her life," said Congdon.
Fickett's favorite TV shows are now reruns of "Seinfeld," "Reba" and "Golden Girls" with Beatrice Arthur. Fickett and Arthur worked together in a 1953 TV drama. A month or two ago, Fickett happened to see an episode of "All My Children."
Erica Kane, the ageless TV character played by Fickett's former colleague Susan Lucci, was incarcerated. "She looks good in everything, even an orange jumpsuit when she's in jail," Fickett said, laughing.
Fickett doesn't remember the last time she saw Lucci.
"It's a big world. It's hard to keep up with people. You lose track," she said.
Frank Delano is a staff writer with The Free Lance-Star. Contact him