The great thing about birthdays is that they always give cause for celebration. All My Children's 40th was no exception. As part of their Arts & Leisure Weekend, The New York Times celebrated AMC's 40th by hosting a panel featuring creator Agnes Nixon, executive producer Julie Carruthers, and some of the stars. A few days later, the Television Critics Association (a group comprised of journalists who cover TV) hosted a AMC panel at their Winter Press Tour.
Both events were highlights, with the New York Times event being particularly special because the audience was filled with AMC fans who got to ask questions and share memories. Some highlights:
- One woman revealed she immigrated from Russia in late 1969 knowing almost no English. She told the panel that All My Children helped her learn the language, and inspired her to become a lawyer. She later went to law school and joined the legal team of The New York Times (from which she just retired). All she wanted to say was "thank you."
- On Ruth Warrick (Phoebe), Susan Lucci recalled: "She was bigger than life and so glamorous. She worked with Orson Welles! She used to give me advice all the time. One time she told me 'Every woman should have a three-year-old baby son in her life.' Years later [after Susan had her son], I remember thinking 'Boy, Ruth was right.'"
- Debbi Morgan joked that when it comes to playing the doctorly parts of Angie's life, she's clueless. She recalled having to take the temperature of a 10-year-old extra, who had to correct her on which end of the thermometer was the right one to put in his mouth!
- Agnes Nixon said that she was given a lot of freedom to explore different social issues when All My Children launched, but wanted to present everything as balanced. So when writing about the Vietnam war, whose protesters included Amy Tyler (Rosemary Prinz), Agnes had Dr. Charles Tyler be the hawk to Amy's dove. Except the actor, Hugh Franklin, was very anti-war. "It was the best acting he did!" Agnes joked.
- By far the most moving story was from the last audience member who spoke. A Southern gentleman got up and told Debbi Morgan that he and his best friends would watch All My Children together all the time. He recalled a story from 1985, where medical student Angie is being harassed by her professor, Dr. Voight -- and in particular a scene where Angie declares to Voight that she wouldn't be silenced about his behavior, but would "shout it from the rooftops!" The man recalled that he and his friends loved her delivery of the line -- the power, tone, and innotation -- and that it became a catch phrase with them ever since. He went on to say that one of these friends died last year. When visiting his death bed, the audience member told his friend, "You make sure to say hi to everyone in heaven for me." "I will shout it from the rooftops," was his old friend's reply.