The 15 Most Memorable Female Soap Opera Characters Ever
Wondering where Erica Kane, Marlena Evans and Katherine Chancellor were on TV Squad's recent list of the 100 Most Memorable Female TV Characters?
Frankly, there just wasn't enough room for all of them. The unforgettable divas, leading ladies, matriarchs and ingénues that have graced the soaps for more than 50 years are so plentiful that they deserve their own list!
We could easily have compiled a list of 100 women from soap operas, but this one has been limited to 15. Those selected represent characters from ABC, CBS and NBC daytime dramas, including current serials and canceled favorites.
Are your favorites on this list? Who else should have been included? Let us know!
15. India von Halkein, 'Guiding Light' (1984-87; '90; '98-'99; 2002; 2005)
Played By: Mary Kay Adams
Regal, beautiful and sophisticated, India stepped on her enemies as if they were ants. She deeply resented icy stepmother Alexandra and set out to get even. India blackmailed and seduced her way into the lives of men important to Alex. As a result, the two women shared memorable showdowns in the country club powder room. Far from heartless, India deeply cared for her BFF Maeve, her father and her daughter Dorie.
14. Rachel Cory Hutchins, 'Another World' (1973-1999)
Played By: Victoria Wyndham
Wyndham took over the role of Rachel from the wildly popular Robin Strasser in 1972 and made it her own. Viewers loved watching Rachel transform from scheming have-not to wealthy Mac Cory's wife and mother to Amanda. 'A.W.' lost many fan faves over the years (Alice, Steve, Pat, Iris), but Wyndham's Rachel provided a much needed through-line for 'AW' until its demise in 1999.
13. Alice Horton, 'Days of our Lives' (1965-2007)
Played By: Frances Reid
Reid's role as Horton matriarch Alice is synonymous with 'Days.' For parts of five decades, Alice doled out love, advice and homemade donuts to family members and loved ones. The best thing about Alice was that she wasn't afraid to get into mischief. She and Howie Hoffstedder conspired to trick Larry Welch into thinking that Hope had joined him at the altar so that Bo and Hope could get some private time.
12. Dorian Lord
'One Life to Live' (1979-87; 1993-2000; 2003-present)
Played By: Robin Strasser
Llanview just isn't the same without Strasser's Dorian scheming and interfering in everyone's lives. It'd be so easy to hate Dorian because she won't hesitate to do something outlandish and seemingly selfish, but no matter how duplicitous Dorian gets, Strasser manages to justify her character's actions. Grand divas from the '80s like Alexis and Abby are gone, but Strasser's Dorian is a timeless classic.
11. Raven Alexander Whitney, 'Edge of Night' (1977-1984)
Played By: Sharon Gabet
Wildly selfish, Raven made no apologies for going after what she wanted. Raven thought she'd inherited millions after husband was killed, but she lost it all after the real Sky Whitney showed up alive and kicking. Raven lamented to trusted confidante Geraldine it wasn't the mansion, jewels or furs that she would miss, but rather "the money." Few could have sold that line, but Gabet did with a perfect blend of comedy and truth.
10. Lucinda Walsh, 'As the World Turns' (1984-2010)
Played By: Elizabeth Hubbard
We could always count on an entertaining scene when Lucinda was on screen. A savvy businesswoman, Lucinda was cutthroat when she had to be, but she had great love for daughters Sierra and Lily. Lucinda passionately went after what and who she wanted (Craig), flirted with danger (James) and reconnected in the show's final weeks with her favorite ex-husband (John). We miss Lucinda -- and her portrayer's ad-libs.
9. Reva Shayne Lewis, 'Guiding Light' (1983-1990; 1995-2009)
Played By: Kim Zimmer
We loved Reva because everything she did, she did for love. The character burst onto the scene on Alan Spaulding's payroll in late 1983, ready to break up Billy and Vanessa's engagement. But Reva soon had us rooting for her. We watched her heartaches over the years and rejoiced when she finally wed true love Joshua. The couple got a happy ending in the show's finale as they drove off together. Always.
8. Marlena Evans Black, 'Days of our Lives' (1976-1987; 1991-2009)
Played By: Deidre Hall
Hall's Marlena is iconic. Let's face it: Salem, USA hasn't been the same without her. Marlena was a role model to many women as she did her best to juggle work and family life. Alas, things like being Stefano's passion, demonic possession and thinking that she was a serial killer (donut, Alice?) often got in the way. Marlena got a happy ending when she and John left town, but we won't be happy until they return.
7. Alexandra Spaulding, 'Guiding Light' (1984-1992)
Played By: Beverlee McKinsey
McKinsey, who played the deliciously devious Iris on 'A.W.,' created an equally memorable role as Baroness Alexandra Spaulding von Halkein on 'G.L.' Alex deeply loved her family, but her voice dripped venom when she addressed her enemies. She'd knew how to slam foes with finesse. When Alex caught her fiance being unfaithful she threw his clothes at him and snarked: "Get dressed. You're going to need all the protection you can get!"
6. Nancy Hughes, 'As the World Turns' (1956-2010)
Played By: Helen Wagner
Despite a brief break in the early '80s, Wagner's lengthy run on 'ATWT' as the beloved Hughes matriarch was unbroken. Nancy came into viewers' lives when most women were stay-at-home moms. She loved her husband, raised their children and, after her kids had grown up and her beloved Chris died, Nancy continued to be a presence on the Oakdale scene, lending a loving ear to those in need.
5. Victoria Lord Banks, 'One Life to Live' (1971-present)
Played By: Erika Slezak
What travail haven't we seen Viki through over the years? She's been widowed, divorced, developed alternate personalities, time-traveled, gone to heaven (twice!) and also been given a new heart. No matter how outlandish a storyline, Slezak has brought realism and warmth to Viki. Slezak's winning portrayal of Viki since 1971 is the number one reason why people watch 'OLTL.'
4. Katherine Chancellor, 'The Young and the Restless' (1974-present)
Played By: Jeanne Cooper
We've watched Katherine Chancellor lose her husband to a younger woman, undergo a face-lift, battle alcoholism and return to her family after her doppelganger died in a car wreck. Cooper's Kay lends sympathetic support to loved ones like her best pal Nikki and her granddaughter Mac, but what we love to see Kay do more than anything is outwit her rival Jill, a feat she often excels at.
3. Erica Kane, 'All My Children' (1970-present)
Played By: Susan Lucci
For more than 40 years Erica has delighted viewers with her impulsive and outlandish antics. She's owned a disco, a magazine, been a talk show host and stared down a grizzly bear. Erica's hardly a poster child for successful marriage (she's been wed 10 times!), but we love her because she never gives up on romance. The only thing missing in her life is a rival; Erica and Brooke's showdowns were an 'AMC' staple.
2. Stephanie Forrester, 'The Bold and the Beautiful' (1987-present)
Played By: Susan Flannery
Strong-willed Stephanie won't hesitate to lie if it means protecting her family. She falsely confessed to accidentally shooting her son to keep another child from taking the rap, had a letter forged to break up the union between her ex-husband and his new wife, and faked a heart attack in order to compel Ridge to reunite with Taylor. It's hard to hate Steph for these actions, but she truly believes the ends justify the means.
1. Lesley Webber, 'General Hospital' (1973-1984; 1996-present)
Played By: Denise Alexander
Remember racing home from high school or skipping class in college to watch 'GH?' One reason we did so was to witness the trials and tribulations of Dr. Lesley Webber. A loving wife and mother, Lesley fought rival Monica for Rick's affections, giving her a well-deserved slap after Monica stated that Lesley couldn't keep Rick sexually satisfied. We were devastated when 'G.H.' killed her off in '84, but were thrilled when the soap wisely resurrected her in '96.