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October 8, 2015

'All My Children': 10 Most Memorable Moments

by Michael Maloney, posted Sep 22nd 2011 6:00PM
AMC logo'All My Children' has provided millions of viewers with thousands of memorable moments during its 41-year run on ABC.

Since the show's inception in 1970, characters like Tad, Brooke, Adam, Marian, Liza, Ryan, Jake, Natalie, Krystal, Bianca and many, many others have had viewers loving to love them then loving to hate them from week to week.

Then there's the most memorable 'AMC' character of all time, Erica Kane (Emmy-winner Susan Lucci), who has become a cultural icon. We could easily fill a Top 20 or 30 (or even Top 40!) list of memorable moments from Erica's life alone.

Here, AOL TV presents our picks for 'All My Children''s Top 10 most memorable moments ever. And here's hoping there are more to come when the show moves online in the future!

Do these 10 moments match up with yours? Share your own favorites in the comments.

10. Ruth Martin speaks out against the Vietnam War
'AMC' tackled controversial social issues from the beginning. In 1971, Ruth Martin made an impassioned speech, speaking out against the Vietnam War, which her son had fought in. The segment earned Ruth's portrayer, the late Mary Fickett, a Daytime Emmy (the first given to a performer). 'AMC' drew upon Fickett's talent to speak from her heart many times, including when Ruth spoke at Mona's funeral in 1994.

9. Phoebe learns Verla is Langley's daughter
Phoebe Wallingford's indignant reactions to supposed injustices were an 'AMC' staple. Viewers delighted in seeing Phoebe go on and on about something, only to see her learn later that she was wrong. The mortifying look on Phoebe's face was always classic. Here, in 1995, she berates hubby Langley for having an affair with Verla Grubbs, whom she calls a "duplicitous strumpet!' Phoebe learning that Verla was actually Langley's daughter -- and not his lover -- was priceless.

8. Marian Confesses to Killing Zach Grayson
The Zach Grayson murder trial in 1985 had it all: shocking surprises (Zach killed Linda), exposed secrets (Cynthia cheated on Palmer with Ross) and a heroine wrongly convicted (Daisy). Donna believed that Phoebe Wallingford was the true killer since she recalled seeing a pocketbook with the initial "W" on it. In reality, the killer was Marian Colby -- the "W" was upside down. Marian (Jennifer Bassey) was known for trading comedic quips with Tad Martin (the incomparable Michael E. Knight), but her confession about killing Zach, who was blackmailing her, showed she had dramatic chops, too.

7. Cliff and Nina's first wedding
Cliff and Nina survived trials and tribulations to be together -- literally, considering Sybill's murder trial -- and most were engineered by Nina's dad, the deliciously evil Palmer. When the duo finally managed to tie the knot, 'AMC' pulled out all the stops. The show shot a lavish wedding on location in Connecticut, and no expense was spared to make the wedding look like a movie. Nina and Cliff ended up getting married four (!) times, but their first ceremony is the most memorable one.

6. Jesse dies
There have been many memorable death scenes on 'AMC,' including Jenny Nelson's and Cindy Chandler's. Jesse's death in 1988 was a huge tearjerker -- he and Angie had battled many obstacles on the road to happiness (Liza's lies, Angie's evil dad, man-stealing Yvonne), and it was truly tragic when lawman Jesse was killed in the line of duty. The scenes won Angie's portrayer, Debbi Morgan, a Daytime Emmy the following year. Jesse and Angie shared a love that would literally not die: Decades later, the show resurrected Jesse, saying he'd faked his death.

5. Carol Burnett and Elizabeth Taylor appear in a scene with Myrtle
It became "in" to say you liked soaps back in the '80s, as evidenced by big name stars doing cameos and short runs on their favorite daytime serials. In 1984, Burnett appeared as Verla and shared confidences with Myrtle. Taylor, in a nod to Burnett's character from her variety show, played a chairwoman who claimed to know Verla. Burnett, in a nod to her famous Eunice character, joked that Taylor's character's pilot light was out.

4. Bianca comes out
'AMC' had introduced gay and lesbian characters before, but they were always short-term and not connected to a major core long-running family. Agnes Nixon changed that when she revealed Erica Kane's daughter Bianca was a lesbian. Eden Riegel (Bianca) portrayed Bianca with sensitivity and heart. TV mom Susan Lucci gave a heartfelt, understated performance as Erica battled denial, not wanting her daughter to have a difficult life. The storyline shed light on the issue of acceptance and spawned the bitchiest nickname ever on soaps: Greenlee, Erica's rival, delighted in calling Bianca "Lesbianca."

3. Tom tells Brooke that their daughter Laura was killed
Divorced duo Tom and Brooke remained pals as they co-parented their daughter Laura. Tom interrupted Brooke's evening with Adam to deliver the devastating news that Laura had been struck and killed by a drunk driver. The look on Tom's face said it all. Brooke kept saying "no" over and over, each denial more emphatic than the previous one. This scene proved why Julia Barr is the Gladys Knight of daytime serials -- she may not get the credit that others do, but her work is simply incredible.

2. Greg stops Jenny's wedding to Tony
This was the type of climax that soap fans would invest years in to see. Greg had written a letter to Jenny that he still loved her after enemies and circumstances had torn them apart. She decided to marry evil Tony Barclay. Fortunately, Greg raced to the ceremony and interrupted the wedding to let Jenny know how he truly felt. As a bonus, he clocked Tony, a moment viewers had longed to see.

1. Susan Lucci wins her Emmy
Erica Kane's done it all during 'AMC''s 41-year run. She's been married, divorced, yelled at a bear, been kidnapped, stabbed and impersonated. She told off the whole town while under the influence of a drug and shared many powder room showdowns with rival/pal Brooke English. Any or all of those moments could have been selected to represent Pine Valley's favorite diva. But, as often is the case, truth is stranger than fiction. The number one moment in 'AMC' history, at least chosen for this list, is Erica's portrayer, Susan Lucci, winning her Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 1999.

And, a final bonus entry: the stunning cliffhanger in the 'All My Children' finale. Did Erica Kane get shot?

Now share with us -- what's your favorite 'All My Children' moment of all time?

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I am so glad #2 is there! That is my all time favorite episode. I can cry again just thinking of it. If someone had only stopped my 2 failed marriages! LOL

October 26 2011 at 11:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kate Burkholder

My favorite moment has to be Tad & Dixie's 3rd wedding in 1999.

October 06 2011 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

ABC stinks and i will only watch now watch one life to live on it after that is off i will never in my life watch ABC again how dare they remove these soaps for top chef rejects if these people cant make it on top chef why do they deserve there own show replacing all my children!!!!

September 26 2011 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ann Nicewander

One of my favorite episodes was Cindy and Stuart's wedding. Still the most beautiful wedding I've seen on any soap. Their heartfelt vows and looks of love were priceless.

September 26 2011 at 1:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

prospect park should reunite tad,jesse,angie,greg and jenny

September 25 2011 at 11:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved all of them. I am going to miss AMC so much. Bringing back some of the all times favorites was wonderful and was not so much impressed with the ending. But,, I guess they have to leave it open for when it goes online.

September 24 2011 at 8:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I LOVED #2 on the list. Greg and Jenny one of the greatest of all time. I pretty sure David's last patient was Leo or Babe but I wish it was Jenny. Jesse came back and they were lots of things (Tad mentioning people who should be here in his final speech,Jenny mentions,Greg's 2008 return were he said he never got over her,still loves Jenny). Maybe Prospect Park can bring the greats back to get the long time fans to watch online.

September 24 2011 at 3:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

all my children was my lifeline because they made me feel my family wasn't as bad as i thought. i don't want more talk shows or food shows. i want a show that will touch my soul even if its not real . over the years i have rooted for tad and dixie, jessie and angie , phillip and tara never forget kate. i want someting that will make me laugh, cry untill i can't cry anymore

September 24 2011 at 2:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


September 24 2011 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I grew up watching soaps with my mom, but when I began to work I stopped watching them, which was many many years ago. Well, after losing my job, I started to watch two of my old favorites which were As the World Turns, and The Young and The Restless. Watching these two stories took my mind off of my problems; I was able to escape my worries for two hours of the day, and It was as if I had never stopped watching them. I was devastated when As The World Turns ended...so I can understand how viewers of AMC feel. We do have enough reality shows, talk shows, court tv, and cooking shows. The soaps should be left alone; there are people who truly love them, people who have watched them their entire lives; sharing stories with friends and relatives, as well as those who have been homebound and those soaps has been there for them when there was no one else. So my condolences to the many fans of AMC, and hopefully the networks will stop cutting the soaps, as they are so much more to people than what some people realize.....

September 24 2011 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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