Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Actress Susan Lucci is the daughter of comedienne Phyllis Diller.
Origins: Rumors that some well-known actor or actress is really the child of an equally prominent but unlikely parent have long been a feature of the motion picture industry. Indeed, wild tales about the questionable ancestry of famous people are found all throughout history. Whereas historical examples of this phenomenon were often attempts to discredit the subject (frequently a political figure) by associating him with someone despised by the public, the "movie star" rumors are generally little more than entertainment concocted to amuse by associating a star with a "parent" who is the opposite in appearance or personality.
So, in this case we have the beautiful Susan Lucci, who has played supervixen Erica Kane on TV's All My Children for nearly thirty years posited as the daughter of wacky comedienne Phyllis Diller, known for her trademark frazzled hair and facelift jokes. What better amusing contrast than one between a glamorous soap opera actress and a comedienne known for her self-deprecating jokes about her decidedly unglamorous appearance?
Although their ages don't preclude their being mother and daughter, Phyllis Diller and Susan Lucci are not related. Phyllis Driver was born in Ohio in 1917 and married Sherwood Diller in 1939; they had five children together before divorcing in 1965, none of whom was Susan Lucci (who was born in
A somewhat more plausible rumor suggested that Susan Lucci was the sister of Robin Strasser, an actress who starred on TV's One Life to Live playing Dorian Lord, a "character you love to hate role" similar to Lucci's Erica Kane. (Strasser also portrayed Christina Karras on All My Children with Lucci for a time.) This "two actresses playing similar roles at the same time are related" rumor is equally spurious.
Last updated: 10 August 2007
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