‘The Streak Is Over!’: Remembering Susan Lucci’s Overdue Daytime Emmy Win, 25 Years Later

Susan Lucci
Diana Freed/Hulton Archive via Getty Images

All My Children alum Susan Lucci had good reason to tell the 1999 Daytime Emmys audience she “truly never believed” that her Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series win would happen.

After all, the soap legend behind Erica Kane had lost that award 18 times — and had lost to Guiding Light’s Kim Zimmer and One Life to Live’s Erika Slezak multiple times — by the time she finally took home the trophy 25 years ago now, on May 21, 1999.

By that point, Lucci had become the highest-paid actor on daytime television, but Emmy gold was still out of reach. She had made light of her losing streak, as GoldDerby reports, on Saturday Night Live — in an opening monologue in which SNL’s cast and crew flaunt their Emmy trophies — and in a TV commercial — saying that with the sugar substitute Sweet One, she had everything she wanted “except that Emmy!” Lucci’s All My Children daughter Sarah Michelle Gellar had won a Daytime Emmy, but Lucci herself still had not.

Then came the 1999 Daytime Emmys. Presenter Shemar Moore, then a star of The Young and the Restless, opened the envelope and delivered the long-awaited news. “The streak is over! Susan Lucci!” he exclaimed.

The crowd at Madison Square Garden erupted into applause and cheers — Rosie O’Donnell cried, Oprah Winfrey whooped and hollered, Kelly Ripa shouted her support — and the ovation lasted two whole minutes.

“The fact that you have thought that my work was worthy of notice 19 times is something that I will treasure always,” Lucci told her peers during her acceptance speech.

She also gave her thanks to her diehard fans. “I wasn’t meant to get this award before tonight because if I had, I wouldn’t have that collection of poems and letters and drawings and balloons and chocolate cakes you made me all this time to make me feel better,” she said.

Lucci vowed to go back to the studio the following Monday and “play Erica Kane for all she’s worth,” and she ended up getting two more Daytime Emmy nominations for the part, one in 2001 and another the following year.

During an All My Children virtual cast reunion in 2020, Lucci admitted she thought Moore was announcing the playoff scores when he said the streak was over, since that year’s ceremony was held at New York Knicks’ home arena.

“When he said my name, I didn’t hear it,” she added. “After, I think, what was the ninth time [being a nominee], I started to black out. I don’t know if it was self-protective … My biggest fear [was] that someday, I might just think they called my name and go up there.”

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences honored Lucci one more time last year, bestowing upon her the Daytime Emmys’ Lifetime Achievement Award. And once again, it was Moore who presented her with the trophy.

“I didn’t think she was gonna win,” he said, recalling that night in 1999. “And I flipped over the card, and I almost cussed. And I was like, ‘Oh, sh–,’ and I said, ‘The streak is over!’”