Born in New Jersey, Susan Flannery attended Stevens College on the midwest before arriving in Hollywood. Susan told Lillian Smith in 1988, "I started working right away. I've never not worked. I know I was very lucky." Susan made her TV debut in 1963, "It was for a company called Four Star Television, which was owned by David Niven, Charles Boyer, Ida Lupino and Dick Powell. And you know who the young writer/producer on it was? Aaron Spelling! It was 'Burke's Law', with Gene Barry, and it was charming and wonderful. I got my Screen Actors (Guild) card and got my foot in the door. I was living on $7 a week (in those days)." 

Between 1987 and 2012, Susan could be seen on the popular daytime soap opera, 'The Bold And The Beautiful'. Susan told 'Soap Opera Digest' in 2006, "I knew the show would be on the air 25 years minimum because it was created by Bill Bell and it was placed on the network immediately behind his other show, 'Young and Restless', which was successful, and it's locked there. They can't move it.

"What I didn't realize and nobody did, was the show would become such a phenomenon internationally ... You know, what I always say to people is what a stroke of genius — William really was a genius — casting a German actor (Eric Braeden) to play the main character (Victor Newman) on a daytime soap opera ('The Young and the Restless'), a medium watched primarily by middle America!"

Before Susan joined the cast of 'The Bold And The Beautiful', "I stopped acting for 5 years (between 1982 and 1987) and produced. I was partnered with Michael Jaffe and we did a number of things (including the cable drama 'New Day In Eden'). Then I was in business with Ann Howard Bailu, who now (in 1988) writes for 'Santa Barbara'. We were in business a couple of years and had deals at Columbia. 

"Then I stopped and Bill Bell called me and asked if I wanted to do this (playing Stephanie Forrester on 'The Bold And The Beautiful'). Here I am, sometimes things come into your life, it's timing." Susan also elaborated to Devin Owens in 2006, "Sometimes you have to be able to face what’s in front of you and say to yourself, 'This could be a whole different opportunity.' I didn’t want to go back to acting. I'd been producing and I really enjoyed it. I was getting older, and roles when you hit 40 are not there the way they should be and I like to work. But my contract at Columbia Pictures was up and I was in negotiations with Procter & Gamble to produce."

Susan said, "The reason I liked and agreed to sign to do this show ('The Bold And The Beautiful') is because it is a half-hour show. If this had been an hour I wouldn't have done it. It's fun to do the half-hour. See when I did 'Days (of our Lives)' (back in 1966 to 1975), it was a half-hour show. I stayed about 6 weeks (in 1975) to help them launch it to an hour form. It's too grinding (one-hour show) and I think it overdoes the story, drags it out, makes it too wordy." With half-hour show, "You've only got 20 minutes and you have to tell a lot of stuff in that time." 

Also "that's one of the big differences from 'Days of our Lives'. I mean, the budget we have here (on 'The Bold And The Beautiful') for clothes is unbelievable. It's really very nice. Of course it takes place in the fashion industry." Of Stephanie Forrester's wardrobe, "Well, I didn't want the character to look like one of those idle rich woman, you know. I always think that one of the things in a soap opera that you have to be very careful about, especially with a character like this, is not to become campy. 

"It's one thing on 'Dynasty' because they only do 20 shows a year and Joan (Collins) is, I'm not saying she's campy but it's a very broad performance, but she's only on screen a little bit in each show. This show ('The Bold And The Beautiful'), you're on 4 days a week usually. I did 160 shows last year (back in 1987). You have to be careful, the character has to be reality based. I'll tell you something. On 'Days' I think I walked around for 8½ years in the same pair of shoes. They bronzed them, they gave me one, gave Betty Corday one when I left the show as a gag gift."

Back in 2001, Susan spoke to Sheila Steinbach about show business, "It's tougher to break in now than it was when I was a kid. I'll tell you why. I listen to the kids when they come back from having been in movie interviews and things like that, and they all tell you about the horror of having to go through 15 people before they get to the casting person. They go in and they sit down and there's like 60 people in the room for the role. When I was a kid, it wasn't that way. Maybe there were 2 or 3 people, and you came in and read for the head of casting right away. They either said yes or no. So I think it's harder today. I really do."

Susan also directed, "They actually wanted me to direct on 'Days' years ago, but I didn't want to do it. Then, the first year 'B&B' was on the air (in 1987), there was going to be a directors' strike. One of the producers came to me and asked if I would like to direct in case there was a strike, but I couldn't do it. One day, Joanna Johnson said to me, 'You better do it before they rescind the offer!' So, I went up to Bill Bell and said I'd like to try it. He was very supportive. I don't direct as much because I'm in so many shows." Susan told 'Soap Opera Digest' in 1988 on her days off she "made a lot of business calls."

Blog Archive