The last time General Hospital's Jane Elliot (Tracy) won a Daytime Emmy was 1981 —the year Ronald Reagan moved into the White House. Isn't it about damn time she took home another? That said, Elliot's current nomination in the supporting actress category comes as quite a stunner, not because she isn't deserving, but because she has refused to submit herself for Emmy consideration for the past 20 years. What changed her mind? TV Guide Magazine gave Elliot a ring shortly after the noms were announced on Thursday morning to get the answer. But more important: Who's doing her roots for the awards now that Deidre Hall has a broken wrist? Tragedy!
TV Guide Magazine: Hey, Jane, congratulations. So are you celebrating over at your place?
Elliot: When you called I was in the garage doing laundry. [Laughs] It's been such a glamorous morning for me! Sheets and towels. Cleaning the sink. Taking out the garbage.
TV Guide Magazine: And then you're off to shop for your ball gown?
Elliot: Yeah, right. I got an email from [soap historian] Gary Warner today telling me it's been 33 years since I won my Emmy — 33 years! Marriages have come and gone, children have been born, grown up, gone off to college and gotten married and had children of their own during that time. Astounding! Where else in this business can you be up for an award on the same show that many years apart? That's the fun part of this for me. It's also the good news and the bad news. The good news is I could possibly win again 33 years later so I must be doing something right.
TV Guide Magazine: And the bad news?
Elliot: [Laughs] Is this the only damn thing I can do? It can go either way with me. It just depends on which neurotic hat I'm wearing.
TV Guide Magazine: You've avoided being on the Emmy ballot for many years. When was the last time you were submitted?
Elliot: When I was working with Gerry Anthony [Marco] on GH — so we're talking 20 years ago.
TV Guide Magazine: What the hell is wrong with you? Aren't actors supposed to kill for gold trophies?
Elliot: I'm in this business for the fun part — the make believe. That's my reward, my joy. I love nothing better than to get all the nuts and bolts out of the way — show up on time, with lines learned, clear on what the director expects of me, with my buttons buttoned and my jewelry on correctly — and then I completely commit to play acting. It's a child's game for grownups. Nothing thrills me more than to be good at something. It's very rewarding and I feel grateful and blessed and I never take it for granted. Yet, at the same time, I don't take it too seriously. I'm not curing cancer or running a small county. I haven't developed a greener car. I just play act. And if I can bring people a moment of fun and relief in their lives, well, that's the win.
TV Guide Magazine: Why did you agree to be on the ballot this time?
Elliot: As usual, I said no and [GH executive producer] Frank Valentini put his foot down and would not take no for an answer. That is how much he believes in me, how much he cares. I have never had a producer go out of his or her way to support me the way Frank does. [Former GH executive producer] Gloria Monty refused to submit me for the Emmy the year I won, so I submitted myself just because I was so pissed that she refused to do it! Frank is the only one who ever said, "You'll be submitted this year, whether you like it or not. It's not up for discussion." And, so, here we are. Submitting myself for awards feels like a weird kind of horn-blowing that's not comfortable for me. I'm really happy when someone likes my work but I don't like marketing myself, putting myself on display. For an actor, I'm an odd duck. So I don't know what to tell you. Ooh! [Laughs] Yes I do know what I can tell you! Deidre Hall broke her arm so I don't know who's going to do my roots for the Emmys!
TV Guide Magazine: Wow, that's right! This is ghastly! What are you going to do? America needs to know.
Elliot: The timing couldn't be worse! Deidre tripped over her own foot in Zumba class, which therefore means women of our age should not be taking Zumba class. Note to self: No Zumba! So Dee trips and when she goes down she tries to support her weight with her hand and shatters her wrist. She needed pins and plates to repair the bones. I took her to the surgery last Friday.
TV Guide Magazine: Was it her hairdo hand? Don't leave us in suspense!
Elliot: It was her left hand but doing my roots is a two-handed job so this is dire! [Laughs] But here's the good news: If she had opted for no surgery, she would have had to wear a cast for six weeks. But with surgery she only has to wear a cast for two weeks. As luck would have it, GH is dark for two weeks and then I'm off for two weeks because Tracy is supposedly out of town. So I said to Dee: "You have one month, exactly, to get better, and then you're going to have to figure out how to do my roots!" And she will. She is one determined woman.
TV Guide Magazine: Where do you keep your Emmy?
Elliot: In a box...
TV Guide Magazine: A box where?
Elliot: In the garage.
TV Guide Magazine: This is so psychologically twisted!
Elliot: It's right in the same box with my Soapy awards and my theater trophies. My landlord recently put a new roof on the garage and I emptied everything out of there because there was going to be all this falling crap. I took out all of the boxes except the one with my awards. I just left it there. That's how removed I am from all of this. Somehow to get an award for something I get so much pleasure out of just doesn't seem right. [Laughs] Oh, puh-leeze stop making me talk about this!
TV Guide Magazine: Okay, okay. The pain is over. Interview done!