ABC's landmark soap One Life to Live will end its run January 13 but not before several of the show's most memorable badasses escape from Statesville Prison and return to Llanview to raise some eleventh-hour hell. Among them: Mitch Laurence (Roscoe Born), Troy MacIver (Ty Treadway), Cole Thornhart (Van Hughes), and our fave of faves, Lindsay Rappaport, the camptastic murderess played by Catherine Hickland. Yes, the very same Catherine Hickland who got spitting mad last spring when OLTL and All My Children were cancelled and took to her blog to blast ABC and its (then) daytime chief Brian Frons for destroying the soaps with their "character assassinating, lame storytelling and micromanaging." TV Guide Magazine caught up with the bodacious Hickland, who is now a certified hypnotherapist living in Las Vegas and is two years into a very serious relationship with businessman Todd Fisher (brother of Carrie, son of Debbie). Needless to say, she was extremely surprised to find herself back to Llanview!
TV Guide Magazine: What did you think when they asked you to return to OLTL?
Hickland: When they called I was on a state fair tour doing my hypnosis show in Arizona. I was in a whole other world! At first I was like, "Hmmm...what's behind this?" [Laughs] "What are they going to do to me when I get there?" I was very suspicious about the whole thing and wasn't sure I wanted to do it. I thought I'd be facing a firing squad! But I'm glad I went back. It was a little strange at first because all that actor stuff instantly returned. You know, all those little neuroses actors deal with 24/7? Can I remember my lines? Will I make a mistake? Is my ass too fat? I hadn't been under that kind of scrutiny for a long time. But it all went away as soon as I stepped on that soundstage. There was a lot of love, especially from the crew and [executive producer] Frank Valentini. That's one of the reasons I wanted to go back. I never had a chance to say goodbye to that phenomenal crew.
TV Guide Magazine: That's right. Didn't you play your last scenes without knowing it? And then you had to find out you were fired by reading it in a soap magazine?
Hickland: It was on the cover! Clearly, certain people at the show knew I was leaving and it got out and the press had time to write it up and get it on the newsstands and I still didn't know. [Laughs] Suddenly I was like, gee, I don't think I want to do this anymore. This doesn't feel so good.
TV Guide Magazine: At that point, you were already prepping your next career as a hypnotist, right?
Hickland: Yeah, I'd already gone back to school. I now have my certification in several areas of hypnotherapy, and I just love it. I'm already booked for the entire summer and fall of 2012 at state fairs. [You can see video of hypnotist Hickland in action at catherinehickland.com.] I want to do my show in Los Angeles. You'll have to come.
TV Guide Magazine: Hey, I don't want to end up on stage dancing like a chicken!
Hickland: I have never made someone dance like a chicken! [Laughs] Well, actually, that's not true. I made my [ex-husband] Michael Knight dance like a chicken once. But I can't make someone do anything that's against their moral code. The subconscious mind is the watchdog. That's the beauty of hypnosis. I'm just the guide.
TV Guide Magazine: Back to OLTL. Word is, after the big prison break an incognito Lindsay makes a beeline for her old flame Bo [Bob Woods]. Does she still have a thing for him?
Hickland: It's sort of ambiguous. I'm not being coy. I really couldn't tell from the script. But, yeah, I got to work with Bob and Hillary B. Smith [Nora] and Ty Treadway a bit. For me, it was a satisfying ending for my character. I liked the idea of playing Lindsay one more time. That character has a place in history on that show, that's for sure. Though, at that point, Prospect Park was still planning to take the show to the Internet. I was happy to wrap it up, or leave it open. Whatever they had in mind.
TV Guide Magazine: Why were you so vocal in your blog about the cancellation? You even joined fans on an anti-Frons picket line. It was a whole other side of Catherine Hickland we hadn't seen. You were really out there!
Hickland: And I was happy to be out there! I didn't really care if I ever acted again so, for me, it was no big deal. Everyone else at OLTL and AMC was under gag order and had the fear of God put into them. There was nothing keeping me from telling the truth. When I saw our wonderful viewers being yanked around like that I just couldn't take it anymore. They are the bread and butter of this business, the very reason soaps have remained on the air for decades, and they deserved to know what's really going on. I guess that was the reason behind my snap, so to speak. I just didn't have any idea it would be so far reaching and cause such a fuss. I was just saying my thoughts, blogging like I have for ages. I spent a lot of years at OLTL being told, "Don't say this. Don't say that." This is America, may I remind everybody. To not be able to speak your mind is very frustrating. If you don't let your feelings out, that's where sickness lies. I had already moved on. It's not like I felt anyone owed me a career. It wasn't about that at all. I just felt that the audience was owed simple respect, something we all owe each other — in business and in life.
TV Guide Magazine: You've spent almost your entire career in soaps — Texas, Capitol, Loving and The City before OLTL. Did you ever think you'd see the day when we'd be down to just four?
Hickland: Honestly, I saw this end coming for a very long time. And so did you. But I think these shows could have been saved and redirected into something fantastic and profitable if only certain people had kept their uninterested paws off of them, you know? I watched that last week of AMC and cried my eyes out, and what really made me cry was that it could have been that great all along! When Michael Knight did that last speech, it just ripped my heart out. How utterly astounding it all was! I believe the soaps could have survived, but the people making them stopped exciting the viewers' imaginations. And then they blamed it on the genre. It is not the fault of the genre! Look at primetime! There are successful serialized shows everywhere! On the business side, I understand that daytime soaps aren't what they used to be when it comes down to dollars and cents, advertisers, profit. I'm a businesswoman, I get that. But did the people in charge really do everything possible to keep these shows alive? No. It's okay if you want to step aside, but don't claim that the audience doesn't care about their soaps anymore.
TV Guide Magazine: So no more acting for you?
Hickland: I had a great career and got out all my ya-yas. If I had unrealized dreams it would be hard to walk away from that. But I did everything I wanted to do, including Broadway. [Laughs] Now, if someone comes along and just hands me a part, I would do it. But I'm not interested in living that life anymore. I want to be out making new things happen.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you still have your Cat Cosmetics company?
Hickland: Yep. Going on 11 years and the company is doing great. We have 30,000 people in the client base. It's really cool.
TV Guide Magazine: And you actually like living in Las Vegas?
Hickland: I love Vegas! Everybody thought I was crazy to move there yet it was the greatest thing I ever did.
TV Guide Magazine: Tell us about Todd Fisher.
Hickland: He's an incredible man and the kindest person I've ever met. I know there is not another like him. [Laughs] But, at the same time, he's the male version of me times a thousand! He's someone I used to know at church 30 years ago in LA and we reconnected on Facebook. He was married 20 years to a wonderful, beautiful woman who passed away from cancer, which is the only reason he would be available. And I'm very close to his mom, Debbie. She is really awesome, as you can imagine, and really hilarious. A good woman who raised the most remarkable son.
TV Guide Magazine: So you gonna marry this guy?
Hickland: I am super-committed. [Laughs] But when you're my age, you don't sit around dreaming about that white dress. Before Todd came along I never wanted to date again and was so happy on my own. But here we are! He's really changed the way I think about love. I didn't used to believe in soulmates and that sort of thing. But I have a connection with Todd unlike any connection I've had in my entire life — and I have had some great connections! Michael Knight is still very special to me. We were on a radio show together a couple of weeks ago and he said, "Catherine is still my best friend." Do you know what that means to me? For us to marry and split up and still feel that way about each other? Wow. [Laughs] We're living in a grown-up world!