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|“||I didn't mean to cause trouble. Honest.||„|
|~ Kendall Hart|
Kendall Hart is a fictional character on the American soap opera, All My Children. Kendall is the daughter of the series' central character and originating villainess, Erica Kane. As one of daytime television’s most popular and layered characters, Kendall Hart was originally written as a complex antagonist. She was described as a "complicated bad girl," (Hart, Marla. ‘Erica Kane's Daughter Fashioned From Same Mold’. Chicago Tribune. 1994), “hell on wheels daughter,” and called "the scheming daughter of the biggest schemer of them all, Erica Kane," ('Like Mother, Like Daughter.' Daytime TV. 1994), sharing similar multifaceted qualities that had launched Erica’s character into pop culture prominence. (Hart 1994) As "Pine Valley's teenaged troublemaker,” the character received popular viewer response ('Reader’s Notes: Who’s Getting the Most Letters.' Soap Opera Update. November 1, 1994)(Hart 1994). Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar won a Daytime Emmy in the category of "Outstanding Younger Actress" for her portrayal of Kendall Hart in 1995.
Kendall Hart was reformed into a heroine by the series, reconciled for good with her families, developing very close relationships with her mother, Erica, and sister, Bianca, while keeping some devious traits still intact. Kendall was a fan favorite under both Sarah Michelle Gellar (1993–95) and Alicia Minshew (2002-2011, 2013). She was portrayed by 15-year old Sarah Michelle Gellar during the character's first run from March 11, 1993 to July 3, 1995 and by Alicia Minshew from January 7, 2002 to September 23, 2011. Minshew appeared as Kendall Hart on the Prospect Park's revival of All My Children in the second July 8, 2013 episode.
|“||I seduced my stepfather, and when he wouldn't sleep with me, I slept with the stable boy, cried rape, and my mother stabbed him with a letter opener. Then I went to jail for perjury, burned my parents' divorce papers, and locked up my little sister. I think that was all in the first week.||„|
|~ Gellar on playing Kendall Hart, New York Times, April 1997|
Character origins and development
The idea for the character of Kendall Hart as the long-lost daughter for the well known character of notorious Erica Kane (Susan Lucci), who is one of All My Children's original villainesses, existed for years prior to the Kendall's debut but producers had to wait until the right time in Erica's storyline to introduce her (Tracy, Kathleen. The Girl's Got Bite: The Original Unauthorized Guide to Buffy's World. St. Martin's Press. 2003). Described as the "saucy daughter" of "she-devil Erica Kane," (Pearlman, Cindy. ‘Waiting for Buffy.’ Chicago Sun Times. 1997) Kendall was designed to be like a younger version of Erica, explained as a “schemer who does the wrong things for the right reasons” and retaining sympathetic qualities alongside shared devious traits in their drives for approval. (Hart 1994) (Tracy 64) In 1993, 15-year old Gellar was called to audition for the teen character of Kendall based on her work as Sydney Rutledge in Swan's Crossing, a role similar to Erica Kane and Kendall Hart (Rush, Michael. 'Learning Life's Lessons.' Daytime TV. 1993; Pure Soap, Entertainment Television, 1994). Gellar, bearing a physical resemblance to Lucci and the acting skill needed for the character, won the role over many teenaged actresses (Tracy 64). Though viewed by some as "the second coming of Erica" and winning a Daytime Emmy for the role in 1995, Gellar departed in 1995 to pursue other projects. (Tracy 65) Kendall Hart was later played by actress, Alicia Minshew, from 2002-2013, who portrayed the character with many of these traits written to be kept intact even after Kendall’s reformation.
In an effort to ensure Kendall's storyline was unspoiled, details of the character's true identity as Erica Kane's daughter were initially kept secret by the show during the development phase. Gellar learned she'd be playing Erica Kane's long-lost child when she screen-tested with Lucci and was cast in the role (Tracy 64; 'AMC's New Runaway Teen.' Soap Opera Digest. 1993). In 2001, Minshew experienced a similar situation in which she wasn't told she was auditioning for the role of Kendall until after her screen test with Josh Duhamel. ('Alicia Minshew: Queen of Hearts.' Soap Opera Town. 2002)
On March 11, 1993, Kendall was introduced to the audience as a waifish, starry-eyed 16-year old runaway wanting to meet her celebrity idol, Erica Kane. Initially, her true identity as Erica's daughter was kept secret by the character and writers for the first month of the character's storyline until mid-April 1993, when her real identity was disclosed. A month later, in May 1993, Kendall reveals the truth to Erica that she is her daughter. Kendall's initial motivation to see her mother was to fulfill the idealized mother daughter relationship her character had been dreaming about and fill in the missing pieces of her identity. Kendall's character was written to feel displaced in her life with her adoptive parents and fears being alone/unnoticed, with dreams of doing more with her life than what her parents allow. As a child, she inadvertantly learns the truth of her adoption, which her parents had kept hidden. Kendall unseals her adoption papers, discovering her birth mother is her lifelong idol, Erica Kane. Certain this is the reason why she has always felt misplaced, Kendall dreams of a mother-daughter reunion with Erica and longs for her approval, feeling she'll finally belong once she has found her mother. Simultaneously, Kendall experiences feelings of perceived abandonment due to her hurt and anger over Erica having given her up for adoption. Consequently, Kendall is driven by a need for payback but also longs for her mother's love and acts out for attention from Erica, boyfriends/love interests, etc., resulting in her schemes, plots and ploys. During this time in the series, Erica and Kendall's mother-daughter relationship is portrayed as emotionally tumultuous and multifaceted with a push-and-pull dynamic. In the first month of Kendall's storyline, clues hinted at Kendall's true identity including noted similarities between Erica and Kendall, story references to a familial connection, Kendall's mysterious documents, Mona's recognition of Kendall's birthmark, and finally, it being revealed Erica had been pregnant at 14 with her first born daughter. Erica and her mother, Mona, placed Erica's baby girl for adoption to the Harts, a loving couple from Florida.In April 1993, 16-year old Kendall was confirmed to the audience as Erica's long lost daughter. Shortly after, in a retroactive continuity of the show, it was revealed Erica was raped on her 14th birthday by movie star Richard Fields and this is when Erica became pregnant with her first child (Kendall). Due to timeline discrepancies involving the current audience remembering Erica had not been a pregnant teenager 17-years before and later, 16-year old Kendall being said to have been conceived in a then-written 23-24 year old rape, Kendall's character was later rapidly aged from 16 to 22–23 years old (birth date revised to September 25, 1970). Upon the character's return in 2002 (played by Minshew), Kendall's birthdate was revised back to September 25, 1976, reverting her age back to her original age of being 16 in 1993, when she first appeared as a teenaged girl in the spring of 1993.
- Because of her work as the self-absorbed Kendall Hart and light complexion with dark hair, Joss Whedon initially considered Gellar for the role of Cordelia Chase when she auditioned for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Sullivan, Michelle. Buffy's Paintstaking Audition. 'TV Guide.' 1998)
- In 1994, Gellar was a front runner for the role of Amber in Clueless. Producer Adam Shroeder felt Gellar for right for the role because she was beautiful and was playing the role of Erica Kane's daughter, Kendall, a spoiled-brat character similar to Amber. Upon showing the other producers tapes of Gellar's work as Kendall, they offered her the role. However, despite a large negotiation with All My Children to borrow Gellar to play Amber, All My Children "absolutely stuck their feet in" and refused to temporarily let the actress out to do Clueless. (Chaney, Jen. An Oral History of Clueless. 'Vanity Fair.' 2015)
- In a 1999 interview with the The Chicago Tribune, Roger Kumble, writer and director of the 1999 film, Cruel Intentions, revealed he wanted Gellar in the lead role of Kathryn Merteuil based on her work as Kendall Hart.
- Rudolph Martin, who played Kendall's confidante, on-again/off-again boyfriend and one-time husband, Anton Lang, was re-united with his former co-star, Gellar, when he played Dracula in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode, "Buffy vs. Dracula."
- Gellar briefly worked with Lauren E. Roman, who played teenaged runaway Laura Kirk, on All My Children. They would work together again in the 1999 Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, "Earshot", in which Roman played Buffy's overachieving high school classmate, Nancy Doyle.
- Michelle Trachtenberg portrayed Dawn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and also played Lily Benton Montgomery on All My Children from 1993 to 1996. Though her tenure overlapped with Gellar's time on All My Children, the two characters didn't interact.
- In an effort to keep Kendall’s storyline unspoiled, producers kept details of the role concealed and neither Gellar (Kendall Hart, 1993–95) or Minshew (Kendall Hart, 2002–11, 2013) were aware of the character’s true identity as Erica Kane's daughter when they each auditioned for the role. Gellar learned she was being cast as Erica Kane's long-lost daughter when she screen-tested for the role with Lucci in 1993. Minshew screen-tested with Josh Duhamel (ex-Leo Dupres) in 2001 and after winning the role, she learned she was actually being re-cast for the character originated by Gellar, Erica Kane's eldest daughter, Kendall.
- In 2012, Minshew interviewed that she received a basket of flowers, cakes and cookies from Gellar with "a note saying that Kendall was a great role and for me to have fun playing her". The two met on All My Children's set a year after Minshew's time in the role while Gellar was visiting friends. Minshew describes, "We just gave each other a big hug and she said I was doing a great job." (Kirchgassner, Robert. Interview with Alicia Minshew. 'The Celebrity Cafe.' 2012)
- In an 2010 interview with Michael Fairman, Minshew reveals she has "always loved the relationship between Kendall and Erica, even before I played her. I liked the dynamics between Sarah Michelle Gellar (ex-Kendall) and Susan."
- Gellar stated in multiple interviews that she grew up watching All My Children and continued to watch the show after she left the role of Kendall Hart, explaining, "I still watch the soap every day!" in a September 2002 Soap Opera Digest cover feature.