It's not so very common to find a soap opera star who's played the same character on the same show for more than 20 years, but Emmy Award winning actress Suzanne Rogers, who has played Maggie Horton on NBC-TV's Days of our Lives since 1973, has been around for 26!
Growing up in Colonial Heights, Virginia, with her parents Edna and Pete Crumpler and younger sister Lorettea, Suzanne was an avid dancer from the moment she could walk. Whether it was tap, ballet, or jazz, her passion was dance. By the time she reached Colonial Heights High School, Rogers was so polished a performer that she won first prize in the school talent show and her voice was as impressive as her moves, so she was selected as the glee club soloist.
High school success in the performing arts wasn't enough. Rogers longed to nail a spot with one of the most renowned dance troupes in all of America - The Rockettes. So, Suzanne's mother took her to New York to audition against hundreds of other ambitious, talented girls for the few spots available. Rogers vividly remember the agonizing series of auditions where the girls were scrutinized for appearance as well as talent. Her impressive dancing ability successfully took her through the screening process to land a spot with the Rockettes. She recalls, It was the most wonderful and the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
One day while still performing with the Rockettes, some co-workers overhead Rogers singing and encouraged her to move onto a career in musical theater. However, the Rockettes' management frowned upon its dancers doing outside projects. So, Suzanne ran to and from auditions on the QT between performances at Radio City Music Hall. She became an expert at juggling auditions, dance class, acting class, show performances, and commercials. Finally, she was cast in her first play 110 Degrees in the Shade and she bid goodbye to the Rockettes.
Roger's career as an actress/dancer grew tremendously over the next eight years in New York, with Broadway theater credits including roles in Coco (starring Katherine Hepburn), Hallelujah Baby, Follies, and the national touring company of Funny Girl.
In between her theater engagements, Rogers returned to her dance roots and performed on the Ed Sullivan Show as one of the Peter Genero dancers. Additionally, she appeared in several national television commercials for products such as Pepsi Cola, Noxema and Lysol.
Finally, a producer told her that if she wanted to have a serious career, she would have to change her last name, tone down her voice and dispose of her Southern twang. The newly christened Suzanne Rogers studied voice and diction and was ready to it the big time.
In 1973, after Suzanne decided to give California a shot, she landed a role on NBC-TV's Days of our Lives. She had originally auditioned for a part on The Young and the Restless, but it turned out they were looking for blondes. The folks at Days saw her tape, though, and Maggie Horton was born.
Rogers has starred on the daytime drama ever since, and received an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1979. Suzanne finds acting on a soap opera to be incredibly challenging. "It is the best repertoire in the world. If you can do a soap, you can do anything," she says.
Rogers proved to herself and all of her devoted viewers that she could indeed conquer anything when she was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis in 1984. Initially, she was terrified. For one year, during which she took a hiatus from the show, Rogers developed horrible symptoms: she became emaciated, could barely speak and saw with a double vision. With medication, therapy and remarkable inner strength, she combated her disease. She reflects, "It's been a growing experience. I am much kinder to myself, my family, the people I love, the people I work with and even the people that are not very nice to me."
Since that time, Rogers works to bestow her positive way of thinking on other Myasthenia Gravis patients. She sends cards and calls to the afflicted all over the world to tell them of her battle and to give them encouragement.
Suzanne is now in remission and lives a strong, healthy life. She plays golf, walks daily and loves to cook in her Studio City home. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and watching old films on the American Movie Classics channel. Her three cats, Tiffany, Melanie and Maxwell, keep her company.