Jessica Buchanan
Bree Williamson as Jessica Buchanan
One Life to Live
Portrayed by Erin Torpey (1990-2003)
Bree Williamson (2003-2012) Deanna DeVestern (age 6)
Nadine Jacobson (teen)
First appearance September 23, 1986
Last appearance January 13, 2012
Cause/reason ABC series finale; actress choose not to join new OLTL
Created by Peggy O'Shea
Introduced by Paul Rauch
Family Lord, Buchanan
Alias(es) Tess, Bess, Teen Jess, Wes
Gender Female
Born September 23 1978
Age (29) 2-21-07
  • Journalist for Lord Enterprises
  • Owner of Brennan Winery and Vineyard
  • Llanfair estate trustee
  • Board member of Buchanan Enterprises
  • Erin torpey 02x4
    Erin Torpey as Jessica Buchanan
    Parents Victoria Lord
    Clint Buchanan
    Mitch Laurence (postulated from 2001-12; later proven false)
    Siblings Natalie Buchanan
    Joey Buchanan
    Kevin Buchanan
    Megan Gordon (deceased)
    Rex Balsom
    Cord Roberts
    Spouses Tico Santi (2004)
    Antonio Vega (2004-2007)
    Nash Brennan (2007-2008)
    Robert Ford (2011 as Tess)
    Cutter Wentworth (2011 as Tess)
    Romances Cristian Vega
    (1997; 1998-1999; 2000)
    Will Rappaport (1998; 1999-2000; 2000-2001)
    Seth Anderson (2001-2003)
    Jared Banks (2005; as Tess)
    Brody Lovett (2008-2011)
    Robert Ford (2011-2012)
    Children Megan Rappaport
    (with Will; stillborn)
    Bree Brennan
    Chloe Brennan (stillborn)
    (with Nash)
    Ryder Ford (with Ford)
    Grandparents Asa Buchanan
    Olympia Buchanan
    Victor Lord
    Eugenia Randolph Lord
    Aunts and uncles Tony Lord
    Meredith Lord
    Todd Manning
    Victor Lord, Jr.
    Bo Buchanan
    Ben Davidson
    Nieces and nephews Duke Buchanan
    Shane Morasco
    C. J. Roberts
    Sarah Roberts
    Liam McBain
    First cousins Brian Kendall
    Daniel Wolek
    C. J. Roberts
    Sarah Roberts
    Starr Manning
    Danielle Manning
    Jack Manning
    Sam Manning
    Victor Lord III
    David Vickers Buchanan
    Drew Buchanan
    Matthew Buchanan

    Jessica Eugenia/Lynn Buchanan (previously Santi and Vega) is a fictional character on the ABC soap opera, One Life to Live. Actress Erin Torpey played the role of Jessica continuously from 1990 to 2003. Bree Williamson assumed the role in 2003 until the network series finale on January 13, 2012.

    Character historyEdit

    The daughter of Victoria Lord and Clint Buchanan, Jessica is born on September 23, 1978 and soon kidnapped by the mentally unstable Allison Perkins on instructions from her real father and Viki's nemesis, Mitch Laurence. Putting on a red wig and flashy dress to look like Viki's former alternate personality Niki Smith, Allison sneaks into Viki's mansion, Llanfair, and takes Jessica while Viki is asleep. As the search for Jessica commences, Viki denies the suggestion that she had stolen the child as Niki. Maria Roberts, the old flame of Clint's, had already been plotting to separate Viki and Clint and take him for herself; Maria discovers Allison's involvement, and manipulates the situation further so that Clint begins to believe that Niki is the kidnapper after all. When Maria is later sure she has ruined Clint and Viki's marriage, she persuades Allison to return Jessica. Allison does, but is subsequently hit by a car and falls into a coma before she can tell anyone about Maria's scheming.

    Young JessicaEdit

    As a teenager, Jessica meets Cristian Vega, and they are instantly attracted to each other.

    Erin Torpey as Jessica and Yorlin Madera as Cristian

    Jessica's father Clint and Cristian's mother Carlotta initially object to the relationship, forcing them to see each other in secret. The issues are eventually worked out.

    Jessica later has a one-night stand with Will Rappaport and becomes pregnant; Cristian forgives her and the two decide to get married. In 1999, Dorian Lord accidentally hits Jessica with her car, and the baby (later named Megan) is stillborn. The miscarriage pushes Jessica and Cristian apart, and brings her closer to Will, but neither relationship survives.

    The other sisterEdit

    Natalie Balsom appears in 2001, stirring up trouble and soon making the startling claim that she is in fact the biological daughter of Jessica's parents Clint Buchanan and Viki Lord Davidson. After this is confirmed by a DNA test, it is at first believed that when Allison Perkins had kidnapped the Buchanan baby in 1986, another child had been returned and had grown up to be Jessica. Jessica begins a tenuous relationship with Natalie's wild adoptive mother Roxy Balsom, whom Jessica believes to be her own biological mother, and with Roxy's son Rex. But when a DNA test on Jessica proves that she is also Viki's daughter, the real story comes out.

    It is ultimately revealed that Mitch Laurence had secretly raped a drugged Viki around the same time she conceived a child with Clint. Viki had unknowingly become pregnant with fraternal twins, one fathered by Clint (Natalie) and the other fathered by Mitch (Jessica). Viki's obstetrician Dr. Walter Balsom, who had been one of religious leader Mitch's disciples, had taken Mitch's daughter during delivery, and Viki had never known she had given birth to more than one child. Mitch, however, had wanted his daughter to grow up loved by Viki in the lap of luxury, and had sent Allison to kidnap Clint's child. They had replaced her with Mitch's daughter (who would become Jessica), and had given Clint's daughter (who would become Natalie) to Dr. Balsom and his wife Roxy. [1]

    Antonio and the SantisEdit

    In 2003, Jessica falls in love with Cristian's brother, Llanview Police Detective Antonio Vega (Cristian had married her sister Natalie before being presumed dead). During the summer, a returned-from-the-dead Mitch is desperate for his daughter to love him. When his efforts are continually rebuffed, he finally kidnaps Jessica and keeps her drugged at his mysterious estate. Antonio and Police Commissioner Bo Buchanan find Jessica; a short while later, Mitch is found dead on the docks. Ultimately Jessica remembers hitting Mitch in the head with a pipe to save her uncle, Todd Manning (who had been posing as Mitch's brother, Walker Laurence). Due to the multiple suspects and conflicting evidence surrounding the case, Bo drops the investigation.

    Jessica and Antonio's deepening relationship is complicated by the return of Antonio's ex, Keri Reynolds, and daughter Jamie, who had been presumed dead in a plane crash. When Keri is later killed, Antonio is accused; Jessica stands by him, and he is ultimately exonerated. In the summer of 2004, Jessica and Antonio visit Puerto Rico as part of his ongoing investigation of the Santi crime family. Jessica comes upon a man left for dead in the Santi vault Tico Santi, son of deceased crime lord Manuel, tortured by his father's enemies who are looking for Manuel's missing fortune. They take a grateful Tico back to Llanview, but the Santi heir takes a growing interest in Jessica and begins driving a wedge between her and Antonio.

    It is revealed that Antonio's mother Carlotta Vega is Manuel's sister, and soon Antonio is shocked to discover that he is in fact Manuel's eldest son, thought killed as a baby. Carlotta relates how she and husband Diego adopted Antonio to protect him from his father's enemies. Antonio is furious with Carlotta over the deception, and his obsession with the "Santi case" leads Jessica to return his engagement ring to him. Antonio becomes involved with Tico's adopted sister Sonia Toledo as Jessica suddenly marries Tico. Antonio forgives Carlotta, and in November discovers that a presumed-dead Cristian is still alive but possessing no memories of his former life. It is revealed that Tico is actually "El Tiburon," the mysterious druglord who has resurrected the Santi criminal empire. Responsible for Cristian's disappearance, Tico has programmed Cristian to kill Antonio; the attempt fails as the trauma of trying to kill his own brother brings Cristian's memories flooding back. Antonio shoots Tico; at the hospital, an injured Jessica sees someone pull the plug on Tico's life support, but cannot remember who. It is revealed that Cristian had killed Tico; he is sent to prison in 2005, but his sentence is later overturned.

    Enter TessEdit

    Following Tico's death, Jessica begins to suffer from blackouts and losses of time. It is soon revealed that, like her mother, Jessica suffers from dissociative identity disorder. Jessica is once again romantically involved with Antonio in 2005, but her wild alter ego, Tess, parties and meets other men. Antonio is engaged in a custody battle with R.J. over Jamie, and the stability of his relationship with Jessica is an important factor; Jessica discovers her condition, and soon realizes that she is a danger to not only the case, but Jamie's safety and well-being. She quietly checks herself into St. Ann's sanitarium to get treatment to integrate her personalities, but soon Tess emerges and plots to escape. Fellow patient Addie Cramer shows Tess some of her treasured belongings, including the report card of her granddaughter Starr Manning the daughter of Jessica's uncle Todd and Addie's daughter Blair. Tess uses Todd's signature from the card to get herself released, but Todd, already suspicious of Jessica's behavior, figures out that Jessica is under the influence of an alternate personality and drags her to Llanfair to tell Viki. Not wanting to be integrated out of existence, Tess incites a huge argument with Todd that causes Viki to have a heart attack. She survives, but Tess escapes to New York City.

    Tess steals a car belonging to Nash Brennan; through frustrated by her attitude and troublemaking, Nash finds himself attracted to her. He saves Tess from a would-be rapist and, realizing she has nowhere to go but will not admit it, takes her into his home. The icy Tess warms to Nash, telling him that the "Jessica" she blames for ruining her life is her dead twin sister. Todd tracks Tess down but is thrown off the trail by a protective Nash; Tess begins falling for Nash, but Jessica reemerges and flees back to Llanview. Nash follows, and whisks Tess off to his Napa Valley winery. During the few instances she is in control, Jessica manages to send Antonio clues to her whereabouts; he finds her and brings her back to Llanview. Nash follows, he and Viki finding out about Jessica's condition in October 2005; Jessica is soon revealed to be pregnant.

    In love with conflicting parts of the same woman, Antonio and Nash are at odds; Jessica is getting treatment but Tess is still not under control. Jessica's father Clint takes a liking to Nash, who promises not to run off with Tess and is only concerned with her well-being. In February 2006, Clint and Viki discover the cause of Jessica's mental illness had been molested as a child by a man named Norman Leeds. Viki is devastated, as her own alternate personality Niki Smith had been around at the time and left Jessica unattended. On April 28, 2006, Tess is in control when Jessica gives birth to her daughter, named Brennan Buchanan by Tess and later nicknamed "Bree" by Jessica and Antonio. In June 2006, a paternity test establishes that Nash is Bree's father; with Jessica now in control, Nash decides that it is best for Jessica and Antonio to raise her. Jessica and Tess are fully integrated in August, and Jessica and Antonio become engaged. Nash and Antonio form an unlikely friendship as Jessica adjusts to the aspects of Tess now present in her own personality. Jessica marries Antonio in November 2006.

    Soon after the marriage in 2007, Jessica begins to develop feelings for Nash, who has let go of his love for Tess but finds himself also falling for Jessica. They fight the attraction; Jessica soon realizes she is in love with Nash, but wants to be loyal to Antonio. She agrees to adopt Jamie, and tells Nash she does not love him. Nash is on his way out of town as a guilty Jessica flees the adoption hearing; they both find themselves at the stone quarry, finally giving into temptation and making love. In May 2007, Jessica is about to tell Antonio that she wants to be with Nash when she collapses. She is soon diagnosed with Hepatitis C, presumably a result of Tess' wild lifestyle. It is also determined that as a result Jessica has now has a related form of liver cancer and needs a transplant. As the search for a suitable donor begins, Jessica tells Antonio about her feelings for Nash; furious and devastated, he leaves town with Jamie. Antonio turns out to be a match, but not even his mother Carlotta knows where he is. Nash manages to track Antonio down and convince him to return to save Jessica. Jessica and Antonio divorce in July 2007, but she collapses in the courthouse as her body rejects the transplanted liver. David Vickers is determined to be a suitable liver donor; he makes a deal with Clint to donate in exchange for $10 million. A desperate Clint agrees as Nash proposes to Jessica, and they marry in her hospital room on July 12, 2007. Jessica pulls through, and a guilty David returns Clint's money as a goodwill gesture to friend Viki.

    Jared and AllisonEdit

    Recently released from prison, the mysterious Jared Banks arrives in Llanview in August 2007 with a particular interest in the Buchanan family. He manipulates Natalie into giving him a job at Buchanan Enterprises, swindles Nash at a game of poker and buys Antonio's shares of Nash's vineyard. It revealed that Jared shares a secret past with Tess, who had been responsible for sending him to prison and ruining his chances at a good business job. Jared wants revenge on Jessica, not believing that "Tess" had ever existed. His attraction to Natalie and understanding of Jessica's former mental illness soften him toward Jessica, but his ambition prompts him to step into the role of Asa Buchanan's long-lost son when the opportunity arises. Wanting to keep the identity of the real Buchanan heir David Vickers a secret to protect the family, Asa's butler Nigel goes along with Jared's plan. Suspicious of Jared, Jessica pretends to be Tess to hopefully gain his confidence; he counters by notifying the doctors at St. Anne's, who take Jessica into custody under her own orders established should Tess ever return.

    At St. Anne's, Jessica comes face to face with Allison Perkins, who claims to know a huge secret about Jessica's family. Her interest piqued, Jessica eventually makes a deal with Allison; Jessica will help her escape from St. Anne's in exchange for what she knows. Jessica is released, but she and Natalie smuggle Allison out, planning to return her once they have heard her tale. Once free, Allison manages to elude them, but not before collecting a mysterious package from the Lord family mausoleum where Viki's father is buried. Allison later confronts Jessica with a gun but Jared steps in to save her; Allison lets herself fall from the Palace Hotel balcony, preferring to die with her secret rather than return to St. Anne's. She survives, but is left comatose and in critical condition.

    The WidowEdit

    In the spring of 2008, Nash becomes involved with mysterious investors wanting to help to make the Brennan Winery a major success. Jessica discovers that she is pregnant again; before she can tell Nash, he discovers that his investors want to steal his land out from under him and turn it into a "Mall of Tomorrow." Desperate, Nash agrees to an offer from Jared to buy the winery via Buchanan Enterprises in order to save his lifelong dream and keep his family's home from being bulldozed. Nash's eleventh-hour salvation disappears, however, when Dorian outs Jared as a fraud at the BE shareholders' meeting, and reveals that all transactions and contracts made by Jared are now null and void. The investors promptly swoop in and take Nash's land once and for all, ordering Nash and Jessica to move out. Enraged, Nash confronts Jared, blaming him and Natalie for their deception and the loss of his vineyard. When Nash gets in Natalie's face, Jared shoves him away, pushing Nash over a railing that surrounds a skylight. Nash falls through to the Palace Hotel, several floors below. Nash is rushed to Llanview Hospital, where Dr. Michael McBain determines that his massive internal injuries are too severe to attempt surgery. Michael soon warns a stunned Jessica and her family to say their goodbyes to Nash while they still have time. Jessica stays by Nash's side, finally able to tell him that she is pregnant again. She brings Bree to his side and swears that their children will never forget their father. Heartbroken, Jessica sobs as Nash traces the shape of a heart into the palm of her hand — echoing the gesture he had made on the glass outside her own hospital room during her hepatitis scare the year before — and then rips off his oxygen mask, kissing his wife one last time. Nash dies in Jessica's arms on June 5, 2008.[2]

    Tess returns ... and BessEdit

    Jessica explodes at Natalie and Jared when they appear at Nash's funeral, calling them "murderers" and blaming them for Nash's death. Overwhelmed by painful memories and fallen into a state of depression, Jessica relapses — and Tess reemerges — on June 27, 2008.[3] Seeking revenge on Jared and Natalie, Tess makes multiple failed attempts to kill them (almost killing Viki in the process), but a new plan soon comes to mind. Taking a cue from Viki's "gatekeeper" personality, "Jean Randolph," Tess commissions a secret room in Llanfair's basement, one with soundproofed walls and a closed-circuit television feed of every inch of Llanfair; though Todd and then Jessica's visiting aunt Tina Lord realize that Tess has returned, Tess manages to blackmail them both to guarantee their silence, and enlists their reluctant collusion in her crimes. After drugging Natalie, Tess imprisons her in the newly-built secret room. Trapped and forced to watch the goings-on in Llanfair via hidden cameras, Natalie is horrified as Tess begins her campaign of deceit to convince Jared that his beloved has left him and Llanview. Tess plans to make Jared and Natalie suffer in perpetual agony, separated from the ones they love forever. A "Dear John" letter and Tess's lies fail to convince Jared that Natalie has truly left him, and he soon suspects that Tess is in control. He discovers Natalie's prison, but finds himself trapped inside with her. When Viki returns from a trip to Africa, Tess realizes the walls are closing in around her. She hides out with a reluctant Todd as Viki realizes that Tess has returned; Tess soon sneaks into Llanfair with a bomb to take care of Jared and Natalie once and for all. A pregnant Tess goes into premature labor and flees to Nash and Jessica's abandoned vineyard cottage. Alone and afraid, conjures up the hallucinates one of her mother Viki's alternate personalities, Niki Smith — the only "mother" Tess has ever known. Niki chastises Tess for her evil deeds and urges her to repent, telling Tess that she is simply transferring her rage at Niki's own negligence during Jessica's childhood onto Jared and Natalie, and pushes her to make things right and save the people at Llanfair before it is too late. Tess agrees to go back to Llanfair and deactivate the bomb, but before she can do so she is struck by another wave of contractions. With Niki's help, Tess delivers a severely premature baby girl on November 6, 2008; the baby is stillborn.[4]

    Jared and Natalie are saved; unable to process her shock and loss over her baby's death, Tess retreats inside her mind. When she opens her eyes again, she is suddenly near-sighted, and her manner is detached, prim and conservative. Jessica's second, heretofore-unknown alter, "Bess," has emerged. Just as Jessica's psyche had modeled "Tess" after Viki's extroverted Niki Smith, Bess is a "gatekeeper" personality, modeled after Viki's "Jean Randolph," a cold, clinical entity obsessed with control, order and above all, protection of the core personality. Bess ties her hair back, changes into stern black clothes, and dons a pair of Jean-like spectacles as she coolly observes the scene in the cottage, and decides that the miscarriage cannot be allowed to harm Jessica. "Jessica is too fragile, Tess is too high-strung," Bess explains. "But we're neither. We're Bess. We were made for this." Bess goes to Llanview Hospital and switches Jessica's stillborn daughter with the newborn daughter of Todd's daughter Starr Manning. With everyone (including Jessica and Tess) believing that Starr's baby Hope has died and Jessica's daughter Chloe is alive, Jessica checks herself into St. Anne's sanitarium for treatment. The trauma unresolved, Tess suspects that something is amiss with Chloe, but she is supressed by Bess. Jessica befriends fellow patient Brody Lovett, who sees Jessica's illness first-hand as Tess tries to manipulate him into aiding her escape. Bess tells Tess that her negligence had resulted in her baby's death. Seeking to hide the secret once and for all, Bess distracts Jessica with the realization that she "allowed" Tess to emerge to punish Natalie and Jared, and convinces Tess to stay quiet and pretend all of Jessica's persnoalites are integrated.


    The 1986 Mitch Laurence storyline that culminated with newborn Jessica's kidnapping occurred during a season in which One Life to Live rose from #4 to #3 in the Nielsen ratings. When Gary Tomlin joined the show as Executive Producer in January 2001, his familiarity with the series and its characters — from his stint as director from 1992 to 1995 — "manifested itself in ... the utilization of the show's rich history." At the time, Tomlin explained how then-Head Writers Christopher Whitesell and Lorraine Broderick had thought, "OK, where can we do something where we do bring back that history but also explore something that's going to affect the future of this show?" Barbara Garrick was brought back in 2001 as kidnapper Allison Perkins, with Tomlin noting that her return "invigorates the Viki storyline ... [Allison] kidnapped Jessica, so there's a history there." Soap Opera Weekly called what followed "The Mother Of All Reveals," a storyline in which the series exploited a loophole in its continuity and created a secret history that would "resonate for months and years."The reveal that teenage Jessica had actually been switched with another baby by Allison in 1986 — and so was not Clint and Viki's daughter — "was about as big as they come."

    The series garnered attention in 2007 for promoting awareness for Hepatitis C by having Jessica diagnosed with the disease. In 2009 Williamson was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress for the role.

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