The new year brought fresh hope to many in Pine Valley. Tom Cudahy’s annullment of his marriage to Erica went through, freeing him to marry Brooke. Erica was enjoying her exciting new life in New York City, and Palmer was relishing the opportunity to transform his new wife Donna into a woman of the world.

View Complete Summary for "All My Children" 1981

For others, 1981 was a year filled with anguish and sorrow. Paul Martin grieved with the Tylers when their beloved Anne was killed by a bomb planted in Paul’s car. Brooke made the horrifying discovery that the woman she believed to be her mother, Peg English, was actually "Cobra," the leader of an international drug cartel.

While at Cortlandt Manor, painfully estranged from her beloved Cliff, Nina was absolutely miserable. She found herself forever running into Sybil Thorne, who never missed a chance to gloat over Cliff and her impending motherhood. It pained Nina to see the man she loved, but she masked her pain with anger. At times, she refused even to acknowledge Cliff ’s presence. Nina’s trusted friend Monique Jonvil knew Nina still cared for Cliff because Nina had told her so. Monique also knew Nina and Cliff belonged together, but wasn’t sure how to bring about a reconciliation.

With the help of Nina’s friend Betsy Kennicott, Monique managed to convince Nina that Sybil didn’t want to keep her baby, only acting as if she wanted it to trap Cliff into marrying her. If Cliff returned to Nina, Sybil might be forced to give up her baby for adoption. Persuaded by their argument and guided by her deep feelings for Cliff, Nina agreed to give him another chance. Monique and Betsy were wrong about Sybil. Encouraged by Sean–who had his own designs on Nina–Sybil had other ideas. She decided to keep her baby, determined to get Cliff back. Sean would help if Sybil promised to keep his name out of it. Sean had begun working as right-hand man to Palmer Cortlandt. While searching his boss’s personal Files, Sean made an amazing discovery. He found several checks made out to Daisy Cortlandt in 1975. He wondered aloud to Monique how this was possible since Daisy had been dead for years. Greatly alarmed, Monique–who was, in fact, Daisy–encouraged Sean to keep quiet.

Cliff and Nina, meanwhile, celebrated their reconciliation with a dinner party. They wanted all of Pine Valley to know they were back together. Their public profile as a happy couple so infuriated Sybil that she stormed over to their house, went into labor, and delivered baby Bobby in Cliff and Nina’s living room. With Nina by his side, Cliff delivered his own son.

Sybil took her newborn baby home to her dreary boarding house, where motherhood proved difficult. When the baby’s incessant cries drove the other boarders to complain, Sybil’s landlord threatened to evict her.

Nina offered to help, asking Sybil to let her adopt the child, but Sybil wouldn’t even consider it. She needed a savior and found one in Palmer Cortlandt. He wrote Sybil check after check, promising to continue supporting her only on the condition that she agree to help him and Sean break up Cliff and Nina. Sybil joined in the scheme. Her first mission was to order Nina to get a divorce.

Sybil threatened to give Bobby away to strangers if Nina didn’t comply. Nina felt she had no choice and told Cliff she wanted out of their marriage. But this time he refused to believe her. He demanded to know who put her up to it. Nina admitted Sybil was the culprit, and an enraged Cliff swore he would kill her. Cliff headed to Sybil’s apartment, where he found her dying from a gunshot wound. Within days, Cliff Warner was arrested for the murder of Sybil Thorne.

Cliff’s hopes looked dim as he stood trial for the crime. It didn’t help his chances for acquittal when Sybil, just before dying, called out Cliff’s name. It also didn’t help that Erica Kane had overheard Sybil demanding that Cliff see her the night of her murder.

What did help was Monique Jonvil’s coming forward to confess she knew the murderer: Sean Cudahy. In her testimony, Monique admitted the startling truth that she was Nina Cortlandt’s mother. Nina stood up in total incredulity and slowly approached the witness stand where Daisy sat, delivering her fateful testimony. Nina wouldn’t believe Daisy was her mother, and when Daisy begged her for forgiveness, Nina fainted.

Meanwhile, Sean was experiencing the shock of prison life. Frightened by his new surroundings in the Pine Valley jail, he confessed to the crime, insisting to his brother Tom that Sybil’s death had been an accident. He admitted Palmer Cortlandt was behind it all. Sean had only gone to Sybil’s to put the fear of God into her. Sean hadn’t planned to kill her, but things got out of hand. Sean would have plenty of time to think about his foolish actions. Convicted of murder, he was sentenced to serve three-to-five years in the state prison. Palmer paid for his misdeeds in another way when Nina refused to see him. She couldn’t believe he had lied to her all that time.

As Nina left her father’s life, so did his new wife, Donna. With his world collapsing around him, a shamed Palmer went on a drinking binge that landed him in the sleaziest part of Center City and made him ripe for a mugging. He suffered a complete loss of memory when he was hit over the head. Needing a job, an amnesiac Palmer Cortlandt, one of the world’s wealthiest men, went to work as a busboy at Foxy’s, a Center City bar. It would be months before he recovered both from the injury and the shame. When Palmer did return to Cortlandt Manor, he was determined to win back the heart of his first love, Daisy.

All was not well at the Martins. Ruth had grown increasingly jealous over Joe’s concern for a battered wife named Leora Sanders. Ruth was still grieving over the death of her son Phil. His decision to take on a topsecret government mission had proved fatal. His plane exploded and he was killed, leaving Tara to raise their young son Charlie alone. Ruth was less than thrilled when Tara took up with school psychologist Jim Jefferson so soon after Phil’s death. Ruth reluctantly attended their wedding and was saddened when Tara took Charlie and moved to Portland with her new husband.

Then there was Tad. The Martins’ problems were complicated by the behavior of their teenage son, whose pot smoking habit had turned him into a bitter young man–and a thief. Tad bought his drugs with money he stole from Gran’s sugar bowl. Young Tad was heartbroken over the breakup with his girlfriend, Suzanne. Despondent and under the influence, he smashed up the Martin family station wagon. When the pressure of life at home proved too much to handle, he ran away.

If Tad had stayed in Pine Valley only a few months longer, he would have met his real mother and his long-lost sister. In the summer of 1981, Opal Gardner, an outrageously wacky woman, turned up on the Martin doorstep with her sweet and innocent teenage daughter, Jenny. Opal feigned a heart condition and pushed her daughter into taking a job at Foxy’s bar in Center City.

While at Foxy’s, Jenny met Jesse Hubbard, a streetwise black kid, nephew of Dr. Frank Grant and his wife, Nancy. Jenny and Jesse struck up an instant friendship as they compared details of their young but eventful lives. Jesse, who had dropped out of school, agreed to re-enroll when Jenny offered to help him with his homework. They leaned on and stood by each other, especially after Jesse nearly burned down his Uncle Frank’s house when he carelessly left a cigarette burning in an ashtray.

And then there was Greg Nelson, the son of one of Pine Valley’s leading families. Greg was a clean-cut, upstanding young man who was instantly captivated by Jenny, a girl from the other side of town. Greg’s fascination with Jenny bothered Liza Colby, a purebred snob Greg had known all his life. When Greg fell in love with Jenny, Liza was furious.

Life couldn’t have been sweeter for Pine Valley’s princess, Erica Kane. At the end of her cross-country promotional tour for Sensuelle, she joined her new love Brandon Kingsley for a weekend tryst at his Nassau condominium. Their joyous trip was cut short when Brandon was called back to the States. He told Erica there was a business emergency, but he was lying.

The emergency turned out to be a wife, Sara, a daughter, Pamela, and a never-seen son, Roger. Brandon had a complicated life he hadn’t bothered to tell Erica about. Even when she found out about it, Erica was still determined to marry her man. That is, as soon as he agreed to divorce his wife. But Sara had no plans to give up her position as Mrs. Brandon Kingsley. She made no bones about what she thought of Erica’s sordid affair with her husband. And Brandon had no intention of divorcing his wife as Erica thought. He decided to string Erica along as long as he could.

But competition for Erica entered the picture–both romantically and professionally. Kent Bogard, a handsome young millionaire, and his father, Lars, tantalized Erica with an exciting offer to leave Sensuelle Cosmetics to become the spokeswoman for a new line of cosmetics named after her.

Source: All My Children: The Complete Family Scrapbook

1981 Episodes / Clips: