|As the World Turns Says Goodbye|
The end of an era....
The final episode of As the World Turns airing today (Friday, September 17, 2010) marks not only the end of an era for the soap itself, but also almost for the consumer products company that created the genre in the first place.
Procter & Gamble is credited with creating soap operas in the 1930's to sell soap products to housewives who were home all day listening to theradio as they did their housework. They were a captive audience that was laundering, ironing, doing dishes, polishing furniture and waiting for the kids to come home. They were a prime market and just the persons P&G wanted to reach with news of their latest household products. The very first soap serial, Oxodol's Own "Ma Perkins" aired first on NBC radio, and then CBS. For a time it aired simultaneously on both stations. As were the soap serials that followed it, it was a 15-minute program.
Once the medium switched to television in the 1950's, P&G got into the soap opera production business full speed ahead. Procter & Gamble produced:
• Another World
• As the World Turns (TeleNext Media-produced in its last 3 years)
• The Brighter Day
• The Catlins
• The Edge of Night
• The First Hundred Years
• From These Roots
• Guiding Light (TeleNext Media-produced in its last 2 years)
• Lovers and Friends / For Richer, for Poorer
• Our Private World (a prime time spin off of As the World Turns)
• Search for Tomorrow
• Young Doctor Malone
...and still is partially involved in sponsoring The Young and the Restless, soapdom's #1 soap opera. But for the most part, with the demise of As the World Turns, Procter & Gamble is pretty much out of the soap opera production business. End of an era.
A trip down memory lane...
Created by the mother of soap operas, Irna Phillips, As the World Turns made its way to the broadcast airwaves in on April 2, 1956. Uttering the soap’s first words “Good morning, dear,” Helen Wagner (Nancy Hughes) was the longest running character on a soap, starring on As the World Turns for 54 years. She passed away earlier this year, but she will always hold the record of being on a soap from its first year to its last -- over half a century later.
Of the top five actors holding the records for the starring on soaps for the longest time, three are As the World Turns stars. Helen Wagner (Nancy Hughes, 54 years), Don Hastings (Bob Hughes, 50 years) and Eileen Fulton (Lisa Grimaldi, 48 years).
When As the World Turns debuted in 1954, it took the medium from 15 minutes to a full half hour. At first, viewers were hesitant to stick with the show for 30-minutes. But ratings started to increase the second year and by 1958 it was the #1 daytime drama in the U.S. In 1959 it started a streak of weekly ratings wins that would not be interrupted for many years.
As you can imagine, it’s quite a daunting endeavor to attempt to chronicle all the storylines, actor
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