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As the World Turns Says Goodbye

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As the World TurnsThe 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 the

radio 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
• Somerset
• Texas
• 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.

Helen Wagner (Nancy, ATWT)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

comings and goings, awards, and other monumental achievements of a 54-year long program.  Not to mention all the milestones.

Marisa Tomei, Christian LeBancFrom launching the careers of such A-List movie and prime time television actors like Meg Ryan,  Marisa Tomei, Steven Weber, Dana Delaney, Jordana Brewster, Julianne Moore and Kevin Gibson, As the World Turns was also home for a time to James Earl Jones, Richard Thomas, Kathleen Turner, and Martin Sheen. Even Eddie Murphy worked behind the scenes as a stunt man for a time.  Phyllis Diller, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Pearl Bailey, Edie Adams, Farley Granger, Robert Vaughan, Imogene Coca, David McCallum, Barbara Walters, Jane Fonda, Diana Ross, Nicole Miller, Bobby Short, Tony Bennett, Jermaine Jackson, Melba Moore, Brian McKnight to name a few, all made guest star appearances.

There have been oh so many weddings and almost as many funerals.  There have been good times and bad.  The show boasted intrigue, murder, mystery, mayhem, and oh the romance.  As the World Turns was honored by the Daytime Emmys, the GLAAD Awards and others.  It aired first in black and white then went to color in 1967.  It aired live when President John F. Kennedy was shot. Ten minutes of the broadcast, Walter Cronkite interrupted the show with word of the shooting. The stars had to continue to complete the program, learning upon its completion that Kennedy had in fact died from his wounds.  

The families…

According to Julie Poll in “As the World Turns, the Complete Family Scrapbook, 40th Anniversary Edition,”  “It all began on a farm in Gilman, Ohio, run by a simple man named Will (“Pa”) Hughes.  Pa didn’t question or analyze life the way his children or grandchildren will do in later, more complicated times.  To him, ‘Things are the way they are, and they ain’t the way they ain’t.’”

The Hughes were the main family and continued to carry on through the end of the show.  Other core families were the Lowells and the Stewarts.  The Snyders arrived some time in 1986 when Douglas Marland took over as head writer.  As Marland was born and raised on a farm at the end of a lane called Snyder Road, he named his new family after his childhood haunts, wanting to bring the show back to the grass roots that he believed were at the heart of American culture.  Last but not least, there were the Walshes, led by Lucinda and were more of a “catch-all family, than a classic family,” according to Poll.

The love stories…

It would be near impossible to detail all the love that emitted from Oakdale over the years, so we’ll just remind you of many of the amazing super couples.  ATWT’s first super couple was, of course, Penny and Jeff.  There was also Betsey and Steve, Lily and Holden, Hal and Barbara, Stenbeck and Barbara, Rosanna and Mike, Carly and Jack, and Luke and Noah. Let us not forget Lisa and her many husbands:  Bob Hughes, John Eldridge, Michael Shea, Grant Coleman, Whit McColl, Earl Mitchell and Eduardo Grimaldi. Did we miss anyone?

The villains…

This is an easy one.  Four words: John Dixon, John Stenbeck

There is such a wealth of story telling within the 54 years of this amazing broadcast marvel and there is only so much space here in which to attempt to honor it.  Suffice to say As the World Turns took us into the lives, loves, loses and wins of the denizens of Oakdale every day and its legacy will live on and on within our hearts.

As the World Turns chronologically speaking…


As the World Turns debuts on CBS. The Edge of Night premieres on the network at the same time. They are the first 30-minute daytime soaps on television.  At first, audiences are not accepting of the new, longer format.


In her role as Nancy Hughes, Helen Wagner speaks the opening line of As the World Turns: "Good morning, dear." She will play the part from then on. The actress has been cited in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for Longest Time in the Same Television Role – 54 years.


Just two years after its debut, ATWT reaches the top of the daytime Nielsens, tied with CBS's Search for Tomorrow with a 9.8 rating. ATWT keeps the No. 1 spot for the next 20 years, until ABC's All My Children
surpasses it in 1978. ATWT's 20-year reign was a record that stood until the Young and the Restless surpassed it in 2010, being No.1 for 21 years.


Eileen Fulton is introduced as Lisa Miller, a "bad girl" character who's not completely evil. She is daytime's original "woman you love to hate," pre-dating Erica Kane (Susan Lucci on All My Children) by 10 years.


ATWT's favorite couple is split for good when the love of Penny's (Rosemary Prinz) life, Jeff (Mark Rydell), is killed in a car crash. Fan reaction is tremendous: CBS is swamped with mail, telegrams and calls complaining about Jeff's demise.


CBS interrupts the broadcast of As the World Turns to announce that President Kennedy has been shot. However, the actors must continue performing because the show is live, not on tape, and cannot be stopped. They are informed about JFK's death when the broadcast ends.


A spinoff from ATWT called "Our Private World" debuts on CBS as a prime-time serial, the first and only time a daytime show inspired a prime-time show. Eileen Fulton starred as Lisa (the character she created on As the World Turns), a young divorcee who attempts to make a new life for herself in Chicago, and how tangled emotions and interwoven problems of her newfound friends directly affect her own life. When Our Private World is canceled after five months, Fulton returns to As the World Turns.


As the World Turns gets more colorful.  The show starts broadcasting in color.


As the World Turns is spoofed on The Carol Burnett Show in a sketch called As the Stomach Turns. It becomes a regular feature on Ms. Burnett's comedy hour.


Eileen Fulton's autobiography, "How My World Turns," is published.


As the World Turns changes its musical accompaniment. Instead of organ music, prerecorded orchestral arrangements are used.


As The World Turns becomes the first hour-long daytime drama on CBS. Also, the show stops airing live episodes, instead broadcasting a tape of the actors' real-time performance of the soap opera.


ATWT maintains its dominance as the top soap in the ratings, but Time magazine criticizes the show as being "bland, euphemistic and reactionary."


CBS moves As the World Turns to 2 p.m. eastern time it held until it’s final day.


Dr. John Dixon (Larry Bryggman) is put on trial for marital rape.

Margret Colin, Justin Deas1983

Actors Justin Deas and Margaret Colin get married, just like their on-screen alter egos, Tom and Margo Hughes.


As The World Turns wins its first two acting awards at the Daytime Emmys: Mr. Bryggman as outstanding actor and Mr. Deas as outstanding supporting actor.


After a 12-year courtship, Bob (Don Hastings) and Kim (Kathryn Hays) get married. Also, a new core family is added to the cast when the Snyders are introduced.


ATWT wins the Daytime Emmy as outstanding drama series.


Julianne Moore wins the Daytime Emmy for her role as twins Frannie and Sabrina.

As the World Turns introduces daytime’s first openly gay character, Hank Eliot (played by Brian Starcher) when he comes out to Iva (Lisa Brown).


Stories from the early years of "ATWT" are converted into novels and published by Pioneer in a series of paperbacks.


As the World Turns was honored at the first annual GLAAD media awards in 1990 for its gay character, Hank Eliot.


As the World Turns wins its second Daytime Emmy as outstanding drama series.


Show alum Marisa Tomei (Marcy) wins an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in "My Cousin Vinny."


Actress Patricia Bruder is let go after playing Ellen for 35 years.


As the World Turns broadcasts its 10,000th episode.


As the World Turns produces the 40th Anniversary Edition of the “Complete Family Scrapebook,” written by Julie Poll.  Helen Wagner (Nancy) wrote the “Introduction,” beginning with the following words:  “Once upon a time – magic words – Irna Phillips, writer, and Ted Corday, producer, put together the
first half-hour entertainment on daytime television.  They believed the best entertainment was storytelling, and the best of that was continuing stories about people.”  The publishing company that produced the book, General Publishing Group, Inc. was located just down the street from Soapdom.com on Ocean Park Blvd in Santa Monica, CA. General Publishing Group, Inc. is now defunct.


When Another World is canceled by NBC, some characters "move" from Bay City to Oakdale, including Jake McKinnon (Tom Eplin) and Cass Winthrop (Stephen Schnetzer).


“We’re moving!”  ATWT moves its production facilities to JC Studios in Brooklyn, N.Y., where "Another World" had been shot for years.


ATWT wins eight Daytime Emmys, the most for any one show in a single year. Among the honors is the show's third award for outstanding drama series.


Oakdale cop Jack Snyder (Michael Park) is kidnapped, bound and raped by psycho stalker Julia Lindsay (Annie Parisse).


Tamara Tunie (Jessica) joins the cast of "Law & Order: SVU" while continuing her long run on "World."


As The World Turns wins its fourth Daytime Emmy as outstanding drama series.


TV Guide names ATWT the best soap opera of the year.


Podcasts of entire "As the World Turns" episodes are made available for download on CBS.com/netcast and iTunes.com.

Teri Colombino (as Lucy)As the World Turns celebrates its 50th anniversary by airing a stand alone episode honoring TV sitcoms “I Love Lucy,” “Happy Days,” “Laverne & Shirley,” “The Munsters,” and others as Oakdale characters dress up to mimic the stars of those great shows gone by.  

As the World Turns and CBS launch an internet spinoff called InTurn airing on the CBS web property innertube.  InTurn was a reality show where aspiring young stars auditioned for a role on ATWT.   The second season of In Turn aired on innertube in 2007.  They did not do a third season.


First same sex kiss by two male characters on a soap opera as Noah (Jake Silberman) succumbed to his feelings for openly gay character, Luke (Van Hansis).


January 12, 2009, after a long and tumultuous relationship, Luke and Noah finally consummated their love, giving ATWT another daytime first.

CBS announces on December 8th that they have cancelled As the World Turns and that the last episode will air in September 2010.   "Throughout our history, As the World Turns has remained dedicated to sharing compelling stories that have entertained fans for more than five decades," said Executive Producer Chris Goutman upon learning of the cancellation. "We are disappointed and saddened by the news that the show is not being renewed. It will certainly be a loss for all of us, and for the show's loyal audience."


May 1, 2010:  Helen Wagner (Nancy Hughes), the longest-running character on any television show, passes away.

June 23, 2010:  ATWT tapes final episode.

June 27, 2010:  Michael Park (Jack) wins Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Actor after being nominated once before in 2007.  Coming off taping the final episode of As the World Turns, he tells the pressroom that the win “is not bittersweet. It's just bitter, because there's 60 people that work so hard at what they do. Hopefully, I'll keep in touch with a few and maybe see them on other shows, but it's hard. I don't know where they're next job is going to be.”  He continued:  “We all worked so hard, but knowing for six months that we didn't have a job made it hard to come to work with a smile. The whole time, it's just killing (us. But) never in my wildest dreams. I never thought I was this good!”

Trent Dawson, Kathryn HaysSeptember 17, 2010 As the World Turns airs its final episode and as the lights fade to black, the globe on retiring Dr. Bob Hughes’ desk magically starts turning….  Stars from the show gather to watch the final episode together.  Tears are shed.

Other interesting facts…

From 1956 to 2010, As the World Turns has had only 12 Executive Producers:

•    1956–1965: Ted Corday
•    1965–1971: Mary Harris
•    1971–1973: Fred Bartholomew
•    1973–1978: Joe Willmore
•    1978–1980: Joe Rothenberger
•    1980 – fall 1981: Fred Bartholomew
•    Fall 1981 – October 1984: Mary-Ellis Bunim
•    October 1984 – October 1988: Robert Calhoun
•    October 1988 – May 1995: Laurence Caso
•    May 1995 – November 8, 1996: John Valente
•    November 11, 1996 – June 4, 1999: Felicia Minei Behr
•    June 7, 1999 – June 23, 2010: Christopher Goutman

Head Writing info…

As the World Turns was created by Irna Phillips. She continued as head writer until 1965  when William Bell, creator of the Young and the Restless and the Bold and the Beautiful, joined Phillips as co-head writer..  

The Douglas Marland years (1985-1993 when he passed away unexpectedly) are always referred to fondly.
As the World Turns won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama series in 2003, 2002, 2001 and Outstanding Drama Series Writing Team in 2005, 2004, 2002 and 2001, all under the Head Writing auspices
of Hogan Sheffer. He was asked to leave in 2005 or early 2006, but found a home on Days of our Lives shortly thereafter.

Perhaps the best way to sum up the 54-year run of this iconic television program is to repeat the words of creator, Irna Phillips, when was first writing the show:

“As the world turns, we know the bleakness of winter, the promise of spring, the fullness of summer, and the harvest of autumn – the cycle of life is complete. What is true of the world, nature, is also true of man – he too, has his cycle.”

The show may be over, but the memories remain. The world still turns within each of us.

More photos...

Bob and Kim's Wedding
Bob and Kim's Wedding
Henderson Forsythe (Dr. David Stewart), Conrad Fowkes (Donald Hughes), Gregg Marx (Tom Hughes), Scott DeFreitas (Andy Dixon), Don Hastings (Dr. Bob Hughes), Kathryn Hays (Kim Hughes), Lindsey Frost (Betsy Stewart), Patricia Bruder (Ellen Stewart), Colleen Zenk Pinter (Barbara Ryan), Hillary Bailey Smith (Margo Hughes)  Credit: CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Martha Byrne, Jon Hensley
Martha Byrne (Lily) and Jon Hensley (Holden)
Credit: PGP

Martha Byrne, Thomas Gibson
Martha Byrne and Thomas Gibson
Credit PGP

Elizabeth Hubbard, Martha Byrne
Elizabeth Hubbard (Lucinda) and Martha Byrne (Lily)
Credit PGP

Eileen Fulton, Don Hastings
Eileen Fulton (Lisa) and Don Hastings (Bob)
Credit  CBS Broadcasting

Frankie Michaels, Don Hastings
Frankie Michaels, Don Hastings
Credit:  CBS Broadcasting

Eileen Fulton, Don Hastings, Helen Wagner
Eileen Fulton (Lisa), Don Hastings (Bob), Helen Wagner (Nancy)
Credit PGP

Hughes Family
The Hughes Family
Credit CBS Broadcasting

Jordana Brewster, Ashley Williams
Jordana Brewster, Ashley Williams
Credit PGP

Marie Masters, Kathryn Hays, John Reilly
Marie Masters (Susan Burke Stewart), Kathryn Hays (Kim Dixon) and John Reilly (Dr. Dan Stewart)
Credit CBS Broadcasting

Meg Ryan, Frank Runon
Meg Ryan, Frank Runon
Credit CBS Broadcasting

Jake Silberman, Van Hansis
Jake Silberman (Noah) and Van Hansis (Luke)
Credit TeleNext Media

Steven Weber, Julianne Moore
Steve Weber, Julianne Moore
Credit CBS Broadcasting

Marisa Tomei, Whitney Houston, Jermaine Jackson
Marisa Tomei, Whitney Houston, Jermaine Jackson
Credit CBS Broadcasting

Maura West, Michael Park
Maura West (Carly), Michael Park (Jack) as Jeanie and Master in the 50th Anniversary stand alone episode honoring "I Dream of Jeannie"
Credit Telenext Media

ATWTs Honors The Munsters
Don Hastings (Bob Hughes), Kathryn Hays (Kim Hughes), Benjamin Hendrickson (Hal Munson), Kelley Menighan Hensley (Emily Stewart), Roger Howarth (Paul Ryan), Jennifer Ferrin (Jennifer Munson) and Grayson McCouch (Dusty Donovan)
Bottom: Collen Zenk Pinter (Barbara Ryan) and Jesse Lee Soffer (Will Munson) honoring The Munsters in the 50th Anniversary stand alone episode.
Credit PGP

Beverly Hillbillies
Elizabeth Hubbard (Lucinda), Marie Wilson (Meg), Roger Howarth (Paul), Jon Hensley (Holden) and Martha Bryne (Lily) honoring the Beverly Hillbillies in the 50th Anniversary stand alone episode.
Credit PGP

Mark Collier, Teri Colombino, Trent Dawson
Mark Collier, Teri Colombino, Trent Dawson as Ricky, Lucy and Ethel in the 50th Anniversary stand alone episode tribute to I Love Lucy.
Credit PGP

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