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Home Features Exclusives Happy 51st Birthday, Guiding Light!

Happy 51st Birthday, Guiding Light!

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Guiding Light is 51 and has feats to boot!

Charita Bauer as Bert. Photo c CBS and P&G
Guiding Light, the Longest-Running Daily Program in Broadcast History, to Celebrate 51 Years on TV June 30, 2003

Guiding Light, the broadcast industry’s longest-running daily program, celebrates a milestone on June 30, 2003.  Fifty-one years on television!  On June 30th, Guiding Light televises its 14,192nd episode on CBS and its 16,652nd episode overall (including radio broadcasts). 

Created by Irna Phillips, The Guiding Light, as it was originally titled, debuted as a fifteen-minute radio series on January 25, 1937.  Guiding Light was – and continues to be – produced by Procter & Gamble Productions, the company who put the “soap” in soap opera.

Over the past six decades, Guiding Light led it’s counterparts in daytime and primetime drama in exploring a range of topical and timeless issues.  Beginning in 1962, the series tackled its – and daytime’s – first social issue-driven storyline:  the early detection of Bert Bauer’s uterine cancer via a Pap smear.  Then writer Agnes Nixon was honored in November 2002 with the first ever Sentinel for Health Pioneer Award for crafting this storyline. Click here

Since this groundbreaking storyline aired, Guiding Light has addressed subjects ranging from organ transplant to Down’s syndrome, substance abuse, domestic violence, birth control, adoption, leukemia and cochlear implants.  Of course, love, romance, family and community have always been at the core of the program.

“When Irna Phillips created her first script for Guiding Light, no one, not even Irna herself, could have foreseen that the program would be written into the record books,” said Mary Alice Dwyer-Dobin, Executive-in-Charge of Production for Procter & Gamble Productions, Inc. “The amazing thing is that the complexity of storytelling and production has evolved considerably over time yet the simple, life-affirming issues and values Irna began to explore 66 years ago still lie at the heart of the show, resonating with viewers.  On radio as well as television, Guiding Light has continually captured the hearts and minds of viewers with compelling storylines and enduring characters.”

On Guiding Light, audiences also go their first look at many now-famous faces, such as Kevin Bacon, Tammy Blanchard (a Tony Award nominee for her current role on Broadway in Gypsy), Ruby Dee, Taye Diggs, Frances Fisher, Allison Janney, James Earl Jones, Melina Kanakaredes, Saundra Santiago (currently starring on Broadway in Nine), Brittany Snow, Sherry Springfield, Cicely Tyson, Cynthia Watros, Billy Dee Williams, and Ian Ziering, to name a few.

Guiding Light is the only daytime program inducted into the Soap Opera Hall of Fame. The program has been the recipient of 55 Daytime Emmy Awards as well as numerous other industry accolades. 

As you know, Guiding Light can be seen weekdays on the CBS Television Network.  The show is taped in New York City. John Conboy is the Executive Producer and Ellen Weston is the Headwriter.

Photo (c) P&G and CBS.

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