On Friday, the world will stop turning for the residents of Oakdale, Illinois. After 54 years, and 13,858 episodes of action, romance, drama, and backstabbing, As the World Turns will fall off the television axis and into the outer space known as television heaven.
It was nine months ago in which CBS announced that the beloved soap opera, which has entertained audiences for generations, and was the top-rated soap from 1958 to 1978, would not be renewed for a 55th year, just three months after sister soap Guiding Light ended a 72-year broadcast run.
As the World Turns was one of two half-hour soap operas to debut on April 2, 1956. The show was the first half-hour soap opera, beating The Edge of Night by three hours.
The show revolved around the triumphs, tragedies, romance, and backstabbing of the Hughes family (for most if not all of those 54 years), and other families (the Snyders, Stewarts, Lowells, etc.). In 1956, Irna Phillips created a show that would later stand the test of times. On Monday April 2, 1956, at one thirty in the afternoon, this show broke the mold of the fifteen-minute soap opera format on television, by becoming the first half-hour soap opera in the history of television. For the first nineteen years, the show would be done LIVE on the air, until the spring of 1975, when the show started to be taped in advance. By year's end, the show expanded to a full hour. No other show, yet has been the # 1 show for as many consecutive years as this series, until The Young and the Restless surpassed ATWT’s mark in the 2007-08 season. The show had it's best of times (The 1960s, the Douglas Marland penned "Glory Days" of the late '80s and early '90s, and the early 2000s), and the worst (the last 2/3 of the '90s and the early '80s), but still, managed to survive through 54 years of love, of loss, of laughter.
The show shot the final episode at it’s Brooklyn studio (it’s home for the last eleven years) on June 23. Four days later, co-stars Michael Park, Maura West, and Julie Pinson won Daytime Emmy awards for the show. In his acceptance speech, Park said, "We had to say goodbye to over 60 members of our family on Wednesday. It was heartbreaking, and I pray you never have to endure what we endured on Wednesday…I can't think of a better way to say goodbye to a 13-year run on a 53-year-old show than this right here.”
What is next? Coronation Street will take the reign as the longest-running soap, internationally. In America, General Hospital will take over as the longest-running soap still on the air. CBS will replace As the World Turns with The Talk, starting on October 18. The Talk is another take of ABC’s The View, but through the view of mothers. CBS will air repeats of The Price is Right for the next four weeks in the interim. ABC’s One Life to Live is the last remaining New York-based soap (All My Children moved production to Los Angeles in January). And lastly, Procter & Gamble is out of the soap opera producing business, after decades of production.
The World may have stopped turning, but it will be in the memories of long-devoted fans.
SHOWS THAT DEBUTED IN 1956:
As the World Turns is one of the few memorable shows that debuted during this year, which wasn’t a banner year for new television shows. Here are five other shows that debuted in ’56, besides ATWT.
1) Queen for a Day- a game show
2) My Friend Flicka
3) The Edge of Night- debuted three hours after ATWT on April 2, 1956
4) Playhouse 90- gave us “Requiem for a Heavyweight”
5) Circus Boy- future Monkee Mickey Dolenz (credited as Mickey Braddock) got his start
CELEBRITIES THAT STEPPED FOOT IN OAKDALE:
Soap operas have been known to be the launching point of the careers of many, many A-list celebrities. ATWT was no different.
1) Julianne Moore as Frannie Hughes (1985-1988, 2010) & Sabrina Fullerton (1986-1988)
2) Marisa Tomei as Marcy Thompson Cushing (1983-1985)
3) Meg Ryan as Betsy Stewart Andropoulous (1982-1984)
4) Tamara Tunie as Jessica Griffin (1987-1995, 1999-2007)
5) John Wesley Shipp as Doug Cummings (1985-1986)
6) Lauryn Hill as Kira Johnson (1991)
7) Parker Posey as Tess Shelby (1991-1992)
8) Martin Sheen as Jack Davis (1965-1970)
9) Steven Weber as Kevin Gibson (1985-1986)
10) Dana Delany as Hayley Wilson Hollister (1981)
plus many others, including Jason Biggs, Jordana Brewster, Peyton List, Courteney Cox, Annie Parisse, William Fichtner, Ming-Na, Richard Thomas, Swoosie Kurtz, Mark Rydell, David McCallum, Robert Vaughn, John James, James Earl Jones, Thomas Gibson, and Robert Horton.
Other soap stars such as Christian LeBlanc, Judith Chapman, Peter Reckell, Linda Dano, Sharon Case, Ruth Warrick, Frances Reid, Tom Eplin, Cady McClain, Hillary Smith, Justin Deas, Lynn Herring, Austin Peck, Stuart Damon, Tom Pelphrey, and Billy Warlock also had roles on ATWT.
The 10 Greatest Couples in As the World Turns History:
10. Penny Hughes and Jeff Baker- Before Will and Gwen, before Luke and Noah, before Lily and Holden, this was teen angst at its finest, as Chris and Nancy Hughes had their first marriage annulled, but Penny and Jeff were the first teen supercouple in the show’s history. Sadly, they did not live happily ever after as Jeff was killed in a car wreck in 1962 (Mark Rydell decided to leave the show), and Penny went through a couple more marriages before marrying a race car driver and moving to Europe.
9. Luke Snyder and Noah Mayer- There was BAM (the first lesbian supercouple in soap history), and Otalia, and Kish, and of course, Nuke. Luke and Noah were the first gay male supercouple in soap opera history, as Luke Snyder fell in love with Noah Mayer, an Army brat with dreams of becoming a filmmaker, in spite of his career Military father. When they first met, Noah was dating cute and charming Maddie Coleman, but one day when Luke kissed Noah while tying a tie, the rest was history, and not long after, Noah dumped Maddie for Luke.
8. John Dixon and Lucinda Walsh- They knew each other when he was an intern in medical school, but it wasn’t until 1987, in which John and Lucinda became a supercouple on the show, and the two most hated people in Oakdale found wedded bliss with each other. Is it possible that they may find each other before the World falls off the television axis?
7. Lisa and anyone- The many loves of Lisa Miller Hughes Eldridge Shea Colman McColl Mitchell Grimaldi Chedwyn. One of the many plot twists and turns throughout the decades was the love life of Lisa, as she had more marriages on average that any person.
6. Steve and Betsy Andropoulous- The 1980s was known as the “decade of the supercouple”- Luke and Laura, Josh and Reva, Bo and Hope, Victor and Nikki, Tom and Margo, Steve and Betsy? Yup. At least when blue-eyed blonde Meg Ryan was in the role of Betsy Stewart, who fell head over heels for Greek businessman Steve Andropoulous, while Craig Montgomery was pining for her affections. However, Steve won Betsy’s heart and in 1983, they got married.
5. Tom and Margo Hughes- They met in 1981, but little did they know that they would fall in love. That’s what exactly happened when Tom and Margo went hot on the trail for Mr. Big (and his house of horrors). Tom and Margo’s romance was the brainchild of the Mary-Ellis Bunim-led era of the show in an effort to compete with ABC’s “Big Three”. Co-stars Justin Deas and Margaret Colin (who were Tom and Margo at the time) got married in real life as well. Since Tom and Margo’s action packed courtship, different actors have played the characters, but Tom and Margo remain as one of the longest-lived marriages in soapdom.
4. Jack Snyder and Carly Tenney- On Wednesday, CarJackers across the country will get one last joy of excitement as Carly and Jack get married…for the last time. It’s been a topsy-turvy ride the last 13 years for Carly and her G-Man, surviving crazy Julia, the Evil Spa, three “who’s the baby daddy” storylines, Simon Frasier, Carly’s alcoholism, and Jack’s marriage to Janet.
3. Chris and Nancy Hughes- One of the few soap opera couples to remain true to each other. After being shelved in the early 1980s, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1986. Not long after their golden anniversary, Chris passed away (actor Don McLaughlin died). But Chris and Nancy remain the standard when it comes to 100 percent fidelity on daytime.
2. Bob and Kim Hughes- In April, these two were finally married (legally) after their marriage was deemed invalid, but it was a long and bumpy ride for the two, who have spent the last 25 years as a couple on the show.
1. Lily and Holden Snyder- Probably the most important couple in the show’s rich history. Funny thing is, is that Lily Walsh married her “Uncle” Holden Snyder (Iva Snyder is Lily’s biological mother). However, head writer (at the time) Douglas Marland modified the Snyder family tree to make Iva adopted, so that the writers could pursue the Lily and Holden romance, which has fizzled a few times over the years, as they each were in love with other people. However, Lily always found her way back to her stable boy, Holden. Will they before the World falls out of the TV galaxy?
The 10 Greatest Storylines in As the World Turns History:
10. The Baby Switch (2005)- On one stormy night, Jennifer Munson and teen Gwen Norbeck each gave birth to a baby boy. After the deliveries, Craig Montgomery switched the babies around, and Gwen ended up with Jennifer's baby, and vice versa. Jennifer has a mental breakdown after she is told that her baby died, when in all reality, it was being raised by Gwen and her boyfriend, Jennifer's brother Will. Several months later, after tests are done, reality sets in as Gwen learns that her baby died, and that the babies were switched. Soap opera drama at its finest.
9. The Memorial Serial Killer (2003)- This was one of the best suspense thrillers in soap opera history, as no one saw this one coming. Dr. Eric Decker comes to Oakdale and works at Memorial. Shortly after Dr. Decker comes to town, mysterious deaths take place at Oakdale Memorial. The summer of 2003 had everyone guessing who, but not long after Chief of Staff Dr. Bob Hughes got struck by the serial killer, all fingers were pointing at Dr. Decker, who had found romance with Dr. Susan Stewart.
8. Luke Comes Out (2006)- How do you tell a story that is so relevant and give it an angle to make the storyline your own? In 2006, Oakdale teen Luke Snyder told his parents that he was gay to little fanfare, but it paved the way for daytime's first gay male supercouple, as Luke later found love with army brat and aspiring filmmaker Noah Mayer.
7. Andy's Alcoholism (1989-90)- This was one of the great Douglas Marland storylines as young Andy Dixon battled an alcohol addiction, as he was rejected by an older woman he had a fling with. This was one of the few times in which Drs. Bob Hughes and John Dixon were on the same side.
6. Lucinda and John get married (1987)- The two most diabolical and hated residents of Oakdale knew each other from his days as a medical school intern in Chicago, but not long after they crossed paths in Oakdale, the chief surgeon and the CEO had one night of drunken bliss and then got married, making one of daytime's most oddest and ruthless couples.
5. The Doug Cummings arc (1985-86)- "Someone to Watch Over Me" had a new meaning after this story arc, which garnered John Wesley Shipp a well-deserved Daytime Emmy in 1986 for his role as a restauranteur obsessed with Kim Hughes, from her days as a nightclub songstress. The aforementioned standard's tie to this story arc was the scene in which Kim walks into Doug's "Kim Shrine", which was everything Kim Hughes. Doug kidnapped Kim and Frannie and took them to a remote cabin in the Rockies, where Doug had hoped to make Frannie his wife.
4. The Evil Spa (2002)- Question: How do you get rid of two characters, played by pregnant actresses while they go on maternity leave? The Answer: Take them and a friend to an evil spa, and have them kidnapped by the most sinister villain known to man. Actresses Maura West and Kelley Menighan Hensley went off on maternity leave in early 2002, and their Oakdale alter egos, Carly Tenney and Emily Stewart brought pal Rose D'Angelo with them to a spa. While at the spa, these three lovelies are kidnapped by James Stenbeck and disappear without a trace. Eventually, they were found safe and sound.
3. The Right to Die/Casey Peretti (1990)- This was one of the cornerstone battles and issues facing real life people in which ATWT scribe Douglas Marland transferred into Oakdale, as Dr. Casey Peretti is put on life support, and Casey's stepdaughter Margo Hughes literally pulls the plug on a brain dead Casey. Coincidentally, Casey was Katie's father and the namesake of Tom and Margo's second son, Casey.
2. Margo's Rape/HIV (1992-93)- This was one of the most memorable storylines of its time. It began when Tom and Margo return to Oakdale from a vacation in Cape Cod. Margo is called in to break up a liquor store holdup. What happens next would be the catalyst for the storyline for months to come. The gunman, Elroy Nevins holds Margo at gunpoint and rapes her. What she doesn’t know is that Nevins has AIDS.
1. Lily's Parentage (1987)- This was true soap opera child parentage revelation at its finest. Not since Phillip’s parentage on Guiding Light was there a parentage revelation so shocking that it was hard to believe that it was true. In the episode that aired on June 24, 1987, you have Rod Landry grabbing young Lily Walsh in the Snyder barn and then Iva Snyder grabbing a pitch fork and yelling, “SHE’S YOUR DAUGHTER!” (followed by the opening theme song). Priceless drama. And then there was that thing with Rose D’Angelo that happened years later that had to be explained.
10 FAVORITE VILLAINS in As the World Turns History:
10) Tonio Reyes- a James-type replacement in between a couple of James's "deaths" during the Douglas Marland days
9) Dr. Rick Decker- Dr. Death kept us glued to our sets in the Summer of 2003.
8) Ralph Manzo- who knew that Janet had ties to a known mobster? We didn't
7) Damian Grimaldi- He kidnapped Luke as a boy, tried to send him off to a camp to cure gays, and swindled his way back into Lily's heart (and pants)
6) Craig Montgomery- Among Craig's crimes in the last 28 years: He faked impotency to woo Meg Ryan (em, Betsy), he switched babies by kidnapping his own son (Johnny) and raising him as his own, he tried to kill a girlfriend's lover on a remote cliff, drove his wife off a cliff, and stole from a teen's trust fund
5) Col. Win Mayer- You needed a disapproving, homophobic father for the Luke and Noah saga, and this career Army man fit the bill
4) Doug Cummings- "Someone to Watch Over Me" has a whole new meaning, in a creepy kind of way
3) Mr. Big (and his house of horrors)
2) Dr. John Dixon- the longest-running dastardly character in soap history
1) Only South Park's Kenny has died more times than this man...James Stenbeck
25 Best Characters in As the World Turns History:
So many people called Oakdale home, but here are the BC Bulletin's 25 Best Characters in ATWT's 54 years and 13,858 days.
1) Dr. Bob Hughes
2) Dr. John Dixon
3) Lucinda Walsh
4) James Stenbeck
5) Kim Sullivan Reynolds Dixon Stewart Andropoulous Hughes
6) Lily Walsh Mason Snyder Grimaldi Snyder Grimaldi
7) Lisa Miller Hughes Shea Colman McColl Mitchell Grimaldi Chedwyn
8) Barbara Ryan Stenbeck Munson Munson Montgomery Stenbeck Coleman
9) Tom Hughes
10) Margo Montgomery Hughes
11) Holden Snyder
12) Carly Tenney Snyder Snyder Snyder
13) Craig Montgomery
14) Doug Cummings
15) Nancy Hughes McClosky
16) Christopher Hughes I
17) Jack Snyder
18) Iva Snyder Benedict
19) Penny Hughes Baker Lowell Cunningham
20) Dr. Dan Stewart
21) Edith Hughes
22) Andy Dixon
23) Kirk Anderson
24) Paul Ryan
25) Henry Coleman
Honorable Mention: Gwen Norbeck Munson, Dusty Donovan, Emily Stewart, Dr. Rick Decker, Gunnar St. Clair, Jennifer Ryan, Liz Talbot, Jeff Baker, Luke Snyder, Noah Mayer, Grace Baker, Emma Snyder, Dr. David Stewart, Ellen Lowell Stewart, Simon Frasier, Julia Lindsay Snyder
SHOWS THAT ENDED IN 2010:
As the World Turns isn't the only long-running series to bite the dust in 2010. Here are some other shows that said "farewell" besides ATWT.
1) 24- Eight days in which Jack Bauer saved the world, and after the eighth day, Jack rested.
2) Law & Order- tied with Gunsmoke as the longest-running primetime drama
3) Lost- the castoffs eventually did get off the island...although they were all dead
4) The Tudors- the ending was spoiled 463 years ago, and so for 463 years, we knew how this was going to end, but alas, poor Yorick, King Henry VIII died off-screen.
5) Cold Case- each episode had a great soundtrack to listen too, but low ratings and high costs proved fatal for this show at the end
For another BC Bulletin story on ATWT, check out http://thebcshow.bravehost.com/atwt50th.html for our 50th Anniversary page, which was made four and a half years ago.
And of course, look for a proper Bryan Awards wake for ATWT in the summer of 2011 as part of the 11th Annual Bryan Awards.