"As The World Turns" Dies At Age 54

After 54 years the soap opera “As The World Turns” is due to end it’s run in September of 2010

From Entertainment Weekly

I remember coming home from school at lunch time and ATWT was on. I think it was only 15 or 30 minutes at that time.

This leaves CBS with only the two Bell shows (The Young & The Restless and The Bold & The Beautiful).

It’s a shame…the longest-running form in television is dying. The Guiding Light was over 70 years old if you count radio!

Just as a bit of trivia, has any actor ever played the same character as long as Helen Wagner has on ATWT? She played the character of Nancy Hughes from the very first line of the very first episode (“Good morning, dear!”), with a couple of brief interruptions. She’s appeared fairly recently on the show as Nancy, so that’s roughly 54 years of playing that same character.

Wow I never thought I would see the end of that show! Hard to believe it’s ending. I watched it daily in the early 90’s but have not watched in probably 10 years.

Appears we’re witnessing the end of an era, soap operas just aren’t as popular as they once were.

The OP missed the opportunity for a better title, such as “The World To Stop Turning in September”.

I watched it as a kid because my mother watched it but I switched to the ABC soaps as a teenager because I was babysitting my nieces in the afternoon for a while and my SIL wanted a report of what was happening on her soaps.

Probably trying to avoid copy-catting all of the online and print articles about this that used that phrase as the headline.

In my high school days (late 80s) I was a huge “One Life to Live” fan and had never seen ATWT. Then one day I read something in the papers about that show having the first ever gay character on a soap. (This was a different era, before there was a general mandate that every series have a required gay character) Being a closeted kid who was starved for any image at all of an openly gay person, I switched channels during OLTL’s commercial breaks to see this gay guy on ATWT.

The gay character came on, did nothing in the storyline, and left the show. But I got sucked into watching ATWT anyway. I remember the main storyline was that the main eeeeeeevil villain character James Stenback had discovered his son James Jr. & his mistress Emily having an affair. James Sr. had become enraged, attacking the pair, and James Jr. had shot his father dead. James Jr. confessed to the police that he’d killed his father in self-defense, but Emily (who was engaged to marry a rich guy) pressured him into keeping their affair (and her affair with James Sr.) a secret. James Jr. went on trial for murder, and it went badly for him as it was very clear that something was being hidden. His friends & family kept begging him to come clean and admit everything that went down, but James Jr. refused to talk out of misguided loyalty to Emily (who was willing to let him go to jail, rather than risk losing her rich fiance.) Fortunately, James Jr. finally realized what a bitch Emily was and confessed the truth of the affair, which exonerated him.

The other storyline I remember was that reformed-eeeeeevil villain John Dixon had discovered he’d had an illegitimate son named Duke from a long-ago affair. John met Duke, who was a white trash loser, and convinced him to come to town and start his life over. John’s wife Lucinda, not to mention John’s legitimate son Andy (a recovered alcoholic) resented Duke’s presence. Lucinda brought Duke’s ex-g.f. Julie to town, hoping she could lure Duke away. But instead Julie hooked up with Andy, toyed with him, then dumped him for someone else, prompting him to have a major relapse. John took his rage out on Lucinda for his son’s relapse.

At that point, I had graduated from high school, went to college, and promptly forgot about watching soaps altogether. BUT, I do have one other ATWT related memory - I was actually an extra on the show once. While not a professional actor, I happened to be a co-worker & friend of an AHCT-ress(!) who did lots of background work for the show (she was friends with one of the casting producers) and got me in. I was in the background in a casino scene - one of a bunch of people at a roulette table. The major action of the scene was that the heart-throb hero wanted to propose to his girlfriend, but she surprises him by first blurting out that she knew he’d cheated on her (or something like that).

You wouldn’t believe the amount of time & scrutiny was spent on the smallest details! Every single person on the set had to go through extensive makeup & styling. When the makeup people noticed that one extra player had a lock of hair out of place, they spent almost 45 minutes fixing it!

The scene was supposed to begin on one episode & carry over to the next. With blocking, makeup, lighting, rehearsal & finally shooting, the whole day’s work took over 12 hours. I later looked at the paycheck I received and realized I had gotten paid only slightly more than minimum wage for it.

Worst of all, when the episode finally aired, I excitedly looked for myself on TV. I worked out where I was in the background - and all that was visible of me was a little bit of my elbow. :smack:

Anyway, that’s my ATWT memories.

The gay guy in question was Hank, one of Barbara’s designers. I do remember that storyline, with the requisite “misunderstanding” of Iva falling for Hank because she didn’t know he was gay. “James Jr.” is actually Paul, who was close to Hank, which was one of the reasons James Stenbeck hated Hank so much…he was afraid Hank would make Paul gay (and I had a huge crush on the actor who played Paul at the time, so I was hoping…). IIRC, James shot (or killed?) Hank when everyone went to NYC for one of those once-a-year move-everyone-in-town-to-a-different-city-for-some-big-event things (one of Barbara’s fashion shows or something).

To my mild embarrassment, I could probably talk about ATWT in the period between about 1982 and 2000 for hours…

So, what are the other soaps that are still on? There’s One Life to Live (for now), The Young & The Restless and The Bold & The Beautiful. What are the other three?

General Hospital, All My Children…can’t think of the third.

These are The Days of our Lives.

Maybe it will come back a few months later… with amnesia!

::Cue organ music::

As the sands through the hourglass, so go the tattered remnants of my memory…

I would have said Jon and Kate Plus Eight but that was cancelled too.


But probably not for long. NBC will get rid of it in 2010 and will have no soaps whatsoever. Sad. But they’ve been digging their own graves since the mid-1990s, hopelessly slavering after the youth audience by gimmicks and dumping/backburnering their beloved oldtimer cast members while taking their older viewers for granted – and ending up losing the loyal crowd altogether. Note that Young and the Restless has maintained its top status for like a dozen years thanks to keeping the core cast in the spotlight: Victor, Jack, Nikki, et al.

Not to mention that soaps are the only business I know (outside of certain presidential administrations!) where you can fail at your job and get recruited to an equivalent top position: headwriters can utterly fuck up a show (e.g. Hogan Sheffer, Richard Culliton, Dena Higley, James Reilly (RIP), and a few others I’m forgetting) and they’re still considered viable candidates for other headwriter positions!

I’ll be very sad to see the soaps die, but they seem determined to bring about their own deaths, so it’s pretty much a fait accompli.



I imagine it would be costly to produce a soap. They need more scripts, and they usually have larger casts than night time shows. I realize they don’t get paid nearly as much but still, you have to keep the cast on call for even minor things.