Not Just Another Ordinary Day: Goodnight As the World Turns

September 26, 2010 at 2:24 am (Uncategorized)

It was just about a year ago that The Guiding Light went off the air. I confessed to you then that years before I moved to Raleigh and became an artist, I spent a summer in the fictitious town of Oakdale, Illinois, the setting for As the World Turns.

When I was teenager, I started watching As the World Turns. As a sophomore in college, I worked for WIOD Radio in Miami. The News Director there suggested that I could get a wealth of television production experience working for a soap opera. The following year, I sent off a resume to As the World Turns Producer Lisa Wilson. I interviewed for an internship position and in the summer of 1989, packed my bags and moved into the dorms at New York University to begin work as a production intern on the show.

Although I did fetch coffee and lunch for the producers and directors, copied scripts, and ran errands, I also learned the value of working hard, going above and beyond the call of duty, and for at least a summer, was a witness to a piece of television history.

With the immortal words “Good morning, dear,” actress Helen Wagner (Nancy Hughes) opened As the World Turns on April 2, 1956. As the World Turns (ATWT) was the creation of Irna Phillips who, beginning in the 1930s, had been one of the foremost creators and writers of radio soap operas.  It was the first television daytime drama with a 30-minute running time, along with The Edge of Night, which premiered the same day. 

ATWT became the longest running dramatic series created exclusively for television. Wagner, incidentally, who passed away last May, is also acknowledged by the Guinness Book of Records as being the longest-running character played by one actor or actress on television.

I will always look back on my summer in Oakdale fondly. I have to confess that this week I have missed coming home after picking up my kids from school and watching my recorded episodes of As the World Turns.

“And so, a perfectly ordinary day in Oakdale comes to an end.  Oakdale may be an ordinary town filled with ordinary people, but it’s an ordinary town where extraordinary things happen ever day.” [Dr. Bob Hughes, Final Episode, September 18, 2010]

After he delivered these final thoughts, Dr. Bob closed the final episode by leaving his office and saying, “Goodnight.”  

And so I too bid you goodnight, As the World Turns. You will be missed.

View this classic clip of As the World Turns with Nancy (Helen Wagner) and Dr. Bob (Don Hastings) from 1963, in the middle of which Walter Cronkite breaks in with breaking news of the Kennedy assasination.

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