Monday, September 21, 2009
lights out

When I was nine years old and in the Mount Sinai Hospital for three weeks with a life-threatening little radio---which my parents brought from home for me----saved my life. It was on the table right next to my bed and every day I would listen to the "Soap Operas".....THE ROMANCE OF HELEN TRENT, PORTIA FACES LIFE, OUR GAL SUNDAY, WHEN A GIRL MARRIES, THE RIGHT TO HAPPINESS. LIFE CAN BE BEAUTIFUL....etc., etc., etc......I would hang on every word of these 15 minute programs.....GUIDING LIGHT was one of those....It had been on the Radio maybe four years when I discovered it in early 1941. The thing is, I could lose myself in these stories and it would give me great relief from all the fear and worry and that terrible feeling of alone-ness that comes with Hospital stays and the unknown....especially when you are so young.....These programs literally saved my life, along with the doctors and the operation they performed. The voices of the actors were so soothing....the woman who played 'Portia', Lucille Wall, had this beautiful sound to her voice that made you just know that Portia was a very beautiful woman.....That's Lucille Wall, as "Portia" facing life for all of us to enjoy, over on the far right of the picture...

Time passed and though I still continued to listen to some of these shows as often as I could after I was well....I got over my 'addiction', to a degree.....In 1952, "GUIDING LIGHT" came to television.....I can remember the minimal sets to this day....Lots of black curtains and paintings hanging in space.....Charita Bauer (in the very first picture above) was one of the leading actresses on GL and stayed with it for decades, until her health failed. Her character went from being a really mean woman at the beginning to becoming a much more well rounded and beloved character......In late 1959, early 1960, I came down with a terrible case of Mono....I was so tired that even trying to hold a book was too much for me. Someone said, well, turn on the TV and watch the Soap Operas.....'Oh no!', I said.....'I cannot watch all that stuff.....', but turn it on I did, and in three days I was hooked on YOUNG DOCTOR MALONE, FROM THESE ROOTS, LOVE OF LIFE, AS THE WORLD TURNS, SEARCH FOR TOMORROW, (That's Mary Stuart as "Joanne" over on the left with Terry O'Sullivan....Mary, Searching, Searching, Searching, for Tomorrow....), ANOTHER WORLD, and you guessed it, GUIDING LIGHT......I was hooked so badly that even after I was 'well', I would go upstairs saying 'I have to rest', just so I could watch some of my shows....some were still 15 minutes as they had been on the Radio--like LOVE OF LIFE, but most were now a half hour long.....more of these wonderful stories to lose oneself in......And, incidentally LOVE OF LIFE is where I first became aware of Christpher Reeve....I think it was where everybody first became aware of him in early 1959-60. 'SUPERMAN' came waaaay after that! That's him over on the right.....Morgan Fairchild was on Love of Life', too....though that is not her in the picture.......

Over the years, I have gone through other periods of being hooked on some of these daily 'soaps'. For me, it always began with some heavy-duty illness, and there seemed to be a lot of that--pneumonia's, flu's, plus, bronchitis---my lungs already compromised from that illness at nine years old, and I would be temporarily hooked, again.

I remember back in 1974 after discovering the latest-newest 'soap' THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, I got kind of hooked on that one, too, because it was all so 'new', in every way. And I remember thinking that The Bell's, the creators of this show, had changed Soap Operas forever....They brought beautiful sets, gorgeous costumes and lots of good singing to daytime....they brought true 'glamour' to daytime, and, they brought 'sex'. When one of the leading characters, played by Jamie Lyn Bauer, stood in her doorway with just a towel covering her body and the camera then went to her boyfriend standing at the door as he was leaving...we saw him look at her and his eyes scanned down a bit, and we knew he was looking at her body, and we also knew from the look on his face that she had dropped the towel to the floor, and then, he stepped back into her apartment and the camera then faded-to-black----well, that was the moment when I knew that 'sex' had finally come to daytime television....
Above, the cast of Y&R back the mid to late 1970's.....Jeannie Cooper down on the right---there from the beginning, and still there today, and David Hasselhoff way over to the left on the top row...He played "Snapper", (Great name, isn't it?) having taken over the role from William Gray took a while to get over that change, let me tell you....Espy was a different kind of young leading man, at that time.....
All through these years, GUIDING LIGHT held it's place in the afternoon on CBS. It went from 15 minutes, to a half hour to one hour, just as most of the soaps did.....Somewhere along the way, I actually 'kicked the Soap Habit....And, it has never returned, but not before Reva and Josh became such an important story line on GL.The lovely Kim Zimmer is really a wonderful actress and she has won a number of Emmy's because of it, and deservedly so.....but, I guess at a certain point I got over the need to run to my TV at the appointed hour or turn on my VCR to watch it all later....That particular addiction is truly over.But, this past Friday, September 18th, 2009, GUIDING LIGHT played it's very last episode and just out of respect and some sentimental feelings, I watched that last episode. I really didn't know who any of the characters were at all....except 'Reva' and 'Josh', who seemed to be doing the same dance they have been doing since 1983! I just felt the need to somehow see this show finish up, forever----this 72 year old war-horse of a Soap, was canceled and was now about to fade into the memory bank.When I think of all the actors who have been on that show---especially in the early days.....Actors who went on to become big stars doing films and many stage appearances and television, GL has quite a wonderful history of great talent appearing in the show, as do most of the 'soaps'.That sometimes the story-lines were kind of preposterous, (I understand from reading some of the history that the character of 'Reva' was cloned at one us...), and that some people married and re-married and died and came back to life more than once somehow was acceptable though it did stretch one's suspension of disbelief.....Still, GUIDING LIGHT held one's interest for a good many years---until it just didn't anymore.The death of GUIDING LIGHT, they say, is the beginning of the end for afternoon Soap Operas on TV. There was a time when Daytime television paid for nighttime---that is how important it was in terms of dollars.....This is no longer true. It is sad to think that the longest running Soap Opera ever---including it's Radio days----is, no longer. Goodbye GUIDING LIGHT, you gave me many hours of pleasure and helped me escape into your world many many times, giving me a surcease from my own 'troubles', and I thank you with all my heart for that. It was no small thing to me, believe me. So long, GUIDING LIGHT, many will remember you, forever........

More To Come.........

UPDATE: About the Emmy's that I voted score is 4 out of four. Jessica Lange won OUTSTANDING LEADING ACTRESS IN A MOVIE OR MINI SERIES FOR "GREY GARDENS", and "GREY GARDENS" won OUTSTANDING MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION, and--this is terrible, but I cannot spell the name of the actress who won for OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOVIE----"Sadaam"....She was absolutely superb.....more about the 'Emmys', later....maybe.

Links to this post:


had this to say:

My goodness, I thought GL was as old as God and just as unending. Wow.

I was never addicted to GL, but the name has always been around.

When I was a teenager, I was addicted to The Young and the Restless (loved their theme song at the time) and to General Hospital. They were on two different networks and I would tune in at 11 AM to Y&R, then make sure I got up and switched to the next one when that was over. heh. I still remember what time it came on, how funny! :)

I wish the actors and actresses of GL lots of good luck (more GL, how about that?)... it's always sad to see a "tradition" end.

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 12:32:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I've been a bit worried about my soap (AMC) lately and I sure hope it doesn't go away. I was expecting a post Emmy post here. I bet you were happy to see that one big "Grey Gardens" win. Christopher Reeve's IMDB shows that he played Ben Harper on "Love of Life."

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 2:57:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I used to LOVE Guiding Light but haven't watched it in years.
Reva & Josh - ahhhh loved them. Hated when Sonni/Solita cama long.

I never knew Bert Bauer was mean! Charita was such a wonderful actress. I was so sad when her health was failing and she had to have her leg amputated IRL. My heart just ached for her and I don't really know why.

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 5:36:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Becoming addicted to soaps during a time of illness is not so unusual. It happened to me in the mid-seventies, but I eventually tired of there never being an end to a story line.

Things were quite different before cable TV, eh dear?


Monday, September 21, 2009 at 6:49:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I have never watched that one. Back when I was in school, my mom watched The Doctors, Another World and Days of Our Lives. When I quit work to have my first child, I got hooked on all of those. When my girls were in school, they got hooked on General Hospital and hooked me along with them. Now they never watch it - but I still do - and long for the exciting old days of soaps.

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 6:51:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Whenever I think of "Guiding Light", I imagine the scent of steam ironing and starch -- I remember my mother ironing PILES of laundry without losing her sanity by watching that program while she did the ironing. (We didn't have a dryer and she would have to bring in the sheets and clothes from the backyard clothesline.) It helped her learn English too!

I'll bet it got many housewives through their daily tasks in those days .... now we have wrinkle-free materials, and the housewives all have day jobs anyway. So I guess it and the other daytime soaps have outlived their time. But yes, it's always sad to see a longtime tradition end. Best of luck to the actors.

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 7:43:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

wonderful context Naomi.

it's hard to imagine them canceling after 72 years. it mustn't have been an easy decision. it's an institution like Coronation Street is. I only watched it for a bout around the mid-80s. I guess with more people working and doing most of their viewing at night the workhorse has moved to the other side of the money cart.

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 7:56:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I never watched GL. I had no idea it had been around that long until I hear about it on the news. Sad to see them fall by the side but I guess talk shows have done some damage with many daytime viewers choosing those over the soaps. I'm sure lots of people still video their soaps and watch them after they get home from work though!!

I kept up with The Y&R many years ago when David Hasselhoff was on it. I also watched As The World Turns for awhile. They moved so slowly though that I grew tired of them and finally quit watching. You could basically watch them once a week and pretty much keep up.

I did enjoy the soaps with all the lovely sets and their clothes and jewelry. It was entertaining!!

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 10:46:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I also had times in my life where I watched soaps. I began when in high school and had a couple I caught whenever I could. I did watch Guiding Light but it wasn't really my favorite during the years of raising my kids. I broke the habit when i realized my daughter was watching over my shoulder and some of the values (like Hope couldn't be a real woman until she had sex with Bo) were ones I didn't remotely want her following. I never got back into them although sometimes I'd turn them on during the Christmas season just to see them celebrate it, kind of like old friends. Kim Zimmer was great, that much I do remember, but a lot of stars got their start in soaps. Good training ground with a lot of emotional angst to work through.

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 1:13:00 PM PDT 

Blogger Pat
had this to say:

72 years is a fantastic record for any production but especially a soap.
Sadly 'Guiding Light' is just a name to me but it sounds similar to the Australian soap - 'Neighbours'
Certainly many of the actors have gone on to make names for themselves.
It's a good-natured, family orientated soap which you can watch intermittently and it still retains a pleasant familiarity which I found comforting when I was uprooted and living amongst strangers.

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 3:43:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

It's really sad when long running programmes end because the times have changed and they no longer have an audience.

We have some British soaps like Coronation Street and Eastenders that have been running for years and years and somehow they are still as popular as ever.

Because of the internet, Tv isn't as popular as it used to be.

Times are changing...

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 4:00:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I loved those programs and watch several until I had to leave my home in 1979 and work it has been a long hard battle as I never wanted to leave my family. I found myself living in the lives of television it was my Valium. And now your so right where do we go from here to the awful reality baloney I find it disgusting.

Thanks for the write up which made me think about what I loved on the telly and radio.

Dorothy from grammology

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 8:03:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

its incredible a show lasted that long and just as incedible that it finally got cancelled ! I watch soaps but not to the degree many do.. i will not watch at times or shut them off to do other things..i can remembr some friends that you couldn't even phone them when their soap was on! lol... it's sad when things end.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 5:50:00 AM PDT 

Blogger Mar
had this to say:

I haven't watched that show but I enjoyed reading your post as always. 72 years is a Guinnes record, isn't it??

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 6:01:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

When I was a child, I was the only sibling my Grandmother would allow in her room while she listened to the soaps.I knew how to be quiet. I felt so honored but only remember Stella Dallas and Back Stage Wife.
I really hope this is not the beginning of the end of soaps. I never got addicted for I always worked. The few times I was home sick, I was too sick to change channels so I pretty much know only the ABC soaps. The beauty is that you can miss months and still know the thread and can pick right up.
Was always amazed how a "dead" character could reappear years later with plastic surgery to explain the new face. Could buy the plastic surgery, just wondered how they could grow 5 inches taller.
Hope we don't lose such a fun sourse of entertainment. What on earth would replace them?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 6:56:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I watched Guiding Light for years after school as a teenager until I just couldn't take the recurring role of Roger Spaulding any longer. It didn't matter if they killed, dismembered or burned that guy to death ten ways to Sunday, he always came back. I remember screaming out loud at the t.v. when they brought him back for about the 9th time. Then I stopped watching for about 10 years and picked up watching again in the 90s when my kids were small.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 7:27:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

would you believe I never watched an episode of GL!!!
but that doesn't stop me for having an incredible amount of respect for the actors who work so hard, memorize volumes of dialogue, and dedicate themselves to their loyal fans

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 8:47:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I feel sentimental although I'm not sure I even watched that one. I was once hooked on One Life to Live and General Hospital.

I just got hooked again ... on Sex in the City... later than most. They were running back to back reruns on Fox and I watched for a month or two and then they just stopped! I have already gone to the library looking for the series. It's a well written show and I love the combination of women and the friendships.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 6:26:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Hi Naomi,
It was great for me too when I stopped watching soaps.
We usually prefer talking to sitting watching tv.
Hope you have a good day tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 2:02:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

your are so honest about ourself.
Hence you can both chock some people, and on the other hand tell some people something very important.
I hope most people will learn something from you. At least I do.
The only Soap we did have here in Norway post WW2, was on the only Radio Station allowed.
When we first got TV over here, in 1960: Just one single Channel: State owned.
We then went to movie theatres.

btw. We are more than occupied with the 3 Cats and 4 Kittens;-))

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 2:33:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I remember being a kid at Grandma's and she'll tell us that it was time for her to go watch her "stories". She'd watch her soaps and play games with me. Good stuff.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 2:51:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I remember when you talked about your illness and how serious it was. It's amazing how we can escape into a story, either in a movie, on TV or over the radio (I wish there were more radio programs like the ones you mentioned in the beginning of this post...but I suppose life is too fast for that now). I'm glad these programs helped you heal and feel less alone.

Sad that GL has come to an end, but oh, look at all the memories you have from all those years...and the photos! Wow! Christopher Reeve looked hot!

I was a fan of Days of Our Lives and General Hospital (when Luke and Laura were the hot item). Come to think of it, they may still be on the show. On Spanish TV, soap operas last about two years, and the passion and sex has always been there.

Great post, my friend, and I look forward to more Emmy news.


Cheers and Hugs to YOU!

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 4:26:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

The only soap opera I ever was hooked on was General Hospital. When I discovered a wonderful hobby, I kicked the soap habit.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 3:11:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

You brought back a memory for me. When I came home for lunch each day in the 40's, we all listened to Ma Perkins. It was just before Stella Dallas. In fact when Stella came on it was time to get ready to go back to school.

I haven't watched a soap for years.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 7:29:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

I was never a soap fan but my mother was. Though I never heard of GL until now all I remembered was the Falcon Crest and Knots Landing.

Friday, September 25, 2009 at 3:00:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I think that's partially the value of soaps for people who are ill -- sure gets their minds off their problems, 'cause boy these characters go through ups and downs in life.

My Mom was a divorced single Mom struggling while working out of her home. I know she enjoyed listing to Our Gal Sunday, Stella Dallas and One Man's Family though I'm not sure the latter was considered a soap opera.

Year's later with vision problems 'causing her to be legally blind she listened to some of the TV soaps.

I remember when actors playing roles in soap operas were thought by some other actors to not be as professional. That changed over the years. I just see the different forms of media as requiring a different set of skills. Of course, I must admit, I think stage acting is unique unto itself and my favorite where more of the responsibility for each night's shows rests on the actors performance.

Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 3:51:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

I remember my highly educated Puerto Rican mother, with no car to go anywhere in California, being hooked on As the World Turns until my older sister was supposed to go to college. My mom bought a car, got her teaching license renewed and passed her driving exam so she could work. Until she retired- when she went back to the mid-day addiction.

I did a couple short stints of watching Soaps (Guiding Light was one) but I never really did learn to appreciate inhaling them. Perhaps because I associated them with either doctor ordered bed-rest or in how they made not so loved chores, like ironing, take so long to get finished.

Sunday, September 27, 2009 at 10:57:00 AM PDT 

had this to say:

Where would we be without our soaps? Now I watch Days of Our Lives, The Young and Restless and the Bold and Beautiful. Not religiously as they are on in the daytime here but I always manage to catch up with them at some time.

I never saw GL as we didnt get it here. I also love British soaps but they are SO DIFFERENT from ours and yours. British soaps are based moreso on real life not fantasy.

Very much enjoyed this post.

Sunday, September 27, 2009 at 10:49:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

in general I think soap operas are amazing. they put 5 shows on a week! I've been watching General Hospital for 40 years!

Monday, September 28, 2009 at 12:00:00 PM PDT 

had this to say:

Lots of blasts from the pasts.

I never watching "Guiding Light" ... I used to watching "Another World" and "Days of our Lives" many many years ago.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 7:55:00 PM PDT 

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