|As the World Turns|
|Also known as||ATWT|
|Created by||Irna Phillips|
|Written by||Jean Passanante and Lloyd Gold|
|Directed by||See below|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||54|
|No. of episodes||13,858|
|Running time||30 minutes (1956–75)|
60 minutes (1975–2010)
|Original release||April 2, 1956 –|
September 17, 2010
As the World Turns (often abbreviated as ATWT) is an American television soap opera that aired on CBS for 54 years from April 2, 1956, to September 17, 2010. Irna Phillips created As the World Turns as a sister show to her other soap opera Guiding Light. With 13,763 hours of cumulative narrative, As the World Turns has the longest total running time of any television show. In terms of continuous run of production, As the World Turns at 54 years holds the fourth-longest run of any daytime network soap opera on American television, surpassed only by General Hospital, Guiding Light, and Days of Our Lives.[a] As the World Turns was produced for its first 43 years in Manhattan and in Brooklyn from 2000 until 2010.
Set in the fictional town of Oakdale, Illinois, the show debuted on April 2, 1956, at 1:30 p.m. EST, airing as a 30-minute serial. Prior to that date, all serials had been 15 minutes in length. As the World Turns and The Edge of Night, which premiered on the same day at 4:30 p.m. EST, were the first two to be 30 minutes in length from their premieres. At first, viewers were indifferent to the new half-hour serial, but ratings picked up in its second year, eventually reaching the top spot in the daytime Nielsen ratings by fall 1958. In 1959, the show started a streak of weekly ratings wins that was not interrupted for over 12 years. The show switched to color on August 21, 1967, and expanded from a half hour in length to one hour daily starting on December 1, 1975, when The Edge of Night moved to ABC. In the year-to-date ratings, As the World Turns was the most-watched daytime drama from 1958 until 1978, with some ten million viewers tuning in each day. At its height, core actors such as Helen Wagner, Don MacLaughlin, Don Hastings, and Eileen Fulton became nationally known. Wagner, Hastings, and Fulton are also three of longest serving actors in the history of American soap operas.
The show passed its 10,000th episode on May 12, 1995, and celebrated its 50th anniversary on April 2, 2006. On September 18, 2009, As the World Turns became the last remaining Procter & Gamble-produced soap opera for CBS after Guiding Light aired its final episode on the network.
On December 8, 2009, CBS announced it was canceling As the World Turns after a run of almost 54 years due to low ratings. The show taped its final scenes for CBS on June 23, 2010, and with a dramatic storyline finale, its final episode on the network aired on September 17, 2010. Reruns of The Price Is Right, Let's Make a Deal, and The Young and the Restless took over the As the World Turns time slot between September 20 and October 15, 2010 for four weeks. On October 18, 2010, CBS replaced As the World Turns with a new talk show, called The Talk.
As the World Turns was the creation of Irna Phillips, who, beginning in the 1930s, had been one of the foremost creators and writers of radio soap operas. As a writer, Phillips favored character development and psychological realism over melodrama, and her previous creations (which included Guiding Light) were especially notable for placing professionals – doctors, lawyers, and clergy – at the center of their storylines. Phillips wrote: "As the world turns, we know the bleakness of winter, the promise of spring, the fullness of summer, and the harvest of autumn—the cycle of life is complete."
And so it was with As the World Turns, with its slow-moving psychological character studies of families headed by legal and medical professionals. The personal and professional lives of doctors and lawyers remained central to As the World Turns throughout its run, and eventually became standard fare on many soap operas. Whereas the 15-minute radio soaps often focused on one central, heroic character (for example, Dr. Jim Brent in Phillips' Road of Life), the expanded 30-minute format of As the World Turns enabled Phillips to introduce a handful of professionals within the framework of a family saga.
Phillips' style favored gradual evolution over radical change. Slow, conversational, and emotionally intense, the show moved at the pace of life itself – and sometimes even more slowly than that. Each new addition to the cast was done in a gradual manner and was usually a key contact to one of the members of the Hughes family. As such, the show earned a reputation as being quite conservative, though the show did showcase a gay male character in 1988. During the show's early decades, the content-related policies of its sponsor Procter & Gamble Productions may have contributed to the perception of conservatism. The household products-manufacturing giant typically frowned on storylines in which adultery and other immoral behavior went unpunished and, as late as the 1980s, characters from the primary families were still generally not allowed to go through with abortions.
As the World Turns premiered on April 2, 1956. It was the first television daytime drama with a 30-minute running time; all daytime dramas until then had 15-minute running times.
The series was also CBS' first to expand to a 60-minute running time in 1975. By 1958, the program was the number-one daytime drama in the United States, where it remained until 1978. As the World Turns won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Daytime Drama Series four times in 1987, 1991, 2001, and 2003.
Main articles: List of As the World Turns cast members, List of As the World Turns characters, and List of As the World Turns recurring characters
The first words spoken in As the World Turns in the first episode (aired on April 2, 1956) were "Good morning, dear", said by the character Nancy Hughes, played by actress Helen Wagner.
Wagner was acknowledged by the Guinness Book of Records for having the longest run in a single role on television, a position she held until 2010. She did not play the role without interruption - she was temporarily dropped from the series after the first six months due to conflicts with creator Irna Phillips. Wagner also left the series in 1981, when she felt that writers were not interested in the veteran players and returned as a regular character in 1985.
On the episode broadcast on Monday, August 30, 2010, it was revealed that Nancy had died in her sleep; the next day's episode dealt with Nancy's memorial service. Nancy Hughes's memorial aired just two weeks before the series finale. The show's producers stated in interviews that they had to revise their plans for the final episode because of Wagner's death – they had hoped that Wagner would say the final lines of the last episode just as she had said the first words of the first episode.
Several crossovers have been made between As the World Turns and other serials:
Since 2005, a number of characters have crossed back and forth between As the World Turns and The Young and the Restless:
The irony in his appearance in the above-mentioned episodes is that 20 years before, LeBlanc left the role of Kirk McColl, the youngest son of Lisa's fifth husband, Whit McColl (played by Wagon Train star Robert Horton, who was killed off shortly before Fulton's return to the show). So, to many long-time fans of both As the World Turns and The Young and the Restless, seeing LeBlanc as the character from the latter show was weird. History was also made during LeBlanc's appearance on As the World Turns, since both shows are made by different production companies (Bell Dramatic Serial Company for The Young and the Restless; Procter and Gamble for As the World Turns), although they are on the same network.
On December 8, 2009, CBS canceled As the World Turns after almost 54 years, with the series finale airing on September 17, 2010, making it the last Procter & Gamble soap opera to end.
On November 22, 1963, the live CBS broadcast of As the World Turns began as always, at 1:30 EST. In this episode, the Hughes family was discussing plans for Thanksgiving. Ten minutes later, a "CBS News Bulletin" slide suddenly appeared on the screen and Walter Cronkite gave the first report of the assassination.
Here is a bulletin from CBS News: in Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy's motorcade in downtown Dallas. The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting. More details just arrived. These details about the same as previously: President Kennedy shot today just as his motorcade left downtown Dallas. Mrs. Kennedy jumped up and grabbed Mr. Kennedy, she called, 'Oh no!'. The motorcade sped on. United Press says that the wounds for President Kennedy perhaps could be fatal. Repeating, a bulletin from CBS News: President Kennedy has been shot by a 'would-be assassin' in Dallas, Texas. Stay tuned to CBS News for further details.[failed verification]
At the end of this bulletin, CBS rejoined As the World Turns which was still in progress. The cast, performing the episode live, was not yet aware of the rapidly-developing situation. However, just before Don Hastings and Henderson Forsythe began the third scene of the show, Hastings overheard cameraman Phil Polansky talking to the control room through a headset: "Don't tell the actors what? The President's been shot?" The actors received their cues and began the scene while Walter Cronkite was in the midst of reporting further information from Dallas. CBS then returned to the show in the middle of the third scene, which would be the last regular program viewed by the television audience that day. During the commercial break that followed, the "CBS News Bulletin" slide appeared again and Cronkite resumed with audio-only reports of the developments in Dallas until the top of the hour when CBS News was ready to go on the air with video. Once the episode came to a close with Eileen Fulton in the final scene, the cast was finally informed of the news.
As NBC and ABC, the other two major U.S. TV networks, were not programming in that timeslot then (the 1:30–2:00 ET period belonging to their local affiliates), As the World Turns has the distinction of being the last regular U.S. network program broadcast for the next four days as the assassination and funeral of JFK and the transition of power to President Lyndon B. Johnson took center stage.
As the World Turns enjoyed a virtually uninterrupted reign as the highest-rated soap from 1958 to 1978, tying for first place with NBC Daytime's Another World (1973–1974, 1977–1978) and Days of Our Lives (1973–1974). By the mid-1960s, it was so firmly entrenched that its strongest competition, Let's Make a Deal, despite developing a devoted fan base in its own right and becoming one of daytime's most popular game shows, could not come close to matching it in the Nielsens.
Its strength was such that ABC ran hour-long drama reruns in the 1:00–2:00 pm. (noon–1:00 Central) slot in the mid-1960s and NBC, after losing Deal to ABC in 1968, ran a total of eight shows, all short-lived (with the exception of Three on a Match, which lasted three years), against As the World Turns and Let's Make a Deal from that point until 1975.
As that year began, Another World was expanded to 60 minutes, with its first hour-long episode airing on January 6, 1975. Although this did not directly affect As the World Turns, as the two shows were not in competition for anything other than the overall ratings win, CBS' afternoon lineup suffered some ratings damage as the popular soap put a dent in the ratings of two popular afternoon game shows, The Price Is Right and Match Game. NBC, pleased by the success that the expansion of Another World had brought to the network, elected to do the same thing with Days of Our Lives beginning on April 21, 1975; this put Days of Our Lives and As the World Turns in direct competition for ratings. Incidentally, the expansions were occurring six and a half years after the last two 15-minute serials, Search for Tomorrow and The Guiding Light, expanded to 30 minutes.
CBS considered expanding As the World Turns and Search for Tomorrow to 45 minutes (eliminating the timeslot during which stations broadcast local or syndicated programs), but eventually decided to expand As the World Turns, its front-runner in the ratings battle, to a full-hour length. Initially, in order to free up the necessary 30 minutes to do so, CBS returned The Price Is Right, which had been paired with Match Game for the previous two years as part of the network's successful 3 p.m. game show block, to the morning. However, CBS changed course and decided that it would also attempt an expansion of Price to 60 minutes; this meant that, if the plans to expand As the World Turns were to go as anticipated, CBS would need to cancel a program to free up that 30 minutes of airtime it needed.
At the time CBS was having ratings trouble with The Edge of Night. Procter & Gamble had demanded that CBS give the serial the 2:30 p.m. slot following The Guiding Light in 1972, moving it from the 3:30 p.m. slot it had held since 1963. This decision proved to be a grave mistake. The Edge of Night, which had a much younger and more male-centric audience than almost any other serial on television when the move was made, lost a large portion of its audience, especially to NBC's The Doctors, at the height of its popularity at the time. In addition, the rest of CBS' drama lineup was performing well in the ratings and the network could not move the long-running serial to another timeslot without risking preemption from local affiliates, which would almost certainly have driven ratings even lower.
At the same time, ABC expressed interest in picking up The Edge of Night for its own lineup as it had been interested in carrying a P&G-produced serial for some time, supplementing its in-house productions. An agreement was struck between CBS, Procter & Gamble, and ABC to get the necessary 30 minutes for the As the World Turns expansion. CBS would not renew The Edge of Night once its contract was up, Procter & Gamble would move the serial to ABC, and thus As the World Turns could go ahead with its expansion.
A major issue arose that halted the planned shuffle, however. CBS was contracted to air The Edge of Night until December 1975, and ABC had no place in its schedule to put it at the time. This forced CBS to temporarily postpone expanding As the World Turns and keep The Edge of Night until ABC could find a timeslot for it. Finally, in November, ABC agreed that The Edge of Night would join its lineup on December 1, replacing the game show You Don't Say! at 4:00 p.m. (closer to its pre-1972 timeslots) and keeping the serial's continuity intact. And thus, As the World Turns became CBS' first 60-minute daytime serial.
The first half of the newly-expanded show continued to perform well against Let's Make a Deal on ABC, which the network moved to the noon/11 a.m. timeslot within four weeks of the expansion. The second half put As the World Turns in competition with ABC's most-popular game show, The $10,000 Pyramid, which had done well against Guiding Light since the network moved it to 2:00 p.m. in December 1974 and kept doing so against As the World Turns. Although the expansion was not a complete success, at the end of the season, the serial was again at the top of the daytime Nielsens, despite a 1.4-point drop from the year before.
Although the eventual hit game show Family Feud ran against As The World Turns from July 12, 1976 until April 22, 1977, it did not become a hit for ABC until its move to the mornings. Only when ABC made its first move to a one-hour soap with All My Children did trouble really begin for As the World Turns and NBC's ( Days of Our Lives), since ABC kept that serial's starting time at 1:00/noon, meaning that fans of that serial who tuned to NBC or CBS would miss the last half of that day's storyline (or, contrariwise, would not, if they watched until the mid-program commercial break and then changed channels, pick up the As the World Turns or Days of Our Lives activities from the episode's beginning, since ABC strategically placed its break several minutes after, rather than exactly at, the bottom of the hour). Further, All My Children's emphasis on youth-oriented, sexier storylines provided a sharp contrast to the domestic, almost quaint tone of As the World Turns (and to a lesser degree, the melodramatic, somewhat topical Days). On January 16, 1978, ABC ballooned its decade-old One Life to Live to the 2:00 PM/1:00 p.m. starting time, compounding the other networks' headaches. These factors helped contribute to the fall of As the World Turns from the top spot in the ratings at the end of the 1978-79 season. After finishing the previous season tied with Another World for number one in the Nielsens, As the World Turns fell to fourth behind All My Children, General Hospital, and The Young and the Restless.
On February 4, 1980, CBS moved and expanded The Young and the Restless to a full hour after the cancellation of the long-tenured Love of Life. The Young and the Restless moved from noon/11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m./noon (the former affiliate break timeslot) and As the World Turns was bumped up to 2:00/1:00 p.m. and Guiding Light to 3:00/2:00 p.m. On June 8, 1981, As the World Turns returned to its traditional 1:30/12:30 p.m. start time with Search for Tomorrow following at 2:30/1:30 p.m. and The Young and the Restless leading off the serial lineup at either noon/11:00 a.m. or 12:30 p.m./11:30 a.m. (depending on affiliate preference).
As the World Turns remained at 1:30/12:30 p.m. until March 20, 1987, when CBS cancelled the five-year-old Capitol in favor of The Bold and the Beautiful. CBS scheduled it at 1:30/12:30 p.m., and finally settled As the World Turns at 2:00/1:00 p.m., where it remained until its final network episode in September 2010. Although facing the full length of Another World and One Life to Live once again, the Douglas Marland era of 1985 to 1993 had a resurgence in ratings, and by 1991, it was back in its once-habitual top-four placing. As the World Turns survived NBC's cancellation of its sister series Another World in 1999.
On December 8, 2009, CBS confirmed that it would not renew As the World Turns. The final CBS episode was taped on June 23, 2010, at JC Studios in Brooklyn, and aired on September 17, 2010. The final scene included Kim Hughes (Kathryn Hays) telling Bob Hughes (Don Hastings) to take as much time as he needed. After he put his nameplate in his briefcase, Bob said the show's final line, "Good night", and left Oakdale Memorial Hospital for the last time, at which point the globe started spinning before the final fade-out.
One example of the drastic change in daytime television can be found in the following:
|Rank/serial||Household rating||(Time slot) Network|
|1. General Hospital||16.0||(3-4pm) ABC|
|2. All My Children||10.2||(1-2pm) ABC|
|3. One Life to Live||10.2||(2-3pm) ABC|
|4. Guiding Light||7.5||(3-4pm) CBS|
|5. The Young and the Restless||7.0||(12:30–1:30pm) CBS|
|Rank/serial||Millions of viewers|
|1. The Young and the Restless||7.2|
|2. All My Children||5.891|
|3. General Hospital||5.343|
|4. The Bold and the Beautiful||5.247|
|5. One Life to Live||5.152|
As the World Turns spent a record-breaking 20 years on top of the Nielsen ratings for American daytime soap operas, from 1958 to 1978. It would retain this record until The Young and the Restless broke it in 2008 when it remained #1 for 21 years and counting.
|1973–1974||9.7 (tied with Days of Our Lives and Another World)|
|1977–1978||8.6 (tied with Another World)|
Record low: 1,773,000 viewers on December 25, 2009 (Nielsen Media Research)
|February 1971 – June 1973||Fred Bartholomew|
|June 1973 – December 1978||Joe Willmore|
|December 1978 – 1980||Joe Rothenberger|
|1980 – October 1981||Fred Bartholomew|
|October 1981 – October 1984||Mary-Ellis Bunim|
|October 1984 – October 1988||Robert Calhoun|
|October 1988 – May 1995||Laurence Caso|
|May 1995 – November 8, 1996||John Valente|
|November 11, 1996 – June 4, 1999||Felicia Minei Behr|
|June 7, 1999 – September 17, 2010||Christopher Goutman|
|1965–1966||Irna Phillips and William J. Bell|
|1966–February 9, 1970||Katherine Babecki|
|February 10, 1970 – 1970||Joe Kane and Ralph Ellis|
|1970||Katherine L. Phillips|
|1971||Winifred Wolfe and Warren Swanson|
|1971 – January 1972||Warren Swanson, Elizabeth Tillman, and John Boruff|
|January 1972 – July 1973||David Lesan and Irna Phillips|
|July 1973 – December 1978||Robert Soderberg and Edith Sommer|
|December 1978 – November 6, 1979||Ralph Ellis and Eugenie Hunt|
|November 7, 1979 – January 4, 1980||Douglas Marland|
|January 7, 1980 – April 1981||Bridget and Jerome Dobson|
|April – August 1981||Paul Roberts|
|August 1981 – January 1982||Tom King and K.C. Collier|
|January 1982 – May 20, 1983||Bridget and Jerome Dobson|
|May 23, 1983 – December 1983||Caroline Franz and John Saffron|
|December 1983 – April 1984||John Saffron|
|April – November 1984||Tom King and Millee Taggart|
|November 1984 – April 1985||Cynthia Benjamin and Susan Bedsow Horgan|
|April 1985 – November 1985||Susan Bedsow Horgan|
|November 1985 – April 1993||Douglas Marland (died) (Robert Calhoun during 1988 WGA strike)|
|April 1993 – January 1995||Juliet Law Packer and Richard Backus|
|January 1995||Juliet Law Packer, Garin Wolf and Richard Culliton|
|January 1995 - January 31, 1996||Richard Culliton|
|February 1996 – December 1996||Stephen Black and Henry Stern|
|December 1996 – May 1997||Stephen Demorest, Mel Brez and Addie Walsh|
|May 1997 – fall 1997||Jessica Klein|
|Fall 1997||Stephen Demorest, Mel Brez and Addie Walsh|
|December 1997– February 1998||Addie Walsh|
|February 1998 – June 1999||Lorraine Broderick, Hal Corley and Addie Walsh (co-headwriters)|
|June 1999 – June 12, 2000||Leah Laiman and Carolyn Culliton (co-headwriter)|
|June 13, 2000 – July 2001||Hogan Sheffer, Carolyn Culliton, Hal Corley and Stephen Demorest (co-headwriters)|
|July 16, 2001 – September 2002||Hogan Sheffer, Jean Passanante and Carolyn Culliton|
|September 2002 – May 24, 2005||Hogan Sheffer and Jean Passanante|
|May 25, 2005 – October 17, 2007||Jean Passanante, Leah Laiman and Christopher Whitesell|
|October 2007 – January 24, 2008||Jean Passanante and Leah Laiman|
|January 25, 2008 – April 17, 2008||Christopher Goutman (2007 WGA strike)|
|April 18, 2008 - October 5, 2009||Jean Passanante and Leah Laiman|
|October 6, 2009 - June 4, 2010||Jean Passanante and David Kreizman|
|June 7 - September 17, 2010||Jean Passanante and Lloyd Gold|
In South Africa, As the World Turns aired on SABC2 from June 2010 to February 2012 from 14:10 to 15:00 each weekday. Episodes were four years behind the original U.S. broadcast. In Canada, As the World Turns aired on ONtv, and, later, Global Television Network, and on NTV in Newfoundland and Labrador. In Jamaica, As The World Turns started airing on Television Jamaica Monday to Friday 1:00pm beginning in 2011. In Belize, As the World Turns was seen on Great Belize Television at 2:00 pm Central Time, usually the same day as the U.S. telecasts. In New Zealand, As The World Turns was aired on TVNZ 1 from 1962 to 1989. In Australia, As The World Turns was aired on Network Ten first at 1.30 pm, then moved to 5:00pm before ultimately being dropped entirely in 1987. In the Netherlands, As The World Turns was very popular and aired for more than 20 years. From 1989 till its cancellation, it was the best watched daytime soap. In 2010 Terri Conn, Martha Byrne, Marnie Schulenburg, Trent Dawson, Grayson McCouch and Van Hansis visited the Netherlands and were special guests at the "Farewell ATWT" meeting. Elizabeth Hubbard even guest-starred in the Dutch soap "Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden" for a while, after the cancellation of ATWT.
In 2006, CBS launched a reality show called InTurn on their broadband channel innertube, the winner of which would go on to receive a 13-week acting contract on As the World Turns. The eventual winner of InTurn was Alex Charak, an 18-year-old "Student/Pizza Transportation Artist" from New York. Charak made his debut as the character Elwood Hoffman on September 26, 2006. A one-hour "best-of" show aired on CBS on November 24, 2006.
CBS launched InTurn 2 in the summer of 2007. For the new season, the age restrictions expanded to allow for middle-aged viewers to participate, and there were nine competitors instead of eight. The winner of the second season was Ryan Serhant, a recent graduate of Hamilton College. Serhant made his debut in the contract role on November 7, 2007. He plays Evan Walsh IV, son of Evan Walsh III. He is a young hotshot biochemist prodigy who comes home to Oakdale to try to convince Craig Montgomery to invest in the cutting edge biomedical tech field. He began taping on September 24, 2007, two days after the close of his off-Broadway play Purple Hearts.
Inturn 3 began airing in April 2008 and featured 17 episodes.
As the World Turns won 43 Daytime Emmys:
In 2010, As the World Turns was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for "Outstanding Daily Drama" during the 21st GLAAD Media Awards.
On Saturday Night Live , a skit called "As World Turn" was created in 1989.
In October 2011, SoapClassics released a four-DVD collection of 20 selected episodes, marking the first time that any As the World Turns episodes were available on any recorded medium. The oldest episode on the collection dates from September 29, 1979, while the latest episode was from April 10, 2010.
In November 2011, a Christmas in Oakdale DVD was released, celebrating five Christmas episodes from the show. The featured Christmases are 1985, 1992, 1995, 2000 and 2007.
A "CarJack" collection was also released, celebrating supercouple Carly and Jack in 10 of their most memorable episodes.
The Holden and Lily Story collection had 10 of their most memorable episodes.
Farewell to Oakdale had the final 10 episodes of the series.
The James Stenbeck Story collection had 10 of his most memorable episodes.
The "As the World Turns - The Wedding of Bob and Kim" DVD collection contained 10 episodes which aired April 2–15, 1985 that featured the bachelor party, the wedding ceremony, and the reception of Bob Hughes and Kim Sullivan, as played by Don Hastings and Kathryn Hays. This collection was only available online.
Since it was cancelled in 2010 after 56 years running, the record for the longest-running soap opera in the world goes to Coronation Street, which began in 1960.