Home Television Goodbye to World Turns, to Oakdale, Bay City, and Springfield

Today is the last day Procter & Gamble will air a soap opera. “As the World Turns” ends its 54 year run. It debuted on CBS on April 2, 1956.

Over the years the little town of Oakdale, Illinois was joined by villages on the P&G soap map created also by Irna Phillips and Agnes Nixon. Bay City (“Another World”), Springfield (“Guiding Light”), Henderson (“Search for Tomorrow”) and Monticello (“The Edge of Night”) were all small towns that happened to be big cities too. Everyone knew each other, but the towns had international airports, beaches, rivers, docks, world class billionaires, surgeons, and lawyers, and a few working class families.

There were rarely Jews or blacks in the P&G towns. There were no Asians. Even though President Kennedy was shot during “World Turns” live half hour in 1963, it was never mentioned by the characters. When the World Trade Center attacks happened, it registered barely a blip in Oakdale. They had enough to worry about. Only recently did gay people come to town, and that was because the producers knew the run was nearly over, and there was little to be lost. (In fact, funnily enough, the gay story became one of the most popular.)

And maybe that’s why we loved it. Oakdale, Bay City–they were steps out of time, lives on alternate planets.How refreshing and relaxing it was to zone out for an hour and let the little problems of the Hughes  and Stewart families in Oakdale take over.

And now, after five decades, the people will live on You Tube and in memory. P&G wanted out, and they got out. It was ugly. At “Guiding Light.” they tortured the cast, crew and fans for 18 months before letting them all go. On “World Turns,” the same producer P&G used to shepherd out “Another World” –Christopher Goutman–just gored the show and let its carcass be eaten by bugs. This summer, instead of giving the fans returns of old characters, and resolutions of 50 years, he wasted four precious weeks by locking fictional fashion designer Barbara Ryan (the gorgeous 32 year vet Colleen Zenk) in a warehousewith an inanimate party clown. It was if P&G were saying, “We want you to have terrible memories of the end.” Congrats, guys. You did it.

Besides Zenk, there are about a dozen “vets” on “As the World Turns.” Everyone talks about who got their start on soaps, but it’s the actors who stayed, or who were able to deal with P&G, that made the show so memorable. Don Hastings, Kathryn Hays, Eileen Fulton, Ellen Dolan, Scott Holmes, Elizabeth Hubbard, Kathleen Widdoes, Marie Masters, Anthony Herrera, the recently passed matriarch Helen Wagner, and the amazing Larry Bryggman, who did come back to help clean up. When we were kids, the late Henderson Forsythe was also one of the show’s mainstays and we loved him as Dr. David Stewart. Pat Bruder was his long suffering wife Ellen. Rosemary Prinz was the first soap “star” as Penny Hughes.

There are only a few soaps left, and they’re all heading to their ends. Soon bouts of blindness, paralysis, amnesia, sudden discoveries of paternity and maternity (only on a soap could a mother not know she had a child), hysterical pregnancy, reversed vasectomies, murder, kidnapping, stalking, and one death from falling up, not down, stairs (Dan Stewart’s wife, Liz)– will be things of the past.

Soon we’ll just be left with noise: cheap games shows, second rate Snooki’s, and more inane chattering. Believe me, even Les Moonves is going to miss Oakdale in a few weeks.

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27 replies to this post
  1. my questionis if any body knows where has everybody gone except for carly who is now on young and the restless and molly on b&b havent seen anybody else re surfrace please help find everybody

  2. If there’s any justice, Chris Goutman will never get another job in television. He and P&G intentionally set out to ruin ATWT and GL beyond recognition, and they succeeded. I watched both shows with my mom and grandmother since the late ’70s, and fondly recall the highs from the ’80s and ’90s. My mom passed away 4 years ago, and she would have been appalled to see what passed for story on her favorite soaps.

  3. I thought I was seeing things when the last episode said finale. I can not believe it has ended. I have watched ATWT since I was 12 years old. Our neighbor was a SAHM and I would go over to her house and she had it on every single day. I have watched it ever since(with taping to Tevo to DVR) I am so sad. It is hard to explain..I know it’s strange but it’s apart of your life…something you look forward to watching after working all day and dealing with real life. I just wanted to add that they have taken off Guiding light(which I have watched since highschool) Devastating. I cried the entire 60 minute special they had on. And to put on CRAP…sorry Price is Right. Yuck!!!


  5. I grew up on a farm, tobacco and my mother worked public work too. So, our days as kids were intermingled with my grandmother and what she was doing. My “grandma” and yes, that is what we called her, watched her stories every day. She cooked dinner for Grandpa, (now we call it lunch), on the table at 11:30, then washed her dishes, swept the floor and then she sat down in Grandpa’s easy chair with her crocheting and there she watched her stories, “Search for Tomorrow”, “As The World Turns” “Guiding Light” and “The Edge of Night”. She kept us, (6 grandchildren), while our mothers worked, and we knew we could do anything while her stories were on cause she was going to crochet and watch her stories and check on us occasionally, I think she figured if somebody got hurt, we would come get her and she was right. But, we better not talk while her stories were on unless somebody was hurt bad enough to go to the hospital. BUT, to get back to what this is about, it is disgraceful and shameful that P & G has slapped the American viewing public in the face as they have. They have put their opinion in front of their customers. Someone earlier mentioned the horrible story lines in the past few years which is true and rather than correct the problem they kept asking their so-called experts, now the show is cancelled. My grandmother is probably turning over in her grave as many others. I am appalled and ashamed of the P&G company. I too will boycott their products and hopefully others will too. I don’t need P&G to think for me, nor do I need their products. When their company had all that bad publicity about the devil’s emblem, etc., housewives are who stood by you and now you have abandoned them. I would like to know though is P&G a big enough commpany that they can admit they made a mistake. One more note, when the hostages were released back in ’81, and yes that was extremely important but one of your soaps was interrupted, CBS received so many calls complaining about the interruption, it was talked about on the national news that night.

    CBS & P&G, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves!!!

  6. I started watching As The World Turns when I was a little girl because my mom watched it. I am 35 now and never stopped watching it until now. I will miss my daily jolt into a place where things always made you think that it can alwyas be worse. I was hooked from the time I was 5 or 6, so it is a sad day to the lights go out on the set of my favorite show. There will be now replacing it. Is there a chance that maybe the soap network will continue with this? Some things seemed to be left unfinished so maybe – well on can hope!! So long my friends of day time tv – may you all find work again.

  7. Great article, Roger. I’ve expressed many of my sentiments on the state of daytime on the WE LOVE SOAPS website. If you haven’t read it yet, the late Mary Stuart (Jo/SFT)’s autobiography BOTH OF ME, is probably the most fascinating book I’ve ever read on the history/behind-the-scenes of the soap opera genre. Actually, I have en entire chapter devoted to the great Stuart in my book, HOLLYWOOD INSIDER: EXPOSED! I invite you to check them both out. Best wishes and thanks for remembering Henderson, USA.

  8. I’m with Dewana! Procter & Gamble is an abomination of a corp to do this, and in the horrid WAY they do it. Someone could run an online soap on this dark plot alone!! Anyone???

    I adopted Oakdale’s inhabitants as my alter-community 40 years ago. Sometimes admittedly, it sucked! But I remained faithful and taped it daily to keep in touch with Oakdale. One more nostalgic sweetness yanked from the lifescape. Screw you P & G!!!!

  9. Thanks for the article. I have quite a few weeks of ATWT stored on DVR – and will watch them all this weekend. Every viewer of ATWT – GL and all the others that have fallen by the way side – should not only stop purchasing P&G Products – but find Dollar Stores and Big LOTS and purchase a box (card board box) full of the cheapest P&G Products – and Ship them along with an enclosed letter Via Mail/UPS/Fedex not only to the headquarters but to the board members and stock holders – letting them know – we will no longer be purchasing any of their products. They hurt the viewers – who also happen to be their “customers”. To get their full attention – is to hurt them where it matters most to them – their pocket books. If their sales decline enough – they’ll either be bought out or go out of business.

  10. I also watched all of the other shows that P&G has taken off the air Search For Tomorrow, Another World, Edge of Night, soon there will be good soaps on TV worthwhile watching everyone should boycott P&G….

  11. I am sad to see As the world turns go off the air. I have watched this show over 40 years, there were so many story lines that could have been explored shame on P&G. I also was a fan of the Guilding Light. I am so sick of all of these talk shows and reality shows whatever happened to good TV?…..

  12. I want to thank the many people who made up the cast of “As the World Turns” during the so many years that I’ve been listening and watching. I do believe the show was broadcast on the radio before it was launched in 1956 for one-half hour. I know that, to some, it might sound pathetic but daytime drama shows helped me and so many of us get through days of raising children and doing household chores. I remember the day John Kennedy was shot. I was ironing and watching ATWT and, when it was over, turned the TV off missing the news report by Walter Cronkite of Kennedy. I’ve seen the end of that show played many times since then. I also remember when Papa Bauer and Dr. David Stewart passed away. My own personal memories are wrapped around shows like “Search for Tomorrow,” “Guiding Light” and As The World Turns.” They have provided me with an avenue of escape from many of my own soap-opera-like life episodes. I too am deeply disappointed in P&G and the way they ended the show. I guess there must be some young, corporate, greedy executives who have become desensitived to the tender emotions of life due to new technologies and “progress being their most important product.”

  13. Just got thru watching the last episode of As The World Turns. I can’t believe that P & G and CBS canceled such a great soap opera.
    I have watched it faithfully since 1979, my mom got me to watching it, it was her favorite soap. It is ironic that it ended on her birthday, even thou she is no longer living, we both were big fans.
    I will no longer purchase P & G products, nor will I support CBS anymore. Both are only interested in profits, not viewers. Who wants another stupid talk show anyway. They have made a lot of faithful fans very sad today.

  14. My mom use to watch this show every afternoon. She started watching it when it first debuted, and watched it till she passed three years ago. I started to watch 25 years ago and will miss the dearly. Unfortunatly, it’s a sign of the times. No more atay at home moms, the target audience for advertisers. I will miss Oakdale and it’s residents…good bye.

  15. I have watched ATWT for 30 years. I can’t believe they’re ending it. This too was my down time after work and looked forward to watching the happenings of Oakdale. Please, please continue it again!!!!

    A loyal fan!

  16. I became a fan in 1975 when I was 21 and for decades enjoyed the exploits of fictional Oakdale. Sadly, in recent years I found myself fast forwarding episodes I taped because the show had lost it’s edge and was only playing to certain characters while sadly neglecting those who had helped make the show a model of the perfect soap opera at one time. Eileen Fulton’s Lisa, whose exploits had infuriated and amused millions of viewers, was reduced to a walk-on role while others suffered similar fates or behaved in ways their character would never have had the writers actually studied the character’s history. For many years Oakdale seemed real and I denounce Goutman and P & G for undermining and systematically destroying a show that still had quite a few years left in it under loving and nurturing hands. While “ATWT” may stop spinning, we are fortunate to be left with many wonderful memories of a show that rarely disappointed.

  17. I can not believe that I am watching the last of episode of As the World Turns! This show has been a big part of my life. I have watched it since I was 3. Liberty and Parker have helped me through so much, just by watching them in their life and their relationship. And now my favoirte show is gone:( The writers should continue to write the show!

  18. My heart is broken today. I cannot stop crying!!! I have watched this show since I was avery little girl with my grandmother……she is gone now, but this was a part of her that I still had with me. Nothing will ever take away the memory of this show for me. I wish
    I could have seen all of the old cast members just one more time. I will love you forever ATWT.

  19. AMEN BRENDA! Did they ever take a vote like they have a zillion times in Soap Digest over the years, “Would you like to see ATWT go off the air?” Sad beyond words.


  21. P&G cares about making money. That’s all. I’ve been watching ATWT for 30 yrs, and I also watched Guiding Light. I don’t buy P&G products anymore if I can help it, they are greedy, money hungry people with shady morals. I’ve urged everyone I know to find replacements also.

  22. I am going to miss As the World Turns for the rest of my life. I’ve watched it from the very first “Good morning, Dear,” and will be glued to the TV this afternoon. I even made sure the Baltimore TV station ran yesterday’s episode (at 1:37 this morning!) because they preempted it yesterday. I will miss every cast member who had a hand in bringing the best of daytime drama to the screen, and especially the glory days of Doug Marland.
    Doug Marland was actually the one who brought the first gay character to daytime drama – Hank Elliot was a designer friend of Barbara’s whose homosexuality was revealed after he had been in Oakdale and made many friends. So Luke and Noah and Reid had a worthy predecessor.
    I miss Martha Byrne more than I can say – she wasn’t the only Lily, but she was the real Lily, and did such a wonderful job with Rose as well.
    I continue to miss Benjamin Hendrickson who made Hal such a wonderful person, and the first Caleb, Michael Morrison, who died far too soon.
    CBS has made a huge mistake in cancelling this wonderful show, and I won’t say what I think about its replacement, which I will never watch!

  23. I cannot believe that P & G is ending As The World Turns. I have watched that show since the day it started. My Mother and I have both been addicted to it. Mother died 4 years ago, and I’m 69 years old. This has been my down time during the day, as I never missed an episode. If I had to be gone, I would tape that day. I just want to cry. Why is this happening. this gave so much pleasure to so many people. P & G must be awful people. I read where they were awful to the cast of Guiding Light before letting them go. Because of this, I will NEVER buy another P & G product. They are taking away something the people have looked forward to for many many years. Now it will be gone. I think you are pathetic.

  24. As the world turns has been a part of my life almost 10 years now. It was the beginning of an era, when change swept over me & became my closest friend as life evolved through one of the most significant times in my life, and so now it ends… leaving a deep void of a loved one passing away. Of in ways, a new beginning, the next chapter. Thanks for the memories.

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