‘World’ Turns 50: ‘As The World Turns’: Through the Years

Mar 27, 2006  •  Post A Comment

By Allison J. Waldman


“As The World Turns” debuts on CBS. “The Edge of Night”

premieres on the network at the same time. They are the first 30-minute daytime soaps on television.


In her role as Nancy Hughes, Helen Wagner speaks the opening line of “As The World Turns”: “Good morning, Chris.” She will play the part from then on. The actress has been cited in the “Guinness Book of World Records” for Longest Time in the Same Television Role.


Just two years after its debut, “ATWT” reaches the top of the daytime Nielsens, tied with CBS’s “Search for Tomorrow” with a 9.8 rating. “World” keeps the No. 1 spot for the next 20 years, until ABC’s “All My Children” surpasses it in 1978. “ATWT’s” 20-year reign is a record that still stands.


Eileen Fulton is introduced as Lisa Miller, a “bad girl” character who’s not completely evil. She is daytime’s original “woman you love to hate,” pre-dating Erica Kane (Susan Lucci on “All My Children”) by 10 years.


“ATWT’s” favorite couple is split for good when the love of Penny’s (Rosemary Prinz) life, Jeff (Mark Rydell), is killed in a car crash. Fan reaction is tremendous: CBS is swamped with mail, telegrams and calls complaining about Jeff’s demise.


CBS interrupts the broadcast of “As The World Turns” to announce that President Kennedy has been shot. However, the actors must continue performing because the show is live, not on tape, and cannot be stopped. They are informed about JFK’s death when the broadcast ends.


A spinoff from “ATWT” called “Our Private World” debuts on CBS as a prime-time serial, the first time a daytime show inspired a prime-time show. Ms. Fulton stars as Lisa, the character she created on “As The World Turns.” When “Our Private World” is canceled after five months, Ms. Fulton returns to “As The World Turns.”


The show begins broadcasting in color.


“As The World Turns” is spoofed on “The Carol Burnett Show” in a sketch called “As the Stomach Turns.” It becomes a regular feature on Ms. Burnett’s comedy hour.


Eileen Fulton’s autobiography, “How My World Turns,” is published.


“World” changes its musical accompaniment. Instead of organ music, prerecorded orchestral arrangements are used.


“As The World Turns” expands to 60 minutes, becoming the first hour-long daytime drama on CBS. Also, the show stops airing live episodes, instead broadcasting a tape of the actors’ real-time performance of the soap opera.


“ATWT” maintains its dominance as the top soap in the ratings, but Time magazine criticizes the show as being “bland, euphemistic and reactionary.”


CBS moves “World” to 2 p.m., a spot it still holds today.


Dr. John Dixon (Larry Bryggman) is put on trial for marital rape.


Actors Justin Deas and Margaret Colin get married, just like their on-screen alter egos, Tom and Margo Hughes.


“As The World Turns” wins its first two acting awards at the Daytime Emmys: Mr. Bryggman as outstanding actor and Mr. Deas as outstanding supporting actor.


After a 12-year courtship, Bob (Don Hastings) and Kim (Kathryn Hays) get married. Also, a new core family is added to the cast when the Snyders are introduced.


“ATWT” wins the Daytime Emmy as outstanding drama series.


Hank Eliot (Brian Starcher) comes out to Iva (Lisa Brown). He’s the first male gay character on a daytime soap.


Julianne Moore wins the Daytime Emmy for outstanding ing%E9;nue for her role as twins Frannie and Sabrina.


Stories from the early years of “ATWT” are converted into novels and published by Pioneer in a series of paperbacks.


“As The World Turns” wins its second Daytime Emmy as outstanding drama series.


Show alum Marisa Tomei (Marcy) wins an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in “My Cousin Vinny.”


Actress Patricia Bruder is let go after playing Ellen for 35 years.


“As The World Turns” broadcasts its 10,000th episode.


When “Another World” is canceled by NBC, some characters “move” from Bay City to Oakdale, including Jake McKinnon (Tom Eplin) and Cass Winthrop (Stephen Schnetzer).


“World” moves its production facilities to JC Studios in Brooklyn, N.Y., where “Another World” had been shot for years.


“ATWT” wins eight Daytime Emmys, the most for any one show in a single year. Among the honors is the show’s third award for outstanding drama series.


Oakdale cop Jack Snyder (Michael Park) is kidnapped, bound and raped by psycho stalker Julia Lindsay (Annie Parisse).


Tamara Tunie (Jessica) joins the cast of “Law & Order: SVU” while continuing her long run on “World.”


“As The World Turns” wins its fourth Daytime Emmy as outstanding drama series.


TV Guide names “ATWT” the best soap opera of the year.


Podcasts of entire “As The World Turns” episodes are made available for download on CBS.com/netcast and iTunes.com.