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 soap-manufacturing giant typically balked at 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.
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. She returned as a regular contract player in 1985 after Douglas Marland became headwriter.
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:1962The character Mitchell Dru (Geoffrey Lumb) was brought to Oakdale after the cancellation of the Procter and Gamble soap The Brighter Day. The same character (and actor) was then transferred to a new P&G soap, Another World, shortly after its premiere in 1964. Another World was originally conceived by Irna Phillips to be a spin-off series of As the World Turns. Like several other characters from Another World, Mitchell Dru "crossed over" for one or more performances on the first Another World spin-off, Somerset, which premiered in March 1970.1965The character Lisa Miller Hughes (Eileen Fulton) was used as the basis to create a primetime spinoff soap Our Private World, (CBS's attempt to duplicate the success of rival network ABC's Peyton Place), with Lisa leaving Oakdale and moving to Chicago, where she married wealthy John Eldridge, but had an affair with his brother Thomas. Though Our Private World only lasted a few months, and Fulton returned to As the World Turns in early 1966, after taking a few months off, remnants of Lisa's time on Our Private World were resurrected 26 years later, when it was revealed in 1992 that Lisa had had a son off-camera, hitherto unknown to viewers, before returning to As the World Turns in 1966. Her son Scott Eldridge tracked her down as an adult, and remained on As the World Turns for several years.1999–2003Shortly after Another World was cancelled in June 1999, the characters of Cass and Lila Winthrop (Stephen Schnetzer and Lisa Peluso), and Jake and Victoria McKinnon (Tom Eplin and Jensen Buchanan) crossed over to As the World Turns briefly. Jake and Vicky intended to move to Oakdale, but Vicky was soon killed off in September 1999, then appeared as a ghost to Jake and Molly from November 2000 to February 2001. Cass only appeared on a recurring basis through 2003 (usually whenever anyone in Oakdale needed an attorney, other than resident lawyer Tom Hughes), and Jake (Tom Eplin) remained as a regular on the series until his character was killed off in 2002. Cindy Brooke Harrison (Kim Rhodes) also had minor appearances in 2000 and 2001. Vicky's mother and twin sister, Donna (Anna Stuart) and Marley (Ellen Wheeler, who at the time also directed episodes of As the World Turns), made recurring appearances from 2000 to 2002, and left the show when they gained custody of Jake and Vicky's twin daughters after Jake's death. There were also plans to have a now-teenage Steven Frame (Vicky's son with Jamie Frame) come to Oakdale and live with Jake, but the character was reconceived as teenage Bryant Montgomery, the son of As the World Turns couple Craig and Sierra.
Since 2005, a number of characters have crossed back and forth between As the World Turns and The Young and the Restless:2005As the World Turns: At the request of Oakdale, Illinois, District Attorney Jessica Griffin, Michael Baldwin (Christian LeBlanc) traveled there to serve as the attorney for Jack Snyder (Michael Park) in a custody hearing involving his late wife Julia Larabee's son, JJ. (April 4 – 05, 2005).
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.2007The Young and the Restless: Amber Moore (Adrienne Frantz) called on her friend Alison Stewart (Marnie Schulenburg) to help trick Cane Ashby (Daniel Goddard) into marriage. After Amber drugged Cane, Alison dressed-up as him for the wedding service. (February 22, 2007)The Young and the Restless: Emily Stewart (Kelley Menighan Hensley) traveled from Oakdale, Illinois to Genoa City, Wisconsin, in search of information on her sister, Alison Stewart (Marnie Schulenburg). Emily met with Amber Moore (Adrienne Frantz) at Crimson Lights Coffeehouse, but Amber denied knowing Alison's whereabouts. After Emily was gone, Amber placed a call to Alison as a heads-up.
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 came up on the screen and Walter Cronkite gave the first report of the assassination.
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.
As NBC and ABC, the other two major U.S. TV networks, were not programming at the time (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 their 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 both of CBS' 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 seven 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 newscasts), but eventually decided to expand As the World Turns, its front-runner in the ratings battle, to a full-hour length. CBS set a target of September 1975 to complete the expansion and needed to free up 30 minutes' worth of space on its schedule to do so. Game show The Price Is Right was relocated to 10:30 am and aired a week's worth of 60-minute shows in September as a test for a potential permanent expansion. While The Price is Right's expansion was intended as temporary to start, the expansion of As the World Turns was to be permanent. As such, the network was required to cancel one of the other programs on its schedule.
CBS turned its eye to The Edge of Night, which at the time was the network's lowest-rated program. The former hit had been moved, at Procter and Gamble's insistence, from its 3:30 pm timeslot to the 2:30 pm slot following The Guiding Light in 1972. As a result, The Edge of Night lost a large portion of its audience. In addition to those factors working against it, the rest of CBS' drama lineup was performing well in the ratings and the network could not move the long-running serial to another time slot without risking pre-emption from local affiliates, which would have driven ratings even lower. An agreement was struck between CBS, Procter and 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, and Procter and Gamble moved the serial to ABC and aired it there.
However, a problem arose that would have caused a major issue had CBS elected to go ahead with a September expansion of As the World Turns. The network's contract with Procter and Gamble was not due to expire until December 1975. This meant that no new episodes of The Edge of Night would air for three months, and ABC wanted to keep the series' continuity intact. CBS decided to hold off on the expansion and continue airing The Edge of Night until ABC could find a space for the serial. In November 1975, ABC announced the cancellation of the game show You Don't Say!, which had been airing in the network's 4:00 pm timeslot. The final episode was scheduled to air on November 28, 1975, after which The Edge of Night would be free to leave CBS and As the World Turns would be free to expand to 60 minutes.
The first hour-long episode of As the World Turns aired on December 1, 1975. The first half of the show continued to perform well against Let's Make a Deal on ABC, which the network moved to the noon 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 pm at the end of 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 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 began for As the World Turns (and 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 the bottom of the hour). Further, All My Children's emphasis on youth-oriented, sexier story lines 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 PM 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 soap opera Love of Life. The Young and the Restless moved from noon/11:00 am to 1:00 pm/noon (the former affiliate break timeslot) and As the World Turns was bumped up to 2:00 /1:00 pm and Guiding Light to 3:00/2:00 pm. On June 8, 1981, As the World Turns returned to its longtime 1:30/12:30 pm start time with Search for Tomorrow following at 2:30/1:30 pm and The Young and the Restless leading off the serial lineup at either noon/11:00 am or 12:30 pm/11:30 am (depending on affiliate preference).
As the World Turns remained at 1:30/12:30 pm 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 pm, and finally settled As the World Turns at 2:00/1:00 pm, 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 Another World in 1999.
In December 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, which 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. Bob said the final two lines "Good Night" and left the Oakdale Memorial Hospital for the last time, and the globe started spinning before the final fade-out.
ATWT Ratings: 1956–2010
One example of the drastic change in daytime television can be found in the following:Daytime history: Highest rated week (November 16–20, 1981)(Household ratings- Nielsen Media Research)
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.Years as #1 series
Record Low: 1,773,000 viewers on December 25, 2009. (Nielsen Media Research)
CBS:April 2, 1956 – November 28, 1975: 1:30–2:00 PM (12:30–1:00 PM, CT/PT)December 1, 1975 – February 1, 1980: 1:30–2:30 PM (12:30–1:30 PM, CT/PT)February 4, 1980 – June 5, 1981: 2:00–3:00 PM (1:00–2:00 PM, CT/PT)June 8, 1981 – March 20, 1987: 1:30–2:30 PM (12:30–1:30 PM, CT/PT)March 23, 1987 – September 17, 2010: 2:00–3:00 PM (1:00–2:00 PM, CT/PT)Writing Team: Jean Passanante, Lloyd Gold, Leah Laiman, Cheryl Davis, Susan Dansby, David A. Levinson, Gordon Rayfield, Dan Mooney, Gigi Swift, Janet Iacobuzio, Josh GriffithProducing Team: Christopher Goutman, Carole Shure, Jennifer Schacor, Vivian Gundaker, Sarah Shaker, Sonia BlangiardoDirecting Team: Michael Eilbaum, John O'Connell, Jennifer Pepperman, Matthew Griffin Maria Wagner, Habib Azar, Sonia Blangiardo, Ian Toporoff, Christopher Goutman, Michael Kerner, Carol Sedwick, Janet Andrews, James Kowal, Brian Lydell, Jennifer Blood, Nancy Barron, Alexandra Roalsvig, Brett HellmanCasting Director: Mary Clay Boland
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 4 years behind the original US 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 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 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.2007 "Best Daytime Serial" Written by Jean Passanante, Leah Laiman, Christopher Whitesell, Courtney Simon, Anna Cascio, Lisa Connor, Paula Cwikly, Hogan Sheffer, Judy Tate, Bettina Bradbury, Richard Culliton, Susan Dansby, Judith Donato, Josh Griffith, Elizabeth Page, Melissa Salmons, Charlotte Gibson; CBS Daytime
As the World Turns has won 43 Daytime Emmys:1987 "Outstanding Drama Series"1991 "Outstanding Drama Series"1993 "Outstanding Directing Team"1999 "Outstanding Original Song" (Tied with General Hospital)2001 "Outstanding Drama Series"2001 "Outstanding Writing Team"2002 "Outstanding Writing Team"2003 "Outstanding Drama Series"2004 "Outstanding Writing Team"2005 "Outstanding Achievement in Casting for a Drama Series"2005 "Outstanding Writing Team"2007 "Outstanding Directing Team"1984 "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series" Justin Deas (Tom Hughes)1984 "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" Larry Bryggman (Dr. John Dixon)1985 "Outstanding Juvenile Male in a Drama Series" Brian Bloom (Dusty Donovan)1986 "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series" John Wesley Shipp (Doug Cummings)1987 "Outstanding Ingenue in a Drama Series" Martha Byrne (Lily Walsh)1987 "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series" Gregg Marx (Tom Hughes)1987 "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" Larry Bryggman (Dr. John Dixon)1988 "Outstanding Ingenue in a Drama Series" Julianne Moore (Frannie Hughes/Sabrina Hughes)1990 "Outstanding Juvenile Male in a Drama Series" Andrew Kavovit (Paul Ryan)2001 "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series" Lesli Kay (Molly Conlan)2001 "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series" Martha Byrne (Lily Walsh Snyder/Rose D'Angelo)2003 "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series" Benjamin Hendrickson (Hal Munson)2004 "Lifetime Achievement Award" Eileen Fulton (Lisa Grimaldi)2004 "Lifetime Achievement Award" Don Hastings (Bob Hughes)2004 "Lifetime Achievement Award" Helen Wagner (Nancy Hughes)2004 "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series" Cady McClain (Rosanna Cabot)2006 "Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series" Jennifer Landon (Gwen Norbeck Munson)2007 "Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series" Jennifer Landon (Gwen Norbeck Munson)2007 "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series" Maura West (Carly Tenney Snyder)2008 "Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series" Jennifer Landon (Gwen Norbeck Munson)2010 "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series" Julie Pinson (Janet Ciccone Snyder)2010 "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series" Maura West (Carly Tenney Snyder)2010 "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" Michael Park (Jack Snyder)2011 "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" Michael Park (Jack Snyder)
In 2010, As the World Turns was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for "Outstanding Daily Drama" during the 21st GLAAD Media Awards.In 1988, the serial made American daytime television history by introducing its first gay male character, Hank Elliot (played by Brian Starcher).In 2007, Luke Snyder and Noah Mayer (played by Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann respectively) shared the first gay male kiss on American daytime television. When they formed a relationship they became the first gay male couple on daytime television, and consummated their relationship on January 12, 2009, giving As the World Turns another American daytime first.Jeff Baker and Penny HughesBob Hughes and Kim SullivanTom Hughes and Margo MontgomerySteve Andropoulos and Betsy StewartHolden Snyder and Lily WalshJack Snyder and Carly TenneyLuke Snyder and Noah MayerWill Munson and Gwen Norbeck
On the TV series Tom & Jerry Kids, while Tom watches Nine Lives to Live, Jerry changes it to As the Cheese Turns.
In the 1960s - 70s The Carol Burnett Show featured a recurring sketch called "As the Stomach Turns", a parody of As the World Turns and soap operas in general.
In the pulp series The Destroyer #22 "Brain Drain" by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir, it was revealed that Chiun is a big fan of the soap opera As the Planet Revolves and constantly glued in front of the television to catch the broadcast.
Children's television network Nickelodeon once featured a series of shorts entitled As Our school bus Turns, with the (actually unconnected) episodes taking place aboard a school bus. Each episode would end with a stereotypical soap opera cliffhanger.
In October 2011, SoapClassics has released a 4 DVD collection of 20 selected episodes, marking the first time that any As the World Turns episodes have been available on any recorded medium. The oldest episode on the collection dates from September 29, 1979, while the latest episode is 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 has also been released, celebrating supercouple Carly and Jack in 10 of their most memorable episodes.
The Holden and Lily Story collection has 10 of their most memorable episodes.
Farewell to Oakdale has the final 10 episodes of the series.
The James Stenbeck Story collection has 10 of his most memorable episodes
The "As the World Turns - The Wedding of Bob and Kim" DVD collection contains 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 is only available online.