Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Light Goes Out

Guiding Light, the longest-running soap opera in the history of television and radio, will air its final broadcast on Sept. 18. The serial began in 1937 as a 15-minute radio program, with its creater, Irna Phillips, basing the show on the struggles of her own life. It was called The Guiding Light and was heavily steeped in religion and theological teachings.

In 1952, Guiding Light began airing as a 15-minute television show on CBS, while concurrently running as a radio show. The radio show ceased production in 1956. On Sept. 11, 1967, the show was first broadcast in color, and in 1968, the show was expanded to a half-hour.

In 1975, the The was dropped from the show's title, and in 1977, the show expanded to an hour format.

The show itself played out like a soap opera, with many highs and lows, in accolades and in ratings. In the mid-1960s, the Bauers emerged as the core family of the show, and they still have representation in its modern-day run. Other prominent families are the Lewises, the Shaynes, the Spauldings and the Coopers.

Despite winning Daytime Emmys for Best Show and Best Writing in 2007, the ratings continued to sag, and it was announced this summer that the show would cease production. Procter and Gamble unsuccessfully tried to find an alternate home for the show, thereby announcing the final airdate of the perennial Grand Dame of Soaps to be Sept. 18.

60 Minutes is set to air their Guiding Light tribute on Sunday, Sept. 13. Check local listings for show times.

On a side note, fans can enter the Guiding Light Sweepstakes. Each week fans can answer a question for a chance to win a piece of Guiding Light’s history. New prizes will be featured weekly. Click here for more information:

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