Veteran soap actress Helen Wagner passed away on Saturday May 1 at the age of 91. She had played the role of Nancy Hughes for 54 years. Wagner was with the show since its first episode in 1956 and even received a Guinness World Record title for playing the same role on a television show for the longest period of time. Over the past few years, her character has been seldom featured onscreen. She had two appearances in 2008, a memorable Thanksgiving appearance in 2009 and re-appeared for Bob and Kim's anniversary this April.
Before joining the cast of As The World Turns, Wagner played Trudy Bauer on fellow Procter & Gamble soap, Guiding Light. She left the role of Nancy Hughes several times over the years. Irna Phillips let her go in 1956 but was forced to hire her back. The actress left the series for several years in the 80s after a disagreement with the producers over the direction the show was taking.
Wagner was a native of Lubbuck, Texas. She was born on September 3, 1918 and studied at Monmouth College in Illinois, earning degrees in dramatics and music. She spent several years on Broadway, appearing in Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!," "The Bad Seed," "My Name Is Acquilon" and "Love of Four Colonels." She also toured as Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire" with Lee Marvin.
Executive Producer, Christopher Goutman, said, "All of us at As The World Turns are deeply saddened by Helen's passing."
Helen Wagner was married to Broadway producer Robert Willey from 1954 until his death in May, 2009.
Soaps.com sends our condolences to her family and friends. Her unique contribution to the history of Daytime television is not likely to ever be matched. You can view another video of Helen in Happy Anniversary As The World Turns.