Guiding Light: From The Beginning image

Irna Phillips (PGP)

In light of the end drawing near, here's a little glance back at the beginning. Guiding Light first aired on radio on January 25, 1937 and ran until June 29, 1956. It made the leap to TV in 1952. The kernel of the series came to writer Irna Phillips from her own experiences growing up in Illinois. After giving birth to a stillborn child, she found solace in the radio broadcasts of church services and sought to create a new kind of space for drama and spirituality on the air. In creating the series, she created an entire genre and went on to start many of its other most successful shows.

The early years of "The Guiding Light" concentrated on Reverend Dr. John Ruthledge as he lent support to his flock and offered counsel to the townspeople, like the often troubled Holden family. The series examined moral dilemmas and social issues in a fast paced way and wasn't shy about integrating commercials into the flow. As the years went on, some other families came to town, notably the Bauers, who managed to channel much of Phillip's own experiences as the child of an immigrant family into the show. The show didn't take place in Springfield, but in Five Points before moving to Selby Flats in California. It featured shocking stories of children born out of wedlock, the return of long absent relatives, secret affairs and pseudo-incestuous relationships.

Here is a complete episode of the radio series from June of 1941.