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    Guiding Light - NEWS ROOM

    In our 'Guiding Light' News Room, Soaps.com keeps you up-to-date with the latest Soap Opera news on the net. We also feature interviews with the soap stars, as well as local appearances by the actors and actresses.

    Guiding Light: From The Beginning.

    Thursday, September 10 2009


    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.


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    USER COMMENTS

    Posted by SndrElkins at Thursday, September 10 2009 10:51 AM

    Thanks Matt~ You have done a wonderful job writing for GL.

    Posted by merrymary at Thursday, September 10 2009 01:36 PM

    Oh, how I remember those radio days. I can remember listening to the radio, while my mother was doing her ironing. She never missed a day of his show. I followed in her footsteps, and have been a fan for 60 short years. Thank you ,Matt for giving us a chance to remember our early years.

    Posted by sassy4 at Thursday, September 10 2009 01:51 PM

    Thanks for the tribute!! Her wonderful insights and insperation is what caused me to watch only CBS soaps for 45 years as did my mother and do most of my children. No other channel had the same quality even though people from time to time erged me to watch there soap I would watch with them and know that I would never want to waist the time to watch becouse they always lacked somthing. I like to think that had the show been going to continue the Nat/Olivia story would have taken a much different turn. But if it wouldn't than perhaps it is best the show be over rather than turn it clear away from what I am sure would have had to disgrass Irna.

    Posted by TitansFanGran at Thursday, September 10 2009 02:14 PM

    I think Ms. Phillips would be so sad and disappointed if she saw what her soap had become. I've watched since the '60's and the writing and storylines have just gone downhill. When they got rid of the "core" families and started adding all the new folks, it really started to unravel.

    Posted by charboov at Wednesday, September 16 2009 03:48 PM

    I think GL went down when they changed the way it was filmed. Also when Tammy died, then Gus died, and Harley went off the deep end. It was just weird. I hate the Olivia/Natalia storyline!
    I am sad GL is going off the air. I've been watching it off and on for about 35 years. I kept hoping another network would pick it up, but I guess it's not meant to be.

    Posted by cnbpjb at Thursday, September 17 2009 08:16 AM

    I'm not so sure "The Guiding Light" ended necessarily back in the 1960's. I would say there were four (4) times in recent memory where "Guiding Light" started taking a turn for the worse, with the final one of these being where the root of the problem as to why the show is being cancelled and ending NOW (on September 18, 2009), happened. The first one of these times was in 1983 - 84 as the successive writing regimes after Doug Marland started to slowly (but actually progessively) started getting rid of the Bauers and yes, I know that it couldn't be helped with the death of Charita as Bert, but why they got rid of Hope, Mike & Hillary one after each other was just horrible and unforgivable at the time). But the show somehow was able to garner okay, if not outstanding ratings after that, despite the unfortunate getting rid of not only the Bauers, but also the Reardons and when Roger Thorpe came back in 1989 the ratings improved a lot. Then the second one of these times was definitely when the writing regime that was in place in January 1993 killed off the major tentpole character of Maureen Reardon Bauer. As Doug Marland liked to write, one of the worse things a soap can do is kill off a major tentpole character such as Maureen (created by Marland, btw). The show though did have at least one and half more years after that of fairly good storyline, until in the summer of 1994 the show started hemoraging in terms of storyline that became either somewhat boring or outlandish (especially when first Megan McTavish took over the head writing post & then Paul Rauch took over as Executive Producer). But even in the 1994 - 97 period that I'm writing about in the above sentence, at least there was some good acting, and some above average storylines, especially with near the end of Brent/Marian storyline (Frank Beaty was an exceptional actor) and with Cynthia Watros' Annie Dutton. But those storylines always being above average was very uneven, at best, and again some of what even was good was often times over the top outlandish (angel Zachary anyone?, Roger in the loony bin anyone?, Vanessa faking her death anyone?). (And don't get me even started on the way they treated actor Michael Zaslow -- the aforementioned Roger Thorpe -- in the last couple of months of his life). That led to the third awful time where this show went into a tailspin curtesy of Rauch's producing & the head writing of Esenton & Brown with the 'never before done' storyline of clone Reva. And don't get me wrong, Kim Zimmer, has always been an exceptional actress, but having two Reva's was just a little too much (I underestimate) for this show -- where it became "the clone that ate the rest of the show". I know, I'm going to get flamed, but after the clone storyline the show was forevermore a very uneven show with the amount of realistic storylines (that had for the most part been the hallmark of this show, previously) being outweighed by storylines that were over-the-top outlandish). I'm sure people know what I'm writing about in regards to outlandish storylines after the clone, with Holly as stalker/kidnapper, Teri/Annie face switch, the mob invasion, island Princess Reva, the frozen boink to create James to save Lizzie of Philip & Beth, San Cristomess, going through painting for time travel. (I barely watched the show after the clone storyline into the summer of 2002, and I was just as happy I didn't). In the fall of 2002 I did come back to watch the show, and then headwriter, Millie Taggert was doing an okay job, and I saw hints of "Guiding Light" used to be when I was a devoted fan back in the 1976 - 1982 era and then again during the 1988 - 1997 era. But unfortunately in January 1993, Taggert was let go and the new writing and producing regime (I won't name names) but in the press they were saying that they wanted to turn "Guiding Light" into another "The Edge Of Night". And don't get me wrong, I was a big fan of "The Edge ..." when I was younger (a matter of fact it and "Dark Shadows" are what led me to start watching any soap), but EXCUSE ME, "Guiding Light" is NOT to suppose to be "The Edge Of Night"! I think the final nail in the coffin for "Guiding Light" actually came in July 2003 when they wrote the suicidal death of the character of Ben Reade (don't get me wrong, Matthew Bomer, who portrayed the adult version of the character of Ben Reade, is an exceptional actor, but this was inexcusable of the then writing regime to kill off a character in such an inexcusable manner, when it seemed to be totally out of left field for the character to do have done that -- there was no hint until a few weeks before the suicide that Ben Reade would be like that). (Just an aside, glad Bomer's career post "Guiding Light" has been better, for the most part, than what happened to the character of Ben Reade). So, this is where I think "Guiding Light's" ending started, in July 2003 with the unexplained and inexcusable suicide of Ben Reade (not to mention the P&G product placements throughout that scene -- remember the prominent Pringles can in that scene?) I do think in the last year and a half the show was getting back to telling some good or decent storylines and still had the exceptional acting that has it nearly as always had, but I think with the fact that the show having five whole years between 2003 and 2008 of uneven storytelling, it was just a little too late for the show not to have been cancelled (which is unfortunate for the current writing regime and the actors and actresses, as well as devoted fans who did stick it out in thick and thin times for the show; and even for longer term fans -- like myself, who turned out but might have turned back in to find things improving a little but had to contend with the above mentioned baggage of the show's history since 1983).

    I know I sound naysaying about the show, and that it's like I want "Guiding Light" to end. But neither is the case, I think the "Guiding Light" I saw during the last year and a half if the ratings weren't already in the toilet due to the damage inflicted on the show since 2003, and even since 1983, 1993 and 1998 could have had at least a good 3 more years left in it so it could have reached an important milestone of 75 years in broadcasting. And one of the important, in my humble opinion, reasons to miss this show (even in good and bad times, as I'm relating here) is the fact that this show was one of the few shows that presented families (and in not always conventional ways of thinking about a family, and I'm not relating the Natalie/Olivia pairing in this concept) as being a source of strength (isn't that what Presidents and politicians as diverse as George W. Bush & Barack Obama have said is a source or should be a source of strength in our country and world?) And although I'm from a large family, it was nice to see on this show or anywhere on television when families were shown as a source of strength (even if there were problems within those families).

    Posted by wilkerson02 at Thursday, September 17 2009 11:56 AM

    When GL started showing gay Olivia/Natalia I was ready to see this show go off the air. Now A The World Turns has Luke with his gay guy. I hope that they take it off to. I hate B&B because there are not enough people on it.I hate Brad went on that show. I really liked him. Now that GL is going off, it's possible that B & B will go to a full 1 hour. Maybe they will get some of the people who left the other shows.
    Does anyone know if Coleen is going off Y&R?

    Posted by patena at Thursday, September 17 2009 03:41 PM

    Guiding Light continues to be my favorite soap of any network. Honestly, I believe the rating are low because it targets a mature audience, who do not voice their opinions electronically. I like to thanks the cast and writers for good pure entertainment for many years. I personally hate the Olivia and Nat. storyline based on my beliefs, but I guest there are some who enjoy that lifestyle. At least, GL is keeping it respectful for people like me.
    I record the show everyday, but I have had an emotional two weeks, as I watch the show because I don't want it to end. It's has been great to see the quality of work the cast has given, and continue to bring chemistry among themselves. As the light goes out, it was been wonderful. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, & THANK YOU again for being my number one soap. My last request again, please let Reva and Josh blow the light out together. Good luck to all of you, and wishing you much success.

    Posted by keepthelighton at Wednesday, September 23 2009 09:25 PM

    Guiding light i hated to see it go off air.. it was the only soap i would watch and not miss.. ive only been watching it for about 15 years.. and i know alot of the older fans gave up on it or got upset with the show when they started the changes.. but thats what life is changes they had to keep up with 2days time.. i love the Olivia and Natalia storyline i know it prob helped alot of people out there see love is love and happiness and thats what matters.. and the rest of the show Reva n Josh all of them..its life.. It was the best and in my eyes will always be the best..

    Posted by ttag at Sunday, September 27 2009 01:17 PM

    I am so sad this show is over I grew up watching this show and of course with life I havent watched any soap in Years. But now I am 50 and started watching GL and I know it would of had better ratings if it were at a better time! Not when kids get home from school everyone knows today they take over tv. I love this show!!

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