With Passions being canceled on NBC then moving in the USA to DirecTV and Allarco Entertainment in Canada, rumors still continue to fly about the future of daytime dramas. We thought that instead of focusing on what 'may' happen, we would stay positive and remind our readers that the soaps have been around for 70 years. As long as there is an audience, they should be around for 70 more!
Travel back with Soaps.com to a time when the soap operas first started. We'll discuss the first soaps that were played on the radio and their debut into television. No longer will you wonder what happened to your favorite soaps.
Let's go back to a time when women listened to their soaps on the radio. It was winter of 1937 - January, to be exact. Women listened to their 15 minute radio programs as they did their household chores. Back then men didn't watch daytime drama since they worked outside the home in order to "bring home the bacon" to their families!
In the very first article that I wrote for Soaps.com, I explained, "Originally, daytime drama could be heard across the USA, via radio. Unlike the hour long programs you and I watch today, as I made mention in that article, these radio broadcasts lasted a mere 15 minutes. Women would tune in for their daily dose of drama, romance and intrigue much like they do today. The commercials in between the shows largely focused on selling laundry detergent and cleaning solutions. This in fact was where the term 'Soap Opera' originated!
Here are the shows as we know and love them. We give Honorable mention: to those cast members who have been with the show the longest.
Guiding Light aired on the radio in 1937, and then aired on television CBS on June 30, 1952. The show boasts to being the oldest soap opera out there. They celebrated 70 years this year! The storyline focuses on residents of the town of Springfield, including the Spaulding, Cooper and the Lewis clans.
Maeve Kinkead has played motherly figure Vanessa Reardon since June 1980.
Robert Newman, who portrays Joshua Lewis, President of Lewis Oil & Construction and or resident Minister, has been with the show since October 1981.
Michael O’Leary has appeared as our favorite Dr. Fredrick “Rick” Bauer (Dr. Rick) since May 1983.
Kim Zimmer is arguably one of the most popular characters in soap history! She has gone from playing a vixen, to becoming a strong presence as Reva Shayne since November 1983. Reva takes the show!
Since May 1983, Tina Sloan originated and continues to play the role of loving Lillian Raines.
Jordan Clarke has portrayed larger than life, Harlan “Billy” Lewis off and on since May 1983.
As the World Turns aired April 2 1956 and was one of the first half hour shows! They're still going strong today!
Helen Wagner has been portraying Nancy Hughes McClosky since 1956 and has been on both full contract, and played a recurring roles as 'the voice of reason', matriarch, "Nancy".
Eileen Fulton, who portrays Lisa Miller Hughes Eldridge Shea Colman McColl Mitchell Grimaldi, has been with the show since 1960, off and on. Lisa has seen it all, and married once or twice since 1960!
Don Hastings, as Doctor Bob Hughes has been on the show for as long as Eileen Fulton -, since 1960. Although he was not the original actor, he took over and made the part his own in the fifth year of broadcast. We'd be lost without 'Doctor Bob'.
Marie Masters took over the role of Dr. Susan Stewart in 1968. Although she left the show in 1979, Marie returned in 1986 and continues to be a big presence!
Kathryn Hays, portrays Kim Sullivan Reynolds Dixon Stewart Andropoulos Hughes, has been with the show since 1972, taking a break after 1975, and returning in 1976 for the long haul! Doctor Bob is married to fair, tough, loving and kind Kim!
Denise Alexander took on the role of Dr. Lesley Weber in 1972. Though she left the show in 1984, she returned in 1996 where she remains a recurring character.
Stuart Michael Damon created the role of Alan Quartermaine in 1977. Although his character died in early 2007, his ghost can still be seen as a comical relief in Port Charles!
Jacklyn Zemanhas played Barbara Jean “Bobbie” Spencer since she originated the role in 1977, thankfully!
Leslie Charleson jumped into the role of Monica Quartermaine in 1977 where she continues to reign over the show!
Jane Elliot, who plays the hilarious Tracy Quartermaine, first came on the scene in 1978 and has fluttered in and out of the Port Charles ever since and still appears to this day. Have you seen her scenes lately, with Alan?!
Genie Francis, an all-time fan favorite, has played Laura Spencer since 1976 and returned briefly in 2006. With every appearance, she leaves the fans wanting more!
Anthony Geary came on the scene in 1978 as bad boy Luke Spencer and has made his presence known on and off to this day!
Days of Our Lives has been around for 42 years, November, 2007! It first aired November 8, 1965. Original cast member, Frances Reid is still playing the part of Alice Horton! Cross your fingers that she will be playing 'Alice' and making those donuts for many years to come. We all love Alice as if she were our own grandmother!
Frances Reid has been with the show since it first aired in 1965 and is the only original character left to this day! In mid 2007, she was given a lifetime contract to remain with the show to which she graciously accepted!
Susan Seaforth-Hayes came to the show as Julie Olson Williams in 1968 until 1984! She returned again in 1990 - 1994 and again in 1996 and when she returned in 1999, she was set to a recurring character and has been seen various times since.
Bill Hayes took on the contract role of Doug Williams back in 1970 (along with wife Susan Seaforth-Hayes, since 1994), has remained a recurring, lovable character off and on ever since 1993!
Suzanne Rogers originated the role of Maggie Horton in 1974 and much to our delight, continues to play the character as recurring!
Deidre Hall created the role of Dr. Marlena Evans Black in 1976. Though she left the show in 1987, she returned in 1991 where she has remained ever since, as a matriarch!
One Life to Live aired July 15, 1968 and is still around today, almost 40 years later!
Erika Slezak, who has played the well respected complex character Victoria Lord Davidson since 1971, is one of the original characters left!
Robert S. Woods originated the role of Bo Buchanan in 1979. Although he left briefly in 1986, he returned in 1988 and has remained a strong force within Llanview to this day!
Robin Strasser has been Llanview’s resident vixen since 1979. Although a few actresses have played the character over the years, there’s never been another Dorian like Robin!
Phil Carey has played Asa Buchanan, the family’s patriarch, since 1980 and only recently retired from the show in April 2007, to which his character was sadly put to rest.
* All My Children first debuted January 5, 1970. Although the soap started out as merely a half hour long, it moved to a one-hour time slot in April 1977, to which it continues on today!
Susan Lucci has played Erica Kane since January 10, 1970. Talented beyond belief. Pine Valley wouldn't be the same without Susan playing "Erica"!
Eileen Herlie originated the role of grandmotherly Myrtle Fargate in 1976 and continues to help those who need her help and friendship!
James Mitchell created the powerful role of Palmer Cortlandt back in 1979 to which we're happy to report, he still plays today!
Ray McDonald is only the second original actor to remain on the show today. Playing everyone’s favorite doctor, Dr. Joe Martin Sr., since 1970, Ray has brought charisma and charm to his veteran character and has seen more than his fair share of turmoil in Pine Valley throughout the years!
Michael E. Knight took over the role of 'good guy' Tad Martin in 1982. Although he made a brief exit in the late eighties, and one in 1990, he returned in 1992 and thank goodness he has remained in Pine Valley ever since!
The Young and the Restless first aired March 26, 1973 and is currently the number one rated Soap Opera in the Nielson Ratings!
Jeanne Cooper has played Katherine Chancellor from 1973. Jeanne has been through it all and then some. A grand old dame if I've ever seen one. They don't make them like this anymore, I'm afraid to say. Jeanne and her portrayal of Katherine make the show.
Beau Kayser came on the scene in 1974 as Brock Reynolds, the son of Catherine Chancellor. Known for his sudden appearances in and departures of Genoa City throughout the years, his character still remains a recurring factor with the show.
Doug Davidson originated the role of Paul Williamson in 1978 and continues to play the ever-determined private investigator!
Melody Thomas Scott took over the role of Nikki Reed back in 1979 and has since evolved her character into one of the show’s leading ladies.
Eric Braeden first came on the scene in 1980 as the wealthy business mogul Victor Newman. To this day, Eric has developed his character into a man few dare to cross!
Carolyn Conwell has played the sometimes-overbearing mother to Paul Williams, Mary Williams, since 1980. Though we don’t see her as much today, she’s still apt to show up from time to time!
The Bold and the Beautiful first debuted March 23, 1987 and recently celebrated their 20th year on the air!
Katherine Kelly Lang has played Brooke Logan since March 23rd 1987. I remember the first day B&B was on the air. The show really sets itself apart from the rest with the cast being what they are - truly bold and beautiful.
Ronn Moss (Ridge Forrester) has also been on canvas since March 23rd 1987. Ridge is the Prince of Los Angeles. Dashing and debonair, Ronn lights up the screen.
Susan Flannery has portrayed Stephanie Forrester since March 23rd 1987. Love her or hate her character, the actress is divine.
John McCook (Eric Forrester) has been on the show since day one, March 23rd 1987 playing the patriarch of the show! We feel he could use a great storyline of his own!
Dan McVicar has played the comical Clarke Garrison on and off since 1987 and still remains on the scene today.
Darlene Conley played unforgettable Sally Spectra Garrison since December 1988, since her untimely death January 14 2007. Rest in peace, Darlene.
Passions first aired July 5, 1999, however the show was slated for cancellation from NBC September 7 2007 until DirecTV came along to save the day for the fans! DirecTV will take over the daytime drama and September 17 2007.
Some may joke that half of the cast is mentioned but since the show debuted July 5, 1999, it hasn't lost many of its original cast.
Brook Kerr has played Whitney Russell since the very first day of airing, July 5 1999. She recently left, but gets a heads up, for portraying friendly and sweet Whitney since 1999.
Lindsay Korman - Hartley has portrayed lovelorn, Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald since July 5 1999.
Galen Gering has played striking Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald, the man to fight over, since July 5 1999. The question of the day… Who should he be with, Fancy or Sheridan?!
McKenzie Westmore has been portraying naughty Sheridan Crane Boothe since July 5 1999. We just love when she gets up to no good!
Tracey Ross has been portraying the resident and devoted Dr. Eve Russell since July 5 1999.
James Hyde plays Police Chief, Sam Bennett and has done so since July 5 1999.
Eva Tamargo has played the matriarch of the Lopez-Fitzgerald family, Pilar Lopez-Fitzgerald since July 5 1999.
Juliet Mills has played Harmony's +300 year old witch, Tabitha Lenox since July 6 1999, which was the day after the show's debut!
Kim Johnston Ulrich has been playing the scheming and spoiled daughter of a governor, Ivy Winthrop Crane since July 8 1999!
Ben Masters originated the role of rich, powerful and arrogant Julian Crane on July 8, 1999.
General Hospital: Night Shift aired for thirteen weeks beginning on July 12, 2007 during SoapNet’s primetime lineup! Aside from Port Charles, this is the second spinoff from the popular mother soap General Hospital!
Actors who made the crossover to primetime from GH to Night Shift include:
Kimberly McCullough has played the longtime GH character of strong-willed Robin Scorpio off and on from 1985 to this day!
Steve Burton who’s portrayed the very popular Jason Morgan on and off from 1990 to present! The girls go crazy over this guy!
Kirsten Storms has appeared as GH’s wicked Maxie Jones since May 2005! We love to hate Maxie!! She's so much fun!
Jason Thomson has played GH’s sexy Dr. Patrick Drake since 2005! They made the right move when they hired this actor, to be Rick Springfield's (Dr.Noah Drake) son. Two hot doctors!
Bradford Anderson who’s played GH’s goofy and sweet, Damien Spinelli since 2006.
Sonya Eddy who’s appeared as GH’s lovable Epiphany Johnson since 2006.
Kiko Ellsworth who briefly played GH’s Stan Johnson in 2007, but also appeared in the last GH spin-off, Port Charles, as Jamal Woods from 2000 to 2003!
Kent King is another Port Charles castmate who made the jump from GH to Night Shift as Dr. Lainey Winters.
Minae Noji who’s portrayed GH’s sex addict, Dr. Kelly Lee since 2006.
Airing on October 2, 1946, Faraway Hill, was the first soap opera broadcasted on television, which was also shot live! However, after a short run, the soap was cancelled without reason on December 1946.
Flora Campbell (played Karen St. John)
Mel Brandt (unknown character)
Julie Christy (unknown character)
A Woman to Remember aired on February 21, 1949 and was also featured on the radio. Although we can’t be sure why it was abruptly canceled on July 15, 1949, we can only assume since TV’s weren’t a popular item in the common household that the radio version of the show was much popular!
Patricia Wheel (played Christine Baker)
Joan Catlin (played Carol Winstead)
John Raby (played Steve Hammond)
Ruth McDevitt (played Bessie Thatcher)
Frankie Thomas (played Charley Anderson)
Airing back on September 3, 1951, Search for Tomorrow started off as a fifteen minute serial. After going through numerous timeslot changes to benefit new up and coming soaps, Search for Tomorrow's rating plummeted, causing the show’s cancellation on December 26, 1986.
Mary Stuart (played Joanne)
Larry Haines (played Stu Bergman)
Melba Rae (played Marge Bergman)
Ellen Spencer (played Janet)
John Sylvester (played Keith Barron)
Although The Doctors began as a very popular soap on April 1, 1963, due to a continual drop in their ratings throughout the years, the show came to a halt on December 31, 1982.
James Pritchett (played Dr. Matt Powers)
Lydia Bruce (played Dr. Maggie Powers)
David O'Brien (played Dr. Steve Aldrich)
Jada Rowland (played Carolee Simpson Allison Aldrich)
Elizabeth Hubbard (played Dr. Althea Davis) (Elizabeth Hubbard can now be seen on As the World Turns as Lucinda Walsh!)
Another World came on the soap scene on May 4, 1964 but was canceled on June 25, 1999 after a high-rated NBC affiliate removed the show from its lineup. The shake up resulted in the removal of the show from over two million homes!
Robin Strasser (played Rachel Davis) later played by Victoria Wyndham. Robin
nows plays Dorian Lord on One Life to Live.
Tom Eplin (played Jake McKinnon)
Charles Keating (played Carl Hutchins)
Douglass Watson (played Mackenzie Cory)
Anna Kathryn Holbrook (played Sharlene Frame)
Luke Perry (played Kenny)
Peyton's Place became America’s first nighttime soap on September 15, 1964 then later was reprised as a daytime drama titled Return to Peyton’s Place. However, after the switch from nighttime to daytime, the show's success went downhill leading to its cancellation in 1969.
Ed Nelson (played Dr. Michael Rossi)
Warner Anderson (played Matthew Swain)
Mia Farrow (played Allison MacKenzie)
Christopher Connelly (played Norman Harrington)
Leigh Taylor-Young (played Rachel Welles) (Leigh may also be recognized from her recent three year run on Passions as Katherine Barrett Crane.