A Whopping 61 (!) Years After She First Rocked As the World Turns, We Pay Homage to the Daytime Diva Who Elevated ‘Bitchy’ to an Art Form
Danny Sanchez/CBS/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, Courtesy of the Everett Collection
Something wicked our way came on May 18, 1960 — or, rather, someone wicked!
Four years into As the World Turns’ legendary run on CBS… well, let’s not put too fine a point on it. The [bleep] got real. A hungry newcomer by the name of Eileen Fulton was hired to play the short-term role of Dr. Nice Guy Bob Hughes’ vixenish fiancée, Lisa Miller.
She was such a hit that that short-term role lasted for 50 years, until the soap was cancelled in 2010 — largely due to her portrayer’s own chutzpah.
At first, the daytime icon admitted in a 2018 Television Academy Foundation interview (which you can watch below), she didn’t have any input into the character “except my attitude when I played it,” she said. But she was as feisty as Lisa, and if a line read like it could be uttered by someone else? Forget it. “I had many fights about it.”
Eventually, Fulton realized that the best way to get her own way wasn’t to complain but to come in with a suggestion of how to spin a bit of dialogue differently. “And they began to trust me,” she said, “as the years went on.”
How could they not? The actress’ instincts were so spot on that no less than Time magazine declared her Oakdale alter ego “the most hated woman on TV.” In particular, Lisa infuriated the audience by — gasp! — hiring a maid!
Five years after Fulton’s debut on As the World Turns, she was such a phenom that Lisa was spun off into her own primetime series, Our Private World. Even All My Children’s Erica Kane never got such a distinction!
Alas, later in the scene stealer’s run, the minx was relegated to the back burner. By the time the show was remanded to the daytime graveyard, the polarizing pot-stirrer was little more than a day player. It was as if the powers that be didn’t get her or the soap. “It’s not only that they didn’t get it,” Fulton told We Love Soaps in 2011, “but also that they didn’t like it, I can tell you that.”
But on this momentous occasion, rather than reflect on the unfortunate way that As the World Turns and Lisa went out, let’s instead remember their glory days via the below photo gallery, a collection of stunning images from the show’s entire run.