CBS has announced that the 54 year old soap opera 'As The World Turns' will be leaving the airwaves next September. This follows on the heels of the cancellation of 'Guiding Light' just three months ago. The show followed the trials and tribulations of the people who lived in Oakdale, Illinois, and boasted a cast list that included Martin Sheen, Meg Ryan, Marisa Tomei, and James Earl Jones. So popular in its heyday, it served as the inspiration for the soap opera spoof seen on 'The Carol Burnett Show', 'As The Stomach Turns'.
Most recently, a famous scene from the show, which became inexorably linked to American history, was seen in an episode of 'Mad Men'. (While two of the characters were having a conversation, CBS suddenly cut in with the news bulletin that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas.)
You can watch that episode of 'As The World Turns' here, which leads to the next segment containing the new bulletin interruption:
At that pivotal moment, the actress in the scene is Helen Wagner, appearing as Nancy Hughes. She holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest run as one character in television. As Nancy, she even spoke the first line back in 1956: "Good morning, dear."
'As The World Turns' also introduced the first gay male character in soaps back in 1988 with Hank Elliot. In a similar vein, the characters Luke Snyder and Noah Mayer made history when they consummated their love in an episode at the beginning of this year. (Amazingly that it took so long, but their first kiss in 2007 was also a first as well.)
'As The World Turns' did its part for Toobworld by forging links with another CBS soap opera, 'The Young And The Restless', over the last few years (perhaps in the hope of riding its coat-tails?). In 2005, attorney Michael Baldwin left Genoa City to serve as the attorney for Jack Snyder in a custody hearing over his late wife's son JJ.
There were a couple in 2007, which I seem to remember writing about here, involving Amber Moore. First she tried to trick Cane Ashby into marriage with the help of her friend Alison Stewart (who disguised herself as Cane for the service!) And then Emily Stewart left Oakdale to go to Wisconsin in hopes of getting information about her missing sister Alison. Amber professed not to know anything, but after Emily left, Amber called Alison to warn her.
Unlike others who document the connections in the TV Universe, Toobworld Central accepts the televersions of real people to be legitimate characters and thus possible crossover candidates. After more than 13,000 episodes, I have no clue how many people appeared as themselves on the show, finding one reason or another to be in Oakdale. However, I found four of them who deserved mention:
First up is the host of 'Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee'. Lee's appearance on the show brings that Food Network series into Toobworld as a TV show within a TV show, in much the same way 'Jeopardy!' and 'Wheel Of Fortune' have such a double life.
Then there's Scott Reeves, who used to play Ryan McNeil on 'The Young And The Restless'. With his band Blue Country, they also showed up not only on 'As The World Turns', but also on a rival network's soap, NBC's 'Days Of Our Lives'.
Another singer, Will Dailey, performed in Oakdale and also in Manhattan - in an episode of 'CSI: NY'. This is a major link, since that brings 'ATWT' together with the other two series in the franchise, 'CSI: Miami' and the original 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation' (which also crossed over with 'Without A Trace').
And then there's the delightful Cyndi Lauper, who may yet be as important in the League of Themselves as George Burns, Milton Berle, and Jack Benny in their day. She was in Oakdale long enough to give her encouragement to Luke and Noah and their budding relationship, but it was just long enough to connect 'ATWT' to '30 Rock', 'Gossip Girl', 'Queer As Folk', 'The Chris Isaak Show', and over in the Tooniverse, 'The Simpsons'!
So when 'As The World Turns' finally fades from view on TV screens next September, it will stand in the history books of television as a pioneer and a venerable classic. And for Toobworld, it will play a strong role in the Great Link.
If any hardcore fans of the show should ever find this post, remember this: in Toobworld, it's only gone from our TV screens. Unseen by us, the lives of those characters in Oakdale, Illinois, will go on.....