Guiding Light won numerous Daytime Emmy Awards and many other accolades on television and radio during its historic seventy-two-year run on television and radio. It remains one of the most beloved soap operas in history.
What was initially called The Guiding Light began as a 15-minute NBC live radio show in 1937 before switching to CBS radio in 1947 and continuing through 1956. Its popularity and television’s growth caused the steamer to be telecast live, starting in 1952, and it became a ratings leader in the later part of that decade.
While specific GL episodes can be found on various internet sites, making as many episodes as possible available on a streaming service would allow modern audiences to enjoy what past generations revered. Depending upon rights agreements, Paramount+, the online home of CBS, is a plausible platform option. Here’s why the soap should be streaming!
The Queen of Soaps, Irna Phillips
Irna Phillips is the first reason to revisit this grand soap opera. She’s considered the ‘Queen of Soaps,’ who invented the musical link between scenes and the use of cliffhangers to end episodes. Phillips, who created GL along with Emmons Carlson, was also the head writer.
Another radio drama, Painted Dreams, was Phillips first so-called soap opera. That serialized drama debuted in 1930 and was sponsored by soap and detergent companies.
Phillips was inspired by a famous radio preacher who was used as the basis for one of The Guiding Light‘s main characters, Reverend John Ruthledge (Arthur Peterson). The show’s title referenced the lamp in Ruthledge’s study in the fictional village of Five Points.
Current soap stars who were on Guiding Light
The second reason to revisit this iconic soap is the variety of actors who are, or recently were, members of current soap opera casts and once played on Guiding Light.
Cynthia Watros who played Annie Dutton on the soap and Laura Wright who played Cassie Layne are both on General Hospital now as Nina and Carly Corinthos.
Lawrence Saint-Victor, known as Remy Boudreau in Springfrield, is Carter Walton on The Bold and the Beautiful. Vincent Irizarry–Lujack Luvonaczek and his twin brother, Nick McHenry in GL–made an appearance on Bold as Dr. Jordan Armstrong in 2022.
Robert Newman took a trip to Genoa City to play Ashland Locke for a stint on The Young and the Restless. The character was the antithesis of Josh Lewis.
Complex characters and engaging storylines defined the soap
Lastly, the soap opera should be revisited because of its many great storylines that the program’s beloved characters were part of.
As the show transitioned to television, the Bauer family became the central focus, with production moving to New York and the setting shifting in the ’60s to Springfield, which was said to be in the Midwest. Frederich Bauer (Theo Goetz), also known as Papa Bauer, led this lower-middle-class family. The death of his wife caused him to move with his son, Bill.
Bill’s wife was Bert Bauer Miller, played by Charita Bauer, who was on the show from 1952 through her death in 1985. One significant storyline involved Bert being diagnosed with uterine cancer by the early ’60s.
The Norris family was developed during the ’60s when more serious social topics and storylines were presented to a changing audience. The family’s most prominent member was Holly Norris (first played by Lynn Deerfield and then by Maureen Garrett, starting in 1976 through 2009). Garrett appeared in 1,210 episodes, which ranks third all-time.
Holly’s controversial relationship with Roger Thorpe (Michael Zaslow, who was part of the cast from 1970 through 1997) became one of this steamer’s defining storylines of the ’70s. Roger’s fall to his apparent death and return from the dead in in the next decade were equally epic events.
Guiding Light began to be telecast in color in 1967, was expanded to a half-hour in 1968 and began to be pre-recorded. After expanding to a half-hour in 1968, the soap grew to one hour in 1977.
The Thorpe, Marler, Spaulding, Cooper, Lewis, and Reardon families were developed into the ’80s. Kim Zimmer (who played Reva Shayne from 1983 through 2009) became the show’s breakout star. She topped all other cast members by appearing in 1,939 episodes. Reva and Josh Lewis’ (Robert Newman) love story became one for the ages, which included a famous wedding scene.
The ’90s were a time of change. One of the more polarizing management decisions resulted in Maureen Reardon Bauer (Ellen Parker), who was Ed Bauer’s (then played by Peter Simon) wife, being killed in a car accident. Lisa Brown (Nola Reardon Chamberlain, Maureen’s sister) reprised her popular character, and Meta Bauer (then played by Mary Stuart), whose father was Papa Bauer, returned to Springfield after not being seen in decades. Also, one of the more polarizing storylines involved Josh cloning Reva after she was believed to have died.
San Cristobal (Saint Christopher) was created as a fictional alternate setting in the 2000s. Zimmer’s character was part of that storyline, which included time travel. The Santos family also became prominent and was involved in organized crime.
A special seventieth-anniversary episode honored Irna Phillips in 2007, with some actors portraying her and former cast members reprising their roles.
Generations of viewers bonded with the many characters who became essential parts of their lives throughout GL’s history. The seventy-two-year tenure makes it the longest-running soap opera in United States history.
Guiding Light‘s last episode was broadcast on Sept. 18, 2009, with over 15,000 combined radio and television episodes being presented. But the ability to stream this show on Paramount+ would allow today’s entertainment fans to enjoy one of the greatest soap operas ever presented.
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