June 30 1952 - September 18 2009 Procter & Gamble CBS From the Schemering The longest-running drama in broadcast history, evolved from a radio soap about a minister and his flock in the 1930s and 1940s; to a fifteen minute television entry about the German-American Bauer family in the 1950s and 1960s; to a half hour drama about the romantic lives of Mike and Ed Bauer in the 1970s; to, finally, a triumphant hour celebrating the domestic interaction between various Springfield families in the 1980s. Created by Irna Phillips, THE GUIDING LIGHT began broadcasting on NBC's Red radio network January 25 1937. Supervision for Procter & Gamble was Compton Advertising Agency. Set in the fictional city of Five Points and introduced by organ music, the drama focused on Dr. John Ruthledge and the problems of his parishioners. The soap was inspirational in tone and frequently the whole show was given over to Ruthledge's sermon. These sermons, which taught that faith and patience brought happiness,proved to be so popular that a collection of them sold almost 300,000 copies. Originally broadcast from Chicago, the show was moved to Hollywood when Irna and her associates relocated to the West Coast. Then, in the late 1940s production was moved to New York and the setting of the drama was moved from Five Points to Selby Flats, a fictional suburb of Los Angeles, where the Bauer family lived. Similarly content was changed. The religious implications were gone. But, support of a close-knit family for crises became paramount. The Bauers were a first generation Germanic-American family with Old World values who struggled for a better life in the US.Among them were Mam Bauer, Papa Bauer, son Bill, Bill's wife Bert, Bill's sister Trudy and Meta, a feisty young woman who would cause trouble. Bert fought hard to keep the family together and became in a sense the "guiding light". Bill had become an alcoholic. Meta ran off & got pregnant by a cad named Ted who she murdered when he browbeat their child. Meta got off on a temporary insanity plea.
THE GUIDING LIGHT June 1952 Irna began broadcasting THE GUIDING LIGHT both on television and on radio but not simultaneously. (Fanlore has it that the networks were perpetually afraid of losing the radio revenue that they already had to take a chance on some television revenue that they didn't have and would take time to build up.) Irna assembled the cast at Liederkranz Hall for AM rehearsal & performance, live for television. Then they walked 5 blocks down to another studio & performed the same show for the radio audience. 4 years later they did away with the radio broadcast. While the show was being dually broadcast they moved the setting yet again, this time from California to the community of Springfield, somewhere in the Midwest. THE GUIDING LIGHT's successful transition from radio to television was rare. In the 1950s story, written by Irna & Agnes Nixon, focused on Meta's stepdaughter, Kathy. After Meta's husband died of cancer, Meta and Kathy both fought over Mark Holden, a business partner of Bill Bauer. In 1958 Kathy was killed in an automobile accident and CBS was swamped with protests. Irna answered fans with a form letter: "You have only to look around you, read your daily papers, to realize that we cannot, any of us, live with life alone ..." Meanwhile Bert tried to keep her marriage together. Agnes Nixon who had been Irna's associate became headwriter and THE GUIDING LIGHT flourished. This was the time that Agnes began to insert social and educational issues into the show. Bert Bauer's life was saved by early detection of uterine cancer. Mike Bauer married the scheming Charlotte Waring. (Charlotte Waring was played by Victoria Wyndham who later was Rachel on ANOTHER WORLD.) Agnes Nixon left the show to go headwrite ANOTHER WORLD IN THE MID 1960s. Writers during the next decade include: David Lesan, Julian Funt, Theodore and Mathilde Ferro, John Boruff, James Lipton, Gabrielle Upton, Jane and Ira Avery, Robert Soderberg, Edith Somner, James Gentile and Robert Cenedella. Color broadcast began spring 1967 with the show expanding to a half hour September 1968. The drama had not caught up with Irna's prote'ge's Agnes Nixon and Bill Bell. ALL MY CHILDREN and THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS both became immensely popular with a mix of social-issue oriented drama and youthful romance. In 1975 Jerome and Bridget Dobson took over headwriting duties at THE GUIDING LIGHT and successfully contemporized it over the next 5 years. 1977 took the show to a full hour and the Dobsons constructed intricate triangles and quadrangles - Alan Spaulding, unhappy wife Elizabeth, son Phillip, Jackie Marler (the natural mother of Phillip), Mike Bauer, Hope Bauer and Justin Marler. Roger Thorpe seduced Ed Bauer's second wife Holly and his third wife Rita and Ed's half-sister Hillary. Roger became the sexiest villain and the audience refused to let him die even after a decade of troublemaking. After a sensational trial for marital rape (a gambit the Dobsons would repeat on AS THE WORLD TURNS) Roger was "killed" by Holly only to pop up again a year later to terrorize both Rita and Holly. The brilliantly directed sequence where Roger chased Rita through a hall of mirrors the recording of Barbara Streisand and Donna Summer's duet "Enough Is Enough" won THE GUIDING LIGHT the Emmy as Outstanding Daytime Drama 1980. Roger finally met his fate on location in the Dominican Republic where he fell to his death off a cliff. The star turn of Michael Zaslow ran from April 1 1971 for 9 years till April Fools' Day 1980. (Viewers never saw the body.) In 1980 Douglas Marland took over as headwriter, creating the triangle of Morgan Richards, Dr. Kelly Nelson and Nola Reardon. Lisa Brown's Nola was so energetic and convincing that CBS began receiving the most intense "hate" mail of any daytime performer since Eileen Fulton 2 decades before. Marland deservedly won Outstanding Writing Emmy 1981. He then exploited Lisa Brown's comedic flair and formidable acting skills in a series of famous fantasy sequences. Marland then wrote an intense hair-raising split personality story of character Carrie Todd played by Jane Elliot. Producer Allen Potter dropped it and a furious Marland finished out the few months of his contract and quit. Pat Falken Smith came on as headwriter for a short time and tried to disentangle what had become a convoluted mess. With L. Virginia Browne as headwriter Grant Aleksander came on as Phillip Spaulding, Ed Bauer's son Rick, Phillip's best friend was pushed to the forefront and the ratings jumped up 2 points. But TEXAS team Richard Culliton writer and Gail Kobe producer took over spring 1983 with the show in a critical slump, they put the show on the comeback trail, focusing on the Bauer family, finishing the byzantine storylines, and introducing the most appealing young-love stories ever on daytime. Headwriter Culliton and later Pamela K. Long (also of TEXAS) transformed THE GUIDING LIGHT back into a *famiily* show constructing stories around 5 main families - Bauers, Spauldings, Chamberlains, Lewises and Reardons. The audience began to respond to a senior prom, a civil war themed ball, young lovers on the run in Manhattan, "The Four Musketeers", flesh and blood figures, etc. Krista Tesreau the hilariously spoiled Mindy Lewis, Bill's daughter, Judi Evans (who nabbed an Emmy) as rape victim Beth Raines, taken advantage of by her stepfather, other Beth's husband. Vincent Irizarry the pugnacious Lujack, Michael O'Leary the sensitive med student Rick Bauer (known now by one & and all still as Mikey!) most especially Grant Aleksander the flamboyantly alienated Phillip Spaulding, with all seeming poised for stardom. The first half of 1984 the show added 2 million viewers while its competition GENERAL HOSPITAL lost 5 million with Luke & Laura leaving. The show zoomed to the #1 spot in the ratings, with the finest daytime drama over the past 5 years finally, if briefly, becoming the most popular. The introduction of the exquisite Beverlee McKinsey (top-billed on TEXAS) as Alexandra Spaulding brought new critical and commercial interest to the show. In October 1984 the Bauer family endured a number of hits. Hillary Bauer was killed off. Her brother Mike was written off. Ed Bauer was recast. February 28 1985 Charita Bauer died, the end of an era. Jerry verDorn who played Ross Marler read the words, "The continuing story GUIDING LIGHT is dedicated to the memory of Charita Bauer, whose portrayal of Bert Bauer has illuminated our lives for over 35 years. The spirit of Charita Bauer, her strength and her courage, her grand good humor, her passion for life, and her humanity have touched us all. She has graced our lives at GUIDING LIGHT and will be with us always." The Lewises became Springfield's first family - the former Reva Shayne, married to Billy Lewis, later engaged to his brother Josh, then wed to patriarch H.B. and finally fell for Kyle Sampson, who claimed he was H.B.'s illegitimate son. Like Reva, GUIDING LIGHT was suffering an identity crisis. The lack of focus continued through 1986 with 5 headwriting regimes and a new executive producer. Joe Willmore brought back popular characters and performers - Christopher Bernau's Alan, Peter Simon's Ed, Robert Newman's Josh and Grant Aleksander's Phillip. And the "have-not" Shaynes were established - Hawk, Sarah, Reva, Roxie and Rusty. Headwriter Sheri Anderson's forte was young romantic pairings and intrigue. As GUIDING LIGHT celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1987 it was the end of one era and the beginning of another.
GUIDING LIGHT: THE COMPLETE FAMILY ALBUM SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY EDITION by Julie Poll with Caelie M. Haines INTRODUCTION by Jerry ver Dorn "I created GUIDING LIGHT with one fundamental theme in mind: the brotherhood of man." So wrote the show's creator, Irna Phillips, in 1937. Who could've imagined that that breathtakingly simple intention would carry the show to its