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Guiding Light

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Guiding Light

Guiding Light final title card, circa 2008-2009

Created by Irna Phillips
Written by Kimberly Hamilton
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 15,762
Executive producer(s) Lucy Ferri Rittenberg (1952–75)
Allen M. Potter (1976–82)
Gail Kobe (1982–86)
Joe Willmore (1986–87)
Robert Calhoun (1987–91)
Jill Farren Phelps (1991–95)
Michael Laibson (1995–96)
Paul Rauch (1996–2002)
John Conboy (2002–04)
Ellen Wheeler (2004–09)
Location(s) Chicago, Illinois (1937–47)
Los Angeles, California (1947–49)
New York City, New York (1952-2009)
Peapack, New Jersey (2007-09)
Running time 15 minutes (19371968)
30 minutes (19681977)
60 minutes (19772009)
Distributor Procter & Gamble Productions, Inc. (1986–2008)
TeleNext Media, Inc. (2008–2009)
Original channel NBC Radio (1937–1946)
CBS Radio (1947–1952)
CBS TV (1952–2009)
Original run NBC and CBS Radio
January 25, 1937 – June 27, 1952
CBS Television
June 30, 1952 – September 18, 2009
Template:Italic title

Guiding Light (known as The Guiding Light before 1975, or simply GL) is an American daytime television drama that is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest running drama in television, running for 57 years from June 30, 1952 to September 18, 2009, following the 15-year radio run. At the time of its cancellation in 2009, it was the longest-running soap opera in production. It is also among the longest running broadcast programs in history of any kind, across radio media for 15 years, and then television media for 57 years, being first broadcast five days after President Franklin D. Roosevelt's second inauguration. It aired on radio from January 25, 1937, to June 29, 1956, and debuted on CBS Television on June 30, 1952 running for 57 years. The series was expanded from 15 minutes to a half hour in 1968, and then to a full hour on November 7, 1977. The 15,000th televised episode of Guiding Light aired on September 7, 2006.

Guiding Light was created by Irna Phillips, and began as an NBC Radio serial on January 25, 1937. In 1947 the show moved to CBS radio, before starting on television on June 30, 1952, on CBS television. The show's title refers to a lamp in the study of Reverend Dr. John Ruthledge, a major character when The Guiding Light debuted in 1937, that family and residents could see as a sign for them to find help when needed.

On April 1, 2009, CBS announced that it canceled Guiding Light after a run of 57 years on television (following 15 years on radio with a total of 72 years) due to low ratings. The show taped its final Procter and Gamble scenes for CBS on August 11, 2009, and its final episode on the network aired on September 18, 2009. On October 5, 2009, CBS replaced Guiding Light with an hour-long revival of Let's Make a Deal, hosted by Wayne Brady; the interim two weeks had Guiding Light's slot filled with second-run episodes of The Price Is Right.

On August 22, 2013, Grant Aleksander revealed, after playing Phillip Spaulding from 1983 to the 2009 series ending, that former executive producer Paul Rauch had been working on the continuation of Guiding Light at the time of his death in December 2012.

On January 25, 2012, the now-canceled Guiding Light marked its 75th Anniversary, twelve days after ABC's soap opera One Life to Live ended on January 13, 2012 (the day General Hospital became ABC's last remaining soap opera) and four months after ABC's other soap opera All My Children ended on September 23, 2011.

The series finale of Guiding Light marked its first anniversary on September 18, 2010 (the day after the series finale of As the World Turns), the second anniversary on September 18, 2011, the fifth anniversary on September 18, 2014, and later its sixth anniversary on September 18, 2015. The series finale marked its seventh anniversary on September 18, 2016.

Starting January 25, 2017, Guiding Light will mark its 80th Avnniversary overall. The Guiding Light series finale will soon mark its 8th Anniversary on September 18, 2017.



On June 30, 1952, The Guiding Light began airing on CBS television. From June 30, 1952 to June 29, 1956, The Guiding Light ran on both CBS television and radio, with the actors performing, the same scenes but for different audiences, live twice each weekday. The live television performances were in the morning, and then in the afternoon the actors read for the live radio show. On July 2, 1956, The Guiding Light became a CBS television show, only, and the show no longer was heard on radio. Episodes continued at 15 minutes in length.

In 1953, CBS strongly persuaded Irna Phillips to let The Guiding Light experiment with television's first color broadcast. Phillips was not thrilled with the concept of color television, and thwarted the effort by CBS by having that day's episode take place entirely in a hospital setting with gray walls and white uniforms. The Guiding Light would remain broadcasting in black and white for the remainder of the decade.

In 1956, Phillips created As the World Turns, which first started airing on April 2, 1956 on CBS. When the workload of writing both that show and The Guiding Light became too much for her, Phillips handed the reins at The Guiding Light to her protégé Agnes Nixon. There is some indication that Procter & Gamble and CBS may have forced Phillips out of writing for The Guiding Light when on the March 31, 1958 episode, popular heroine Katherine "Kathy" Roberts Lang Grant Holden (played by the equally popular Susan Douglas Rubes) was killed off in a Phillips-created story. Kathy, confined to a wheelchair, was killed after being struck by a car. CBS was deluged with protest letters.

Prior to the launches of the half-hour shows As the World Turns, and The Edge of Night (both launched the same day), CBS and Procter & Gamble tried to convince Phillips to combine The Guiding Light and Search for Tomorrow into one single half hour show. Phillips declined.


Agnes Nixon relinquished her role as chief writer during 1965 to work for the series Another World. On March 13, 1967, The Guiding Light was first broadcast in color. On September 8, 1968, the program was expanded from 15 to 30 minutes.

The 1960s featured the introduction of African-American characters, and the main emphasis of the series shifted to Bill and Bert's children, Mike and Ed; the character of Bill Bauer was written out in July 1969, presumed dead after a plane crash.

A number of new characters were introduced during the mid-to-late-1960s, perhaps most notably Dr. Sara McIntyre, who remained a major character through the early 1980s.


Much of the story during the first half of the 1970s was dominated by Stanley Norris' November 1971 murder and the ensuing trial, as well as the exploits of villainesses Charlotte Waring and Kit Vested. Charlotte (played by Victoria Wyndham and Melinda Fee) was murdered by Kit (Nancy Addison) on August 26, 1973, and then Kit herself was shot by Dr. Joe Werner (Anthony Call) in self-defense on April 24, 1974, after she had attempted to poison Dr. Sara McIntyre.) A pivotal character, off-and-on, until the spring of 1998, Roger Thorpe, was introduced on April 1, 1971. Although originally proposed to be blonde, fair-skinned preppy type who was dating his boss, Stanley Norris', daughter Holly -- Michael Zaslow, a darker hair, less preppy type actor was hired for the role instead in a brilliant move by long-time casting director, Betty Rea. Zaslow took Roger into being, at first, a seemingly less than caring, in it for himself but nice enough man to one who ended up being one of the more complicated and multi-faceted villains to be seen on daytime television.

Pressure by newer, more youth-oriented soap operas such as All My Children, Procter & Gamble hired head writers Bridget and Jerome Dobson during 1975, who started writing in November 1975. The Dobsons introduced a more nuanced, psychologically layered writing style, and included timely story lines, including a complex love/hate relationship between estranged spouses/step-siblings Roger and Holly. They also created a number of well-remembered characters, including Rita Stapleton, whose complex relationships with Roger and Ed propelled much of the story for the remainder of the decade, Alan Spaulding, and Ross Marler, who both remained major characters into the 2000s.

The decision was made during the Fall of 1977 to re-introduce the thought-dead character of Bill Bauer, in a major retcon. The other characters thought that he had died in an airplane crash in July 1969, but he was said to actually be alive. (Many viewers who had also paid attention to the show and story line back in September 1968, remembered that Bill was told he'd only have nine more years to live.) One of the problems with this return is that the Dobsons seemed not quite sure what to do with his return. Although it was shocking, at first, to many of the characters, Bill himself ended up being charged for a murder of a man in Vancouver (Mike got his father off for the crime, proving that it was an accident, rather quickly and by April 1978 Bill had left town, again. Although Bill returned briefly in November 1978, April 1980, and then again in July 1983 and in flashbacks in November 1983.) Bill's return introduced the audience and the Bauers to another character that stayed on the show until September 1984, Hillary Kincaid, R. N. (Bauer), Bill's daughter (and thus Ed and Mike's half-sister; Bill had accidentally killed the man that Hillary originally thought was her father, but was actually her step-father) and she becomes a nurse at Cedars and a major character.

Surprising many viewers, Jerome and Bridget Dobson killed the show's young heroine, Leslie Jackson Bauer Noris Bauer, R. N. in June 1976. Lynne Adams was reported at the time to want to leave the role. Despite wishes of the actress to leave, the character could have still been re-recast, but was not. Leslie was killed by a drunk driver. Leslie's father, Dr. Steve Jackson, was later written off the show (as were several older characters).

In November 1975, the name was changed in the show's opening and closing visuals from The Guiding Light to Guiding Light. On November 7, 1977, the show expanded to a full hour and was broadcast from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. daily.

The series during the 1970s emphasized the Bauers and the Spauldings. Several notable characters were introduced.


Bridget and Jerome Dobson assumed the head writing duties of As the World Turns in late 1979. Former actor Douglas Marland, assumed the head writing reins of Guiding Light in 1979. He introduced many new characters, including the Reardon family. During May 1980, Guiding Light won its first Outstanding Drama Series Daytime Emmy. One of Marland’s most remembered storiesTemplate:According to whom featured the character of Carrie Todd Marler, played by Jane Elliot. Carrie was diagnosed with multiple personalities. Marland had barely delved into her psychosis when Elliot's contract was abruptly terminated by Executive Producer Allen M. Potter in 1982. As a result, Marland resigned in protest.Template:Citation needed

During the early 1980s, the show began to emphasize younger characters more, as an attempt to compete with the younger-skewing ABC serials. A number of longtime characters were eliminated during this time, including Ben and Eve McFarren, Diane Ballard, Dr. Sara McIntyre, Adam Thorpe, Barbara Norris Thorpe, Justin Marler and Steve Jackson. Actress Lenore Kasdorf quit the show in 1981, and producers decided not to recast the role of Rita Stapleton Bauer, given how popular Kasdorf had been. The Bauer family matriarch, Bertha 'Bert' Bauer, died in March 1986, following the real-life death of Charita Bauer in 1985. The character was said initially to be visiting Meta Bauer for several months, until a tribute episode could be constructed where the characters could mourn Bert's passing on screen.

An ever more complicated storyline emphasized the Bauer, Spaulding, Reardon, and Raines families. Pam Long, actress and writer for NBC's Texas from 1981 to 1982, became head writer during 1983 and reemphasized the series on Freddy Bauer Phillip Spaulding, Mindy Lewis, and Beth Raines. She also introduced characters Alexandra Spaulding, performed by actress Beverlee McKinsey, of Another World and Texas fame; and Reva Shayne, played by Kim Zimmer. The ratings in the mid- to late 1980s were solid and healthy. Pamela K. Long returned for a second head writer stint from 1987 to 1990.

The characters of Roger Thorpe and Holly Norris returned to the series during the late 1980s. Maureen Garrett reprised her role of Holly #2 in 1988, followed by Michael Zaslow as Roger in 1989.


With the new decade, the series' storytelling transitioned from Long's homespun style to a more realistic style with a new group of chief writers. The Bauer, Spaulding, Lewis, and Cooper families had been established as core families, and most major plot developments concerned them. The show generally held on in the middle of the pack as far as ratings went throughout the decade.

The show suffered major character losses mid-decade, including the car accident death of Maureen Bauer and the exit of Alexandra Spaulding from the story. As the decade progressed, the program developed a series of outlandish plot twists seemingly to compete with the serials Passions and Days of Our Lives.

In an attempt to revive the series, the character Reva Shayne was brought back to Springfield during April 1995. She'd been presumed dead for the previous five years, after having driven her car off of a bridge and into the water off the Florida Keys. Later that July, antiheroine Tangie Hill (played by Marcy Walker, who declined to renew her contract) was eliminated after nearly two years with the show in favor of the full-time return of fan favorite Nola Chamberlain, played by Lisa Brown.

During January 1996, soap opera veteran Mary Stuart joined the cast as Meta Bauer (though referred to many times over the years, the long-running character originally played by Ellen Demming had not been seen onscreen since 1974); the character remained on the show until Stuart's death during 2002.

January 1998, Bethany Joy Lenz came to the show as "Teenage Reva Clone". Producers were so impressed with her acting and attitude during her three-week role as "Teenage Reva Clone" on the show that she was re-hired later that year in the contract role of "Michelle Bauer Santos" on the daytime serial. From 1999-2000.


The 2000s began with the division of the show into two locales: Springfield and the fictional island nation of San Cristobel. In Springfield, the Santos mob dynasty created much of the drama. Meanwhile, the royal Winslow family had their own series of intrigues with which to deal. During 2002, however, San Cristobel was eliminated from the series and the mob's influence in the story was subsequently diminished and, with the departure of character Danny Santos during 2005, eliminated altogether. Also, Guiding Light celebrated its 50th Anniversary as a television show on June 30, 2002.

During 2004, former director and actress Ellen Wheeler (Emmy Award winner as an actress for the series All My Children and Another World) took over as executive producer of Guiding Light. She and writer David Kreizman made numerous changes to the sets, stories, and the cast. Several veteran actors were eliminated, mainly because of budget decreases. Because of the lack of veteran influence, Wheeler reemphasized the youth of Springfield, especially the controversial pairing of cousins Jonathan and Tammy.

During 2006, an episode featured character Harley Cooper gaining heroic abilities. The episode was semi-continued in an 8-page story in select Marvel Comics productions.

The series had its 70th broadcast anniversary during 2007. The anniversary was commemorated with the initiation of website and a program of outreach, representing Irna Phillips' original message. There was also a special episode during January 2007, with current cast members playing Phillips and some of the earlier cast members. The series also introduced special beginning credits commemorating the anniversary.

Despite low ratings, the show won 2007 Daytime Emmy Awards for Best Writing and Best Show (sharing Best Show with The Young and the Restless).

Starting in January 2008, Guiding Light moved from the traditional multi-camera style of filming to hand-held digital cameras. All of the show's traditional sets were scuttled and new four-wall sets were erected in their place, as well as two new permanent outdoor filming locations in New Jersey. Executive producer Ellen Wheeler was quoted in the New York Post as saying that the show didn't feel real, and that the show's new production style would have a completely different and more realistic look. The production team chose to shoot with handheld Canon XH-G1 HDV camcorders, which allowed producers to choose as many locations as they wished. On February 29, 2008, a 2008 opening of Guiding Light replaced the 70th Anniversary opening and included the town of Peapack and Gladstone, New Jersey, and lastly, the logo saying "GUIDINGLIGHT".


On April 1, 2009, CBS announced that it would not renew Guiding Light, and the last broadcast date would be September 18, 2009. Procter & Gamble initially announced that they would attempt to find another outlet to distribute the series, but later admitted that they had been unsuccessful in doing so, and that on September 18, 2009, after 57 years on television (preceded by 15 years on radio for a total broadcast history of 72 years), Guiding Light would end its broadcast history on CBS.

During the final weeks of the series, numerous characters from the series' past passed through Springfield one last time, culminating with Ed and Holly, who impulsively embarked on an unspecified journey together. Alan Spaulding suffered fatal heart failure during the final week, but not before resolving conflicts with many former adversaries, including Jonathan. Alan's death brought the characters together in a way that could not have happened while he was still alive. Alexandra is especially distraught about Alan's death, but was pleased when Fletcher Reade came to the Spaulding Mansion after Alan's service, and convinced her to accompany him to Europe. Beth and Phillip have grown closer and decided to remarry; Mindy Lewis returned to Springfield for good, and she and Rick also became fonder of each other. Reva and Josh had a discussion, and agreed that they each had their respective problems that they need to solve. Josh told Reva that he was leaving Springfield for a job for the next year, but proposes that he return one year from that date and, if by that time, she wants to reunite with him, she should meet him at the lighthouse and, if she is not there, he will assume she is not interested.

The final episode is pleasant, featuring many of the characters gathering in the park for a large picnic. Toward the end of the episode, it jumps forward one year, by which time, Phillip and Beth have reunited, as have Rick and Mindy. Olivia and Natalia, happy with their new baby, pick Raphael up, as he returns from the army. The episode concludes with Josh arriving at the lighthouse, as promised, and finding Reva there. They declare their undying love. James, Ashlee, and Daisy leave Springfield and relocate to Santa Barbara, California. Josh asks if Reva is packed, to go on an adventure. The two grab the luggage, and with Reva's young son, they climb into Josh's pick-up truck. Josh says to Reva, "You ready?" She replies "Always." As the truck drives away with the lighthouse in the background, "The End" appears on the screen before a final fadeout. The song heard playing in the background during the final scene is "Together" by Michelle Branch.

The final episode also included the original tag line, with some revision, printed on the screen with the words "There is a destiny that makes us FAMILY" (replacing the word 'brothers'), as well as quick film clips of each of the show's title cards and announcers during the six decades it was on television, leading to the show's former long-time beginning announcement: "And now, The Guiding Light".

Opening Title Cards

















Cast List

Complete cast members

Actor Character Duration
Grant Aleksander Phillip Spaulding 1982–1984, 1986–1991, 1996–2004, 2009
Murray Bartlett Cyrus Foley 2007–2009
Robert Bogue A.C. Mallet 2005–2009
BethAnn Bonner Natasha 2009
Jeff Branson Shayne Lewis 2008-2009
Lisa Brown Nola Reardon Chamberlain 1980-1985, 1995-1998, 2009
Mandy Bruno Marina Cooper Camaletti 2004–2009
Beth Chamberlin Beth Raines Spaulding 1989–1991, 1997–2009
Crystal Chappell Olivia Spencer 1999–2009
Jordan Clarke Dr. Tim Ryan

Billy Lewis


1983–1986, 1989–1993, 1996–1998, 1999–2009

Bradley Cole Richard Winslow

Jeffrey O'Neill

1999-2002, 2006


Daniel Cosgrove Bill Lewis 2002-2005, 2007-2009
Bonnie Dennison Daisy Lemay 2007–2009
Justin Deas Buzz Cooper 1993–2009
Frank Dicopoulos Frank Cooper 1987–2009
Marj Dusay Alexandra Spaulding 1993–1997, 1998–1999, 2002–2009
Morgan Englund Dylan Lewis (#1) 1989-1995, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2006, 2009
Maureen Garrett Holly Norris 1976–1980, 1988–2006, 2009
Elizabeth Keifer Christina "Blake" Thorpe Marler 1992–2009
Jay Hammer Fletcher Reade 1984-1998, 1999, 2009
Melissa Hayden Bridget Reardon Lewis 1991-1997, 2009
Fiona Hutchison Jenna Bradshaw 1992-1994, 1996-1998, 2006, 2008-2009
Jessica Leccia Natalia Rivera 2007–2009
Karla Mosley Christina Moore Boudreau 2008–2009
Robert Newman Joshua Lewis 1981–1984, 1986–1991, 1993–2009
Michael O'Leary Dr. Rick Bauer 1983–1986, 1987–1991, 1995–2009
Tom Pelphrey Jonathan Randall 2004–2007, 2008, 2009
Ron Raines Alan Spaulding 1994–2009
Marcy Rylan Lizzie Spaulding 2006–2009
Lawrence Saint-Victor Remy Boudreau 2006–2009
Nancy St. Alban Michelle Bauer Santos 2000–2005, 2009
Peter Simon Dr. William "Ed" Bauer Jr. 1981–1984, 1986–1996, 2002-2004, 2009
Paul Anthony Stewart Danny Santos 1998–2005, 2009
Krista Tesreau Mindy Lewis 1983–1989, 2004, 2009
Gina Tognoni Dinah Marler 2004–2009
Caitlin Van Zandt Ashlee Wolfe 2006–2009
Kim Zimmer Reva Shayne O'Neill 1983–1990, 1995–2009
Jennifer Roszell Eleni Andros Cooper 1995-2000, 2001-2002, 2006, 2009

Recurring cast members

Actor Character Duration
George Alvarez Ray Santos 1999-2007, 2008-2009
Nicholas Reese Art Zach Spaulding 2002–2009
Kim Brockington Dr. Felicia Boudreau 2002–2009
Orlagh Cassidy Doris Wolfe 1999–2009
Tyra Colar Leah Bauer 2009
Jeanne Cooper Cecilia 2009
Carey Cromelin Wanda Hite 2009
Robert Danza Jr. Jude Bauer
Olivia Dicopoulos Maureen Reardon 2009
Arielle Fleischer Clarissa Marler 2006–2009
Peter Francis James Clayton Boudreau 2003–2009
Robert Gentry Ed Bauer 1966–1969*, 1997–1998
Patrick Gilbert Robert "Robbie" Santos(#2) 2009
Kathryn Hall Emma Spaulding 2004–2008
Alexa Kaplan Sarah Elizabeth Randall 2009
Maeve Kinkead Vanessa Chamberlain Lewis Reardon 1980–1987, 1989–2000, 2002, 2005, 2006–2009, 2009
Kurt McKinney Matt Reardon 1994–2000, 2005, 2006–2009
Naelee Rae Clarissa Marler 2009
Arielle Renwart Leah Bauer 2006–2009
Gil Rogers Hawk Shayne 2009
Tina Sloan Lillian Raines 1983–2009
Cally & Brooke Tarleton Hope Santos 2009
Jacqueline Tsirkin Emma Spencer-Spaulding 2008–2009
Miles Williams R.J. Winslow 2004–2009
Yvonna Kopacz-Wright Dr. Melissande Boudreau 2001–2009

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