On the small screen from June 30, 1952 to September 18, 2009, Guiding Light holds the record for longest-running drama in television history. In addition to its 57-year reign on television, The Guiding Light (as it was originally titled) ran from January of 1937-52 on radio. It was the only radio serial to successfully transition to television (The Brighter Day also made the move, but lasted only eight years.)
The show started out at only fifteen minutes long, expanded to thirty minutes in September 1968, and blossomed to a full hour on November 7, 1977. In 1978 it dropped “The” and officially became Guiding Light. Irna Phillips (Another World , Days of Our Lives) created the series, which centered around the Bauers, a German-American family living in the non-descript town of Springfield. William Bell was one of the original television writers on the soap opera, and describes writing for Irna:
Actress Kim Zimmer, who played “Reva Shayne” discusses the show’s title, original premise, and how the program strayed from that central idea over the years:
The show left the airwaves in 2009, leaving 72 years of love, heartbreak, and scandal in its wake. It traveled from NBC radio, to CBS radio, to CBS television, and won its way into the hearts of millions in the process. Had it still been on the air, Guiding Light would have celebrated 60 years on television today. But 57 years of consecutive TV storytelling is still pretty impressive. To date, no other drama has topped the show’s tenure on television.
Visit our Guiding Light show page for more on the popular soap opera.
- by Adrienne Faillace