Aw, the woman who’s played Nancy Huges on the soap opera “As the World Turns” forever has died:
Actress Helen Wagner, who played mild-mannered Nancy Hughes on the CBS soap opera ”As the World Turns” for more than a half-century and spoke its first words, has died at age 91.
She died Saturday, said the show’s New York-based production company, TeleNext Media Inc., which didn’t say where she died or what was the cause of her death.
Wagner opened ”As the World Turns” when it premiered on April 2, 1956, with the words: ”Good morning, dear.” She held the Guinness World Record for playing the same role on television for the longest amount of time, TeleNext Media said.
I grew up watching “As the World Turns” and its CBS sister, “Guiding Light,” at my grandmother’s knee — literally. She’d sit in her recliner, and either I’d sit on the floor in front of her or my sister would (or we both would, once Grandpa came home and claimed his recliner). My grandparents were the first people I knew who owned a VCR and actually used the programming feature on it, so that every day, while my grandmother was at work, it would whir to life and record her stories.
By the time I was watching ATWT, Nancy Hughes was mostly a character who only showed up when her son and daughter-in-law, Bob and Kim, were throwing one of their legendary neighborhood cookouts or birthday bashes. I don’t remember her being involved in any scandals. She was just Dr. Bob’s mother, a solid, thoughtful presence in a town (like all soap opera towns) prone to chaos and drama.
I guess what I’m really mourning is the death of “As the World Turns,” which will air its last episode this September. Of course I didn’t know Helen Wagner, the woman or the actress, but I knew, for a time, Nancy Hughes, thanks to that dynamic, crazy, engaging show. It’s a bit like hearing that an old friend’s grandmother has died.