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‘As the World Turns’ actress Helen Wagner dies at 91

Wagner Helen Wagner, who played mild-mannered Nancy Hughes on the CBS soap opera "As the World Turns" for more than a half-century, has died, CBS announced. She was 91. Wagner died Saturday but no other details were available.

Wagner spoke the first words on "As the World Turns" when the show premiered April 2, 1956, and she held the Guinness world record for playing the same role on television for the longest amount of time, CBS said.

She was still part of the cast, though with a small presence, in December 2009, when CBS announced that the soap opera's last episode would air in September.

Real life intruded on the show in historic fashion on Nov. 22, 1963, when it was still performed live on air. Wagner's character was talking about upcoming Thanksgiving plans ("I've thought about it and I gave it a great deal of thought...") when the broadcast was interrupted midsentence with a "CBS News Bulletin" sign.

Viewers then heard Walter Cronkite announcing that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. The actors weren't told at the time.

We'll have more later at

--Associated Press

Photo: Helen Wagner with on-screen husband Don MacLaughlin in 1956. Credit: CBS Photo Archive

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As with quite a few viewers, I grew up watching ATWT via both of my grandmothers, mother and aunts. I still watch this show even as it slowly fades into history. The one thing that I enjoyed was seeing the veterans (Helen Wagner, Bob Hastings, Eileen Fulton) of the show. Helen Wagner's presence gave the storylines and characters roots. She will be missed, as will this wonderful show which has allowed me one hour, five days a week, to slip into their world.

I always watched ATWT, the kids on the shop was about my age, and it held my interest. I cannot remember the two kids in love, and I so wanted them to get married. I wrote a letter to the Station about my feelings. They wrote back to me, "Mrs. Kilgore, LIFE IS NOT A BOWL OF CHERRIES".....and that is the truth. However, I was so taken back with the first sentence, I cried. Then I realized that "they" probably would never get married on the show. haha I too just was taken in by their character's and how similar their daily lives were to me and many other viewere's also.R.I.P. Helen.


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