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

May 2, 2010 |  7:09 pm

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