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Lights officially out for iconic CBS soap opera

The longest-running drama in broadcast history, CBS' "Guiding Light," wrapped up its 72-year run this afternoon.


The show went out on a high note, with many of the characters gathering for a picnic in a park on a bright sunny day. The show's most famous on-again-off-again couple, Reva (Kim Zimmer) and Josh (Robert Newman), met at the light house, reaffirmed their love for each other and drove off together in Josh's pick-up truck.

CBS in April decided to pull the plug on the program because of its high cost of production and flagging ratings. This past year, the show mustered an average 2.1 million viewers an episode -- a far cry from the more than 5 million viewers it attracted a decade ago. CBS plans to replace the soap opera on Oct. 5 with a remake of "Let's Make a Deal," hosted by Wayne Brady.

"Guiding Light" was created in the depths of the Depression, in 1937, as a 15-minute radio program aimed at selling soap and other products to housewives -- thus earning it the moniker of "soap opera."  In 1952, the show moved to television, where it has been a mainstay ever since. It is owned by packaged products giant Procter & Gamble, the maker of Ivory, Tide, Mr. Clean and Crest toothpaste. Legions of the show's fans protested the cancellation, saying they had a special place in their hearts for the program about the families of the fictional Midwestern town of Springfield. Some begged CBS to reconsider its decision. But the network said that neither it nor P&G could make the finances work, and they joined those who mourned the death of the history-making serial. Beyond entertaining millions of viewers with the love lives of the characters, the show explored themes that were once taboo for television: rape, abortion, adultery and AIDS.It was produced in New York and provided jobs for thousands of people over the years.

"This ground-breaking program has provided steady employment, wages and benefits for thousands of AFTRA performers and other union members working in the entertainment and media industries," the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists said in a statement today.When CBS made its decision, the show's executive producer, Ellen Wheeler, was philosophical."This show has been here since before World War II," Wheeler said in early April. "It has gone through wars and tragedies and triumphs -- man walking on the moon, and the dawn of the computer age. This show chronicled all these changes in society. It has been our mirror on society for generations, and when you lose something that is part of the fabric of society you lose something precious."

-- Meg James

Photo: Kim Zimmer and Robert Newman of "Guiding Light." Credit: Robert Voets / Associated Press, CBS.

Comments () | Archives (35)

I am nearly 62 yrs old and started watching GuidingLight when I was in grade school. My neighbor could not see very well so I would tell her what people were wearing and what they were doing when there was no one talking. They have been a part of my life for so long I cannot fathom what I will do now. To beat it all my VCR did not work today so I missed my last change to see my friends.

To quote producer wheeler "..[guiding light] has been our mirror on society for generations, and when you lose something that is part of the fabric of society you lose something precious."

when you pull the plug on an enterprise, it means that it wasn't really that precious or important. I mean, when we have something good, we fight for it till the end. In other words, Ms. Wheeler is full of cow manure, and the show nothing but shallow dribble.

I was so dissapointed to see this schow end. I still do not have closure on some of the characters. What happened to Jeffrey??? What happened to Josh and Revas daughter???
will I ever find out

I will miss watching all these wonderful people and the storylines. Guiding Light was part of my life for so long. Thanks for the memories

Only been in the USA for 4 years but I have never heard of it.

I wish there was something us fans can do about putting this show back in existance. Reva, Josh, Oliva, Natalia and all the other great characters. They really do hold a special place in my heart. A little bit of happiness and it gets taken away. 37 minutes isnt there something we can do?
Susan B
Cape Coral FL

This truly is the end of a broadcasting era.

I kind of grew up watching this show when I was living on Long Island around the time Michael Zaslow was playing the always-coming-back-from-the-dead villain Roger Thorpe. It was escapist drama, but it was also fun in a way.

Guiding Light was the second-longest running program in broadcast history, only "Grand Ole Opry" has been on longer.

Given how TV these days is full of reality shows whose supposed "stars" are lucky if they get more than fifteen minutes of fame, I don't think we'll see the likes of "Guiding Light" ever again.

RIP Guiding Light--January 25, 1937-September 18, 2009

"To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high"--John McRae, "In Flanders Fields"

72 years????? Holy smokes. They should get some sort of award for that.

RIP Alan Spaulding "The President has left the Building"

I've never watched a soap opera, but the history and fan loyalty of "Guiding Light" is impossible to ignore. Check out the flash fiction story I wrote in honor of the series finale.


I think it is a shame to take The Guiding Light off the air. So many people loved the show. Me included.How can CBS finance a stupid game show for people to watch,that is if anybody does watch it? Im sure more people tuned into the Light than there is going to tune into a game show.Bad move on your part.That is everybody involved in this nightmare.72 years and you pull the plug.Hard to believe.Somebody come over here to the east coast and pinch me cause I can't see how u people responsible for this god awful decision can sleep at night and feel at peace with yourselves.You are a mean bunch of people.With no heart.I loved The Guiding Light and so did so many others. Boo on u.

I used to watch this in college, then I graduated, got a job and decided REAL LIFE was more important than watching some fictionalized people's lives. What is crazy is that thee are people who will just NOT know what to do now that this show is gone. How sad. Maybe flagging ratings are a result of the lame story lines, bad acting and fluff.

Diane, if you missed the last episode, watch it on the CBS website!!


It makes me a bit melancholy to see the picture on the original link for this article. It shows Michael Zaslow, who played the very eeevil Roger Thorpe, in the center.

Sadly, Mr. Zaslow passed on several years ago.

Let's make a deal? Seriously? We're replacing a long time, long loved soap with a remake of a gameshow? Yeah we know how well daytime gameshows last. (Is the remake of the pyramid game and password still on the air? I don't even know.)

*Spoilers here for those who haven't seen the last episodes*

I'm going to miss guiding light. The writing has sucked for a while, that was painfully obvious. They'd have done better to fire all the writers and hire fresh blood as they say, than to cancel the show. but it is what it is.

I'm just disappointed they killed of Alan Spaulding, and didn't mention what happened to Jeffery/Edmund "a year later". Isn't Reva technically still married since her husband isn't really dead? (Though I admit I'm glad to see Reva and Josh back together.)

I'm 33 as yesterday... and I have to say of all the soaps, I grew up watching Guiding light with my mom. It was our first real English language show that we got hooked on after moving here from Japan. Even my dad liked it. (He liked Alan.) and it seriously is like losing a member of the family. It's sad, but I kind of hope the game show flops, just to show CBS what a mistake they made pulling the plug instead of trying to entice viewership back to the show.

but that's just me. Lol. I love wayne brady, but I'll miss Reva and Josh more than I love him. Anyhoo.

Just goes to show that nothing, including soap operas, lasts forever.

I can remember my mom and grandmother watching Guiding Light when I was a little girl in the 50's. We all had to be quiet so they could hear the drama. I watched it again in the early 80's when I had babies at home. They were addictive, I guess. My mom is in her 80's and is still hooked. Life and TV is so different now. Most women are out in the workforce, so don't have time to watch the soaps. Anyway, it is sad. I would think if you had 2 million viewers for a series in this day and age, that would be pretty good.

I too was one of the many who grew up watching this special show. Growing to love the characters and get involved in their lives. Just like reading a book draws you in to be part of their world. You cry for hurt and pain, the disappoint in the choices made. The lack of good character in some and the abundance in others. Really a reflection of the world we live in.
So many great personalities on the show, who grew and chose to go further, stepping stones for them.
Sad to see you going. I watched with my Mother and my Mother passed away this year so for me if seems appropriate now.
May God Bless you with his love

Hey! Don't blame the game show for GL's loss. Blame the writers, executives, and CBS. The writers trying to appeal to a younger generation with rushing new characters and stories, fans won't take it and leave by the droves. I'll really miss Guiding Light and will always feel that it will be another major nail in the coffin for soaps. But what you call "stupid game show" has also been a part of my television experience in my life too. And games shows been getting the boot long before soaps. With CBS airing the last network daytime game show (and last network version of it's kind in general). Added to that only a few syndicated ones, I'll doubt that their version of Let's Make a Deal" will last long. And is when BOTH soap operas and game shows enjoyed quantity, quality, and longevity. We are facing a new generation of media and it's going to be hard on traditional media genres, including for it's fans. While a much older and aging audience are sticking to the old genres, others are looking towards comedies with no studio audience or laugh track, dramas with a new and younger appeal, cable for news, and let's not forget new generation talk shows and reality TV. And what's worse for television in general is that an even younger generation are gearing towards the internet. With it's advancement in it's technology and use, there is beginning to be a view that there is hardly a need for television and traditional media in general. TV is going to get the same treatment as radio when Television became the source of news, sports, and entertainment. And I personally think that it's best for TV to do so.

I love GL warts and all and am glad they put Reva and Josh back together at the end. However, I thought it was so sad that they went out on a homophobic note, not granting the one lesbian couple a simple kiss (even a peck on the cheek!) - while everybody else was kissing like crazy. As Justin Deas said who played Buzz on the Guiding Light for 16 years, Justin Deas:

"If the soaps all go off the air, some smart person is going to figure out the right way to do it and bring ’em back. But they’ll have to rethink the form and make it bolder. I mean, we in America still haven’t gotten over our sex hang-ups! The lesbians on our show can’t kiss? What’s wrong with us? There’s a greater chance that GL would have brought in a donkey for Buzz to have sex with."

They could have done right by this storyline and I just think it is so sad that they did not.

"Ellen Wheeler, was philosophical."This show has been here since before World War II," Wheeler said in early April. "It has gone through wars and tragedies and triumphs -- man walking on the moon, and the dawn of the computer age. This show chronicled all these changes in society."

Oh yeah? She conviently left out the Civil Rights era. "This Show" NEVER reflected real America...it was a corner stone of WHITNESS...as is most of TV still.

It has long been time for era of TV/FLIM American Aparthide to say goodbye. The day when characters are nolonger cast based on COLOR will be the day America can say it is a Democracy.

I can not believe you are taking "Guiding Light" off the air. It has been part of my life for years. I will not watch some stupid game show instead of it. Somebody didn't try hard enough, I am disappointed in CBS.

Guiding Light was the only good show on daytime TV. I
turned on some early shows so I would not miss Guiding
Light, but will no longer watch TV during the day.
And as for late-night, David Letterman should have been
fired long ago. He is rude and mean and not worth
Don't mess with prime time or you may lose a viewer

I have been a fan of guiding light for several years. I grew up with Phillip,Beth,Rick and Mindy.I'M so sad that one of the best loving family soaps was taken off the air. It was like an addiction. I was home by 3pm to watch it everyday.To replace it with game shows come on how many women in their fortys watch game shows? Its a shame that all the best shows are removed. I hope that I'M not the only fan of Guiding Light that feels this way.I was a little skepitcal when the show went like home video but then I got use to it and liked it even more because it then seem so real.The GL cast were my family now that they are gone its like a part of me went with them and now watching anything else on TV is depressing.I cried through so many episodes and the last 2 weeks when I knew was close to the end it was really hard I hope their are enough fans out there to speak their sadness about losing a great part of our lives that someone will take notice and put the show back on the air. Where there is a will there is a way.

i think guiding light should continue even on another network. cbs gave up so much air time for sports and other things to me that hurt the ratings of guiding light. to start bringing actors back old and new i think it should go on with the current and returning actors. i have been watching guiding light for 45 years. cbs soap opears will not be the same without guiding light. i hope another network will pick it up for yhe fans. wanda

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