ABC Soap Operas

Thursday, March 31 by Lee Grayson

The world of soap operas has become quite small over the last decade, but a group of ABC soap operas continue to squeeze a few tears from the faithful, while advertising the detergents that gave the shows their names. The earliest soaps were radio programs and only ten-to-fifteen minutes long, including advertisements. The ABC network first took to the airwaves in 1932 and used the tried-and-true formula for success—borrow what worked on radio. Radio hits included soap operas and early television also broadcast the sagas. 

  1. "General Hospital." "General Hospital," or GH to fans, premiered in April 1, 1963. Creators Frank and Doris Hursley set the drama in the fictional town of Port Charles, New York. Modern heavy weight characters include Sonny Corinthos, it's a New York drama and mob-types are included for Midwestern viewers, Jason Morgan, Carly Benson and Brenda Barrett. The key families in the opera are the Spencers, Quartermaines and the Corinthos. 
  2. "One Life to Live." "One Life to Live" first broadcast in 1968 and follows the ups and downs of the Lord, Buchanan, Evans and Cramer families. The publishing industry is the focus of this daytime soap drama. The writing focuses on teen drama as well. Llanvie High School and Angel Square are the focus of separate story lines. the main character taking the lead in this show is Erika Slezak, heir to the Lord publishing fortune. 
  3. "All My Children." AMC is one of the flagship soaps for ABC. Pine Valley, Pennsylvania, is host to the drama involving one of its star players, Erica Kane, played by the actress Susan Lucci. The story line follows doings in the cosmetic industry from the local Fusion Cosmetics, and created the poplar true-love duo of  Angie and Jesse Hubbard. The first AMC premiered in 1970, the brainchild of Agnes Nixon
  4. The Late: "Port Charles." The characters on soap opera "Port Charles" first appeared in 1997, but were television toast by 2003. If the location sounds familiar, it's because the show was written as a spin off of the then hugely popular "General Hospital." When the show's fan base waned late in 1999, the show turned to story arc lasting approximately three months with a beginning and an end, a change from the traditional story arc that was on-going and shifted between main characters and a cast of new, minor characters. 
  5. The Late Great: "Guiding Light." The "Guiding Light" was part of the ABC family of soaps but is no longer on the tube. "The Light," or GL, dimmed after 2009 when the show was canceled, but the show has the record as the "longest running drama on television," according to the Guinness Book of World Records. "The Guiding Light" started as a radio program in 1937 and stayed on the radio waves until 1957 when the radio program went off the air. A concurrent GL moved to the airwaves in 1952. The storyline was different, but the location and players remained the same for the two programs. The title is borrowed from the work of Reverend Dr. John Ruthledge, one of the first radio characters, who guided the characters and also featured a light in his office to help "illuminate life's problems." 
  6. The Not So Late, Great: "Dark Shadows." Fans of gothic culture may know the ABC soap opera "Dark Shadows" that was broadcast from 1966 through April 1971. Dan Curtis created the show design from an original idea by Art Wallace. Vampires and ghosts were main characters on the show, along with Barnabas Collins, played by actor Jonathan Frid. 
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