About This Show
from the Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Television
From The Museum of Broadcast Communications entry on "Soap Opera"
By the 1951-52 television season, broadcasters had demonstrated television's ability to attract daytime audiences, principally through the variety-talk format. CBS led the way in adapting the radio serial to television, introducing four daytime serials. The success of three of them, Search for Tomorrow, Love of Life (both produced by Roy Winsor), and The Guiding Light, established the soap opera as a regular part of network television daytime programming and CBS as the early leader in the genre. "The Guiding Light" was the first radio soap opera to make the transition to television, and one of only two to do so successfully (The other was The Brighter Day, which ran for eight years). Between its television debut in 1952 and 1956 The Guiding Light was broadcast on both radio and television.
By the early 1960s, the radio soap opera--along with most aspects of network radio more generally--was a thing of the past, and "soap opera" in the United States now meant "television soap opera." The last network radio soap operas went off the air in November 1960. Still, television soap operas continued many of the conventions of their radio predecessors: live, week-daily episodes of fifteen minutes, an unseen voice-over announcer to introduce and close each episode, organ music to provide a theme and punctuate the most dramatic moments, and each episode ending on an unresolved narrative moment with a "cliffhanger" ending on Friday to draw the audience back on Monday.
Who Talked About This Show
Video: Full epsiode of The Guiding Light (airdate: March 4, 1953) from the Internet Archive.
- Kim Zimmer on the origin of Guiding Light's title and its original premise
Clip begins at: 04:30, Duration: 02m 49s
- Nancy Malone on her role as "Robin" on Guiding Light
Clip begins at: 56:37, Duration: 00m 20s
- Lee Rich on how the Hollywood Blacklist affected daytime programming
Clip begins at: 13:34, Duration: 01m 14s
- Ruby Dee on appearing as a regular on Guiding Light
Clip begins at: 16:11, Duration: 01m 09s
- Kim Zimmer on the production process of Guiding Light
Clip begins at: 25:03, Duration: 04m 27s