AS THE WORLD TURNS is sad to announce the death of Helen Wagner, who for 54 years played “Nancy Hughes” on the soap opera. Wagner, 91, passed away on Saturday, May 1, 2010.
Wagner spoke the first words on AS THE WORLD TURNS when the show premiered on April 2, 1956, and holds the Guinness World Record for playing the same role on television for the longest amount of time. In 2004, Wagner was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In 2002, she received a plaque on the Buddy Holly Walk of Fame in Lubbock, Texas.
"All of us at AS THE WORLD TURNS are deeply saddened by Helen's passing," said Christopher Goutman, Executive Producer. "She is loved by generations of fans and while we will miss her greatly, Helen will always remain the heart and soul of AS THE WORLD TURNS."
Born on September 3, 1918 in Lubbuck, Texas, Wagner studied at Monmouth College in Illinois, earning degrees in dramatics and music. While working at her first professional stage job singing with the St. Louis Municipal Opera, Wagner caught the eye of Oscar Hammerstein, who then cast Wagner in the Broadway production of "Sunny River."
Wagner's other Broadway credits include Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!," "The Bad Seed," "My Name Is Acquilon" and "Love of Four Colonels." She toured as Blanche in "A Streetcar Named Desire" with Lee Marvin, and appeared in regional theater in Illinois as Eleanor in "The Lion in Winter" and in all of the women's roles in "Lovers and Other Strangers."
Before joining AS THE WORLD TURNS in 1956, Wagner appeared on a number of television programs including GUIDING LIGHT, VALIANT LADY, STUDIO ONE, PHILCO RADIO TELEVISION and THE WORLD OF MR. SWEENEY.
Wagner was married to Broadway producer Robert Willey from June, 1954 until his death in May, 2009.
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