Today in Soap Opera History (July 1)

Irna Phillips was born 114 years ago today. Above she
is pictured dictating stories to her assistant,
Rose Cooperman.
"The daytime serial is destroying itself, eating itself up with rape, abortion, illegitimacy, men falling in love with other men's wives--all of which is often topped by a murder, followed by a long, drawn-out murder trial."
― Irna Phillips (November 1972)

"Today in Soap Opera History" is a collection of the most memorable, interesting and influential events in the history of scripted, serialized programs. From birthdays and anniversaries to scandals and controversies, every day this column celebrates the soap opera in American culture.

On this date in...

1901: Legendary soap opera creator Irna Phillips was born in Chicago, the youngest of ten children. She was educated at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois. She took graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. Miss Phillips also had an adopted son and daughter. She died at age 72 on December 22, 1973. During her life she created or co-created numerous soap operas for radio and television including As the World Turns, Guiding Light, Another World and Days of our Lives, just to name a few. She is considered by many to be the "queen" of the daytime serial genre and was a true pioneer in television.

1955: The final episode of Rosemary aired in CBS Radio.

1966: NBC aired the final episodes of daytime soap operas Morning Star and Paradise Bay. Both shows were created by Ted Corday and premiered on September 27, 1965, six weeks before Corday's other soap, Days of our Lives, debuted on the network.

1968: On Another World, Walter (Val Dufour) and Lenore's (Judith Barcroft) were married. Note: Agnes Nixon's daughters were part of the wedding party. The morning of the wedding, the Matthews family had breakfast together (see clip below).

1976: On Ryan's Hope, Mary Ryan (Kate Mulgrew) married Jack Fenelli (Michael Levin).

1976: On The Doctors, Steve hatched a plot involving the press and got personal with Stacy, Nick (Gerald Gordon) and Althea (Elizabeth Hubbard) reunited, and there were strange goings-on with Scott and Eleanor.

1977: The final episode of syndicated soap opera Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman aired. Merle surprised the City Council by making a speech in which he bared his soul -- and his body; George and Martha were joined at the hospital by the rest of the gang to await the outcome of Cathy's kidney transplant; Blumberg used the operation as a media event to generate publicity for Barth; Cathy went into cardiac arrest after the operation and the assembly prayed for her salvation by lifting their voices in song; and Mary came to understand that her life would always be coated with "a waxy yellow build-up."

1982: Diane Sommerfield aired for the final time as Valerie Grant on Days of our Lives.

1987: On Another world, M.J. (Sally Spencer) was disgusted as she watched the tape of herself as a hooker. She tried to explain the truth to Adam, but he put her off. Meanwhile, Chad (Richard Burgi) told Sara that he felt a future with M.J. was still possible.

1987: During Guiding Light's 50th anniversary week, Fletcher (Jay Hammer) and Maeve (Leslie Denniston) remembered 50 years of Springfield headlines.

1991: Anne Heche aired for the final time as Vicky Hudson on Another World.

1994: On General Hospital, Maxie found out that about BJ's death.

2000: Actor Burt Douglas died at age 69. His soap roles included Ron Christopher on The Edge of Night and Jim Fisk on Days of our Lives.

2002: On One Life to Live, Rae (Linda Dano) revealed the truth about her past to Keri and Antonio.

2004: On General Hospital, Jason (Steve Burton) and Sam (Kelly Monaco) found out they were having a baby girl.

2005: The final episode of Canadian soap opera Train 48 aired after three seasons.

2005: On As the World Turns, Lucinda Walsh (Elizabeth Hubbard) was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. Her daughters, Sierra (Mary Beth Evans) and Lily (Martha Byrne), encouraged her to beat the odds like she always had.

Celebrating a birthday today are:
Jamie Farr (ex-Ernie, Port Charles) - 81
Frank Parker (ex-Grandpa Shawn, Days of our Lives; ex-Paddy, General Hospital) - 76
Terrence Mann (ex-Jester, As the World Turns; ex-Griffen, Another World; ex-Ted, Guiding Light; ex-Earl, All My Children) - 64
Nelson Aspen (ex-Albert, Search for Tomorrow) - 52
Denice Duff (ex-Amanda, The Young and the Restless) - 50
Ritchie Coster (ex-Nate/Alfred,  Guiding Light; ex-Gabe, As the World Turns) - 48
Henry Simmons (ex-Tyrone, Another World) - 45
Thomas Sadoski (ex-Jesse, As the World Turns) - 39
Hilarie Burton (ex-Peyton, One Tree Hill) - 33
Hannah Murray (Gilly, Game of Thrones; ex-Cassie, Skins) - 26
Bryant Jones (ex-Nate, The Young and the Restless) - 24

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you would like to submit a soap history entry for this date or a future date, email


  1. Never noticed how much the Mary Hartman theme sounds like the GL theme from roughly the same era!

  2. Very Happy Birthday, Nelson!

    Brian :-)