Today in Soap Opera History (December 23)

1981: GH's Rick and Lesley were married. 1987: GL's Amanda
returned to Springfield. 1988: RH's Sister Mary Joel made
a decision about her future.  2002: Y&R's Brittany was
advised by a homeless woman named Sylvia.
"The present contains nothing more than the past, and what is found in the effect is already in the cause."
― Henri Louis Bergson

"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...

1963: On The Edge of Night, Winston Grimsley (Walter Greaza) told Phil Capice (Ray MacDonnell) his complicated plan which would likely keep the Warrens from leaving town. Emory (Bill Berger) and Lyn (Gillian Spencer) Warren discussed their soon-to-be monetary situation and why they both had to be in superior physical and mental condition for their plan to work. Lyn was worried that Emory would leave her shortly after the baby was born, but Emory assured her that he was not going anywhere.

1964: On The Edge of Night, Gerry McGrath (Millee Taggart) awaited trial for the murder of Dave Hansen.

1971: On Days of our Lives, the Horton family celebrated Christmas.

Irna Phillips
1973: Legendary soap opera creator and writer Irna Phillips died at age 72. Here are some of her career highlights:

Speech and Drama Teacher (1924–30); Radio Creator, Writer, Painted Dreams (1930–32), Today's Children (1932–38), The Guiding Light (1937–56), The Road of Life (1937–59), The Woman in White (1938–48), The Right to Happiness (1939–60), The Brighter Day (1948–56); Television Creator, Writer, The Guiding Light(1952–58); Co-creator, Writer, As the World Turns (1956–70; 1972–73), Another World (1964–66); Co-creator, Days of our Lives (1965)

1976: On All My Children, Tara (Karen Lynn Gorney) had a heart-to-heart chat with Ruth (Mary Fickett) before her wedding to Phil.

1981: Search for Tomorrow debuted a new opening title sequence, which ran until February 25, 1986.

1981: On General Hospital, Rick (Chris Robinson) and Lesley (Denise Alexander) were married.

Thanks to Tricia for sending in the item above.

1983: On Search for Tomorrow, Sunny Adamson (Marcia McCabe) and Hogan McCleary (David Forsyth) toasted Christmas with two milk cartons followed by a special closing with "O Holy Night" playing in the background.

1983: On As the World Turns, much of Oakdale gathered at Ellen and David Stewart's house for a Christmas celebration.

Thanks to Jennifer for sending in the clip above.

1986: On All My Children, after hearing about Adam Chandler's job offer to Brooke English (Julia Barr), Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) accused Brooke of always following in her footsteps.  "You've never had a dream of your own," Erica said, during an entertaining tirade.

1987: On Guiding Light, Amanda's (Kathleen Cullen) return surprised Ross (Jerry verDorn).

1988: On Ryan's Hope, Jack (Michael Levin) and Ryan (Yasmine Bleeth) tried to come to terms with Sister Mary Joel's decision to remain in the order.

Thanks to Jennifer for sending in the item above.

1988: On All My Children,

1988: On General Hospital, Sean (John Reilly) and Tiffany (Sharon Wyatt) were married.

Thanks to Tricia for sending in the item above.

Also in the episode, Lucy Coe (Lynn Herring) panicked when her husband Tony Jones was rushed to hospital without having him sign their lucrative divorce agreement. Meanwhile, Bobbie Meyer (Jacklyn Zeman) was in surgery with Tony and Lucy threatened to take BJ against Tony's wishes.

Thanks to Stuart for sending in the item above.

1992: On The Young and the Restless, Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) had a Christmas Eve warning for Victor Newman (Eric Braeden).

1992: On All My Children, Opal Cortlandt (Jill Larson) gave birth to a baby boy, Petey.

1993: On As the World Turns, Lily Grimaldi (Martha Byrne) told Holden Snyder (Jon Hensley) the kiss they shared at the pond never should have happened.  "It was a mistake," Lily said.  "Then how come you kissed me back?" asked Holden.

Thanks to Jennifer for sending in the clip above.

1994: On Days of our Lives, a possessed Marlena (Deidre Hall) levitated over her bed.

1994: On As the World Turns, Holden (Jon Hensley) impressed Tracy by teaching J.R., her deaf son, a holiday song in sign language and performing it with the church choir. Lily (Martha Byrne) was there to see it and it made her reminisce about Holden. When Lily returned home, she lied to Damian (Paolo Seganti) about where she had been.

1999: Legendary casting director Betty Rea (Guiding Light, As the World Turns) died at age 82.

2002: The Jefferson's star Isabel Sanford made a guest appearance on The Young and the Restless, the final TV role before her 2004 death. Sanford played Silvia, a homeless woman that gave Brittany (Lauren Woodland) advice about the importance of family and told her to call her parents.

2003: Actor George Pentecost died at age 64. He played Tony the Tuna on Another World off and on from 1984 to 1995.

2005: Cady McClain returned to All My Children after a three year absence when Dixie Cooney Martin was revealed to be alive.

Thanks to Enrique for sending in the item above.

2009: On All My Children, the presumed dead Greenlee (Rebecca Budig) turned out to be alive in a Massachusetts clinic under David's care.

Thanks to Enrique for sending in the item above.

2011: On General Hospital, Dante (Dominic Zamprogna) and Lulu (Julie Marie Berman) were married.

Also in the episode, Jonathan Jackson aired for the final time as Lucky Spencer.

Celebrating a birthday today are:
Robert Lee Jarvis (ex-Diver, Days of our Lives) - 84
Don Frabotta (ex-Dave, Days of our Lives) - 74
Susan Lucci (Genevieve, Devious Maids; ex-Erica, All My Children) - 69
John Callahan (ex-Mackenzie, The Bay; Dr. Baker/ex-Artie, Days of our Lives; ex-Edmund, All My Children; ex-Craig, Santa Barbara; ex-Leo, General Hospital) - 62
Allison Argo (ex-Cindy, Search for Tomorrow; ex-Robin, The Bold and the Beautiful) - 62
Joan Severance (ex-Leona, Masters of Sex) - 57
Martha Byrne (Alexis, Anacostia; ex-Catherine, Gotham; ex-Janice, Pretty; ex-Andrea, General Hospital; ex-Lily/Rose, As the World Turns) - 46
Robert Benvenisti (ex-Kevin, Days of our Lives) - 42
Amanda Gunnarson (ex-Stephanie, Days of our Lives) - 26
Jessica Gunnarson (ex-Stephanie, Days of our Lives) - 26

CBS Daytime exec turned soap opera producer Paul Rauch was born 82 years ago today. He passed away on December 10, 2012.

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

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