Friday, September 18, 2009


It is absolutely incredible to me that GUIDING LIGHT has been on since January 25, 1937 when the program began airing on NBC Radio. Think about the historical significance of that.

Here are some of the events that took place in January 1937:
* 1st - Anastasio Somoza GarcĂ­a becomes President of Nicaragua.

* 19th - Howard Hughes set a new air record by flying from Los Angeles to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds.

* 20th - Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated for a second term as President of the United States. This was the first inauguration scheduled on January 20, following adoption of the 20th Amendment. (Five days before GL first aired)

* 23rd - In Moscow, 17 leading Communists went on trial accused of participating in a plot led by Leon Trotsky to overthrow Joseph Stalin's regime and assassinate its leaders.

Wow. Theo Goetz (Papa Bauer) was born in 1894. The 1800s!

This show has lasted through 13 Presidents of the United States.
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
33. Harry S Truman
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
35. John F. Kennedy
36. Lyndon Johnson
37. Richard Nixon
38. Gerald Ford
39. James Carter
40. Ronald Reagan
41. George H. W. Bush
42. William J. Clinton
43. George W. Bush
44. Barack H. Obama

Count Basie's "One O'Clock Jump" was the biggest song that year. Another top song in 1937 was Fred Astaire's "They Can't Take That Away From Me." That's how I always felt about GUIDING LIGHT. I can't believe it's ending.

In THE GUIDING LIGHT storylines, the early years focused on Reverend and Mary Rutledge and the Kransky family. When Rose Kransky had a child out of wedlock in 1939 it was a huge scandal. Over the course of the first twelve years, GUIDING LIGHT moved production from Chicago to Hollywood and eventually to New York (in 1949). When the show moved to New York, the setting changed from Five Points, USA to Selby Flats, California. The show celebrated 60 years in New York in 2009. Ann Shepherd played Bert Miller when she became engaged to Bill Bauer that same year. Charita Bauer took over the role (the show was still on radio) in 1950. It would be 1966 before the location was changed to Springfield. In 1952 the show would move to television with 15-minute episodes. The radio episodes continued until 1956. In 1968 the show expanded to 30 minutes and in 1977 it went to 60. Lucy Ferri Rittenberg was the longest running executive producer (23 years). Creator Irna Phillips was the longest running head writer. She created the show based on a radio minister who promoted the brotherhood of man. What an amazing accomplishment to have gotten this show on the radio in 1937 and for it to be in the air in 2009, the year she would have turned 108.

I have a Bachelor's degree in History so perhaps the historical significance of a show last over 72 years on television and radio hits me harder than most, but no drama series will ever achieve this longevity again. This is a milestone. We are sad, but should celebrate this incredible achievement by so many dedicated actors, writers, producers, directors, set designers, lighting crew, sound people, and everyone involved. Thanks for the memories.


  1. Thanks for that historical review. It is astounding that FDR was president when the show premiered. My how the world has changed.

    And you also told me several things I didn't know about the show itself. Didn't realize that Charita Bauer wasn't the original Bert. And never knew that they didn't move the show to Springfield until 1966. I knew they had changed the setting, but had alwasy assumed Springfield was the locale since the beginning of TV days. Thanks!

    One small correction, however. The show expanded to 60 minutes in 1977, the same time they dropped the "THE" from the name. It was Y&R that expanded to 60 minutes in 1980 (with the cancellation of Love of Life).

  2. Thanks, James. Not sure where that 1980 came from. I actually remember when GL expanded even though I was seven at the time. I'm amazed at how much soap stuff I remember from my children in periods of time I can't remember what I was actually doing (other than watching soaps!).

  3. I really enjoyed reading the Historical context. Thank you for all of the WeLoveSoaps GL Tribute posts these past few months.

  4. Hi Roger!

    I second what Beth said. Thanks So Much For The Posts & All The GL Tribute Photos. Thanks Also To Rob Wargo For The GL Photos! Does Rob Work For P&G Or CBS?!