Sunday, May 2, 2010

Helen Wagner Has Passed Away At Age 91

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.

- CLASSIC CLIPS: Helen Wagner
- FLASHBACK: Helen Wagner 1994
- FLASHBACK: World Has Turned 3,200 Times 1968
- FLASHBACK: Helen Wagner Leaves ATWT 1981
- FLASHBACK: Wagner Returns to ATWT Full-Time 1985
- Julianne on Helen Wagner: "Still Giving Us Acting Tips"
- FLASHBACK: Helen Wagner 1955
- 50 Greatest Soap Actresses: #46 Helen Wagner
- How To End ATWT: "Good Night, Dear"
- Robert Willey Has Passed, Age 88
- Happy 90th Birthday To ATWT's Helen Wagner!


  1. Very sad news.
    I still have hope the producers will let her character have the final words on ATWT in September.
    My condolences to her family and friends, and to all of her fans.
    Truly a daytime legend has passed.

  2. How sad. She lived a beautiful live with her loving husband and worked until the end. We will miss you, Helen.

  3. So sad. Even with her being off the show for a while and her being back-burnered at times, Helen was part of the heart of ATWT, albeit a part that was taken for granted by TPTB. With the impending end of ATWT on CBS (and possibly for good), knowing she won't be there leaves a very empty feeling.

  4. my sincere condolenses to her family and ATWT family

  5. RIP Helen and thank you for your wonderful work that lives on in the hearts of all daytime fans. Condolences to her family and friends. If you believe in Heaven, as I do, then you know she will be enjoying the company of her peers Mary Stuart and Charita Bauer.

  6. What a legend. Very sad. My condolences to her family and friends. I have watched ATWT forever. I was hoping to see her end the show she spoke the first lines of. I too hope producers will let her have the final words when ATWT goes off the air. It's the only way. Not just for the show, but a tribute to Helen. Thanks for the great memories!

  7. Very, very sad. Rest in peace, Helen.

  8. So very sad. I grew up watching ATWT with my grandparents who I spent the summers with until I was 15. They watched ATWT from the very first day until their deaths and, while I don't watch any soap daily, I do still keep up with it and will definitely miss her.
    My sympathies to her family, but know she was deeply loved by many, many fans.

  9. I'm so sorry to hear about Ms. Wagner's passing. I adored her as Nancy Hughes and (as a child watching the show) wished she were my mom! I, too, hope TPTB will somehow let Nancy Hughes say the last words on ATWT. It would be a tremendous and fitting tribute to the show and to Ms. Wagner. May God bless and be with her family and friends.

  10. One of the legendary figures of the genre. She will be missed.

  11. So sad, I wish we had seen more of Nancy on the show in the past few years. Even if the Daytime Emmys do not mention the end of ATWT, they definitely should have a tribute to Helen Wagner.

  12. I just found out about her death and I have to say I threw the punch bowl.

  13. RIP<3
    She will be missed.
    Her family and loved ones will be in my thoughts & prayers.

  14. ATWT will never be the same without her. She was the legacy of the show, the heart of the family bond of the show. Those in charge should really show their fans respect by allowing her the final words as the show fades to black. She will be truly missed. She was a wonderful woman and actress. RIP Nancy!!

  15. all this talk about ATWT continuing beyond its CBS cancellation should be put to rest, out of respect for the one and only Helen Waagner..even though, over the past few years, we saw Ms. Wagner less and less (understandably), her presence was still felt, knowing we'd see her again at any time..i EXPECT to see SOMETHING at the beginning or end of tomorrow's (5-3-2010) show!

  16. I remember Helen on The show Nelson, even though it was a long time ago. Deepest sympathy to her family and you also. MAY SHE REST IN PEACE. love Lynne

  17. Pure grace. She was the foundation of the show and the matriarch to all of us fans. Peace.