When I saw the tweet that Agnes Nixon had passed, it hit me HARD.
You must understand… Once upon a time….
For A couple of decades, I was a soap opera fanatic.
And, ABC was what got me hooked. I came home to The Edge of Night. ABC began with Ryan’s Hope, and ended with Edge. All My Children and One Life to Live WERE MY SHOWS.
Thank you, Ms. Nixon, for endless hours of drams.
Agnes Nixon, Who Injected Social Ills Into Soap Operas, Dies at 93
By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
SEPT. 28, 2016
Agnes Nixon, a celebrated creator and writer of television soap operas, who introduced uterine cancer, venereal diseases, child abuse, AIDS and other societal terrors into the weekday fantasy worlds of millions of daytime viewers, died on Wednesday in Rosemont, Pa. She was 93.
The cause was pneumonia resulting from Parkinson’s disease, her family said.
In a career that paralleled the rise, enormous popularity and gradual decline of soap operas in the last half of the 20th century, Ms. Nixon fashioned many of television’s most popular daytime shows, drawing on a rich imagination to find the great and small human dramas lurking just below the surface of American life.
To a 1950s audience mostly composed of women who were at home doing housework and raising children, Ms. Nixon’s early scripts for “The Guiding Light” and “Search for Tomorrow” provided an escape: a glimpse of dashing lives, handsome cads, passions run amok, dark secrets and terrible betrayals.
But in the 1960s and ’70s she virtually reinvented soaps, creating for the ABC network “One Life to Live,” “All My Children” and other shows infused with social relevance and politically charged topics like racism, abortion, obscenity, narcotics, the generation gap and protests against the Vietnam War.
Like their predecessors, the new Nixon soaps were disturbing, fascinating and addictive. Because she presented various sides of a controversy, they were more complex. But she tried to avoid preachy dialogue, letting action and plot speak for themselves. The conundrum was no longer simply whether Tara was pregnant, but whether Phil, home from Vietnam and scarred by the horrors of war, could still love her.
Many Nixon stories were based on reality. In 1964, after a friend died of cancer, she created a “Guiding Light” character who was found, after a Pap smear, to have cervical cancer. Despite misgivings by the sponsor, Procter & Gamble, the character appeared onscreen, though the words “cancer,” “uterus” and “hysterectomy” were never uttered. Even so, thousands of women wrote in to express gratitude for the information that a simple test might save their lives.
On “One Life to Live,” which began in 1968 and ran for 43 years, Ms. Nixon created a tale that reflected the nation’s changing social structures and attitudes. It had many ethnic characters, including Jews, Polish-Americans and African-Americans. A woman assumed to be white was revealed after months to be a light-skinned black, turning the story, and the audience, sharply to questions of racial prejudice.