AS THE WORLD TURNS: Good Night, Dear

Another soap legend is gone. It kind of makes you wonder if the dawn of this decade is signaling the end of the genre. First James Mitchell. Then Frances Reid. Now Helen Wagner. Somehow this one stings the most. Wagner’s Nancy Hughes was in many ways the heart and soul of the soon-to-be-departing As the World Turns. I had the honor of meeting her on the set once. A sweeter, more beautiful woman you could not find. Wagner opened the show over 50 years ago with the line “Good morning, dear,” and how many of us were hoping that the last glimpse we’d have of Oakdale would be Nancy wishing us a good night. Now I know that ATWT films well in advance of its air dates, and it’s possible that pieces of the last episode are already in place. Scrap them. Too often when a soap star passes, viewers are treated to one day where familiar faces return, candles are lit, and everyone goes back to loving and/or hating each other the very next day (that’s essentially how All My Children dealt with Mitchell’s passing). Morbid as this might sound, ATWT has actually been handed an opportunity to wrap up the show with several episodes devoted to Nancy’s death. If they follow through, it could well prove a teary, cathartic way to say goodbye to Oakdale. Send Wagner and the show off in style, Writers. Until then, check out this clip, a fine example of the quiet emotion Wagner brought to her portrayal of Nancy. She will be sorely missed.


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