Daytime drama, the love in the afternoon genre, has been entertaining fans for decades. Think you know everything there is to know about the medium? Here are 10 facts about soap operas.
1. Daytime Pioneer
Painted Dreams, the very first soap, debuted on Chicago radio station WGN on October 20, 1930. Heralded soap scribe Irna Phillips created the 15-minute family-based drama, as well as acted in it during its initial years.
2. Genesis of A Name
When the first daytime dramas began airing on radio, soap companies sponsored them. The shows were categorized as melodramatic, a la operas, because of their overly emotional storylines and characters. Hence, the nickname of calling them soap operas was born.
3. Tackling the Taboo
Another World made television history in 1964 when character Pat Matthews had a “back-alley” abortion that left her unable to bear children. In 1973, All My Children featured daytime’s first legal abortion via Susan Lucci’s character, Erica Kane.
4. 90-Minute Soap
If 60-minute soaps were good, 90 minutes could only be better, right? Another World expanded to 90 minutes on March 5, 1979. However, the show’s powers-that-be found it daunting to keep up the drama’s quality. The soap reverted back to an hour in August 1980 when Texas premiered.
5. Soap Operas That Hit 50 and Counting
Only four soaps have reached the milestone 50th-anniversary mark over the years: Guiding Light, As the World Turns, General Hospital, and Days of our Lives. DAYS celebrated the honor with a splashy party at the Hollywood Palladium in 2015, which was attended by castmates past and present.
6. Path to the Daytime Emmys
The first daytime-themed Emmy awards were handed out at the primetime ceremony in 1972. The Doctors took home the trophy for Best Daytime Show, while All My Children’s Mary Fickett won Outstanding Achievement by an Individual in a Daytime Drama.
7. A League of Their Own
In 1974, a separate ceremony solely for daytime programming was broadcast from the Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center in New York. The first Daytime Emmy Awards were hosted by journalist Barbara Walters and Hollywood Square’s host Peter Marshall.
8. Lucci’s Legacy
The biggest story to come out of the Daytime Emmys for years wasn’t who won but rather who lost. Susan Lucci, beloved as All My Children’s Erica, was nominated for an astounding 19 years, before finally winning the award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 1999.
9. Network Swaps
Two soaps actually switched networks during their runs. Edge of Night debuted on CBS in 1956. The series moved to ABC in December 1975, where it aired for nine more years. Meanwhile, Search for Tomorrow aired on CBS from 1951 to March 26, 1982. Procter & Gamble, who owned the soap, sold it to NBC, where it aired from March 29, 1982 to 1986.
10. Superstar Fans of Soap Operas
It’s not just stay-at-home moms who watch soap operas. The genre has some huge superstar fans. Elizabeth Taylor was so enamored with General Hospital, she agreed to do a guest spot as Helena Cassadine. Shaquille O’Neill grew up watching the GH gang, too. Aretha Franklin was devoted to The Young and the Restless. And Julia Roberts is such a devout Days of our Lives fan, she once changed seats at the People’s Choice Awards, so she could sit closer to its cast.