It’s hard to believe it’s coming up on 10 years since Guiding Light went off the air, but this September 18 will be the sad anniversary for the show’s fans, cast, and crew. In the above video, get a birds-eye view of what that last day on their set was like for the longest-running show in soap opera history.
The action took place on location in Peapack, New Jersey. Throughout the day, names were called out with the amount of time each person had spent as a part of the show’s family. It’s hard to watch as longtime cast members, like Tina Sloan who played Lillian Raines, worked to hold it together until shooting was over.
The tissue in her hand is the telltale sign that the legendary Kim Zimmer, who played Reva Shayne, was having a tough time getting through the day since the cast and crew were like family. After all, they’d been together for decades.
Guiding Light premiered on radio in 1937, written by the grandmother of soaps herself, Irna Phillips. On June 30, 1952, the radio cast did the show and then had to drive over to another studio to perform a version for television. It aired on both until 1956, when it let go of the radio version to concentrate completely on television.
While the Bauers remained a mainstay family, their numbers dwindled as they were joined in later years by the Reardon, Lewis, and Spaulding families. Even the mob was brought to town with the addition of the Santos crime family. But the show suffered in later years.
It was on April 1, 2009, that CBS announced it would be canceling the program, after ratings and decreased revenue had already forced the show into an experiment of shooting almost all on location and in the digital format, moving to handheld cameras instead of those on a pedestal. It was a risk that in the end didn’t pay off.