Commentary YR

Soap Opera Families We Miss: As The World Turns’ Hughes Family

From the very beginning, when Chris and Nancy Hughes wished each other “good morning,” soap opera viewers knew that the Hughes family was the heart…

From the very beginning, when Chris and Nancy Hughes wished each other “good morning,” soap opera viewers knew that the Hughes family was the heart and soul of As The World Turns. That would be true for the entire 54-year run of the beloved serial.

Soap Opera Families: The Hughes

Christopher Hughes (Don MacLaughlin) and his wife Nancy (Helen Wagner) lived in the town of Oakdale with their four children: Donald (Richard Holland, Peter Brandon, Conard Fowkes), Susan, Penny (Rosemary Prinz), and Bob (Don Hastings). Chris was a lawyer, Nancy a former teacher turned housewife.

Joining the family was Chris’s father, Will “Pa” Hughes (Santos Ortega), a widower who’d been a farmer. Chris’s sister, Edith (Ruth Warrick), also moved to Oakdale to be closer to her family. Sadly, the close-knit family suffered a terrible tragedy when Chris and Nancy’s eldest daughter, Susan, died in a freak accident.

Susan’s death especially affected their youngest daughter. Penny looked to her aunt, Edith, as a role model. Unfortunately, in Nancy’s opinion, Edith wasn’t the role model type. Edith was a free spirit and unconventional woman, the kind Nancy had strong opinions about.

Those opinions only worsened when Edith began an affair with a married friend of the family, Jim Lowell (Les Damon). Despite the town’s ire, Edith continued her relationship with Jim until his tragic death. Edith remained heartbroken for a long time until she was finally able to get over Jim’s death and move on with her life. She eventually got married and moved to Seattle.

Don Hughes

Don Hughes decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and became a lawyer. Neither his personal nor his professional life was easy, mostly due to disagreements with his parents. Nancy always interfered with Don’s love life, letting it be known that she didn’t approve of his choices, while Don resented his father’s help with his career.

A series of events found Don leaving and returning to Oakdale numerous times. He finally found happiness with Mary Ellison (Kelly Wood) and left for California, where he had a daughter, Christina, and adopted Mary’s son, Teddy, who later returned to Oakdale and went by the name Ryder (Kerr Smith).

Penny Hughes

Young Penny Hughes was still reeling from her Aunt Edith’s scandal when she found herself involved in her own love affair. Jeff Baker (Mark Rydell) was the love of Penny’s life, but meddling Nancy disapproved of the relationship. The young couple ran away and eloped, but the marriage was annulled at Nancy’s insistence. But true love won out and Penny and Jeff were finally wed.

Sadly, their love story ended when Jeff was killed in an automobile accident. Penny later went on to marry Neil Wade (Michael Lipton) but was made a widow a second time after Neil died of an embolism. After a third try at love with Roy McGuire (Konrad Matthaei) failed, Penny left Oakdale. While living in England, she finally found love with Anton Cunningham and the couple adopted a daughter, Amy Lin.

Bob Hughes

Youngest son, Bob, was the most easygoing of the Hughes children. While he was studying for a career in medicine, he met and fell in love with a social climber named Lisa Miller (Eileen Fulton). Lisa thought that having a doctor for a husband would lead to a prosperous life. The two secretly married, much to the dismay of Bob’s parents. Nancy tried to have the marriage annulled but dropped her plans when Lisa announced that she was pregnant. Chris and Nancy had no choice but to let Bob and Lisa move in with them.

Lisa quickly realized that the life of a medical student’s wife wasn’t for her. After giving birth to Thomas Christopher Hughes (Peter Galman, C. David Colson, Richard Thomas, Justin Deas, Gregg Marx, Scott Holmes), she spent her time gallivanting around town and shirking her responsibilities. She cheated on Bob and ignored her son. Bob and Lisa divorced but found themselves dabbling with the idea of reuniting from time to time. The two never did get back together, but they managed to become close friends as time went on.

Bob did get involved with a series of women, including Jennifer Ryan (Geraldine Court, Gillian Spencer), the widowed wife of a friend. The two were married, but it was a rocky marriage as Jennifer’s son was against the match. Adding to the stress was Jennifer’s sister, Kim Reynolds (Kathryn Hays), who found herself falling for Bob. Ever the honorable man, Bob betrayed his own nature by having a fling with Kim while the two were alone in Florida.

When he returned to Oakdale, he learned that not only was Jennifer pregnant, Kim was, too. Kim tried to keep the paternity of her baby secret by marrying Bob’s rival, Dr. John Dixon (Larry Bryggman).

Jennifer gave birth to a girl, Frances AKA Frannie (Maura Gilligan, Terri VandenBosch, Julianne Moore, Mary Ellen Stuart) while Kim was told that she had miscarried a baby girl. Little Frannie brought Bob and Jennifer closer together, but sadly, Jennifer died in a car accident, leaving Bob to raise Frannie alone.

Another tragedy that befell the Hughes family around that time was the death of patriarch “Grandpa” Hughes. Bob gave his eulogy and spoke of how his grandfather loved his family. The Hughes family vowed to continue on, with Grandpa always in their hearts.

Tom Hughes

Tommy Hughes’ teenage years had been difficult — even by soap opera standards. After becoming insolent and rebellious, young Tommy joined the Army. When he returned from Vietnam, he continued fighting demons, which now included a drug habit.

He eventually turned things around and decided to become a lawyer. He also fell in love and married sweet Carol Deming (Rita McLaughlin Walter), but the marriage fell apart when they both realized they were too young. He became involved with his stepsister Barbara Ryan (Donna Wandrey, Colleen Zenk) and the two got engaged, but the marriage never took place.

Now a full-time attorney, Tom was investigating a drug ring when he became involved with Margo Montgomery (Margaret Colin, Hillary B. Smith, Ellen Dolan), who was the daughter of the Hughes’ enemy, John Dixon. Tom and Margo fell in love while battling a mobster named Mr. Big (Brent Collins). Despite familial turmoil that separated them, the couple eventually married in a joyous ceremony in the park.

There was no more joyous wedding than when Bob Hughes finally wed Kim. The two had been friends for years and past feelings were rekindled. Chris and Nancy, who had moved away a few years earlier, returned for the wedding. Soon after, they decided to move back to Oakdale. They were surrounded by family and friends when they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. It was a happy time for the Hughes family. Sadly, soon after, Chris Hughes died in his sleep, leaving all of Oakdale heartbroken.

Frannie Hughes

Bob’s little girl, Frannie, was growing up fast. And when it came to the boys she dated, Bob looked like he’d be following his mother’s example – he didn’t approve. That was especially true when Frannie fell in love with Jay Connors (Breck Jamison), a boy from the “wrong side of the tracks.”

Fortunately for Bob, Frannie’s leaving for college put an end to that relationship. Frannie wound up leaving Yale during her first year and returned to Oakdale, and the men that pursued her this time would really give Bob something to worry about. Douglas Cummings (John Wesley Shipp) seemed like a nice man, but he turned out to be a psychopath who was actually obsessed with Kim Hughes.

That situation concluded with murder and mayhem, leaving Frannie emotionally scarred. She took some time to study in England, where she saw a woman who looked like she could be her twin. As it turns out, that wasn’t far off. The woman, Sabrina (Julianne Moore, Claire Beckman), was actually Kim’s baby that she supposedly miscarried! Sabrina moved to Oakdale and soon became Frannie’s rival for the affections of Seth Snyder (Steve Basset). After some rough times, the two sisters became close.

Tom and Margo’s marriage had lots of ups and downs. Margo decided to become a police officer, which irked Tom. But things were okay until Barbara Ryan decided that she wanted Tom back. She maneuvered and manipulated her way into their life and almost destroyed their marriage.

Surprise Children

The couple survived that ordeal, but their relationship was truly tested after Margo had an affair with her partner, Hal Munson (Benjamin Hendrickson). The affair resulted in a pregnancy. Tom was heartbroken to learn the truth but decided to raise the baby, Adam (Michael Zderko, Harry Zittel, Craig Lawlor, Matthew Morrison), as his son.

Tom was also dealing with the surprise of a long-lost daughter, Lien (Ming-Na Wen). Lien had been conceived while Tom was in Vietnam. He got to know his daughter and was thrilled when she decided to follow in his footsteps and became a lawyer. Meanwhile, Tom and Margo added to their family with the birth of their son, Casey (Cruise Russo, Joseph Cross, Zach Roerig, Billy Magnussen).

Also adding to their soap opera family was Bob and Kim when they welcomed a son, Christopher Hughes II (Christian Siefert, Paul Korver, Bailey Chase, Dylan Bruce, Daniel Cosgrove). Chris grew up to be a doctor, like his father. When he wasn’t working at the hospital, he traveled the world helping others. He almost succumbed to heart failure, but a last-minute heart transplant saved his life and ensured that he’d continue his life’s work.

Love Again

New beginnings were also in store for Nancy Hughes. After years as a widow, Nancy found love again with police lieutenant Dan McClosky (Dan Frazer). Their marriage was a happy one until Dan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. After his death, Nancy remained in Oakdale to be with her family. She gave advice and support when she was needed.

Frannie was certainly someone who needed some support after she married businessman Darryl Crawford (Rex Smith). Darryl had been accused of murdering his ex-wife and Frannie wasn’t sure he was innocent. Despite eventually learning that her husband was, indeed, innocent, Frannie decided to divorce Darryl and leave for Montega, where Sabrina had established a clinic.

Brother Tom found himself, once again, estranged from Margo. This time, he found solace in the arms of Emily Stewart (Melanie Smith, Kelley Menighan). Emily became pregnant and gave birth to Tom’s son, Daniel (Dylan Bluestone, Sam Stone). Despite the infidelities on both sides, along with kidnapping, rape, and a number of other obstacles, Tom and Margo fought for their marriage and managed to stay together. Their children continued the tradition of angst and drama, but the family persevered.

The death of matriarch Nancy Hughes McClosky was one of the saddest times the Hughes family had ever known, but the lessons of love learned through the years would see the Hughes through anything. Although everyone was spread out far and wide, the progeny of Chris and Nancy Hughes would always remain a close, tight-knit family.

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