Odds are that most of the people actually reading this blog weren’t alive during a time that GUIDING LIGHT wasn’t on the air, either on radio or television. But next week, after 72 years, the CBS soap goes dark.
Anything could happen and it usually did over the course of its more than 15,000 episodes. Characters would disappear and re-emerge after years, become entangled in the most outrageous plots writers could fathom – they could even die and come back to life. Morley Safer talks to the people who produced and appeared on GUIDING LIGHT, some for decades, as they celebrate the life and now accept the breakup of what has for them become a family, Sunday on 60 MINUTES.
First on the radio in 1937, “Guiding Light” made the transition to television in 1952 and rode the soap-opera success train to its peak in the 1970s, when the networks ran 16 of them. Its demise leaves just seven on the networks now.
“I’m 54 years old. I will never have a job like this again, ever in my life,” says actress Kim Zimmer, who played Reva Shayne – a character who married nine times on the show. “Nothing this steady and this stable and this wonderful.”
Executive producer Ellen Wheeler says it’s more than a job. “We have to say goodbye to the characters and we have to say goodbye to the town, the whole town. We have to say goodbye to each other. Our working relationships are over,” she says.
Beth Chamberlin, who went from a teenager to middle age on the broadcast as Beth Raines, is a little bit in denial. “I think it won’t sink in for maybe a month later that we’re actually not going back. We’re not just light on story right now, there is no story to be told,” she tells Safer.
In addition, Safer also speaks to ‘GL’ writer Jill Lorie Hurst and longtime actors Ron Raines, Tina Sloan and Grant Aleksander.
60 MINUTES airs Sunday at 7:00pm on LIVE 5 WCSC.