Soap Handling Two Goodbyes, Not One

When AS THE WORLD TURNS broadcasts its final episode on September 17th, it will be the second big goodbye for the show in just a few weeks’ time.

The first comes on August 31st, according to reports, when it pays tribute to its matriarch, Nancy Hughes.  Helen Wagner, the actress who played the role since the first episode, passed away back in May.  Her last appearance on the show came about a month after her death, since the show is taped in advance.

Wagner spoke the first words, “Good morning, dear,” on April 2, 1956.  And a scene with Wagner was interrupted by a voiceover bulletin from Walter Cronkite on November 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was shot in Dallas.  Wagner’s Nancy has been the mother-figure to a wide canvas of characters over the decades the show has been on the air.

The show’s executive producer, Christopher Goutman, told TV Guide recently that he had intended for Wagner to close out the series with the same line she launched it with.  Knowing of her failing health, he says he contemplated shooting the scene in advance, just to be safe, but then reconsidered, fearing “bad karma.”

More on their plan, after the jump:

The episode scheduled for Monday, August 30th will have longtime characters Bob and Kim Hughes go to Nancy’s apartment to pick her up and bring her to a family gathering, only to discover that she has quietly passed away.

What happens next is a little different.

The next day’s episode will pick up after Nancy’s memorial service, with the family returning from the ceremony feeling like they need to do more to remember her legacy.

It’s that goal, and the search for a more lasting tribute to their loved one, that will comprise the show’s finale roughly two weeks later.

It’s an unusual way to say goodbye to a character, but a fitting one considering the show itself is also leaving the air.

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