CBS has announced that its long-running daytime soap opera, Guiding Light, will end after its Friday, September 18th, 2009 broadcast. Read about the cancellation at Variety.com or TVWeek. According to Guiness World Records, it is the world’s longest-running television drama.
After starting on radio on January 25th, 1937 the series moved to television on June 30th, 1952 (it would air on both mediums until 1956). Based on my hasty calculations, it will end with 15,763 episodes under its belt, shown over the course of 57 seasons. Originally 15 minutes in length, it expanded first to thirty minutes and later to one hour. I imagine that a good percentage of those 15,763 episodes no longer exist, especially those broadcast during the 1950s and 1960s. I’m not aware of any attempt to accurately list which episodes are still around. You can, however, watch two 15 minute episodes from 1953 thanks to the Internet Archive.
Here’s the March 4th, 1953 episode:
And here’s the April 9th, 1953 broadcast:
The Museum of Broadcast Communications has eight episodes from the 1950s in its collection; the earliest is the January 27th, 1953 broadcast. You can watch five of those early episodes as well as the 50th anniversary special from 1987 online through the museum’s digitized archives (requires free registration).