CBS Cancels As the World Turns

CBS has canceled the long-running As the World Turns, the last soap opera owned by Procter & Gamble. The program will end in September 2010 after more than 13,000 episodes. Another CBS soap opera, Guiding Light, went off the air on September 18th, 2009. Read about the cancellation at Broadcasting & Cable, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety and The New York Times. The official announcement can be read here and a statement from Barbara Bloom, Senior Vice President, Daytime Programming, here.

As the World Turns premiered on Monday, April 2nd, 1956 as one of the first half-hour soap operas. I am not aware of any complete episode guide or any list of which episodes are known to exist. The Paley Center for Media has roughly 150 episodes, many of which are from the 1990s or the 2000s but there are quite a few from the 1960s as well. UCLA’s Film and Television Archive has a few dozen episodes, including some from 1958 (the earliest of which seems to be from March 20th of that year). You can watch two episodes from the early 1960s at Archive.org. Here’s the March 29th, 1962 episode:

And here’s the November 22nd, 1963 episode (at the 10:00 mark Walter Cronkite breaks in with a CBS News Bulletin to announce that shots have been fired at President Kennedy):


6 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Yes, the program will long be remembered for having been interrupted at 1:40pm(et) on November 22, 1963, for Walter Cronkite’s first bulletin (no camera, as it wasn’t “warmed up” in time to function until 2pm) concerning President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. In late 1963, CBS was the only network carrying a “coast-to-coast” program at that hour- NBC and ABC were “down”, allowing local stations to schedule their own programs at 1:30 [although ABC was “feeding” some of their affiliates a delayed broadcast of a “FATHER KNOWS BEST” repeat, from 12:30; ABC’s archives of the coverage from 11/22 through 11/25 begins with that half-hour and their first bulletins within].

    Incidentally, Procter & Gamble did NOT sponsor that day’s episode: Best Foods {Niagara spray starch}, Nestle {Instant Nescafe} and Carnation’s Friskies pet food division products were featured in the commercial breaks. It was becoming economically infeasable, even then, for P&G to sustain a daily half-hour program on their own, so they were selling ad time to “alternate sponsors”.
    And now, the ratings are such they can’t afford to keep “AS THE WORLD TURNS” on the air at all…

  • Cee Jay says:

    It’s sad to see another of the network stallworth daytime shows get the axe, and what will be put in place of it…God only knows. Here in Cleveland, they put the new version of Let’s Make A Deal with Wayne Brady at 10a.m. just after the syndicated versions of FAmily Feud and Who Wants to be a Millionaire and just before Price Is Right.

    Sadly what our CBS affiliate put at 3:00 p.m. is one of the many god awful “judge shows” as I call them when they could be showing old episodes of Classic TV shows.

    Sad but I guess it’s true that nothig stays the same.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    CBS was the last network to schedule RADIO soap operas in the daytime (including “MA PERKINS”, “YOUNG DR. MALONE” and “THE SECOND MRS. BURTON”)- they ended on November 25, 1960, because the network decided to give the time back to their affiliates, as it was obvious more people were watching TV soaps during the day than listening to “dramatized radio” [the last of CBS’ “prime-time” dramas- “YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR” and “SUSPENSE” on early Sunday evenings- ended on September 30, 1962].
    Now, it’s happening on network TV…..

    Apparently, the ONLY network to be flourishing in “daytime dramas” is ABC [three soaps, from 1 through 4pm(et), you know which they are]. NBC virtually dismantled their daytime schedule several years ago, with just ONE “soap” {“DAYS OF OUR LIVES”} remaining…and FOUR hours of “THE TODAY SHOW”. Not a good sign.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    The episode dated “March 29, 1962” was actually telecast on Friday, March 30, 1962 {the announcer reminds us to “join us again, Monday” at the end; he wouldn’t have said that unless it WAS a Friday segment}.

    “The preceeding program was pre-recorded” disclaimers appeared on kinescoped copies of this episode only; they replaced the original “live” promos and network I.D. slides flashed at the 14:58 and 27:47 “marks” [a 30 second “station break”, allowing CBS affiliates to air a local commercial and their station I.D. {“WCBS-TV, Channel 2, New York”}, originally appeared before the second half of the program began at 15:06]. The final “alternate sponsor’s” message that was supposed to appear at 27:08 is missing.

    Apparently, Best Foods and Carnation co-sponsored the Friday episodes at the time, as they did it again on Friday, November 22, 1963; again, by the early ’60s, Procter & Gamble did not sponsor the series every day, as production and “air time” costs forced them to take on “alternate sponsors”…

  • Trivia Addendum: Another P&G-sponsored daytime drama, The Edge Of Night (1956-84), debuted on the same day as ATWT.

    And so, soap operas continue to go the way of the passenger pigeon… :(

  • Jane Kesey says:

    I have watched As The World Turns for 30 years or so. I’ll miss
    it greatly. Is there anything we can do to keep it on? Any letters
    to the sponsor or network?

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