Almost exactly a year ago CBS broadcast the final episode of its long-running soap opera Guiding Light. Then, in December of 2009, the network canceled As the World Turns, the sole remaining Procter and Gamble soap on the air. As the World Turns, created by Irna Phillips, premiered on Monday, April 2nd, 1956 as a half-hour, black and white program, switched to color in 1967 and became an hour-long show in 1975. Its 10,000th episode aired in May of 1995. Today’s finale will be the show’s 13,858th episode.
Aside from its longevity, As the World Turns may be best known for being on the air on November 22nd, 1963; the program was interrupted by a news bulletin announcing that President Kennedy had been shot. You can watch the episode thanks to the Internet Archive (Walter Cronkite breaks in at the 10:00 mark):
Here’s the April 2nd, 1961 episode:
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. UCLAâ€™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). How many episodes exist from the 1950s through the 1970s is unknown, but every episode broadcast after the widespread adoption of VCRs is probably safe.