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Why Was 'As The World Turns' Canceled? The Beloved Soap Opera Ran for 54 Seasons

Edduin Carvajal
May 19, 2022
06:20 P.M.
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Actress Marnie Schulenburg passed away from breast cancer at 37, leaving behind her husband, daughter, and thousands of fans who met her as Alison Stewart in "As the World Turns."

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Marnie Schulenburg was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer in 2020, a few months after giving birth to her daughter Coda. She had a short but successful acting career, especially her three-year run in "As the World Turns."

In 2010, when the soap opera was canceled after 54 years, Schulenburg was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award. It's been over a decade since CBS took "As the World Turns" off the air, but people still wonder what happened.

Marnie Schulenburg on June 14, 2007, in Hollywood, California | Source: Getty Images

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WHAT HAPPENED TO "AS THE WORLD TURNS"?

Produced by Procter & Gamble, "As the World Turns" premiered its first episode on April 2, 1956, and kept its spot as one of the most popular soap operas in the US for decades.

The storylines and main characters varied over the years, but the show primarily followed generations of people from the fictional town of Oakdale, Illinois.

"As The World Turns" cast on May 16, 2003, in New York City | Source: Getty Images

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With 13,858 episodes and 54 seasons aired, "As the World Turns" is one of the top four longest-running soap operas in history, along with "General Hospital," "Guiding Light," and "Days of Our Lives."

It won 58 Daytime Emmys and served as a stepping stone for the likes of Julianne Moore, Courteney Cox, and Sarah Hyland. Unfortunately, ratings dropped, and producing the soap opera became too expensive, so CBS canceled it.

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Procter & Gamble tried to find a new distribution company for "As the World Turns" but failed. Former CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves pointed out that it might be the end of the soap opera era, especially after "Guiding Light" was also canceled after 72 years.

Shooting that last scene was particularly challenging.

Don Hastings and Leslie Denniston on February 22, 2010 in New York City | Source: Getty Images

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WHAT HAPPENED IN THE LAST EPISODE OF "AS THE WORLD TURNS"?

"As the World Turns" final episode aired on September 17, 2010, and almost every character got a seemingly happy ending, including Don Hastings' Bob, Billy Magnussen's Casey, and Maura West's Carly.

In Carly's case, she was determined to have another baby. Casey left his comfort zone and went to law school. Daniel Cosgrove's Chris and Terri Colombino's Katie got engaged.

Van Hansis' Luke ended his participation in the soap opera with a broken heart as his partner, Eric Sheffer Stevens' Dr. Reid Oliver, passed away.

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Some cast members of "As the World Turns" circa 2000 | Source: Getty Images

The final scene focused on Bob. It showed him taking one last look around his office at the hospital while Kathryn Hays' Kim says:

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"I don't think there should be goodbyes – just goodnight. So, my sweetheart, it's time to have fun."

Shooting that last scene was particularly challenging because the entire cast and crew watched Don Hastings from behind the cameras.

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FUN FACTS ABOUT "AS THE WORLD TURNS"

Although "As the World Turns" is not the longest-running soap opera in history, the three longest-serving soap actors are all from the show: Helen Wagner (Nancy), with 54 years, tops the list, followed by Don Hastings with 50, and Eileen Fulton with 47.

Speaking of Wagner, her character recited the first line of the series in April 1956: "Good morning, dear."

"As the World Turns" also made history by featuring the first out gay male character on daytime TV (Brian Starcher's Hank Elliot) and the first kiss between two men (Jake Silbermann's Noah Mayer and Luke). We still miss it!

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