Episodes: 15,762 (15 minutes, half-hour, hour)
TV show dates: June 30, 1952 — September 18, 2009
Series status: Cancelled
Performers include: Grant Aleksander, Murray Bartlet, Robert Bogue, E.J. Bonilla, BethAnn Bonner, Jeff Branson, Mandy Bruno, Crystal Chappell, Jordan Clarke, Bradley Cole, Zack Conroy, Daniel Cosgrove, Justin Deas, Bonnie Dennison, Frank Dicopoulos, Jessica Leccia, Karla Mosley, Robert Newman, Michael O’Leary, Ron Raines, Marcy Rylan, Lawrence Saint-Victor, Gina Tognoni, Caitlin Van Zandt, Kim Zimmer, Kim Brockington, Orlagh Cassidy, Beth Chamberlin, Tyra Colar, Carey Cromelin, Olivia Dicopoulos, Marj Dusay, Peter Francis James, Elizabeth Keifer, Maeve Kinkead, Kurt McKinney, Narlee Rae, Gil Rogers, Tina Sloan, Jacqueline Tsirkin, and Yvonna Wright.
TV show description:
The stories of Springfield’s multi-generational families unfold in this long-running drama. The soap opera began as an NBC radio program in 1937 and continued until 1956. The show’s title refers to a lamp in the study of Reverend Dr. John Ruthledge, a major character in the radio years. The light could be seen at a distance by family and residents when they needed help or guidance.
In 1952, CBS brought the serial to television as a series of 15 minute segments. Light expanded to 30 minutes in 1968 and then, to an hour in 1977.
In the beginning of the show’s television run, the series revolves around Friedrich “Papa” Bauer, a hardworking German immigrant who imparts wisdom in a folksy way. Papa has three children; Bill, Meta, and Trudy. Conflicts between the Bauer clan and Bill’s headstrong wife, Bert, are an integral part of the plot in the television show’s first decade. Other plotlines revolve around Bill’s alcoholism and his career difficulties (exacerbated by Bert’s materialism), Trudy’s jealousy of Meta’s lifestyle, and Meta’s struggles to get along with Kathy, the daughter of her second husband, newspaper reporter Joe Roberts.
By the mid-1960s, stories shift to revolve around Bill and Bert’s children — attorney Mike and doctor Ed — and Mike’s eventual wife, Robin. Later on, Light becomes the first show to regularly feature African-American characters, Jim and Martha Frazier (James Earl Jones and Ruby Dee).
In the mid-1970s, the soap begins focusing on the core characters once again and younger characters are introduced as well. Bert’s husband Bill returns after being presumed dead for many years. Rita Stapleton, a nurse and complicated vixen, arrives in Springfield with her sweet sister, Eve, and mother, Viola. A love triangle is also introduced between the Bauer sons and nurse Leslie Jackson.
By the 1980s, several new families — the Lewis, Reardon, and Cooper clans — are introduced and several longtime residents depart or are phased out. During the 1990s, the soap tries to be more realistic but then becomes more campy and outlandish. During this period, one of the soap’s main characters is Reva Shayne, the self-described “Slut of Springfield.”
At the turn of the century, the show begins focusing on both Springfield and the island nation of San Cristobel. Much of the show’s drama is split between the Santos mob and the Winslow family. The island and the Santos family are eventually dropped and the show is refocused once again to revolve around the community’s youth — like half-cousins Johnathan Randall and Tammy Winslow.
Though the names and faces change in this long-running soap opera, you can always expect to be charmed by the town of Springfield. As they say, “Life happens here.”
Image courtesy Proctor & Gamble.