Guiding Light

Guiding LightNetwork: CBS
Episodes: 15,762 (15 minutes, half-hour, hour)
Seasons: 57

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.”

Canceled and renewed TV show

34 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Lyn Stogsdill says

    I am a third generation fan of Guiding Light. I have been watching it for nearly 30 years. My mother & Grandma listened to it on the radio, then television. Over the years I have watched Guiding Light present the most talented actors on television some of them moving on to become famous in theater & movies. Guiding Light had controversial story lines that were done tastefully & were educational. It was always hard to see a favorite charactor leave but I was never disappointed with their replacement. The last change that happened to this program was the best. It is how they make it, you feel like your right there with them. You actually “see” Springfield. This is one of a very few great programs on the air & canceling it is a great mistake.

  2. Loretta Wedepohl says


  3. says

    @Pamela Crump: Thanks for your comments. The show was on for so long that it was impossible to write a brief description that could ever be considered complete.

  4. Pamela Crump says

    Why aren’t the Chamberlain family, and the Thorpe (Roger) mentioned. They were a hugh story line in the 70’s and 80’s. Where is Ross Martin, or Nola Reerdan and her husband Quinton? These should not be left out in any synopsis of the show. Bill Bauer also had another wife and family (his big secret). I hope all this will be included someway in the history.

  5. john says

    please how can the people of american and other countrys let a very big part of our american history just be canelled out . we are talking about our history the longest running broadcast nothing nothing i repeat has stood the time please help keep history don’t tear it down , iam heart broken to see this horriable thing happen wake up people and see the light

  6. Linda says

    Please hear our pleas and save this wonderful show that is part soap and mostly part family. Read the many emails…generations have enjoyed this show…72 years makes it historic and history needs to be respected. The show is so very good and improving more and more. Please do not let history end.

  7. Lisanne Valente says

    It’s a shame that this wonderful soap is being cancelled I absolutely love it. No wonder though, when comments are being made about christianity and homosexuality. This is a ‘show’ for heaven’s sake! It’s time to join the 21st century and realise that homosexuality isn’t anti christian, isn’t abnormal and is something we should as ‘christians’ welcome. Good on Guiding light for introducing this story line, maybe more will open the eyes of bigots hiding behind a supposed religion. God believes in love.

  8. Janet says

    I can only say it will be a sad day when this soap opera goes off the air. I can remember in the 1950’s when I was just a little girl, my mother had always watched your show faithfully until she passed away in 1995. My mother was an immigrant who came to the United States in 1952 when this show first aired. My mother didn’t know much English at the time except for a few basic words and phrases. She told me, when I was older, she learned how to speak the English language from having watched the show every day. She just loved the actress who played the part of Berta Bauer. Please forgive me if I have the first name spelled incorrectly. I just remember her talking about the Bauer family all the time. It is with great sadness that their viewing audience will be saying good-bye to a piece of television history. I, too, will be very sad to see this show go; for it is also a part of my past that I will be saying good-bye to forever. Please, keep the light shining.

  9. Gary James says

    I was born in 1956 and was raised on GL. It is the Best soap on TV and should be left on TV for the Generations to come…

    Let that “Light” continue..

  10. Jimmie says

    GL is a great show. That they are showing a potentially gay storyline has nothing to do with it, as far as I can see, “Anonymous”! You’re just showing your true colors. Not all Christians are opposed to gay relationships. Christian way? Slavery used to be the Christian way as well as opposition to interracial relationships.

  11. Susan says

    Actors playing homosexuals are not acceptable for daytime T.V. This may have something to do with the show being cancelled by CBS

  12. Anonymous says

    I don’t think a daytime soaps should show Lesbian or Homosexuals people on TV like it is acceptable. It is degrading and improper. It is not the Christian way to live or show to all the world. I don’t think God would approve. And in the end that is who will be the judge.

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