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Summary: The late soap journalist Christopher Schemering once wrote that soap operas are not just dramas; "they're little pockets of American history." So it's only fitting to consider that at one time, "The Guiding Light,"-the longest running program in broadcast history, spanning 71 years-- brought fifteen-minute bits of escapism to war-weary housewives, as their men trudged off to fight the indignities of WWII. It brought social awareness to a nation that began to think about the big picture beyond their picket fences and suburban streets. Soap opera is a truly dynamic genre that reflects life as it is lived, the quintessential American art form. Although berated and belittled, the soap opera has an illustrious lineage, with no less than the books of Charles Dickins as an inspiration. Created by the legendary, if not iron-fisted Irna Phillips, "The Guiding Light" began its life on January 25, 1937. Originally, the show focused on the Chicagoan suburb of Five Points, a bustling enclave of German-Jewish immigrants hoping to find their own piece of the American dream. Giving them the hope and inspiration they needed was a kindly minister named Reverend John Ruthledge (voiced by Arthur Peterson of "Soap" fame). The Reverend's sermons of hope and forgiveness made such an impression that a bestselling book was published of his most popular homilies. The Reverend's message could be summed up by his favorite mantra from Edwin Markum "There is a destiny that makes us brothers, none goes his way alone, all that we send into the lives of others, comes back into our own." On the desk near his window, the minister placed an old lantern, a "guiding light" to those parishioners passing in the cold, hopeless night. In the 1940's the Reverend Ruthledge enrolled as a chaplain to do his part of the war effort. However, when the production of the show moved to the west coast, Peterson refused to join them, so Irna Phillips had the minister die when his plane was shot down overseas. His "friendship lamp" went too with the production move to the town of Selby Flats, California. Reverend Matthews took over for the late Rev. Ruthledge as the center of hope and inspiration. However, by the time that the show was slated to move to television, the religious undertones of the show were virtually gone and the focus was moved yet again to the family Bauer. * Guiding Light was cancelled on April 1, 2009 and the last episode aired on September 18, 2009.
Network: CBS
Genre(s): Drama
Seasons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 71, 72