Guiding Light (1960–69)
The Guiding Light (GL) (known since 1975 as Guiding Light) is the longest-running American television soap opera.
Agnes Nixon wanted to see social issues worked into the plot, and set the tone for much of the material used during the 1960s. One story, which involved Bert's battle with uterine cancer gave many female viewers the incentive to see their gynecologists.
On March 13, 1967, the show was first broadcast in color. A year later, the show expanded from 15 to 30 minutes.
- Papa Bauer (Theo Goetz until end of decade)
- Meta Bauer Banning (Ellen Demming until June 30, 1966)
- Bill Bauer (Ed Bryce until 1963, and then September 1965 until July 1969; Eugene Smith, 1964 only), character presumed deceased
- Bert Bauer (Charita Bauer until end of decade)
- Mike Bauer (Michael Allen until 1961; Paul Prokopf, 1962 to 1963; Gary Pilar (later Carpenter), 1963 to Fall 1965, Pilar also appeared on Another World as Mike Bauer from February 7, 1966 to February 2, 1967; Robert Pickering, March 18, 1968 to December 13 1968; Don Stewart, December 16, 1968 until end of decade), character SORASed
- Dr. William Edward "Ed" Bauer, Jr. (Pat Collins until 1961; Robert Gentry, April 4, 1966 to April 25, 1969; Mart Hulswit, September 24, 1969 until end of decade), character SORASed
- Dr. Bruce Banning (Lester "Les" Damon until November 1960; Barnard Hughes, June 1961 to June 1966)
- Julie Conrad Bauer (Sandra Smith, January 1962 to July 1, 1965), Mike's first legal wife, character committed suicide in January 1966
- Hope Bauer (Jennifer Kirschner, September 1963 to August 1965; Elisa Leeds played Hope on Another World from March 25, 1966 to June 30, 1966 and then again from December 1968 until end of decade; Paula Schwartz, March 1968 to December 1968), Mike and Julie's daughter, born September 1963
- Trudy Bauer Palmer, character talked about, but not seen
- Clyde Palmer, character talked about, but not seen
- Leslie Jackson Bauer (Lynne Adams, April 1966 until end of decade), Ed's first wife
- Dr. Paul Fletcher (Barnard Grant until end of decade)
- Anne Benedict Fletcher (Joan Gray until April 1962; Elizabeth Hubbard, May to October 1962), Paul's first wife, character killed off
- Henry Benedict (John Gibson until April 1960; John Boruff, May 1962 to December 1966; Lester Rawlins, February to September 1967; Paul McGrath, September to December 1967), Anne's father, character written out
- Helene Benedict (Kay Campbell, May 1962 to May 1964), Anne's mother, character killed off, off-screen in 1966
- Dr. John "Johnny" Fletcher (Sheldon Golumb, January to December 1962; Donald Melvin, January 1963 to December 1964; Daniel Fortas, January to August 1965; Don Scardino, September 1965 to July 1967; Erik Howell, July 1967 until end of decade), Paul and Anne's SORASed son
- Jane Fletcher Hayes (Pamela King, August 1962 to September 1963; Chase Crosley, October 1963 to November 1968), Paul's younger half-sister; character written out
- Robin Lang Bowden Fletcher (Judy Robinson until April 1960; Abigail Kellogg, April 1960 to October 1961; Nancy Malone, October 1961 to October 1963; Ellen Weston, October 1963 to December 1964; Gillian Spencer, December 1964 to October 1967), was married and her marriage annulled to Mike Bauer in 1961. In 1964, Robin became Paul Fletcher's second wife. The character was killed off in 1967.
- Margaret "Maggie" Scott (June Graham, May 1965 to March 1968), Bill's secretary, character killed off
- Benjamin "Ben" Scott (Bernard Kates, December 1965 to January 1968), Maggie's husband, character killed off
- Peggy Scott Dillman Fletcher (Fran Myers, May 1965 until end of decade), Johnny's wife, her second marriage, Maggie and Ben's daughter
- George Hayes (Phillip Sterling, January 1962 to November 1968), Jane's husband, character written out
- Stanley "Stan" Norris (Michael Higgins, August 18, 1969 until end of decade)
- Barbara Norris, character talked about but not seen
- Kenneth "Ken" Norris, character talked about but not seen
- Andrew "Andy" Norris, character not seen, spoken of as in Vietnam
- Holly Norris, character talked about but not seen
- Katherine "Kit" Vested (Nancy Addison Altman, September 1969 until end of decade), Stanley's second wife
- Richard Hanley (Mandell Kramer until October 1960, character written out
- Dr. Richard "Dick" Grant, Jr. (James Lipton until June 1962), character written out
- Mark Holden (Whitfield Connor until August 1961), character written out
- Ruth Jannings Holden (Virginia Dwyer until August 1961), character written out
- Marie Wallace Grant (Lynne Rogers until June 1962), character written out
- Karl Jannings (Richard Morse until July 1961), character killed off
- Joe Turino (Joseph Campanella until December 1962), character written out
- Alexander "Alex" Bowden (Ernest Graves, November 1960 to January 1966), Robin's first legal husband, character written out
- Doris Crandall (Barbara Becker, January 1962 to December 1962), Alex's first wife, character written out
- Jason Weber (Marc O'Daniels, 1965 to 1966), dated Maggie Scott, character written out
- Dr. Stephen Jackson (Stefan Schnabel, December 1965 until end of decade), Leslie's father
- Dr. James "Jim" Frazier (Billy Dee Williams, January to October 7, 1966; James Earl Jones, October 10, 1966 to May 31, 1967), character written out
- Martha Frazier (Cicely Tyson, January 1966 to December 1966; Ruby Dee, January 1967 to December 1967), Jim's wife, character written out
- Dr. Joseph "Joe" Werner (Ben Hayes, 1966 to 1967; Ed Zimmerman, 1967 until end of decade)
- Dr. Sara McIntyre (Patricia Roe, January 5, 1967 until April 19, 1968; Jill Andre, April 22, 1968 to December 3, 1968; Millette Alexander, January 6, 1969 until end of decade)
- Charlotte Waring AKA Tracey Delmar (Victoria Wyndham, 1967 to 1969; Felice Camargo, 1969)
- Martin "Marty" Dillman (Robert Lawson, April to October 1968; Christopher Wines, October 1968 to January 1969), Peggy Scott's first husband, character murdered by Flip Malone
- Flip Malone (Paul Carpinelli, 1968 to 1969), went to prison for murdering Marty Dillman
- Claudia Dillman (Grace Matthews, 1968 to 1969), Marty's mother
- Lee Gantry (Ray Fulmer, November 1968 until end of decade), Sara McIntyre's first husband
- Miss Mildred Foss (Jan Sterling Douglas, December 1968 until end of decade), Lee Gantry's housekeeper
- District Attorney Ira Newton (Sorrell Brooke, 1969)
- Margaret "Maggie" Wexler (Margie Impert, February to December 1969), character committed suicide
- Peter Wexler (Leon Russom, February to August 1969; Michael Durrell, August 1969 to end of decade), Margie's husband
- Gilbert "Gil" Mehren (David Pendleton, August 1969 until end of decade), an employee of Stanley's
- Dr. Tom Halverson (Chris Sarandon, September 1969 until end of decade)
- Janet Mason (Caroline McWilliams, September 24, 1969 until end of decade)
Later in the decade,The Guiding Light was also the first show to regularly feature African American characters, Jim and Martha Frazier (played by James Earl Jones and Ruby Dee). Although the decade began with Meta Roberts marrying Bruce Banning, by the mid-1960s, the focus of the show slowly moved to Bill and Bert's children, Mike and Ed. Their lives and loves provided high drama for many years. Other popular characters of the time included Robin Lang Bowden Fletcher. In 1960, Robin eloped with Mike Bauer; soon after the elopement, Mike was charged and later acquitted of the death of Karl Jannings. Once he was cleared of the death, Mike and Robin's marriage was annulled, and Mike left for Venezuela. Robin married and divorced Alex Bowden. Robin briefly left town and later married Paul Fletcher after the death of his wife Anne. Robin struggled with her own stepson, Johnny Fletcher, just as her mother and stepfather had struggled with her. After a miscarriage, Robin feared that her husband was in love with fellow doctor and former girlfriend Sara McIntyre. In 1967, the show's writers recycled a similar story by having Robin throw herself into oncoming traffic, a move that was unpopular with viewers.
Around that same time, in a bit of "retroactive continuity", the show's writers changed the name and location of the series' locale from Selby Flats, which had been described as a suburb of Los Angeles, to Springfield, U.S.A.—no state designated, but apparently in the Midwest. Cedars Hospital (so named to suggest the real Cedars of Lebanon Hospital—now Cedars-Sinai—in Los Angeles), introduced in Selby Flats on radio in the 1940s, remained a central location in Springfield. Bill and Bert's younger son Ed began his residency at Cedars Hospital in Springfield under the tutelage of Dr. Stephen Jackson. Their older son, attorney Mike Bauer, had become estranged from his overbearing parents after his young wife, Julie Conrad Bauer, had become mentally unstable and later committed suicide, and had moved a year earlier with his daughter Hope to Bay City (the characters crossing over to Another World; they would return to The Guiding Light in 1968). Bert also had to deal with Bill's affair with his secretary, Maggie Scott, and Ed's turn to alcoholism when he discovered his father's affair. (Bert and Ed would fight over this when Bert forgave Bill, but Ed did not.) Maggie had trouble herself when her husband, Ben Scott, turned up alive after having been presumed killed in the Korean War. Maggie and Ben had a teenage daughter named Peggy. Her romantic troubles, first with teenage gang member Marty Dillman, and later with Johnny Fletcher, served as much of the story in the late 1960s. Marty Dillman eventually wound up being murdered and his pregnant wife Peggy was wrongly put on trial for it. Mike defended and exonerated her of the crime. Ben would die of a heart attack in early 1968, followed by Maggie dying herself from an intestinal ailment a few months later (Ed had operated on her and felt guilty that she had died during the operation). Peggy ended up being treated as a daughter by Bert.
Dr. Sara Mc Intyre was a gifted psychologist who was able to help Bert cope with her husband's presumed death in a plane crash in 1969. In her personal life, Sara seemed to have less luck. First Sara was gaslighted by a woman claiming to be her long thought deceased niece, Tracey Delmar, until Sara found out that "Tracey" was actually a woman named Charlotte Waring, who had a past with several men who Sara would find herself involved with (Charlotte would be the one who would turn over evidence to Mike Bauer that would exonerate Peggy). Later, although attracted to Dr. Joe Werner, Sara instead married the charming Lee Gantry. Joe would find himself involved in a rebound relationship with Charlotte (Joe and Charlotte had dated while Joe was in medical school), until Charlotte became more attracted to the now single and available Mike Bauer. In an attempt to embezzle Sara's money, Lee and his housekeeper, Miss Mildred Foss, soon began orchestrating a series of events to make Sara believe she was going insane.
Also in 1969, the rich businessman Stanley Norris was introduced. Stanley was divorced from his first wife, cookbook writer Barbara. Barbara was left alone to raise their three children, Kenneth ("Ken"), Andrew ("Andy"), and Holly. Stanley would soon divorce his second wife, Kit Vested, when she found out that he was carrying on affairs with several other women. Stanley would soon be murdered, shot to death in his office.
In April 1969, Ed disappeared from Springfield after having a traffic accident while intoxicated. That accident put the other driver, the pregnant Maggie Wexler, into a coma and she eventually miscarried her child. While he was away, Ed started working at Hastings Electrical Supply (as the company's doctor) in nearby Clayton, and got involved with the company's secretary, Janet Mason.