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Guiding Light Dead at 72

Guiding Light CBS

The switch is about to be flipped off on a beacon of daytime television.

After 72 years and more than 15,700 episodes on radio and evenutally TV, Guiding Light will dim to darkness on Sept. 18, 2009, CBS announced Wednesday.

The soap opera, which has 69 Daytime Emmy Awards to its credit, served as early experience for many current stars today, including Hayden Panettiere, Brittany Snow, James Earl Jones, Calista Flockhart, Allison Janney, Mira Sorvino, Kevin Bacon, Peter Gallagher and Christopher Walken.

Created by Irna Phillips, the show was a 15-minute radio serial that first aired on NBC Radio on Jan. 25, 1937. In June 1952, the show doubled its medium when CBS television began showing the series simultaneously with the radio program. It expanded to 30 minutes when the show gained color in 1967. The soap aired its first hour-long episode in November 1977.

"Guiding Light has achieved a piece of television history that will never be matched; it has crossed mediums, adapted its stories to decades of social change and woven its way through generations of audiences like no other," Nancy Tellem, president of CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group, said in a statement. "While its presence will be missed, its contributions will always be celebrated and never forgotten."

While the network didn't offer a reason for pulling the plug on the longest-running scripted series in broadcast history, the show's ratings have been drastically declining over the past few years.

(Originally published April 1, 2009, at 1:45 p.m. PT)

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