Can You Remember the Name of the Very First Soap Opera Which Premiered in 1949?

The Guiding Light Ellen Demming, Susan Douglas, Herbert Nelson, Lyle Sudrow, on set, (1952), 1952-2009.
Everett Collection

Irna Phillips, known as the “Queen of the Soaps” created the very first daytime soap opera and paved the way for tons of other soaps, even though the concept didn’t sit well with audiences and critics at first. On January 31, 1949, These Are My Children premiered on NBC in Chicago and only aired for 24 days before it was pulled from the air.

Philips was a soap opera writer for the radio and an aspiring actress when she was given the chance to create her first television show. Before she created the very first TV soap opera, she created the first soap opera on the radio, a program called Painted Dreams in 1930. Her writing involved a lot of cliffhangers and melodramatic characters that are now crucial to this brand of TV.

Irna Phillips

NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Did you know that the name soap opera is actually tied to soap? The stories were sponsored by Procter & Gamble and designed to sell household products like soap to women. There were so many soap advertisements during the programs that led to the name of the genre. Back to 1949, These Are My Children started with 15-minute episodes and focused on an Irish widow named Mrs. Henehan who oversaw a boarding house.

Days of Our Lives Cheryl-Ann Wilson, Elinor Donahue, Kristian Alfonso, October 19, 1984, Season 21. 1965 -.

Columbia TriStar Television/Everett Collection

While it wasn’t well-received at first, Phillips never gave up. She continued to write soap operas and went on to create popular programs Guiding Light, As the World Turns, Another World, and Days of Our Lives. Her protégé, Agnes Nixon became known as “the grande dame of daytime drama.” It seems that without Phillips, people wouldn’t have their beloved soaps. She continued her work until her death in 1973 and would likely be astonished to see how long these series have aired on TV.

Tell us, did you know that soap operas are named after soap? What is your favorite soap opera?

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