Home Television Soaps Agnes Nixon: The Guiding Light Exit Interview
Agnes Nixon: The Guiding Light Exit Interview
Written by Scott Katz   
Tuesday, 20 October 2009 12:59

Agnes Nixon (Photo © 2009 Aquarius Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.)In the annals of daytime dramatic programming, perhaps no single person is more well known and representative of the genre than the woman with whom we had the greatest pleasure in interviewing last week: none other than Agnes Nixon.

Although she is recognized as the creator of two-thirds of ABC's current soap opera lineup, having originated both One Life to Live in 1968 and All My Children in 1970, her career as a writer of provocative dramatic serials extends much further back all the way to the late 1940s where she was mentored by none other than the creator of the soap opera herself, Irna Phillips.

When Ms. Phillips left as head writer of Guiding Light in 1958 to focus more on her new hit, As the World Turns, she left the show in the capable hands of Agnes Nixon, who began to incorporate what would become one of the hallmarks of her writing style: crafting stories that were both entertaining and educational. 

In 1962, Agnes wrote the famed uterine cancer story for Guiding Light's leading lady, Bertha "Bert" Bauer, which opened up a whole new avenue of ideas for the genre that had previously focused predominately on domestic and romantic crises.  Although reluctant at first, once this storyline proved to be a success, TV executives showed much less resistance to future stories of this type and allowed the daytime drama to "grow up" and move beyond the restrictive confines of the narrow range of storytelling devices it had previously employed.

Agnes eventually became head writer of Guiding Light's sister soap, Another World, and it was there that she became noticed as a force in daytime because, during her brief tenure as writer, she helped raise the ratings on this struggling new show with the introduction of such memorable characters as Ada Davis and her daughter, Rachel (played originally by Robin Strasser and then by Victoria Wyndham).  Ms. Nixon had created All My Children in the early-to-mid 1960s before she took over the writing reins of Another World, and therefore based the Rachel-Ada relationship on the Erica-Mona dynamic from her, as yet unproduced, All My Children bible.  As Ms. Nixon herself told us, Erica Kane and Rachel Davis are "sisters under the skin."

With her success on Another World, she was eventually contacted by ABC to create a soap for them.  The result was One Life to Live.  A year or so later, ABC contacted her once again for a second series.  With the prompting of her husband, Robert, she dusted off her All My Children proposal and the rest is daytime television history.


Above: Agnes Nixon with her special 1981 Emmy: The Trustees Award for Continued Excellence (Photo © 2009 Aquarius Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.)


Our conversation with the still-radiant and beautiful Ms. Nixon was quite lengthy and filled with great stories that were fun, funny, and at times, touching.  We spent about three full hours with this living legend and filmed for about an hour and a half.  Ms. Nixon felt that her mentor, Irna Phillips, was not properly remembered by today's television audience and wanted to correct that matter by talking about the woman who was both her teacher and her great friend.  As part of our Guiding Light series of interviews, we were most pleased to help her do just that.  Of course, we also wanted to discuss Ms. Nixon's own long and influential career, and she was kind enough to share her many memories with us.

Whether or not you are a soap opera fan, this interview series is critical viewing for any lover of the television medium in general.  It is always a special occasion to hear stories from these television pioneers in their own words.  It is truly an opportunity to be treasured.  We have enough material to split this interview into three parts as noted below each video.

Enjoy, and please feel free to post in the comments section.  Our utmost sincere thanks to Agnes Nixon, who was gracious enough to invite us to her New York apartment in order to conduct this interview.  Special thanks to her son, Robert, for helping us to set everything up.  We hope you are both pleased with the results.  Thanks also to William J. Reynolds.



Part 1: As part of our series of Guiding Light exit interviews, Ms. Nixon talks about her start in radio and television and being mentored by the creator of the soap opera format, Irna Phillips. She also talks about the creation of her own soaps, One Life to Live and All My Children.    
Part 2: As our chat continues, Ms. Nixon goes into more depth on writing her own soaps – One Life to Live and All My Children – and the issue-oriented storylines, such as interracial romance and abortion, that she was famous for pioneering in daytime. She also shares her insights as to why Erica Kane, the lead character on All My Children holds such appeal to both women and men. Finally, Ms. Nixon discusses some interesting fan encounters she's had over the years. Part 3: At last, the final part of our conversation with Ms. Nixon as she reveals her all-time favorite storyline that she wrote for a soap. Can you guess what it is? Also, Agnes talks more about her mentor Irna Phillips and shares her thoughts and concerns over the recent relocation of her signature show, All My Children, to Los Angeles. This is an extra-long installment, so brew a cup of coffee and settle in for Agnes Nixon at her most candid. Although we filmed this in October 2009, we held back on posting this until February 2010 due to the sensitive nature of some of Ms. Nixon's statements. We promise it was worth the wait.






the-apprentice-logo-thumb UslanMichael-resize-thumb 30-rock-thumb agnes-nixon-thumb BenSpierman-thumb big-brother-logo-thumb bobby-flay-thumb Bridgeboy-logo-thumb
cast of The Apprentice 10


Sherri Shepherd

Vanessa Minnillo

All My Children creator AGNES NIXON

Bronx Opera's BEN SPIERMAN

cast of Big Brother 12 BOBBY FLAY & STEVE ELLS of America's Next Great Restaurant Cast of the play Bridgeboy
bruce-canwell-thumb chuck-thumb crystal-chappell-thumb dan-kroll-thumb dan-parent-thumb david-lyons-thumb debbie-gibson-tiffany-thumb dede-emerson-thumb


part 1: Guiding Light

part 2: Days of Our Lives

soapcentral.com founder DAN KROLL DAN PARENT of Archie Comics DAVID LYONS of The Cape DEBBIE GIBSON & TIFFANY Author DEDE EMERSON of A Different Kind of Streetwalker
dowling_jpeg-thumb eliana-ujueta-thumb jamal-igle-thumb Jay-Mary-thumb jeremy-irons-thumb jerry-beck-thumb josh-groban-thumb kai-soremekun-thumb
BOB DOWLING of the 3D Entertainment Summit Indie filmmaker ELIANA UJUETA of Beneath the Rock comic book artist JAMAL IGLE Genesis Repertory's JAY MICHAELS, MARY MiCARI, & actors Oscar-winning actor JEREMY IRONS

Animation historian JERRY BECK

1st interview

2nd interview

singer-songwriter JOSH GROBAN

web series producer KAI SOREMEKUN of Chick

1st interview

2nd interview

kathy-bates-thumb kenneth-johnson-thumb kyle-bornheimer-thumb law-and-order-los-angeles-thumb logo-thumb luann-de-lesseps-thumb max-thumb mike-miz-thumb
Oscar-winning actress KATHY BATES of Harry's Law Television producer KENNETH JOHNSON of V, Bionic Woman, Incredible Hulk KYLE BORNHEIMER & HAYES MacARTHUR of Perfect Couples

Terrence Howard, René Balcer

Dick Wolf, Alfred Molina, Alana de la Garza

publisher DAN HERMAN of Hermes Press COUNTESS LuANN de LESSEPS of The Real Housewives of New York City author MAX ALLAN COLLINS of Road to Perdition WWE Champion Mike "The MIz" Mizanin
MillCreeklogo-thumb nick-lachey-thumb niki-taylor-thumb paul-reiser-thumb ricky-gervais-thumb rosie-odonnell-thumb steve-niles-thumb the-event-cast-logo-thumb

JEFF HAYNE of Mill Creek Entertainment

1st interview

2nd interview

singer-actor NICK LACHEY supermodel NIKI TAYLOR talks The Celebrity Apprentice actor PAUL REISER of The Paul Reiser Show actor-producer RICKY GERVAIS of The Office actress-television host ROSIE O'DONNELL comic book writer STEVE NILES

Ian Anthony Dale, Nick Wauters

Jason Ritter, Sarah Roemer, Blair Underwood, Željko Ivanek

thore-jo-thumb tom-brokaw-thumb tom-pelphrey-thumb apothecary-theatre-thumb tori-spelling-thumb
THORE SCHÖLERMANN & JO WEIL of Verbotene Liebe Peabody & Emmy award winning journalist TOM BROKAW Emmy award winning actor TOM PELPHREY of Guiding Light actors from The Apothecary Theatre Company TORI SPELLING & DEAN McDERMOTT of sTORIbook Weddings





Reviews & Previews:

Summer 2011 Movie Preview

Fall 2010 Television season

Fra Diavolo

Die Drei Pintos

Romeo and Juliet in Brooklyn

MPI Home Video

Timless Media Group

Boris Karloff's Thriller

Hunter: The Complete Series

Polly and Her Pals

Icons: The DC Comics and Wildstorm Art of Jim Lee

Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman

Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern

Spider-Man musical delayed again


Dead Space: Aftermath






New York Comic Con

Apprentice 10 kickoff

Farewell to Guiding Light

Farewell to As the World Turns

The Broadway Directory


Award Show winners:

Academy Awards

Emmy Awards

Grammy Awards

Tony Awards

American Music Awards

Golden Globe Awards

Screen Actors Guild Awards

American Country Awards



Television blogs:

American Idol 10

American Idol 9

American Idol 8

Big Brother 12

Big Brother 11

ABC Cancels Both All My Children and One Life to Live

Guiding Light: A Look Back


Editorials & Issues:

Scam Alert: Have You Received This E-Mail Job Offer?

Meet the 112th Congress

Brooklyn politicians Kevin Peter Carroll vs. Ralph Perfetto

Before Rosa Parks There Was Lizzie Jennings

Understanding New York State Government

USTownhall RoundTable podcast: The Worlds of Entertainment and Current Events