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Books about TV: The Soap Opera Slaughters

In another addition to my entertainment book collection, I purchased a used copy of "The Soap Opera Slaughters", by Marvin Kaye. T...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Agnes Nixon has Died

Earlier today, (September 28, 2016), the news was released that soap creator Agnes Nixon passed away at 93. The writer and creator of many daytime soaps was in the industry from the radio era having a career for over seven decades.

The first publication to break the news was the local Philadelphia Inquirer, as Agnes lived and perished in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, a suburb of that city. This Variety article quotes Bob Iger, the current chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, released a statement about her as they were friends. They also link to a video with Nixon about her early television career. Unfortunately, this article does have a bit of misinformation, as Agnes Nixon co-created "Search for Tomorrow" with Ray Winsor not Irna Phillips. (What she did for "As the World Turns" specifically is uncertain, as the co-creator credit isn't verifiable. Agnes is not referenced in the ATWT coffee table book from the 1990s, as a head writer, though she was writing for Irna in that time frame.)

If someone would do a Mount Rushmore of soap opera, she'd be unquestionably on the monument. The story how she came into the genre is quite amusing. Her father trying to discourage her got  her a meeting with Irna Phillips. Instead of pushing her away from working as a writer, Ms. Phillips gave Agnes Nixon then Eckhardt, a job. This story was retold in her obituary on the New York Times' website. This is one of my favorite tales in soap opera lore and a real life fairy tale.

Agnes' stories impacted many people over her long life. Social issues like cervical cancer were explored on "Guiding Light" in the 60 for example. OLTL had a mixed cast with characters of multiple religions and backgrounds unheard of in the late 60s. AMC was her most beloved show, as she worked on its bible prior to going to AW. Some of the elements of that show namely the relationship between daughter and mother (Rachel and Ada) were taken from her AMC story, of Erica and Mona. Unfortunately much of her work has been lost, due to wiping. We only have a handful of episodes of her time at "Guiding Light" and the early days of "Another World". "One Life to Live" and "All My Children" weren't saved regularly until the late 70s and by that time she was gone from OLTL. Her time at "Loving" exists, as she was a co-creator. That said most of us never got to see her script writing on a daily basis as we weren't on the planet. We may have seen her impact on plots, but not her words, which are such a precious thing.

Agnes is one of the people who will live on in the viewers forever. My heart goes to her family, friends and coworkers. It also goes out to all of us who have been influenced by her talent throughout the years. We'll never forget you or your contribution to scripted programming.

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