CBS Broadcasting Inc.
Years on TV: 1952-2009 (an earlier radio show, pictured, started in 1937) Channel: CBS Noteworthy actors: After leaving its roots in radio, the long-running TV show had a cast that included eventual "Heroes" star Hayden Panettiere and actor Christopher Walken.
See who else got their start on "Guiding Light.
The plot: What started as a tale about a widowed reverend who kept a light on his desk as a sign of comfort evolved to include marital conflicts, class distinctions and feuding families. The TV show, which dropped the "The" from its name in the 1970s, is credited with being the longest-running American soap opera.
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Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
Years on TV: 1963- Channel: ABC Noteworthy actors: James Franco's (pictured) portrayal of a creepy performance artist named (what else?) Franco has gotten lots of recent press, but the cast over the years has also included "Jessie's Girl" singer Rick Springfield and actress Amber Tamblyn. "Star Trek's" Leonard Nimoy was in the series' early episodes. Noteworthy characters: Possibly the most famous soap opera lovebirds of all time: Luke and Laura Spencer (Anthony Geary and Genie Francis) The plot: What started as a story about a nurse named Jessie (Emily McLaughlin) who worked with good-looking do-gooder Dr. Steve Hardy (John Beradino) and was trapped in a troublesome marriage has included several romantic trysts, broken marriages and backstabbing before soap opera super couple Luke and Laura Spencer tied the knot in 1981. The show has also conquered serious issues like HIV and AIDS.
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As "All My Children" and "One Life to Live" come to a close, we look back at 10 past and present soap operas with long life spans. By Emily Christianson, Noelene Clark, Whitney Friedlander, Jevon Phillips and Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times