After 72 years on the air, the soap opera "Guiding Light" is finally saying farewell. "Guiding Light" debuted on NBC radio in 1937 and moved to television in 1952, making it the longest running soap opera in radio and television history.
The saga of four families' lives in the fictional town of Springfield will still be remembered by the show's loyal fans. The show addressed hard-hitting social issues including spousal rape, racism, teen pregnancy and alcoholism over the years.
"For many of us, it was the first show we ever watched," said Lynn Leahey, editorial director of Soap Opera Digest. Unlike prime time shows that came and went, it was a constant in people's lives. "It really is heartbreaking to see something like this go away."
Though the ratings of daytime dramas like "Guiding Light" have been in steady decline, many celebrities today can thank soap operas for their career boosts. These famous faces appeared on soap operas long before they became household names.
Before he got footloose, actor Kevin Bacon played the teenage alcoholic Tim "T.J." Werner on "Guiding Light" from 1980 to 1981. Bacon also starred as Tom Adamson on the soap opera "Search for Tomorrow" in 1979. His first big screen break came as Timothy Fenwick Jr. in the 1982 film "Diner," where he co-starred alongside Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Tim Daly and Ellen Barkin. The buzz he stirred as Fenwick led to one of Bacon's biggest roles to date, as the foot-frenzied Ren McCormack in the 1985 hit film "Footloose."
Before she made a name for herself as the quirky Ally McBeal in 1997, Calista Flockhart had a minor role in 1989 as the babysitter for one of "Guiding Light's" most memorable characters, the diva Reva Shayne Lewis (Kim Zimmer). Flockhart went on to win a Golden Globe for her role on "Ally McBeal" in 1998.
She currently stars as communications director Kitty Walker on the ABC show "Brothers and Sisters," and is engaged to actor Harrison Ford.
Other celebrities who have appeared on "Guiding Light" include Ruby Dee, James Earl Jones, Hayden Panettiere, Melina Kanakaredes and JoBeth Williams.
He currently plays the slick-mouthed Jack Donaghy on the TV show "30 Rock," but Alec Baldwin's acting career had more humble beginnings. His first role was as Billy Allison Aldrich on the soap opera "The Doctors" from 1980-1982. The Emmy-winning show took place in the fictional Hope Memorial Hospital, and focused on a hospital team and the medical emergencies they faced.
Baldwin got his big break on the nighttime soap opera "Knots Landing," as the lunatic preacher Joshua Rush from 1984-1985. The show focused on five married couples living in the fictional town of Knots Landing. Rush returned to his mother Lilimae, played by Julie Harris, who abandoned him as a baby. He attempted to kill his wife Cathy, played by Lisa Hartman, but in the process ended up killing himself.
Baldwin's film career began in the 1980s, with roles in movies such as "Working Girl" and "Beetlejuice." His role as Jack Ryan in the 1990 film "The Hunt for Red October" gave his acting career a huge boost. Baldwin's satirical comedic approach earned him a role as the host of "Saturday Night Live" 14 times and landed him on "30 Rock" in 2006. He has won an Emmy and two Golden Globes for his role on "30 Rock," which he also co-produces.