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Local fans watch as ‘Light’ fades to black


Jan Swoope



"Alan died today," said a surprised Carolyn Linder of Columbus on Wednesday. She was referring to the oft-reviled "Alan Spaulding" (Ron Raines) of CBS'' daytime soap opera, "Guiding Light." It was just one more door closed as writers and producers bring television''s longest running program to a final wrap. 


To the dismay of diehard fans, the 72-year-old soap airs its final episode Friday, at 2 p.m. locally. The show, which garnered almost 70 Emmy Awards in its lifetime, is credited by The Guinness Book of World Records as being the longest running soap opera in production and the longest running drama in television and radio history.  


From the first radio broadcast in 1937 -- five days after President Franklin D. Roosevelt''s second inauguration -- through its transition to television in 1956, local fans have followed the evolving and implausible plot lines enmeshing the central characters. 


Linder, a resident at The Arrington at Plantation Pointe Retirement Community, has watched since 1959, when she and her late husband returned to America after his military service overseas. She remembers first seeing the landmark soap on a black and white television friends gave the couple. 


"Lillian and Buzz are getting together," she said Wednesday as she watched the day''s episode. "I''m glad; I didn''t think she would ever find anybody. And that Reva ... how many times has she been married? Alan died after giving a bone marrow transplant to his son, so at least he got to be a good guy before he went." 


CBS''s April 1 announcement that the show would be axed due to low ratings saddened the faithful. 


Linder''s initial reaction was, she said, "That can''t be! I do not want it going off the air; so many people love it. I want them to tell me why." 


"It is kind of sad," agreed Leslie Hutchins, who tapes the show daily. "I''ve been a lifelong fan; I watched with my mother since I was a toddler," added the Key Staff Source sales manager. "We''ve had these people in our homes and watched them change and grow." 


For Eleanor Slaughter of Columbus, as for many, it''s the end of an era. 


"I hate to see anything that''s been going for 72 years end; it breaks a tradition. And I hate to see that many people out of work." 


All will be watching as the light is extinguished Friday. 


CBS has announced a revival of the game show "Let''s Make a Deal," hosted by Wayne Brady, will inherit the "Guiding Light" time slow beginning Oct. 5.


Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.



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