As the World Turns will end its phenomenal 54-year run September 17 with lots of fan-pleasing closure - romances, reunions, weddings - but first the show must deal with the death last spring of actress Helen Wagner. Her salt-o-the-earth character, Nancy Hughes, famously uttered ATWT's very first line ("Good morning, dear") back on April 2, 1956 and exec producer Chris Goutman wanted her to repeat it at the end of the final episode for the ultimate in TV cool. "Helen's death was a great loss, made even greater by the fact that she didn't make it to the end," says Goutman, who will have Nancy quietly pass away August 30. The soap will then pay tribute to both actress and character with a full farewell episode August 31.
"I actually considered pre-taping that final scene with Nancy just to be safe but I thought that would be bad karma," reveals Goutman. "Then Helen died and we weren't able to do what we had planned, and that just added more emotional burden to what we were already feeling. But my God, she was 91 years old! What a terrific run! What a terrific lady! Helen was in failing health the last couple of years and it was hard to bring her onto the show successfully, but we did what we could. I wish we could have done more, but it was so difficult for her. Even under those conditions, she was a magnificent force."
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