A piece of television history comes to an end today when Guiding Light airs its last episode. After 72 years, TV’s longest-running drama succumbed to declining ratings but it hasn’t dimmed the ardor of longtime fans who hoped that another network would air the show and who devoted pages to eulogizing the show in the countdown to the final episode. And they are not alone in their love. The show’s stars have been making their own peace with the end of GL. Here Kim Zimmer, Beth Chamberlain, and Grant Aleksander share some their favorite memories.
“It wasn’t just a scene, it was the whole arc of the Josh and Reva first wedding. It was shot on location and the whole cast spent 3 glorious days together gathered for the events leading up to and including the ceremony. It really felt as if we were all family. Not just the cast but the crew as well. It was a beautiful bonding time for all of us.”
“The second one was a very long monologue I had in a scene with Chris Bernau. [My character] Reva had just been humiliated at a Country Club party and left in a heap by the Lewis men. And Alan Spaulding (town bad guy) picked Reva up and took her back home where Reva exposed her vulnerability by telling Alan about a time in her youth when she was so hungry as a child that she ate garbage. It was a tough scene for me because of the massive amount of dialogue and it was also the first time that Reva was weak on the show.”
“The two scenes I remember the most are both scenes that mark the end of something, one personal and the other professional. The first is a nothing scene I had in the Towers restaurant set with Brittany Snow and Anthony Addabbo. The scene was basically about my character’s ongoing attempt to get Brittany’s character to accept me as stepmother. Brittany was crying that day and was having a hard time because she had gone to the hair room for a trim and the hairdresser had cut off 4 inches of her gorgeous hair. I remember feeling so bad for her. But, it wasn’t what happened on the set that made that scene significant; it was that an hour or so later Paul Rauch, the executive producer came to get me and bring me to his office. I didn’t know it but my husband and brother-in-law were there waiting to tell me my father had died suddenly of a massive heart attack. I later realized that as I was on the set in New York, my father was dying in my mother’s arms in Vermont. I didn’t know it but my life was changing forever at that moment and in that space.
The other scene is a scene I had with the character of Phillip played by Grant Aleksander. The scene takes place following his father’s funeral. Beth (my character) is giving Phillip a journal and telling him to write down everything that happened, everything he is feeling. That is the final scene I shot on Guiding Light. It is not the last scene of mine that aired, but it is the last scene I shot. I remember just saying to myself, “Be present.” I knew my life was changing at this moment too. Not in the same devastating way as my father’s death, but in a significant way. I knew in a very real way life for me would never be quite the same. My Guiding Light family would exist no more.
I think that is what is significant about the show, that so many people working for and watching this show for it’s 70+ years have experienced life’s passages with it. Scenes and story lines have connected with the events of our lives marking births and deaths, marriages and divorces, beginnings and endings.”
“I will never forget my first scene in 1982 where I entered the Spaulding Mansion to find it deserted. It was the beginning of a 27-year relationship with Guiding Light that has given me some of the best times of my life. And I’ll never forget the last scene I taped on Aug. 11th with Beth Chamberlin in the Spaulding dining room because it was the last.”
Tell us what are some of your favorite GL memories. Also, stop back and comment on the final episode. And check out our gallery of 12 Soaps We’ve Loved and Lost.