April 03, 2006 at 07:40 PM EDT

As the World Turns is turning 50. Fifty years of continuous storytelling — think about that. Through Vietnam, Watergate, 9/11 — As the World Turns persisted. And so did Helen Wagner. She plays Nancy Hughes (McClosky), the only surviving character from ATWT‘s original cast and world-record-holder for longest-running character played by a single actor. A working daytime thesp for 50 years, the 87-year-old has yet to announce any sort of retirement plan. I am deeply impressed. “Fifty years on a soap!” you say, “That sounds like some sort of purgatory!” But I say unto you: Fifty years of consistent employment in TV acting is a phenomenon. (Now, 50 years spent watching a soap — that might qualify as purgatory.) Ms. Wagner, hats off.

(That said, if I’m still writing this blog 50 years from now, I hereby give you, dear readers, permission to tip my wheelchair into the Hudson.)

addCredit(“Helen Wagner: Brian Ach/WireImage.com”)

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