We have terribly sad news to report: Helen Wagner, who played Nancy Hughes on As The World Turns since the show's very first episode in 1956, has passed away. She was 91.
Helen held the Guiness World Record for greatest longetivity in the same role. She played Nancy for 54 years.
Christopher Goutman, executive producer for As The World Turns said, "All of us at ATWT are deeply saddened by Helen's passing. She is loved by generations of fans and while we will miss her greatly, Helen will always remain the heart and soul of As The World Turns."
Helen's passing is particularly sad, as ATWT is set to end its historic run in September. How the show plans to address Nancy's passing, if at all, remains to be seen.
Helen was a native of Lubbock, TX. Upon arriving in New York, Helen started landing theater roles. Over her career, she appeared in Broadway productions of Oklahoma!, Sunny River, The Bad Seed, and Love of Four Colonels. Prior to landing the role on ATWT, Helen appeared for five years on The World of Mr. Sweeney.
Helen, as Nancy, spoke the program's first words, "Good morning, dear." While Nancy rarely had front burner story -- the most recent being her second husband's battle with Alzheimer's in the mid '90s -- she was always present to dish out advice. And pour coffee ... at least in the show's early years (fun fact: Show creator Irna Phillips once fired Helen because she didn't like how she poured coffee. She was eventually hired back).
In addition to her world record, Helen holds a place in history for being on screen when Walter Cronkite interrupted ATWT's 1963 broadcast with the news of President Kennedy's assasination. Helen continued performing the show (which was broadcast live at the time), unaware of the tragedy that had just occured.
Helen Wagner left behind a legacy that will likely never be matched, and will surely never be forgotten.
Good night, dear.
Photo Credit: CBS