Very sad new tonight in the soap world to report. Helen Wagner who played Nancy Hughes, the matriarch of the Hughes Family on As the World Turns, for nearly 54 years has died. Associated Press and ATWT are reporting that Wagner died Saturday, May 1, 2010 and the cause of death has not been announced.
Wagner spoke the first words on As the World Turns when the show premiered on April 2, 1956, and she held the Guinness World Record for playing the same role on television for the longest amount of time, CBS said. While Wagner, who was born in Lubbock, Texas, was seen less often in later decades, no other network television performer came close to her run playing a single character. Her first words on the show’s premiere were “Good morning, dear.” She was still part of the cast, though with a small presence, in December 2009, when CBS announced that As the World Turns was being canceled and its last episode would air in September 2010.
“All of us at As the World Turns are deeply saddened by Helen’s passing,” said Christopher Goutman, Executive Producer of ATWT. “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.” Many know that final scripts are currently being written for the show finale to air in the fall that was going to heavily involve the mainstay families of Oakdale. Long time viewers were already predicting Nancy would have the last spoken words of the show. Just how this will impact the finale is yet to be seen. On-Air On-Soaps sends it’s thoughts and prayers to Helen Wagner’s family.