ByGenevieve Van Voorhis, writer at
Game of Thrones, ASOUE, and all things '00s. Twitter: @gen_vanvee Email: [email protected]
Genevieve Van Voorhis

Agnes Nixon, legendary soap opera pioneer and creator of All My Children and One Life To Live, died on Wednesday at a physical rehabilitation center near her home in Rosemont, Pennsylvania at the age of 93. It was Rosemont and its surrounding Philadelphia suburbs that provided inspiration for the settings of each of her three shows: All My Children, One Life To Live, and Loving.

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A prolific writer until the end, Nixon had just finished writing her memoirs, My Life To Live, on Sunday. Her son told AP:

"She was really a great wife, mother and human being — but above all, a writer. She was writing up until last night."

From the time she first began working as a writer on Guiding Light in 1962, Nixon was a champion of progressive ideas, writing the first episode that featured a medical storyline on daytime TV — and doing so while coping with the restrictive guidelines of broadcast company Procter & Gamble, which forbid the use of the words "cancer" or "pap smear." Nevertheless, she was able to use Bert's storyline to convince women about the life-saving importance of breast cancer screenings.

Ellen Holly as Carla Gray / One Life To Live
Ellen Holly as Carla Gray / One Life To Live

The first series Nixon created herself, One Life To Live (OLTL), lasted an astounding 43 years on the air. Back in 1968, OLTL was the first daytime TV show to feature African American leading characters: Carla Gray (Ellen Holly) and Ed Hall (Al Freeman, Jr.). Carla Gray's story in particular stirred up tensions with Southern broadcasters, as the character was originally introduced as Italian American, and then later revealed to be African American, all the while having affairs with men of both races.

As successful as OLTL has been, the real jewel in Nixon's crown was her second venture, All My Children (AMC). Winning three Emmys for Best Daytime Drama Series and many, many more individual accolades, AMC remained on the air for much of the same time as OLTL, from 1970 until 2011. The show endeared itself to countless viewers, largely thanks to its iconic leading lady, Susan Lucci, who brought to life the most famous character in soap opera history, Erica Kane. Nixon continued to use her new characters to push boundaries, writing the story of Erica's abortion in 1973.

Listen to Susan Lucci herself talk about Nixon and handling the aftermath of the abortion storyline:

Even after Nixon left AMC in 2001, the show continued to adhere to the strong progressive values she had set down. In December 2000, it became the first daytime TV show to feature an openly homosexual main character, thanks to Erica Kane's daughter, Bianca Montgomery, coming out. Three years later, the show featured the first lesbian kiss on daytime TV between Bianca and Lena.

Many fans, family members and those who had worked with Agnes have taken to social media to share their condolences:

RIP Agnes. You will be missed.


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