Five-day-a-week soap operas were introduced on radio in the 1930’s, and then moved to television. An episode only lasted 15 minutes, until April of 1956. That’s when a pair of half-hour dramas debuted the day after Easter on CBS: “As the World Turns” and “The Edge of Night.” For years, the opening of “Edge” showed darkness falling on the skyline of a big city. It was actually the skyline of Cincinnati, the home of sponsor Procter and Gamble, the makers of Ivory soap. Why do you think they called them “soaps”?
Another April, 1963, saw the premiere of what is now America’s longest running daytime soap, “General Hospital.” The shows are usually set in fictional towns with names like Port Charles, and Llanview. Or in the real town of Genoa City, Wisconsin, near the Illinois border, home of “The Young and the Restless.”
You can count America’s remaining daytime soaps on one hand. As of 2021, the networks show “Young and the Restless,” “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “General Hospital,” and “Days of Our Lives.” But like Barnabas Collins, the leading vampire on “Dark Shadows,” you never know when they may rise again.