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  • Writer's pictureKaren Herbert

3 Great Soap Opera Memories - a Mother-Daughter Tradition

Like many 1970s mothers & daughters, my mother and I had a tradition of watching soap operas together. We shared that bond through my school days and early years of marriage. In the days before the VCR (and now DVR), Mom kept me apprised of the tangling plot lines after I graduated and worked full-time. We loved discussing the romances, the divorces, and the aged-up children until she died in 1998. Three special memories revolving around surprise twists will never be forgotten.

(Author photo) My mom and I during an afternoon visit. I'm sure we watched our soaps!

1. The Guiding Light: Roger Thorpe Returns

Roger Thorpe was one of the original soap opera "Super Villains." He terrorized the city of Springfield, especially his wife, Holly. In 1980, I was getting ready to graduate from college and begin a full-time job. Since I was anxious I wouldn't be able to see the end of Roger's storyline, I was one satisfied fan when he was shot by his estranged wife just in time for me to head out into the workforce.

Almost ten years later, in 1989, I was a newlywed with a VCR (videocassette recorder). A few nights a week, I watched the tapes, and soon my husband was hooked as well. (He'd never admit it, though!) Just as my mom had supplied the backstory, I filled my husband with facts about all the characters, including Roger. One night, I was on the phone with my mom discussing a mysterious, masked stranger who helped a character after a plane crash. My husband pipes up, "It's Roger!" We had a good laugh, but "spoiler alert", it was indeed Roger.

Michael Zaslow as Roger Thorpe (CBS Archives)

It was my mother who noticed when Micheal Zaslow (Roger's portrayer) began slurring his dialogue from time to time in 1997. Sadly, Zaslow was diagnosed with ALS and was written off the show, passing away in 1998, the same year as my mother.

2. As the World Turns: Kim Hughes's Secret Grandchild

The recent passing of Kathryn Hays brought another memory to mind. Hays played Kim Hughes; the ingénue, femme fatale, respectable mother, then finally family matriarch in almost four decades of the long-running soap. My mother was the one who explained her complicated entrance (as an adulteress) in the early 70s, and we both watched how she dealt with every soap opera trope that came her way. We loved it!

One of my favorite twists was Kim's surprise grandchild in 1997. Of course, it wasn't a surprise to us. When Kim was discovered to be a bone marrow match to toddler Hope Snyder, we correctly guessed that her son, Andy Dixon, was the father. One of soap's more forward-thinking storylines, as Hope's mother was African-American.

Kathryn Hays with Don Hastings, who played her husband, Dr. Bob Hughes (CBS Archives)

3. The Guiding Light: Who is Phillip's Real Father?

In 1977, a young boy joined the cast - the son of Alan and Elizabeth Spaulding. But he wasn't their biological child, and only Alan Spaulding knew the truth. Again it was my mother who shared the story from years before - how Elizabeth had a stillborn son, so Alan "arranged" to take the other baby boy born that day. As a new soap opera viewer, I was shocked, but this is another common trope that keeps happening, even now in the modern prime-time soaps.

As Phillip grew up, flashbacks would show how the crime unfolded. (Do you love those flashbacks as much as I do?) How great to watch with my mom, who had watched the original scenes! Eventually, Phillip learns the truth, and over the years, eventually develops good relationships with both his adoptive and biological father.

Do you have a show you share with your mother?

Disclaimer: I received no compensation from CBS or any other source.

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