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Thursday, September 28, 2017

September 28, 2016

Okay, so I will apologize in advance for the fact that today's Throwback Thursday post won't be going back in time that far.  In fact, it will probably be the most recent Throwback Thursday that I have done yet.  But there is a good reason for it - and besides, when we get to the background info on this subject, you'll find that it is definitely filled with its share of historical tidbits.

For now, let's take a look at some of the other events that took place throughout history on this, the twenty-eighth day of September.

1066 - William the Conqueror invades England

1779 - Samuel Huntington is elected President of the Continental Congress

1781 - American forces begin the Siege of Yorktown during the American Revolutionary War

1787 - The Congress of the Confederation votes to send the newly-written United States Constitution to the state legislatures for approval

1867 - Toronto officially becomes the capital city of Ontario, Canada

1901 - Variety show host/creator Ed Sullivan (d. 1974) is born in Harlem, New York

1909 - Cartoonist Al Capp (d. 1979) is born in New Haven, Connecticut

1918 - The Fifth Battle of Ypres takes place during World War I

1919 - Omaha, Nebraska becomes the site of race riots, leaving three people dead

1924 - A team of aviators enlisted in the United States Army Air Service become the first people to fly around the world in an aircraft; that same day Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni (d. 1996) is born

1928 - The medicine known as penicillin is discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming

1938 - Singer Ben E. King (d. 2015) is born in Henderson, North Carolina

1939 - Warsaw surrenders to Nazi Germany during World War II

1951 - The first color televisions are available for sale to the general public - they are discontinued by November, but will eventually make a significant comeback

1964 - Comedian/actor Harpo Marx passes away at the age of 75

1971 - The United Kingdom passes the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971 which bans the medicinal use of cannabis

1973 - The ITT Building in New York City is bombed

1975 - London, England becomes the setting of The Spaghetti House Siege, where nine people are taken hostage

1991 - American jazz musician Miles Davis dies at the age of 65

1994 - MS Estonia, a cruise ferry, sinks in the Baltic Sea, killing 852 people on board

2000 - Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau passes away at the age of 80

2003 - Tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson passes away at the age of 76

2008 - SpaceX launches Falcon 1 - the world's first private spacecraft - into orbit

As for famous birthdays, have a look at the people who are celebrating turning another year older today; Jeremy Isaacs, Brigitte Bardot, Bruce Crampton, Richie Karl, Jon Snow, Jim Henshaw, Jennifer Rush, Gregory Jbara, Grant Fuhr, Laurie Rinker, Susan Walters, Greg Weisman, Janeane Garofalo, Mira Sorvino, Moon Unit Zappa, Naomi Watts, Eric Lapointe, Joseph Arthur, Dita Von Teese, Jeezy, Bam Margera, Melody Thornton, and Hilary Duff.  Happy birthday to you all as well as anyone else who is celebrating a birthday today!

So where are we going back in time to this week?

Okay, I wasn't kidding about being a recent entry.  We're going back to September 28, 2016 - one whole year. 

I know what you're thinking.  Why would I want to revisit the year that most of us dread talking about?  A year which saw many of our entertainers pass away and many of our politicians losing the plot?

Well, it's partly because of guilt. 

For those of you who have read my blog over the last few years, you know that around New Years' Eve, I do a week long feature of the highlights and lowlights of the year gone by.  2016 was no exception.

Unfortunately when I posted my list of all the stars we lost in 2016 - and believe me, we lost a LOT of them...I had forgotten to include one. 

September 28, 2016 was the day that a woman passed away at the age of 93.  And while the name might not sound familiar at first to the average person, she had a long career in television - particularly within daytime television.

No, she wasn't an actress in a long running serial.  She tended to work behind the scenes instead.  She began as a scriptwriter for several long established soap operas, and by her sixty-fifth birthday, she had created three shows that at the time were still on the air (all on the same network) with varying degrees of success. 

That's right.  Of the dozens of soap operas that had aired on daytime television, she was responsible for the creation of three of them - "Loving", "All My Children", and "One Life to Live".

While these three shows went off the air in 1995, 2011, and 2012 respectively, the shows were also responsible for creating some of the most well known daytime characters to ever exist in the industry.  Characters such as Erica Kane, Viki Lord, Todd Manning, Tad Martin, Trisha Alden, and Dorian Lord.  Not only that, but this woman was also responsible for some of daytime's most controversial and groundbreaking storylines.

And today, as we celebrate the life of soap opera legend Agnes Nixon, we'll talk about those three shows, and more.  And I think the best way to do this is to make a list of trivia facts about her and her creations and go from there.  Believe me, some of the accomplishments that she had during her career were nothing short of extraordinary.  In fact, her memoir is set to be released sometime in late 2017 or early 2018.

1 - She was born Agnes Eckhardt on December 10, 1922 in Chicago, Illinois.

2 - She was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority while attending Northwestern University.

3 - She married her husband - Robert Nixon - in 1951.  The marriage lasted until 1996 when he passed away.

4 - One of her first jobs in the television industry involved writing for the soap opera "As The World Turns", where she worked for show creator Irna Phillips.

5 - At some point during her career, she ascended into the head writer position for three different soap operas - "The Guiding Light", "Search for Tomorrow", and "Another World".

6 - Nixon is credited for penning the very first soap opera story involving a character getting a pap smear.  She wrote the story for Charita Bauer, who played the character of Bert Bauer on "The Guiding Light" and it was designed to educate women on the procedure.

7 - Although Nixon had created the outline for "All My Children" first, she wasn't able to get it passed by ABC executives right away, so "One Life to Live" became her first soap to debut.  It's first episode aired on July 15, 1968.

8 - "All My Children" would eventually get a premiere of its own a year and a half after "One Life to Live" debuted - on January 5, 1970.

9 - And thirteen years later on June 26, 1983, Nixon would create the college set soap opera "Loving".  It was the first show where she was credited as co-creator, as she had worked with Douglas Marland to bring it to screen.

10 - When "One Life to Live" debuted, it was designed to be a more contemporary soap opera, and Nixon made sure that there were characters of all backgrounds, including Jewish characters, Irish-American characters, and African-American characters. 

11 - "One Life to Live" also featured a storyline involving the AIDS Quilt in 1992.

12 - The daytime drama "Loving" also had a first associated with it.  It was the first soap opera that featured a main character suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after serving in the Vietnam War, and actually had his character visit the Vietnam War Memorial.

13 - And not to leave out "All My Children", it created controversy of its own by having a storyline where Erica Kane chose to have an abortion - the first time the subject was tackled on daytime television.  Of course, the storyline was completely rewritten thirty years later - which likely sped up the cancellation.  But was the first time a show tackled a touchy subject like abortion.

14 - When "Loving" was cancelled in 1995 and turned into "The City", Agnes Nixon retained a co-creator title, even though James Harmon Brown and Barbara Esensten were at the helm for the show's entire run.

15 - Prior to that, when "Loving" was undergoing personnel changes, Nixon took over as head writer for a period in 1994 to keep the show afloat.

16 - Agnes Nixon sometimes appeared on her own creations in walk-on roles.  On "All My Children" and "One Life to Live", she played the role of Agnes Eckhardt - her maiden name.

17 - Her show "All My Children" did exceptionally well at the Daytime Emmy Awards.  In the forty-one years the show aired on television (plus its brief online run through Prospect Park in 2013), "All My Children" won the award for Outstanding Drama Series in 1988, 1996, 1997, and 1998 - plus a further twelve nominations between 1990 and 2012!

18 - Nixon herself won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series for "All My Children" in 1985.

19 - She was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1992.

20 - She was also inducted into the Soap Opera Hall of Fame in 1994; the first female writer to do so.

21 - And finally, in 2010, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmy Awards.

It's a shame that Agnes Nixon is no longer around - she died one year ago today from Parkinson's Disease.  Even sadder is the fact that she outlived all three of her soap opera creations.  However, as the daytime industry keeps changing, and soap operas are becoming less popular - it's nice to know that for a little while, Agnes Nixon happily wore her "Queen of the Soaps" crown.  And you know something?  She deserved it.

On a totally unrelated note, I wanted to extend my condolences to the loved ones of Hugh Hefner, who died yesterday at the age of 91.  Rest in peace, Hef.

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