Agnes Nixon

Soap Opera Creator / Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Agnes Nixon (1927-2016) discusses her love of reading and writing. She recalls attending Northwestern University and changing her focus from acting to writing. She talks of getting hired by legendary Irna Phillips to write for the soap opera Woman in White shortly after graduating college. She tells of moving to New York and writing for anthology dramas Robert Montgomery Presents and Hallmark Hall of Fame and writing for the early soap Search for Tomorrow. Nixon then details working for Irna Phillips on Guiding Light and co-creating As the World Turns with Phillips and Ted Corday. She then talks of creating and writing the successful soap operas All My Children, One Life to Live and Loving. She touches on casting for the programs (including casting Susan Lucci as "Erica Kane"), hiring writers and crafting popular storylines. Connie Passalaqua conducted the interview on October 21, 1997 in New York, NY.

"I think that a really good daytime serial soap reflects what's happening. That's certainly what we're trying to do when we want people to examine their prejudices and so on, but I also that think we do more than that -- we reflect changes, too. When mothers marched for peace in 1970 in 'All My Children,' we were copying the marches that there had already been. It works both ways."  

Highlights
Agnes Nixon on coming up with the title of All My Children
01:47
Agnes Nixon on creating the character "Erica Kane" on All My Children
02:02
Agnes Nixon on the then-recent (1997) introduction of a gay character on All My Children
01:37
Agnes Nixon on the groundbreaking "Carla Grey passing as white" story on One Life to Live
06:26
Agnes Nixon on the influence of sponsor Procter & Gamble on Guiding Light
00:51
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early years and influences; on growing up in Nashville; on radio programs she enjoyed as a child; on wanting to be a writer and attending Northwestern University
07:31
On meeting soap opera creator Irna Phillips; on her difficult relationship with her father; on writing for radio serial dramas
06:33
On transitioning to television and writing for anthology series (including Robert Montgomery Presents); on being a female television writer
07:48

Chapter 2

On writing for live television; on adapting books for teleplays on early television; on her literary influences; on seeing productions she wrote performed live
05:38
On writing for the daytime serial Search for Tomorrow; on writing for Irna Phillips on Guiding Light; on writing socially relevant stories and people underestimating the largely female audience of soap operas
14:58
On collaborating with Irna Phillips on the creation of As the World Turns; on the differences between a thirty-minute and fifteen-minute program
07:20

Chapter 3

On the rapid pace of soap opera production; on leaving Guiding Light to take over Another World
04:09
On creating All My Children but not getting it on the air right away; on creating One Life to Live; on how One Life to Live differed from other soap operas on at the time; on the groundbreaking "Carla Grey passing as white" story on One Life to Live
12:08
On socially relevant storylines on One Life to Live; on early soap demographics and using her own experiences as fodder for storylines
04:46
On the creation of All My Children and how it reflected its era; on the title and setting of the show
06:31

Chapter 4

On how the process of writing soap operas evolved throughout her career
04:45
On the character of "Erica Kane" (played by Susan Lucci) on All My Children; on humor on the show, the then-recent (1997) introduction of a gay character, and production on the show; on working with ABC's Michael Eisner
10:29
On writing the miniseries Manions of America starring Pierce Brosnan
01:23
On co-creating Loving; on keeping All My Children fresh over the years; on the competition soaps face; on then-current projects and favorite storylines over the years
10:22

Chapter 5

On the role of soap operas in modern culture; on the term "soap opera"
04:34
On her thoughts on people with whom she's worked
07:29
Shows

All My Children

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Agnes Nixon on creating All My Children
00:39
Agnes Nixon on creating All My Children (contd.) but not getting it on the air on CBS as planned
01:12
Agnes Nixon on creating One Life to Live and then reviving All My Children
00:46
Agnes Nixon on the creation of All My Children and how it reflected its era
04:21
Agnes Nixon on coming up with the title of All My Children
01:47
Agnes Nixon on the Pine Valley setting of All My Children
00:23
Agnes Nixon on creating the character "Erica Kane" on All My Children
02:02
Agnes Nixon on the humor and characters on All My Children
03:31
Agnes Nixon on the then-recent (1997) introduction of a gay character on All My Children
01:37
Agnes Nixon on production on All My Children
01:19
Agnes Nixon on keeping All My Children fresh over the years
03:11

Another World

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Agnes Nixon on feeling stifled by sponsor Procter & Gamble on Another World and One Life to Live
00:53
Agnes Nixon on leaving Guiding Light to take over Another World; on popular storylines on the soap opera
01:58
Agnes Nixon on turning Another World around and making the show successful and getting asked to work for ABC
00:39

As the World Turns

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Agnes Nixon on collaborating with Irna Phillips on the creation of thirty-minute As the World Turns
02:41
Agnes Nixon on the focus of As the World Turns and creating the world of Oakdale
01:56
Agnes Nixon on the differences between a thirty-minute show (As the World Turns) and a fifteen-minute show
00:49
Agnes Nixon on the success of As the World Turns
00:41

Guiding Light

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Agnes Nixon on writing for the television and radio versions of Guiding Light
02:46
Agnes Nixon on the format and challenges of Guiding Light
02:08
Agnes Nixon on the influence of sponsor Procter & Gamble on Guiding Light
00:51
Agnes Nixon on wanting to write socially relevant stories for soap operas - writing her first cancer story for Guiding Light and getting resistance from sponsor Procter & Gamble
04:48
Agnes Nixon on people underestimating the largely female audience of soap operas
01:06
Agnes Nixon on her tenure writing for Guiding Light
00:45

Hallmark Hall of Fame

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Agnes Nixon on writing for Hallmark Hall of Fame and the challenges of working in live dramas
01:15

Loving

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Agnes Nixon on co-creating Loving with Douglas Marland
01:34

Manions of America, The

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Agnes Nixon on writing the six-hour ABC miniseries The Manions of America
01:04

One Life to Live

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Agnes Nixon on feeling stifled by sponsor Procter & Gamble on Another World and One Life to Live
00:53
Agnes Nixon on creating One Life to Live and then reviving All My Children
00:46
Agnes Nixon on how One Life to Live differed from other soap operas on at the time and how the show was socially relevant
02:32
Agnes Nixon on the groundbreaking "Carla Grey passing as white" story on One Life to Live
06:26
Agnes Nixon on a socially relevant storyline about drug addiction on One Life to Live
01:46

Robert Montgomery Presents

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Agnes Nixon on writing an episode of Robert Montgomery Presents starring Jackie Cooper
01:14

Search For Tomorrow

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Agnes Nixon on her thirteen weeks writing for Search for Tomorrow
00:38
Topics

Anthology Drama

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Agnes Nixon on writing for the Golden Age anthology dramas
00:44

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Agnes Nixon on wanting to write socially relevant stories for soap operas - writing her first cancer story for Guiding Light and getting resistance from sponsor Procter & Gamble
04:48

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Agnes Nixon on her literary influences
00:50

Diversity in Television

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Agnes Nixon on being one of the only women to write for the Golden Age anthology dramas
00:29
Agnes Nixon on the groundbreaking "Carla Grey passing as white" story on One Life to Live
06:26
Agnes Nixon on the then-recent (1997) introduction of a gay character on All My Children
01:37

Fame & Celebrity

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Agnes Nixon on the fan mail for All My Children
01:03

Historic Events and Social Change

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Agnes Nixon on a topical story about the Vietnam War on All My Children
01:42

LGBTQ

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Agnes Nixon on the then-recent (1997) introduction of a gay character on All My Children
01:37

Minorities

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Agnes Nixon on the groundbreaking "Carla Grey passing as white" story on One Life to Live
06:26

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

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Agnes Nixon on writing for the Golden Age anthology dramas
00:44

Television Industry

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Agnes Nixon on sponsor reaction to soap operas moving from radio to television
01:39
Agnes Nixon on wanting to write socially relevant stories for soap operas - writing her first cancer story for Guiding Light and getting resistance from sponsor Procter & Gamble
04:48
Agnes Nixon on the fan mail for All My Children
01:03

Vietnam War

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Agnes Nixon on a topical story about the Vietnam War on All My Children
01:42

War

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Agnes Nixon on a topical story about the Vietnam War on All My Children
01:42

Women

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Agnes Nixon on being one of the only women to write for the Golden Age anthology dramas
00:29
Professions

Writers

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Agnes Nixon on using her own experiences and dreams as material for her soap opera writing
01:41
Agnes Nixon on how the process of writing soap operas evolved throughout her career
04:45
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

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Agnes Nixon on writing an episode of Robert Montgomery Presents starring Jackie Cooper
01:14

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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Agnes Nixon on collaborating with Irna Phillips on the creation of As the World Turns; on the differences between a thirty-minute and fifteen-minute program
07:20
Agnes Nixon on writing for the television and radio versions of Guiding Light
14:20
Agnes Nixon on the creation of All My Children and how it reflected its era; on the title and setting of the show
06:31
Agnes Nixon on creating One Life to Live; on topical storylines on the show
13:44
Agnes Nixon on how the process of writing soap operas evolved throughout her career
04:45
Agnes Nixon on creating the character "Erica Kane" on All My Children
02:02
Agnes Nixon on the humor, characters, and production on All My Children
06:27
People

William Bell

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Agnes Nixon on William Bell
00:22

Fred Coe

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Agnes Nixon on working with Fred Coe
01:32

Ted Corday

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Agnes Nixon on Ted Corday, director and co-creator of As the World Turns
00:45

Michael Eisner

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Agnes Nixon on working with ABC's Michael Eisner
00:57

Eileen Fulton

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Agnes Nixon on Eileen Fulton
00:18

Don Hastings

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Agnes Nixon on Don Hastings
00:08

Ellen Holly

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Agnes Nixon on the groundbreaking "Carla Grey passing as white" story on One Life to Live
06:26

Susan Lucci

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Agnes Nixon on the character "Erica Kane" (played by Susan Lucci) on All My Children
02:02
Agnes Nixon on Susan Lucci
00:32

Douglas Marland

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Agnes Nixon on co-creating Loving with Douglas Marland
01:33
Agnes Nixon on Douglas Marland
00:11

Irna Phillips

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Agnes Nixon on getting an interview with soap opera creator Irna Phillips
01:06
Agnes Nixon on what she had heard about soap opera creator Irna Phillips prior to meeting her; on her first impression upon meeting her
01:39
Agnes Nixon on collaborating with Irna Phillips on the creation of As the World Turns
01:06
Agnes Nixon on Irna Phillips as a force in television
01:34
Agnes Nixon on the focus of As the World Turns and creating the world of Oakdale
01:56
Agnes Nixon on Irna Phillips wanting to write socially relevant stories for soap operas
00:37
Agnes Nixon on working with Irna Phillips
00:33

Doris Quinlan

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Agnes Nixon on producer Doris Quinlan
00:09

Erika Slezak

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Agnes Nixon on Erika Slezak
00:34

Robin Strasser

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Agnes Nixon on Robin Strasser
00:27

Ruth Warrick

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Agnes Nixon on Ruth Warrick
00:24

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