Helen Wagner

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-hour Archive interview, actress Helen Wagner (1918-2010) describes breaking into acting on the New York stage and in experimental television. She talks about her appearance as a regular on the short-lived Charlie Ruggles sitcom The World of Mr. Sweeney.  She discusses the role for which she is most associated, that of "Nancy Hughes" on As the World Turns, a role she has played for nearly fifty years, the longest running character to date in the history of television. She describes the production of As the World Turns including its transition from "live" to tape, story plot lines, and working with her longtime co-stars. She talks about various moments from the show from uttering the series' very first line ("Good morning dear, what would you like for breakfast?") to playing a scene "live" while unbeknownst to her CBS broke in to announce the shooting of President Kennedy. She talks about her continued work on the series and how the show has evolved over the years. Karen Herman conducted the interview on October 6, 2004 in Mt. Kisco, NY.

"Irna Phillips wanted to show people as they were with 'As the World Turns.' In all our various forms: the good, the bad, and the indifferent. She felt that this was what was interesting about people. That was her goal, and that is why the show has worked for nearly fifty years."

Highlights
Helen Wagner on advice to aspiring actresses
01:16
Helen Wagner on the sets, costumes, and hair of As the World Turns
04:03
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early life and influences; on deciding she wanted to be an actress and her early stage experience; on the first time she appeared on television: a 1946 experiment to test what colors worked for black and white
15:47
On appearing on various live television shows early in her career and her character type; on mishaps that happened on live television 
06:17
On appearing in Reynolds Wrap commercials on Mr. Peepers;  on appearing on Guiding Light as a tryout for As the World Turns;  on co-starring in the NBC 15-minute sitcom The World of Mr. Sweeney
04:23

Chapter 2

On co-starring in The World of Mr. Sweeney and not continuing when the series moved to Hollywood; on how she came to be cast on As the World Turns; on the development of her character "Nancy Hughes" on As the World Turns
08:43
On working with Don MacLaughlin as "Chris Hughes" on As the World Turns and on the difference between her and "Nancy Hughes"; on the beginning of As the World Turns and the standards and practices of the day; on working with As the World Turns creator Irna Phillips
07:44
On the pilot for As the World Turns; on the early cast of As the World Turns; on the death of Don MacLaughlin and how it impacted As the World Turns
10:49

Chapter 3

On working with the cast of As the World Turns; on As the World Turns producer Ted Corday; on the day-to-day production of the show in the '50s as opposed to the then-present
13:34
On the sets, costumes, and hair of As the World Turns; on the writers of As the World Turns and on dealing with sponsors and executives; on the topics covered by the show
08:08
On As the World Turns and the Kennedy assassination; on the more recent storylines of As the World Turns; on how her As the World Turns character "Nancy Hughes" changed over the years and on the fan mail she gets
06:19

Chapter 4

On being recognized by her fans; on her lack of Emmy nominations over the years and having the longest running character on television; on continuing to work and her acting style
08:20
On advice to aspiring actresses; on how television has changed since she started; on how As the World Turns changed during her tenure and why the show has been so successful; on her career highlights and regrets
06:02
Shows

As the World Turns

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Helen Wagner on how she came to be cast on As the World Turns
02:02
Helen Wagner on the development of her character "Nancy Hughes" on As the World Turns
05:05
Helen Wagner on working with Don MacLaughlin as "Chris Hughes" on As the World Turns and on the difference between her and "Nancy Hughes"
02:54
Helen Wagner on the beginning of As the World Turns and the standards and practices of the day
02:37
Helen Wagner on working with As the World Turns creator Irna Phillips
02:13
Helen Wagner on the pilot for As the World Turns
00:58
Helen Wagner on Ronnie Welch as "Bob Hughes" on As the World Turns
01:21
Helen Wagner on Bob Hastings as "Chris Hughes" on As the World Turns
02:28
Helen Wagner on Eileen Fulton as "Lisa Grimaldi" on As the World Turns
01:29
Helen Wagner on Rosemary Prinz as "Penny Hughes" on As the World Turns
00:38
Helen Wagner on Richard Holland as "Donald Hughes" on As the World Turns
00:30
Helen Wagner on Santos Ortega as "Grandpa Hughes" on As the World Turns
02:15
Helen Wagner on the death of Don MacLaughlin and how it impacted As the World Turns
01:08
Helen Wagner on working with Don MacLaughlin as "Chris Hughes" on As the World Turns and on the difference between her and "Nancy Hughes"
02:54
Helen Wagner on Ruth Warrick as "Edie Hughes" on As the World Turns
01:23
Helen Wagner on Patricia Bruder and Wendy Drew as "Ellen Lowell" on As the World Turns
01:02
Helen Wagner on Mark Rydell as "Jeff Baker" on As the World Turns
01:29
Helen Wagner on Henderson Forsythe as "David Stewart" and Marie Masters as "Susan Burke" on As the World Turns
00:45
Helen Wagner on the more recent cast members of As the World Turns
04:03
Helen Wagner on As the World Turns producer Ted Corday
01:21
Helen Wagner on the day-to-day production of As the World Turns in the '50s as opposed to the then-present
03:31
Helen Wagner on the sets, costumes, and hair of As the World Turns
04:03
Helen Wagner on the writers of As the World Turns and on dealing with sponsors and executives
01:45
Helen Wagner on the topics covered by As the World Turns
02:20
Helen Wagner on As the World Turns and the Kennedy assassination 
01:21
Helen Wagner on the more recent storylines of As the World Turns
02:30
Helen Wagner on how her As the World Turns character of "Nancy Hughes" changed over the years and on the fan mail she gets
02:28
Helen Wagner on how As the World Turns changed during her tenure and why the show has been so successful 
02:00

Guiding Light

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Helen Wagner on appearing on Guiding Light as a tryout for As the World Turns
01:18

Mister Peepers

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Helen Wagner on appearing in Reynolds Wrap commercials on Mr. Peepers
01:27

World of Mr. Sweeney, The

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Helen Wagner on co-starring in the NBC 15-minute sitcom The World of Mr. Sweeney
01:36
Helen Wagner on co-starring in The World of Mr. Sweeney and not continuing when the series moved to Hollywood
01:36
Topics

Advice

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Helen Wagner on advice to aspiring actresses
01:14

Bloopers

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Helen Wagner on mishaps that happened on live television 
02:37

Characters & Catchphrases

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Helen Wagner on the development of her character "Nancy Hughes" on As the World Turns
05:05

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Helen Wagner on As the World Turns and the Kennedy assassination 
01:21

JFK Assassination and Funeral

View Topic
Helen Wagner on As the World Turns and the Kennedy assassination 
01:21

Pop Culture

View Topic
Helen Wagner on the development of her character "Nancy Hughes" on As the World Turns
05:05

Technological Innovation

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Helen Wagner on the first time she appeared on television: a 1946 experiment to test what colors worked for black and white
07:35

Television Industry

View Topic
Helen Wagner on advice to aspiring actresses
01:14
Helen Wagner on how television has changed since she started
01:29
Professions

Actress

View Profession
Helen Wagner on her advice to aspiring actresses
01:14
Helen Wagner on her advice to aspiring actresses
01:14

Performers

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Helen Wagner on her advice to aspiring actresses
01:14
Helen Wagner on her advice to aspiring actresses
01:14
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Helen Wagner on co-starring in the NBC 15-minute sitcom The World of Mr. Sweeney
01:36
Helen Wagner on co-starring in The World of Mr. Sweeney and not continuing when the series moved to Hollywood
01:36

Commercials

View Genre
Helen Wagner on appearing in Reynolds Wrap commercials on Mr. Peepers
01:27

Daytime/Primetime Serials

View Genre
Helen Wagner on appearing on Guiding Light  as a tryout for As the World Turns
01:18
Helen Wagner on playing "Nancy Hughes" on As the World Turns
25:40
Helen Wagner on playing "Nancy Hughes" on As the World Turns (Pt. 2)
28:01
Helen Wagner on how As the World Turns  changed during her tenure and why the show has been so successful 
02:00
People

Patricia Bruder

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Helen Wagner on Patricia Bruder and Wendy Drew as "Ellen Lowell" on As the World Turns
01:02

Ted Corday

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Helen Wagner on As the World Turns producer Ted Corday
01:20

Henderson Forsythe

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Helen Wagner on Henderson Forsythe as "David Stewart" and Marie Masters as "Susan Burke" on As the World Turns
00:45

Eileen Fulton

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Helen Wagner on Eileen Fulton as "Lisa Grimaldi" on As the World Turns
01:29
Helen Wagner on Eileen Fulton as "Lisa Grimaldi" on As the World Turns
01:29

Don Hastings

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Helen Wagner on Don Hastings as "Bob Hughes" on As the World Turns
02:28
Helen Wagner on Don Hastings as "Bob Hughes" on As the World Turns
02:28

Richard Holland

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Helen Wagner on Richard Holland as "Donald Hughes" on As the World Turns
00:32
Helen Wagner on Richard Holland as "Donald Hughes" on As the World Turns
00:32

Don MacLaughlin

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Helen Wagner on the death of Don MacLaughlin and how it impacted As the World Turns
01:08
Helen Wagner on working with Don MacLaughlin as "Chris Hughes" on As the World Turns and on the difference between her and "Nancy Hughes"
02:54
Helen Wagner on the death of Don MacLaughlin and how it impacted As the World Turns
01:08
Helen Wagner on working with Don MacLaughlin as "Chris Hughes" on As the World Turns and on the difference between her and "Nancy Hughes"
02:54

Santos Ortega

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Helen Wagner on Santos Ortega as "Grandpa Hughes" on As the World Turns
02:15
Helen Wagner on Santos Ortega as "Grandpa Hughes" on As the World Turns
02:15

Irna Phillips

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Helen Wagner on working with As the World Turns creator Irna Phillips
02:15
Helen Wagner on working with As the World Turns creator Irna Phillips
02:15

Rosemary Prinz

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Helen Wagner on Rosemary Prinz as "Penny Hughes" on As the World Turns
00:38
Helen Wagner on Rosemary Prinz as "Penny Hughes" on As the World Turns
00:38

Mark Rydell

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Helen Wagner on Mark Rydell as "Jeff Baker" on As the World Turns
01:29

Ruth Warrick

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Helen Wagner on Ruth Warrick as "Edie Hughes" on As the World Turns
01:22

Ronnie Welsh

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Helen Wagner on Ronnie Welch as "Bob Hughes" on As the World Turns
01:20
Helen Wagner on Ronnie Welch as "Bob Hughes" on As the World Turns
01:20

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