"All My Children" would be 50 years old this week. I watched the first show which makes me — Ah! Nevermind, you do the math. Let's just say the fire department cut off my use of birthday candles years ago because the number was considered a fire hazard.
Sadly, "AMC" only lasted 41 years. Brian Frons, in one of the dumbest TV executive moves to date, canceled the show. Frons, as head of daytime at the time, also axed "One Life to Live."
I remember that first episode of "All My Children." Erica (Susan Lucci) was opening her high school locker and plotting against Tara Martin.
Before "AMC," I watched "As the World Turns." I would go to the department store, pull up a chair in the TV department and watch. I told my journalism classmates I was going on assignment — but they knew the truth. Now, I can say I was preparing for my career.
The next scene on the "AMC" debut had the character of Amy protesting the Vietnam War. So was I. The only thing close to a protest on "As the World Turns" was when Nancy thought the price of apples was too high.
Agnes Nixon, who created "AMC," made it entertaining and informative. Erica had the first soap opera legal abortion; it had an AIDS story. While it had adults, the show focused on teenagers. When an actress told Nixon, she was getting a facelift in real life and would need sometime off. Nixon had a better idea. A story about a woman who wanted a facelift was written. The actress's real-life facelift was shown, as was everything else along the way.
Stars such as Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lacey Chabert, Cameron Mathison, Kelly Ripa, and Jesse McCartney got their start on the show. One famous star will not cop to getting her start on the soap. Come on Natalie we know who you are.
When "AMC" got its start, soaps were different than they are today. First of all, they were considered a cash cow. Money from daytime shows allowed nighttime shows to exist.
Then the soaps became very popular. The "AMC" publicist at the time told me: "The worst day of my career happened when the show became a hit. I would get call after call for interviews and items. My cushy job became lots of work."
Stars demanded major salary raises. The shows would go to Europe for some storylines, a very expensive proposition.
The show was 45 minutes long and dovetailed with "One Life to Live." It then became an hour long.
For years, "All My Children" was the No. 1 recoded show, morning, daytime or nighttime, at ABC.
It went live on tape in New York's Upper West Side. The studio is gone and is now a high-rise apartment. It spent its last year taping in LA. Frons claimed it was to give the show a new studio and fresh start. Most of the actors relocated. To this day, some say Frons knew all along he was going to cancel. They feel he just wanted to play with the actors, who he considered the enemy. Why? How about their asking for pay raises over the years.
The workday for the actors was very different from today. It was done like a play, taped scene by scene.
In its final years, the show was taped set by set so the lights did not need to be re-lit. Editing certainly made a difference. If a show ran long, it was edited. Directors could be pretty nasty in the beginning; one poor ingenue was mortified when she was shooting a love scene. Over the boom came: "Obviously, you have never had sex. I will come on the floor and show you now."
Thankfully today, The #MeToo movement would not allow for that treatment.
As for Frons, his TV career was canceled after his boneheaded decision.
To find out more about Lynda Hirsch and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.