Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Agnes Nixon, 1923 - 2016

Legendary daytime television icon Agnes Nixon has passed away at age 93. During Ms. Nixon's storied career, she created two daytime dramas and was a trailblazer for women in the entertainment industry.


Agnes began her career by writing for various soap operas, willing to touch topics that others wouldn't dare mention. In 1962, she wrote a storyline for Guiding Light in which a character had cervical cancer. She sought to shed light on the importance of Pap smears in the early detection of cancer, but was not permitted to use the words cancer, Pap smear, cervix or uterus. Despite these limitations, her work inspired millions of women to have Pap smears, doubtless saving many lives. This did not go unnoticed by ABC, which was looking to add to its daytime lineup. She submitted the idea for All My Children, which was rejected. The network was looking for something grittier, so she submitted a new proposal for One Life to Live, a soap opera that revolved around the wealthy Victoria Lord, but also showcased middle and working class families of different ethnicities, including the first African-American leads and a Polish-American working class family. The show was a huge success, inspiring ABC to pickup All My Children in 1970. Agnes had become a daytime mogul.


Her dramas continued to be trailblazers, taking her lead in pushing the envelope long after she retired from active production duties. Unfortunately, ABC chose to lower the quality of its daytime programming and canceled these long running dramas, choosing to air cheaper, less successful programming in their place. After a fan uprising, the shows were resurrected on Hulu, but are currently tied up in a legal fight between ABC and the new production company. Nevertheless, Ms. Nixon's contributions to daytime television remain monumental and her commitment to producing quality programming that sought to inspire positive change has undoubtedly made the world a better place.