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ATWT Stars Recall Assassination of JFK And How It Interrupted Them Live On The Air!

Courtesy/NYTimesP&G

Courtesy/NYTimesP&G

All this past week, America had been remembering the horrific events, and how the country changed because of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy 50 years ago on November 22nd, 1963 in Dallas, Texas.

But it was the beloved and iconic soap opera, As the World Turns that has a very special place in history!  It was ATWT that was the only live network show going when Kennedy was shot.  The episode was only ten minutes into it, when the voice of Walter Cronkite broke in with his CBS News bulletin on the shooting.

In this fascinating piece from the New York Times over the weekend they relate, “ATWT was the only regular program being broadcast nationally by a major network — specifically, throughout the Eastern and Central time zones. In Washington, the NBC and ABC affiliates were scheduled to present TV Beauty School and Divorce Court. In Dallas, a discussion of winter coats with hidden zippers was the focus of The Julie Benell Show, a local effort by the ABC affiliate WFAA. ”

Don Hastings, who played Bob Hughes related to NY Times on what went down that fatal day: “Phil Polansky, our cameraman, said, ‘Don’t tell the actors what? The president’s been shot?’ He had headphones on, and he was talking to the control room. We got our cue and we just kept going, because no one else knew what to do.”  But the Times added that, “Mr. Hastings was unaware that the news was already blacking out the first half of his scene.”

Eileen Fulton, who played Lisa Hughes related her story in which she had no idea what was going on while she was performing her scene with her on-screen mom Elma (Ethel Remey): “I had a very emotional scene.“When we finished, my cameraman, Joe Hallahan, had tears running down his face. I said, ‘I’m good, but I didn’t know I was that good.’ ”

Later, when the cast got together on the Monday, to try to time and rehearse Tuesday’s live show, Don Hastings kept ducking into the control room to watch the funeral cortege.  He said about rehearsals, “They kept coming to get me, because I was just destroyed at that point.”

But it was Rosemary Prinz, who played Penny that gave the most insightful news of all to NY Times! Prinz had hoped for some mention of the assassination of JFK on the next episode.  But ATWT creator Irna Phillips, wanted nothing of the sort to happen to disrupt her fictional town of Oakdale and its citizens.  Prinz stated, “She was the meanest bitch on the planet, and you can quote me!”

However, Prinz recalled how she got an opportunity to work it in on her own in a scene with Grandpa Hughes (Santos Ortega):  “I was supposed to go on about Tom and his father,” she recalled, “and I said instead: ‘Oh, Grandpa, here we are talking about little Tom. My God, after what the country has gone through, it seems so out of proportion. But, of course, we have to go on.’  An infuriated production team promptly descended on Ms. Prinz.  Prinz added.  “I said, ‘I just went blank and said the first think I could think of, and then I got back to the script.’ Everyone knew I was full of it. But I made the point.”

So, what did you think about Prinz’ statement on Irna Phillips? The recollections of Don Hastings, Eileen Fulton and Prinz?  We thought it was pretty terrific that the N.Y. Times remembered how historic ATWT was, and how it played into American history on that fateful day of November 22nd, 1963.

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Mr MikeKolstenRICKIERoddChip Coffey Recent comment authors
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jimh(leave it to beaver)
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jimh(leave it to beaver)

That horrible tragic moment in history i still remember but its a little fuzzy: i was 3 years old at the time…my mother and i were at a local department store…many customers were near the tv sets including me and my mother when JFKs assasination was announced…i didnt clearly understand what really happened but i remember moms sad look on her face and gasping, ‘Oh, dear God, no!’ It would be a few years later when Robert Kennedy was killed when she told me what happened that day and where we were at when President Kennedy was shot…imo it seems… Read more »

Mark in FLA
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Mark in FLA

I love reading about what Ms Prinz said live on the air that acknowledged the grief the country was going thru. Good for her. Too bad Irna Phillips did not want to acknowledge what happened. Glad that Rosemary Prinz ignored her wishes to keep reality out of Oakdale!

Lew S
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Lew S

Love it!!

Lin
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Lin

Good for Rosemary Prinz! I know nothing about Irna Phillips, but i’d say from what i read above, Ms. Prinz is probably right. I think bringing in what the country was feeling could only have helped the viewers feel better about their soap. I agree this was a terrific that the NYT included ATWT in their coverage of that horrible time in our history.

lenafreed
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lenafreed

I was a 16 year old HS student in November 1963 and my HS Social Studies teacher had the same reaction as Irna Phillips. As soon as we took our seats for our first class after the assassination he announced we were not going to discuss it. How sad!
This assassination was a terrible turning point in our country’s history. Rosemary Prinz did the right thing!

Michael (not Fairman)
Guest
Michael (not Fairman)

Irna was so “into” her shows that she apparently insisted on referring to the actors by their character names, rather than their own names, when she spoke to them. She must have been a creative genius, to have been largely responsible, single-handedly, for creating and evolving the soap genre, but from everything I’ve seen, she was pretty much certifiable. I know that Rosemary Prinz had serious ongoing issues with Phillips and the other PTB practically the whole time she was playing Penny. This is a particularly telling anecdote in regard to what Phillips was like to work for–and that quote… Read more »

Chip Coffey
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Chip Coffey

Back in 1986, I attended the 30th anniversary party for ATWT at the Palladium in NYC as the guest of Joe Rothenberger, a former ATWT executive producer. While chatting with Helen Wagner (Nancy Hughes), I recalled my mother telling me that she was watching ATWT when the show was interrupted with news of President Kennedy’s shooting. I asked Ms. Wagner about this and she recounted that she was in the middle of a live scene with Santos Ortega (Grandpa Hughes) when the announcement was aired. The actors continued on, finding out a few minutes later that the President had been… Read more »

Kolsten
Guest
Kolsten

I also got to meet Helen Wagner, but much later. I met her in June 2009 after she returned to the show after her husband died in real life. She was the most gracious woman I had ever met. I was on the set as part of an undergraduate school project that the National Braodcasting Museum and my school set up. She was by far my favorite interview. I also got to ask her about that fateful day in 1963 and her incredible scenes a decade earlier with Mac suffering from Alzheimer’s. Her actual scenes that day with actors Billy… Read more »

Rodd
Guest
Rodd

I think it’s terrific that the NYT called upon the ATWT stars for their piece. It was a significant part of the nation’s context for that terrible tragedy; more so than we can realize today with a million channels to watch.

I loved Ms. Prinz’s comments about Irna Phillips. It reflects the strong color of the early days of television. What fascinating stories these stars must have to tell!

RICKIE
Guest
RICKIE

I adore Rosemary Prinz! She’s always been so starkly honest about everything — this, and her calling out Agnes Nixon for taking credit for All My Children’s Amy Tyler being a peace activist (the actress herself insisted on this when she agreed to sign a short-term contract to help launch AMC). Ms Prinz doesn’t go along to get along — I love that about her!

Mr Mike
Guest
Mr Mike

A.T.W.T. one of the best soaps ever.
Real stories, about real life, without the need
for Dracula’s, people coming back from the dead, etc.
Just great story lines performed by wonderfully talented actors.

As The World Turns

As the World Turns Alum Marnie Schulenburg Passes Away at 37

Heartbreaking news to report.  As the World Turns alum, Marnie Schulenburg, has died at the young age of 37-years-old.

Schulenburg had been battling stage 4 metastatic breast cancer since 2020.

Soap fans remember her portrayals as Alison Stewart on As the World Turns from 2007-2010 and  as Jo Sullivan on Prospect Park’s reboot of One Life to Live in 2013.

According to Soap Opera Digest, Marnie passed away a few days shy of her 38th birthday.

The Flux Theatre Ensemble, in which Marnie participated and performed in shared their sorrow on Facebook noting: “We’re mourning the loss of Marnie Schulenburg, a beloved member of Flux’s family and an extraordinary actor who performed in and helped develop so many Flux shows, including MARIAN, HEARTS LIKE FISTS, PRETTY THEFT, and ANGEL EATERS. We love you so much, and we will miss you always.”

Marnie is survived by husband Zack Robidas and daughter, Coda, who is just two-years-old.

We will continue to update this story as remembrances are posted in Marnie’s honor.

Share you condolences to Marnie’s family and your thoughts in the comment section below.

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As The World Turns

ATWT Alum Alexandra Chando Cast in NBC Pilot Based on Dutch Show ‘Adam & Eva’

In casting news, Alexandra Chando (Ex-Maddie, As the World Turns) had been tapped to play one of the leading roles in the upcoming untiled NBC pilot based on the Dutch series, Adam & Eva.

Chando will be joined by Younger star, Ben Rappaport as the epicenter of the proposed series.

The log lines share that the project is both funny and heartfelt and will chronicle the epic love and lives of two complete strangers, Adam (Rappaport) and Eva (Chando), whose multiple run-ins begin to defy coincidence, leading both to believe in fate.

According to Deadline, Alexandra’s role of Eva is said to be an aspiring artist and force of nature whose relationship and views on fate are put to the test when she meets Adam.

Alexandra commented on social media:Immensely excited and grateful to be apart of this incredible show.”

As the World Turns fans will remember Chando received a Daytime Emmy nomination for her performances back in 2007 and she was previously seen in The Lying Game and Sneaky Pete.

So, intrigued on the proposed series featuring Chando? Comment below.

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As The World Turns

Julianne Moore Pays Tribute to ATWT’s Kathryn Hays: “I Am in Indebted to Her and So Saddened by Her Loss”

The soap world has been in mourning since last Friday with the news of the passing of As the World Turns icon, Kathryn Hays (Kim Hughes).  The beloved actress passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 87.

Now, Hays former on-screen stepdaughter and niece, Oscar winner, Julianne Moore (Ex-Frannie/Sabrina Hughes) took to Instagram over the weekend to share her heartfelt remembrance and grief of working with Hays early in her acting career on ATWT.

Photo: JPI

Moore shared: “The beautiful and gracious Kathryn Hays has passed away. I worked with Kathryn on As the World Turns at the beginning of my career and she treated me with such kindness and generosity, and demonstrated in her every action how to be professional on a set. I am indebted to her and so saddened by her loss. My thoughts are with her family – she spoke to me so often of her daughter. I hope they know what a profound influence Kathryn had on me, and so many others. RIP Kathryn ❤️❤️❤️ ”

Julianne had played twins Frannie and Sabrina from 1985-1988 and then returned to the CBS soap opera one final time in 2010 before ATWT made its final farewell.

What do you think of the kind words Moore shared on her thoughts on the passing of Kathryn Hays? Do you remember Julianne in scenes with Kathryn on ATWT, if so, what were some of your favorites? Comment below.

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