I read with sorry at lunch today that Agnes Nixon has died. Agnes Nixon created such shows as One Life to Live and All My Children. I was a big fan of both of these and my high school science class use to watch All My Children instead of the television program we were assigned. She even drew the boys into the story.
As a teenager at camp, we would gather round the television to see what was going to happen. We cheered the heroes, booed the villains, and often saw our world being mirrored on the television screen. It was amazing what life lessons you could learn on a 30 minute soap.
When I began doing research on television in the 1990s, ABC daytime was my focus point. Agnes’ influence could be seen in the stories that One Life to Live and All My Children told. In the 1990s the trend would expand to a show she had ties to but did not create, General Hospital.
I want to take a minute and express my feelings of gratitude to Agnes for understanding me as a teen and into adulthood. Here are some of the stories that affected my life and how she influenced my view of society..
— Vietnam War. Agnes (because that’s how I think of her) gave us on All My Children the story of a mother losing her son in the war. While my friends just missed the draft,we watched others go to war and return changed. Some didn’t return so we experienced along with Ruth Martin a sense of loss.
— Agnes didn’t think we were dumb. She moved the soaps out of the 1950s and recognized trends in the era that the show aired. She realized that women could not stay at home because the “times they were a’changing.” She knew mothers had to work to help ends meet so Victoria Lord was shown in the newspaper industry. Erika would take the role as model, Ruth Martin and nurse.
— She accepted that all people weren’t rich. On both All My Children and One Life to Live there was a healthy mixture of poor, middle class and rich. And they held jobs and showed compassion to each other. Victoria Lord even married a man who grew up poor. She didn’t pamper her children but sent them to a regular high school. When they misbehaved, they were punished.
She respected and show love not only to the people on the show but also to her fans. She never hesitated to show compassion when something happened on a set and she always treated her fans with respect. In the late 1990s I attended a conference where she was to be the keynote speaker. My writing researcher and I had sent word that we had family trees for her shows. She was unable to attend but sent her assistant to meet with us. She expressed her gratitude that we had taken the time to research and put these together. How many people would do that? Agnes did.
Agnes, you lived and loved throughout your life. I know you are missed and will be remembered fondly. Go in peace.