Now that Guiding Light’s biggest blunders have been posted it’s time to talk about what Guiding Light got right. And with over seventy years of history there are a lot of things to choose from! In the end, I chose the ones that I felt added to the show’s greatness and, in some instances, my own personal enjoyment.
27. Reva and Jeffery. Yes my heart was firmly in the Jeva camp, and it took me a long time to even warm to the couple, but I think Reva and Jeffery’s romance had its uses. Their relationship was “fun” when Reva’s life was, at the time, anything BUT fun. What started out as an attempt to make rival Olivia Spencer jealous quickly became more until the two married in 2008. Jeffery was a great sense of support for Reva when she was battling cancer and Josh was married to her sister Cassie. While they will never top my Favorite Couples list like I said, the Jeffery and Reva pairing did have its uses.
26. Jeanne Cooper and Christian LeBlanc. Yes you heard me right, the actors that play Katherine Chancellor and Michael Baldwin on The Young and the Restless. Both these actors paid tribute to Guiding Light by guest starring in one of the finale episodes. Soap stars showing respect to the show that paved the way? A truly classy move. Even more awesome was seeing the amazing Jeanne Cooper playing the “cougar”. Hilarious.
25. Aubrey Dollar. This talented actress made the character Marina Cooper her own. She was feisty, tenacious, and a perfect fit for the Cooper family! She had two great pairings with both Ben and Shayne before deciding not to renew her contract in 2004. The role was eventually taken over by Mandy Bruno, who had none of the former Marina’s “spirit”. Aubrey Dollar will always remain my favorite Marina.
24. Mary Stuart as Meta Bauer. Soap actress legend Mary Stuart took over the role of the Bauer family matriarch in 1996, and thus began Meta’s task of leading this core family . Meta was a source of love and support for Rick and Michelle, especially since their father was always gone. And truthfully, who knows where Manny would have been without this vibrant woman’s influence! She encouraged Michelle to be strong during her pregnancy and knocked some sense into Danny when he almost missed his son’s birth. Check out the Mary Stuart Tribute video here. How appropriate that Meta’s speech from this clip would later be used in Guiding Light’s opening.
23. Edmund Winslow. Richard’s dastardly brother, he took sibling hatred to a whole new level. His crimes were many, his friends were few, but nevertheless he made a mark on Springfield. You never knew which Edmund you were going to get; the angry deceitful ex-prince or the vulnerable man underneath. Edmund was a great Guiding Light villain and certainly made things a lot more interesting.
22. The end shot. As a true blue Guiding Light fan I HATED to see the show end, especially with such cheap production values. But the final shot not only fit the show but really resonated with a lot of viewers. We had just seen Guiding Light’s last supercouple reunite for the last time, heard Reva say Jeva’s famous line “Always”, and then we see the shot of the lighthouse. The symbol of the show, the Springfield Light House was everything from a meeting place for lovers to an apartment. Yes the end of Guiding Light was horrible to witness but that end shot? Perfection.
21. GusH. Another one of those pairings that came out of nowhere and rocketed into Guiding Light history! Part of GusH’s charm was that both characters were sort of lost when they were partnered on a case together. Harley was pregnant after a one night stand with her ex-husband’s best friend Rick (after all it is a soap!) and Gus was on a personal vendetta against the Santos family. But Harley couldn’t deny her attraction to the bitter detective and viewers couldn’t help but fall in love with them along the way. The end of their marriage in 2007 didn’t stop fans from wishing that they would find their way back to each other. But Ricky Paull Goldin’s exit, and Gus’s subsequent death, would prevent the reunion that was slated for 2008. leaving fans wondering what could have been….
20. The Fab Four. No, not the Beatles. This time I am talking about the Danny/Michelle and Tony/Marah couple duo. The original Four Musketeers (Philip, Ben, Rick, and Mindy) had their era but the Manny and Marony duo were great for their own reasons. For one, Michelle was the only person who knew what it was like loving a Santos. So the Marah and Michelle friendship was both realistic and helpful for both women. And Danny tried his hardest to talk some sense into Tony when he needed it, which was often. I’ll never forget when Danny told Tony that, “Marah’s a part of you Tony, she’s a part of your soul” echoing early Manny. These two couples could have become the new super couples of the show but sadly it never came to be.
19. The Santos Family. While some critics think introducing the mob family was too “dark” for Guiding Light I loved them, every one of them. I enjoyed watching Carmen try everything she could to keep Danny in the clutches of “the family” and the Cousins Santos trying to break free to be with the women they loved. Yes I truly enjoyed this family. They were a good addition to the Guiding Light canvas, and of course gave us two great couples: Manny and Marony.
18. All Roads Lead Back to Springfield. The loss of so many veteran characters was part of the reason Guiding Light suffered in those final years. I couldn’t have cared less about Greasy Grady, I wanted to know if Quint and Nola had gotten back together and where Philip was hiding. When Lisa Brown (Nola) returned for the finale we were led to believe that yes, Quint and Nola had reconciled. The return of classic characters such as: Philip Spaulding, Ed Bauer, Bridget Reardon, Mindy Lewis, Holly Norris, and Fletcher Reade was a great send off to a soap that made history.
17. Annie and Alan. The writers ending this pairing is why it is on the biggest blunders list. I never saw any of Alan’s earlier pairings, but I find it hard to imagine Alan loving anyone as much as he loved Annie. She was manipulative and devious, and slightly crazy, which was a perfect match for the King of Devious himself. It was the first time I saw Alan vulnerable, and I loved it! I still maintain that Alan and Annie could have ruled Springfield for years to come!
16. The Wright Cassie. Cassie Layne arrived in Springfield to spy on Lewis Oil for Annie and Alan. But is just so happened that Cassie was Reva Shayne’s long-lost sister Danni Shayne. Laura Wright and Kim Zimmer made for a great sibling duo that even Reva pulling the plug on Richard’s life support couldn’t keep these two fighting for long. While I may not have liked some of the things Cassie did (like being the foil for Dinah and Hart) but I liked the character. When Laura Wright left the show the great Cassie/Reva sisterhood was sadly lost in an awful pairing that should have never happened (Josh/Cassie). But I will always remember the great Shayne/Layne sisterhood.
15. Otalia. Guiding Light has a history of addressing social issues (see: Diversity) so it was good to see the writers break the “taboo” of homosexual couples on soap operas. And Olivia and Natalia’s slow build, friendship-to-romance quickly became a fan favorite. The writers kept viewers guessing until the last episode but it was the build up that made the most impact. It was a natural progression, nothing contrived or forced.
14. Matessa. Long before being a “cougar” was considered “in”, Guiding Light had the delightful story of older woman Vanessa Chamberlain falling in love with younger man Matt Reardon. It was a tastefully done, slow build, type of love story and after talking with other Guiding Light fans they seemed to have enjoyed this couple as well. Matt and Vanessa met as strangers when he defended her in a bar. Going by assumed names, Vanessa hired him as a handy man but the sparks between these two could not be denied. Their relationship started out rocky (she was just getting over her divorce from Billy and he thought she was ashamed of him) but these two eventually fell in love and married in 1996. Even Vanessa running off after learning she was suffering from a brain disorder and subsequently faking her own death couldn’t keep these two apart; they fell in love online using the name “Tess” and “Robert”! Unfortunately as the show ended the writers decided to have Matessa end, thus ending one of the better (and long-lasting) couples in Springfield.
13. Abigail Blume. Introduced in 1995 when Reva was suffering amnesia, Abigail left her Amish community in Goshen to get treated for migraines…and ended up falling in love with Rick Bauer. What was particularly special about Abigail was that she born deaf, just like her portrayer Amy Cox Ecklund. She was the first character on Guiding Light with a handicap and Abigail was so sweet it was hard not to find her character charming. She was my favorite of Rick’s pairings because she not only supported him, but Abby also challenged him to be a better person. I was definitely sad to see them end.
12. The 70th Anniversary episode. For those who don’t know, Guiding Light began as a radio program about a preacher named Rev. John Ruthledge and the people of Five Points. In 2007, in celebration of Guiding Light’s 70 year run, the cast of Guiding Light did an episode where the modern cast portrayed the characters from the radio show. It was a great homage to history and many long-term fans (such as my Grandma whose love of Guiding Light originated in the radio days) were pleased by the effort.
11. Gina Tognoni. Dinah has always been an…interesting characater. At times she’s been sweet and caring while other times she is manipulative and deceitful. Wendy Moniz was excellent at playing the many subtle layers of Dinah and her departure in 1999 left some big shoes to fill. In 2004 Gina took up the role and she made the character her own. Dinah was still a grey character but even when she was being bad she did it with style. Gina was great at showcasing Dinah’s strength while also portraying her vulnerability, especially in regard to her personal relationships. And oh how I loved the Dinah and Shayne pairing!
10. Diversity. In the 1960’s legendary soap writer Agnes Nixon wanted to incorporate social issues into the storylines. The result was Guiding Light being the first show to regularly feature African-American characters. Dr. Jim Frazier and his wife Martha were the first African-American characters on the show, which paved the way for such characters as Hampton Speakes, David and Gillian Grant, Marcus Williams, and the Boudreau family. What was even better was that these characters weren’t just filler material, they were fully developed with meaty storylines.
9. Buzz Cooper. Buzz was introduced as a Vietnam veteran who had abandoned his wife Nadine and kids Frank and Harley, who subsequently believed that he had died. He returned to Springfield in 1993 when Harley started looking into why his name wasn’t one of those included on the Vietnam Memorial. Sounds like a real likable guy right? Part of the reason the character caught on was because Buzz wasn’t instantly forgiven. It took time for Frank and Harley to accept him into their lives, even longer for them to love him as their father. The other part was Justin Deas. He just had a way of playing Buzz where you couldn’t dislike him, he was not only funny but had a “every man” feel about him.
8. The return of Manny. In my opinion these two should have never left Springfield…but I digress. But out of all the great legendary characters that came back to give Guiding Light their big send off this couple was the one that I truly looked forward to. They weren’t like some of the other couples where their status was ambiguous, Manny were together and happy….and moving back home! Manny magic.
7. Bizzie. A last-minute couple that I never saw coming. Lizzie was the spoiled Spaulding princess and Bill, well I guess you could consider him the Lewis family playboy. I would have never in a million years imagined these two together. But then Lizzie matured and flourished and went toe to toe with the slightly devious Bill. A great slow build romance that took some hits along the way Bizzie was one couple I cheered for during Guiding Light’s final hours.
6. Always Jeva. Reva may have married three Lewis men but no one held her heart like Josh, and vice versa. Each time they would get divorced I would wait patiently (okay sometimes impatiently) for them to find their way back to each other. When Reva would call Josh “Bud” or they would say their catchphrase “Always” it was hard not to love Jeva. These two seemed to corner the market in angst but Robert Newman and Kim Zimmer would always knock it out of the park no matter what! The writers kept viewers waiting until the very end to see these two reunited but alas, Reva and “Bud” did reunite and then drove off in search of new adventure.
5. The Families of Springfield. One thing that made Guiding Light so special was that at its core it was about the different FAMILIES living in Springfield. For years, decades even, the writers were great at building up these complex dynamics. Alan and Alexandra’s power struggles over Spaulding Industries. Michelle’s feelings of abandonment over Ed’s desertion. Josh and Billy showing Tony just who he would have to deal with should he hurt Marah again. Tony being tempted by the power Carmen and Maria dangled in his face…but ultimately remaining loyal to Danny. Families truly were the heart and soul of Guiding Light which was what made it all that more special.
4. The Lewis Brothers. I just had to give these two their own spot simply because the Lewis brothers were a hoot and a half! Jordan Clarke and Robert Newman had great sibling chemistry and played well off each other. Whether they were being loving siblings or duking it out I loved watching these two weave their magic. And who didn’t chuckle when Billy would call Josh “little brother”? Billy and Josh mend fences: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYau0bLsM18&feature=related and The Lewis Boys: The Boys are Back in Town
3. The Bauer Bar-B-Que. The Bauer bar-b-que was a tradition that thankfully endured even in Guiding Light’s darkest days. It was an episode I looked forward to every year because the whole town seemed to gather together to celebrate. It was also good to see that even though characters came and went, some traditions were still sacred. Here is a great video dedicated to the Bauer Bar-B-Que: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWAqRGfUHx4
2. Roger Thorpe. The best villain in Guiding Light history, Roger Thorpe is also considered one of the best villains in all of daytime television (which is no small feat). He had already made a name for himself by the time I began to really watch in earnest, but what I did see of Roger I enjoyed. He was a villain you loved to hate, but that “hate” never lasted because Michael Zaslow was just that damn good! For your enjoyment, Roger Thorpe: The Scandal Years
1. Reva Shayne. Created by Pam Long in 1983, this sassy vixen quickly became a fan favorite, and it was easy to see why. She was a strong woman who rose above her humble beginnings as the daughter of the Lewis family maid to become the wife of not one, but THREE, of those Lewis men. And along the way the self-proclaimed “Slut of Springfield” has done it all! She’s been cloned, traveled through time, been psychic, battled cancer, and “died” three times…and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Portrayed by the always fabulous Kim Zimmer, Reva Shayne will forever remain one of daytime’s top characters. In the words of Zim Zimmer herself, “Long live Reva Shayne!”