‘All My Chil­dren’ cre­ator Agnes Nixon, 93

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OBITUARIES -

Agnes Nixon, the cre­ative force be­hind the edgy and en­dur­ing TV soap op­eras “One Life to Live” and “All My Chil­dren,” has died. She was 93.

Nixon died Wed­nes­day at a Haver­ford, Penn­syl­va­nia, phys­i­cal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion fa­cil­ity close to her Rose­mont home, said her son, Bob Nixon. She had checked in to gain strength for a planned book tour, he said.

She had just com­pleted her mem­oir, “My Life to Live,” on Sun­day, a week be­fore it was due to pub­lisher Pen­guin Ran­dom House for pub­li­ca­tion in early 2017, her son said.

“She was re­ally a great wife, mother and hu­man be­ing — but above all, a writer. She was writ­ing up un­til last night,” he said, and had called him with a few changes for the book.

The cause of death was not im­me­di­ately known, he said.

Nixon suf­fered a stroke four years ago with se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions, her son said, but she fought to re­gain her health. He con­firmed her birth­date as De­cem­ber 1922, de­spite me­dia re­ports that she was 88.

“I am dev­as­tated to learn that we have lost Agnes. I adored her and ad­mired her and I am forever grate­ful to her!” Su­san Lucci, who starred as Erica Kane on “All My Chil­dren,” said in a state­ment.

Nixon cre­ated, wrote and pro­duced the lon­grun­ning ABC day­time se­ri­als, which were can­celed in 2011 as the net­work bowed to the re­al­ity that soaps had faded as a day­time TV force. (Both sub­se­quently had short-lived on­line runs.)

“All My Chil­dren” aired for nearly 41 years, while “One Life to Live” made it to 44 years. They were set in the fic­tional Philadel­phia-area towns of Pine Val­ley and Llan­view.

So­cial is­sues in­clud­ing child abuse, AIDS, al­co­holism and gay rights made their way into the se­ries’ story lines. Erica Kane was the first reg­u­larly ap­pear­ing TV char­ac­ter to un­dergo a le­gal abor­tion, in 1973.

In a 2003 episode of “All My Chil­dren,” Bianca, who was Erica’s daugh­ter, and the char­ac­ter Lena shared what was billed as day­time TV’s first same-sex kiss.

“The theme of ‘All My Chil­dren’ from the be­gin­ning is the be­lief that, as God’s chil­dren, we are all bound to each other by our com­mon hu­man­ity, de­spite our many per­sonal dif­fer­ences,” Nixon told The As­so­ci­ated Press at the time. “The Bianca story is our lat­est effort to dra­ma­tize that be­lief.”

“Agnes’ im­pact on day­time tele­vi­sion and pop cul­ture is un­de­ni­able,” said Robert Iger, chair­man and CEO of ABC par­ent The Walt Dis­ney Co., in a state­ment. “She was the first to cham­pion so­cially relevant top­ics, and the towns and char­ac­ters Agnes brought to life leave an in­deli­ble im­print on tele­vi­sion that will be re­mem­bered forever.”

Nixon, a na­tive of Chicago, was men­tored by the grande dame of the soap opera genre, Irna Phillips, back in the radio age.

She was writ­ing for a TV soap, “Search for To­mor­row,” as early as 1951. In the late 1960s, while rais­ing a fam­ily and serv­ing as head writer for “The Guid­ing Light,” Nixon cre­ated a “bi­ble” de­tail­ing “All My Chil­dren.”

The show was re­jected by CBS, but af­ter Nixon breathed new life into NBC’s flag­ging “An­other World,” she was ap­proached by ABC to cre­ate a new se­rial. That was the start of “One Life to Live,” which earned such solid rat­ings in its first year that ABC asked for an­other.

“I said to my hus­band, ‘I can’t think of an­other one,’” Nixon told the AP in 2013. “He said, ‘How about “All My Chil­dren”?’ So I opened the desk drawer and took out the ‘bi­ble’ and sent it to ABC. They said, ‘Boy, that was fast work!’”

The sto­ries and char­ac­ters of Nixon’s fic­tional worlds never ended for her, Bob Nixon said: “It might not have been on the air but it was in her head.”

Agnes Nixon was mar­ried to the late Robert Nixon, and the cou­ple’s four chil­dren are among her sur­vivors. Ser­vices were planned for Satur­day in Rose­mont, with a pri­vate burial to fol­low.

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