Over its seventy years, the CBS soap opera Guiding Light has provided many hours of entertainment to its fans. The show has also created memorable scenes and moments that have become a part of its legacy, continuing to thrill fans. Having been a fan for many years, I have been blessed with seeing some of these legacy moments. Here is my list of some of Guiding Light‘s most memorable stories and moments.
1. Roger Thorpe rapes Holly – Inspired by a true story, Guiding Light writers wrote one of the most shocking sequences ever filmed on the show-villain Roger Thorpe’s rape of his wife, Holly. A first for television (marital rape laws were still new on the books), the story was the culmination of the stormy relationship between Roger and Holly, which began years before when Roger began dating the teenaged Holly. Troubled and neurotic, neither Roger nor Holly knew how to deal with their often complicated feelings for one another, loving and hurting the other with equal intensity. Holly, seeking love and acceptance elsewhere, married respectable doctor Ed Bauer, who was likewise on the rebound from a previously failed relationship, after Holly unthinkingly got the alcoholic Ed drunk. Though the two tried to make a go of their marriage, Holly became quickly bored and restless being a doctor’s wife and began an affair with Roger. This resulted in the birth of their daughter, Christina, who Holly passed off as Ed’s. When the truth of Chrissy’s parentage was revealed, Holly and Ed divorced, but Ed would continue to be a part of Holly and Chrissy’s lives, making Roger dangerously jealous. Roger hated Ed because Ed was the opposite of Roger: a well-respected man who was much beloved in the community. A perpetual screw-up, Roger feared Holly still loved Ed and bristled every time he visited Chrissy, who continued to believe the earnest doctor was her father. These actions, along with Roger’s infidelities, led up to the bitter argument that ended with Holly’s rape. Fans got a glimpse of what Roger was capable of when he raped Rita Stapleton Bauer, an ex-lover and now wife of Ed Bauer. But that still didn’t cushion the shocking blow when Roger turned on his wife when she tried to leave him. The sequence itself is stunning in its raw intensity and naturalism. Both Michael Zaslow and Maureen Garrett (Roger and Holly) create a realistic tension between the characters infused with the anger and disappointment of two people who tried desperately to make their marriage work, but were thwarted by their own faults and neuroses. Zaslow is heartbreaking as he reveals his insecurities. The knowledge that he can never be good enough in Holly’s eyes is the key motivating factor for all his actions, including the brutal rape. Garrett is also brilliant in displaying Holly’s regrets, bitterness, and fear. This sequence would create two years worth of compelling drama, including Roger’s rape trial, also a first for daytime. Another sequence, which is as equally compelling and memorable, is the House of Mirrors scene, in which Roger, believed to be dead after Holly shoots him, is in hiding to kidnap his daughter, but ends up kidnapping Rita, after chasing her through a house of mirrors at a local bizarre dressed in a clown outfit. Set to the Barbra Streisand and Donna Summers’ duet “Enough is Enough,” the sequence is still remembered by Guiding Light fans as one of the most chilling and horrific. Their story would end when Roger kidnaps Holly after she and Chrissy flee to Santo Domingo. After Roger drags Holly through the jungles as he escapes authorities, he ends up falling off a cliff after a scuffle with Mike Bauer, Ed’s brother, when the two chase after him. For audiences at the time, Roger’s death was the end of his and Holly’s twisted love story, but less than a decade later, both Zaslow and Garrett returned in their respective roles to continue their neurotic dance, much to the delight of Guiding Light fans.
2. Reva’s Plunge off a Bridge – When actress Kim Zimmer decided to leave Guiding Light after playing Reva Shayne Lewis for six years, the show’s writers knew they had to write out this character with the dramatic flare that had become Reva’s trademark. After finally marrying her childhood sweetheart, Josh Lewis, in a romantic and pastoral setting near Cross Creek, a ranch owned by the wealthy Lewis family, both Josh and Reva settled down into domestic bliss, which included the arrival of a new son, as well as the arrival of another son of Reva’s whom she had given up for adoption years earlier. Yet it was the birth of her son with Josh that led to Reva’s departure. Suffering from post-partum depression, Reva behaved erratically, concerning both her husband and family, who all acted to get her help. When it seemed that Reva had finally conquered the problem, she and her family decided to take a vacation to the Florida Keys. But Reva’s depression returned in full force, and she began behaving erratically again, becoming paranoid that she was being followed by shadowy figures. While in the throes of this depression, Reva, along with her grown son Dylan and his girlfriend Samantha, hopped into a red car and went on a chase as Reva tried to evade the demons she believed were in pursuit. Dylan eventually got out of the car, but Samantha was pushed out of the speeding vehicle, later becoming paralyzed from her injuries. Alone and determined to get back to her husband, Reva plunged forward on a bridge that had been closed off, while both Josh and Dylan pursued her, hoping to head her off at the pass. But it was too late. As Josh stood on the freeway, screaming for his wife to stop, he watched his wife in horror as she continued driving, oblivious to the fact that she was driving perilously closer to the end of the bridge. Declaring with the same determination she had demonstrated in the six years since she’s been on the show: “I’m coming, Bud,” she plunged the car off the bridge and into the waters below. Shot on location in the Florida Keys, the sequence was thrilling and non-stop, taking its cues from film chase scenes. Though Reva’s death wasn’t the end of the character (she would return several years later), the sequence was a remarkable and fitting end to a character who lived life to the fullest.
3. The Four Musketeers in New York – Teen romances are a common staple in daytime. But not very many approached “coming-of-age” storylines with the innocence and naturalism of Guiding Light‘s Four Musketeers-Phillip, Rick, Mindy, and Beth. Though caught up with the usual soapy concerns, the four youngsters were different than most soap teens in that they perfectly captured the concerns of identity and aspiration all young people have as they make their adjustment toward adulthood. Phillip Spaulding, handsome scion of the wealthy Spaulding family, discovered that he was not Alan Spaulding’s son, as he was led to believe, but had been adopted at birth and suffered an identity crisis that would last the character’s entire run on the show. Rick, the son of alcoholic doctor Ed Bauer, likewise was dealing with issues of identity and aspirations as he struggled to determine what it was he wanted to do with his life. Mindy, the spoiled daughter of Billy Lewis, was in love with Phillip, but he only had eyes for the sweet, but shy Beth Raines, whose own tortured home life formed the crux of the teens’ early stories. Raised by her mother, nurse Lillian, and her brutal stepfather, Bradley, Beth struggled to find her own voice and independence under Bradley’s thumb. When Beth started to move away from her family, develop friendships with Rick, Mindy, and Phillip, and eventually romanced Phillip, Bradley, desperate to keep Beth under his control, raped her. Her romance with Phillip suffered a series of blows, first by Beth who broke things off with him following her rape, and then by both Bradley and Alan, who thought Beth wasn’t good enough for his son. After several months of separation, Beth and Phillip reunited when Bradley tried to have his stepdaughter returned home after she ran away. In an exciting sequence, Phillip throws a chair into the window of their college class room, just as Bradley and Lillian come with a cop to have Beth returned to them. Their escape from their parents’ control and machinations lead the teen lovers on a journey that takes them to New York, where they hide out in Belvedere castle, and later in a run-down hotel room. Friends, Rick and Mindy, follow right behind them, leading to some of the most romantic sequences either couple will have (Mindy, who went to New York to find Phillip, ended up falling in love with Rick instead). Also shot on location, the sequences played up the magical aspects of the teen romances, including impromptu vows between Phillip and Beth at Belvedere castle and a romantic ride through Central Park in a horse-drawn carriage for Rick and Mindy. The romances, despite the ugly drama, had a sweetness and innocence to it not likely to be seen on daytime again. Both Phillip and Beth saw in each other their soulmates. Each struggled to discover him- and herself under the circumstances of parental control and interference. Rick and Mindy would otherwise have been odd-men out, but their unlikely and quirky romance was the exact opposite of Phillip and Beth’s heightened romanticism. Though reality quickly intruded on the pairs when they finally returned home after eluding Bradley, who followed them to New York (Phillip and Beth’s and Rick and Mindy’s romances ended after Phillip impregnated, then married Mindy), the pair would continue to be friends, storming whatever drama that came their way.
4. Sonni Carerra’s Confession – The Sonni/Solita story, which ensnared lovers Josh and Reva, would last two years, and became a convoluted mess, thanks to a writer’s strike in 1988. But with the acting talents of then unknown actress Michelle Forbes and Joseph Breen, along with Zimmer and Robert Newman, the story enthralled Guiding Light fans right to its denouement. Sonni Carerra was the beautiful South American wife of Josh Lewis, who thought she had died in a fall before his return to Springfield. Sonni returned very much alive just as Josh was settling down to a future with Reva and their newborn daughter. Thanks to machinations from Alan and Alexandra Spaulding, along with Will Jeffries (Breen), an old friend of Josh’s, who led both Josh and Reva believe that their daughter Marah was not fathered by Josh, the Lewis scion returned to his seemingly fragile wife, who was still recovering psychologically from her accident. It soon became apparent to fans that Sonni wasn’t who she said she was, and was in fact her evil twin sister, Solita, who had teamed up with her childhood lover, Will, to bilk Josh out of his millions. The two hatched a plot to kill Josh, so that Solita could inherit his wealth. But even this new revelation proved not to be what fans were led to think: the truth was, Solita really was Sonni, but had developed a split personality of her dead sister! As Josh, Reva, and her brother Rusty struggled to uncover the truth, both Sonni and Will became more dangerous, with Sonni eventually trying to kill Will to keep her secret(s) from being revealed. Will turned up missing after suffering a blow to the head, but returned only with a nasty case of amnesia, unaware of what had happened to him and his connection to Sonni/Solita. Eventually, Josh and Reva learned the truth, and during an intriguing sequence, Reva took Sonni to the bridge in Venezuela where Sonni had nearly lost her life and forced her to remember what happened. It turned out that years ago, Solita had fallen in love with a young seminary student named Guillermo (Will Jeffries). Their romance was thwarted by Solita’s stern father. Sonni, taking advantage of the situation, tricked Guillermo into believing she was Solita and slept with him! When their father learned what had happened, he believed that it was Solita who had slept with Guillermo and whipped her severely. Devastated, Solita committed suicide by hanging herself in the bedroom closet. The sequence in which Sonni’s thorny past was revealed was edge-of-your-seat stunning. Forbes was amazing to watch. She captured Sonni’s confusion, shock, and guilt over her complicity in her sister’s death. The scenes were shot in such a way that heightened the shocking revelations, including a flashback of Sonni finding her sister in the closet. The shot was composed simply of a leather belt swinging and Sonni’s shocked expression as she discovered her sister. Though it had been years since I had seen these scenes, they still have resonated with me, proving how the power of a few well-chosen images and brilliant acting can have on the imagination. Sonni’s revelation was a perfect cap on an otherwise convoluted story.
5. Roger’s Unmasking at Phillip and Blake’s Wedding – Everyone in Springfield thought that when Roger Thorpe took a plunge off a cliff in Santo Domingo that they had finally been rid of Roger the Dodger. Not so fast. In 1989, Alexandra Spaulding and roving reporter Fletcher Reade, while flying to Venezuela to administer to Alex’s injured brother, Alan, crashed landed on a deserted island. This sequence would lead to the return of one of Guiding Light‘s most memorable and dastardly villains. Roger, following that Santo Domingo fall, was discovered by locals, then arrested by a government agency, who put him back together and forced him to work for their organization as a spy. Retired from spy work, Roger lived out his years on a deserted island, which he had turned into his own pleasure paradise. He certainly wasn’t expecting visitors when Alex and Fletcher’s plane crashed on his island, but that didn’t stop him from taking Alexandra into his compound as his guest/prisoner, just before Fletcher was found by a rescue team and returned home. Her family searched high and low for Alex, but to no avail. Roger, on the other hand, knew that her family was looking for her, but preferred to keep the mercurial baroness to himself, treating her to dinners and conversations. All the while, Roger kept his identity hidden behind a mask, a strange avocado-like shell that would have been laughable were it not for the fact that two powerhouse actors, Zaslow and Beverlee McKinsey (Alex) brought a straight-faced intensity to their strange courtship. Eventually, Alexandra was discovered by her nephew Phillip and his fiancee, Blake, who also happened to be Roger’s daughter with Holly, the child Roger had tried to kidnap years earlier. Determined to see that his daughter was happy, Roger returned to Springfield under the guise of Adam Malik, but was quickly found out by Alan, who knew straight away who the man behind the mask was. Alan, determined to smoke out his former nemesis, set up a series of incidents, including a bomb explosion at Phillip and Blake’s wedding shower, that made it seem that both Roger and Blake were in collusion to kill Phillip and abscond with the family business, Spaulding Enterprises. Despite the fact that nobody believed Alan’s claims that Roger was still alive, his machinations climaxed with a scene that would finally unmask Malik’s true identity. After tricking Roger into believing that he planted a bomb at the church where Phillip and Blake were to marry, Roger and Alan, who had been faking his paralysis, get into a scuffle on the church balcony, which ends with Phillip being accidentally shot just as he is about to say his vows. In a desperate attempt to protect his daughter, Roger takes a dive off the balcony from a garland, but ends up falling right in the middle of the church after Alan shoots him. Pandemonium breaks out as everyone realizes that both Phillip and the strange masked man were shot. But the most stunning sequence in these scenes were when Ed, Roger’s former nemesis, and his ex-wife, Holly, who returned to Springfield for her daughter’s wedding, overhear a nearly unconscious Roger mutter Chrissy’s name. Timed perfectly to heighten the tension, Ed slowly removes the mask, revealing Roger’s true identity. Holly, who thought her nightmares had ended when she watched her husband plunge off the cliff all those years ago, lets loose a bone-chilling scream as she realizes her nightmares are only just beginning. Shot and directed beautifully, this sequence sets up future storylines involving Roger, Holly, Ed, Phillip, Blake, and so many others as Springfield residents cope with the fact that Roger the Dodger is back!
6. Annie Dutton’s Downfall – Annie Dutton’s comeuppance had to happen sooner or later. After tricking everyone into believing that her rival, Reva Lewis, pushed her down a flight of stairs, thus killing her unborn fetus, Annie thought she had everything made when Reva was put on trial for assault and the murder of Annie’s baby. But even before the truth was finally revealed-Annie’s baby wasn’t even Josh’s (it was inseminated into her womb through a fertility clinic), and that she had miscarried the fetus long before her confrontation with Reva on the staircase-Annie’s world with Josh was quickly unraveling as Josh began to realize that the sweet nurse he had chosen over his ex-wife and mother of his two children wasn’t all that she seemed. Insecure and troubled, Annie saw in Josh her chance at true happiness, if it only weren’t for Reva, who had the temerity to return from the dead. Annie became the stereotypical villainess who tried to keep true lovers Josh and Reva apart, but because of actress Cynthia Watros’s powerful performances, Annie became more than a one-dimensional villain, but a flesh-and-blood creation who was so uncomfortable in her skin that she looked like she wanted to slide under a rock! Annie’s downfall in the courtroom, as Reva is being tried, makes for riveting viewing, precisely because of Watros’s performance. As Annie slowly realizes that Josh no longer loves her, she comes undone, becoming a pathetic creature desperately trying to explain to the court and jury why she did what she did. Annie was a user, no doubt, dragging in friends such as Blake, whom she blackmailed with information concerning the paternity of her twins with Springfield stalwart attorney, Ross Marler, into her convoluted schemes. But even despite that, Annie becomes an empathetic character whose emotional breakdown becomes ringside theater to all her detractors waiting to see her finally get her comeuppance. The scenes end when Annie, alone and heartbroken, collapses on the court room floor in pain. Suffering from the effects of having carried a dead fetus in her womb for so long, Annie is rushed to the hospital, where she learns that she can no longer have children. The blow is another nail in Annie’s coffin as she descends deeper and deeper into an emotional breakdown. Annie would continue to cause trouble for Josh and Reva (she colludes with fellow schemer Alan Spaulding), and eventually causing the most trouble for the duo when she allows Reva to go down in a hijacked airplane (the character would return to Springfield in the guise of actress Signey Coleman, after Watros set her sights on primetime). But the scenes involving her mental breakdown are some of the most intriguing and compelling drama for the soap during this period.
7. Ross’s Election Nightmare – Ever since he came to Springfield, Ross Marler was ambitious. An attorney hired to defend Roger Thorpe during his rape trial, Ross was cocky and arrogant, but he would later mature into a tentpole character, one whose wisdom and intelligence provided loads of advice to characters who were struggling with their own problems. That’s not to say that Ross didn’t have problems of his own, particularly of the romantic variety. That came to a head during the late eighties, when Ross began a romance with the neurotic but beautiful Holly Lindsey, ex-wife of his old client Roger. Ross and Holly’s romance unfortunately couldn’t overcome Holly’s obsessive hatred toward her ex, leading to her collusion with Alexandra Spaulding to test Alex’s now marriage to Roger. During a trip to Acapulco for a media convention, local station owners Roger and Holly both come to terms with what happened to them all those years ago, but their closeness puts a wedge between Roger and Alexandra, whose marriage never really recovers from Alex’s betrayal, despite the fact that they continue their marriage (they later divorce after Alex learns of Roger’s affair with Mindy Lewis), and destroys Ross and Holly’s engagement. Partners in the TV station WSPR, Holly and Ross’s relationship doesn’t sever completely, with Ross often coming to Holly’s aid in her dealings with Roger, who used his partnership in the station as a means to keep close to his ex-wife. Holly’s continued relationship with her ex becomes a bone of contention to Ross, who feels his life has been put on hold because of other people’s problems. In 1992, during the election year, Ross, who always had political ambitions, decides to throw his hat in the ring and campaign for the state’s senatorial seat. Ross gets an unexpected campagin manager in Roger and Holly’s daughter, Blake, fresh from a divorce with Spaulding scion, Alan-Michael (she married him following her divorce from Phillip, after lying to him about the fact that she knew his late love Beth wasn’t so late after all). Blake, bitter over her mother for revealing to Alan-Michael her machinations in trying to win him back (he had married Greek beauty Eleni Andros, who was brought to Springfield for an arranged marriage with 5th Street blue-collar, diner-owner Frank Cooper), not to mention Holly’s lack of support in trying to save her marriage to Phillip, decided to pay her mother back by stealing Ross right from under her nose. Though Ross and Holly were still friend and partners, Holly, thanks to Blake’s manipulations, allowed herself to believe that she could rekindle feelings with Ross. During the whole of that summer, Blake’s pursuit of the much older and stodgier Ross, made for some sexy and funny sequences as they both tried to keep their affair under wraps. Ross’s affair, no doubt, would not play well in the press during his campaign (this was the year of Gennifer Flowers after all), so his concerns about his affair, his growing feelings for Blake, and his political ambitions led to an episode that fans still recall to this day: Ross’s election nightmare. Written as a stand-alone (the entire show was devoted to Ross’s nightmare), Ross’s insecurities, fears, and ambitions were laid bare as he tried to cope with his thorny personal life. Ross finds himself in an almost Kafkaesque nightmare as he is hounded by his fears and insecurities. Other characters on the show, such as Roger, Blake, and others, make appearances, often playing out aspects of Ross’s psyche, hounding him and driving his insecurities into overdrive. What does Ross truly want: power or love? This essential question would drive Ross’s later actions when, after finally winning the senatorial seat, he is forced to decide whether his love for Blake is more important than his ambitions after a photograph of the two lovers in an intimate clinch is leaked to the press (Holly, who learned of her daughter’s affair, was the bitter leaker). Eventually Ross chose Blake over the Senate, but their romance faced many rocky roads as they both dealt with Roger and Holly’s reactions over their love. While it had become a staple on soaps to use stand-alone episodes as a technique to address a particular character’s psyche or for spectacular sequences, often shot on location, to beef up ratings and gain interest among viewers, Ross’s Election Nightmare was a unique showcase for castmembers involved, particularly Jerry ver Dorn (Ross), a supporting actor who otherwise would have been ignored by TPTB. Ver Dorn, always a bench hitter, brought gravitas and intelligence to the show, grounding it and the cast for nearly twenty-five years, until his unexpected firing in 2005 (he now plays Clint Buchanan on One Life to Live). A consumate character actor, ver Dorn always helped other actors shine in the spotlight, but this episode proved that he had leading man qualities that would later be used to great effect in his romance with leads Sherry Stringfield and later Liz Kiefer, who both played Blake Lindsey.
8. Springfield Blackout – The Springfield Blackout became a wonderful device for the show’s writers to push forward stories that were percolating on canvas in only a few episodes. During the hottest day in Springfield, teenager Bridget Reardon accidently knocks off the power grid in town while blow drying her hair, setting in motion a series of sequences that brings to head several stories bubbling on the show’s pipeline. Eleni Spaulding, who still loves her intended bethrothed Frank Cooper, gets locked in the freezer at Meals on Wheels, the diner Frank owns and manages. Both he and Alan-Michael, her husband, spend the episode in search of her. Jenna Bradshaw, British jewel thief gets locked in an elevator with the young Michelle Bauer, thus worrying her mom, Maureen, who develops an unlikely friendship with her husband’s nemesis, Roger Thorpe as he tries to free Michelle and Jenna. Meanwhile, Maureen has a sisterly moment with friend Vanessa and rival Holly Lindsey when they band together to put out a fire that was accidentally started in the Tower’s restaurant, where, hours before, Nick McHenry had hoped to marry Mindy Lewis. Mindy left Nick at the altar when Nick’s mother, Alexandra, discovered proof that Mindy switched blood tests results proving that Alex was Nick’s mother after all (Alex and Mindy’s friendship never recovered after Alex learned that Mindy was her husband Roger’s mistress). Reva’s son, Dylan, is also locked in an elevator with A.C. Mallet’s sister, Julie, revealing to her a childhood memory of his mother’s death. The two would later become romantically involved, despite Julie’s deep feelings for Hart Jessup, Roger’s illegitimate son. Blake and Ross finally consummate their attraction at the carriage house, Ross’s home, beginning a storyline that culminates in bad blood with Blake’s warring parents. Meanwhile, detectives Mallet and Harley Cooper try to catch Bradshaw, the thief they have been chasing after for months. In daytime, umbrella stories, in which one or two stories net in a wide number of characters, whose subplots push the wider narrative forward, are a delight for daytime fans because it allows them to watch a large number of their favorite characters in one sitting. While not technically an umbrella story, the Springfield Blackout is a favorite with fans because of the way it brilliantly pulled together so many storyline threads under the conceit of a blackout. Not only were stories pushed forward, but offered fans a titillation of what to expect in the months ahead. Wonderfully written and well-acted all around, the Springfield Blackout goes down as one of Guiding Light‘s most memorable episodes.
9. Phillip Learns He Isn’t a Spaulding – When he first appeared in Springfield in 1978, the son of powerful industrialist Alan Spaulding and his mentally fragile wife Elizabeth, Phillip’s parentage became the germ of storylines that would last at least five years. When Phillip was born, the biological son of doctor Justin Marler, Ross’s brother, and estranged wife Jackie, he became an emotional and political football to all four adults. Jackie, who had caught ex-husband Justin cheating on her, ran off to Europe where she gave birth to little Phillip, but was unable to raise him. Alan and Elizabeth had been expecting a child of their own, but their expectations ended in tragedy when the physically and emotionally weak Elizabeth lost their child. Determined to protect his wife and his own reputation as a businessman, Alan made a deal with the clinic doctor to replace the dead baby with another child without telling his wife that they lost their biological child. The doctor arranged the adoption to take place with Jackie’s child. Naming the baby Phillip, Elizabeth raised him thinking that he was his own. Only Alan and Jackie knew the truth. When the Spauldings came to Springfield, Jackie grew close to Alan so she could be in Phillip’s life. Alan was unaware of Jackie’s connection to Phillip when she began pursuing him. Alan’s marriage to Elizabeth was already unraveling and welcomed Jackie’s flirtations. Elizabeth, growing more independent, bristled at her husband’s control and filed for divorce. She fell in love with Mike Bauer, an attorney at Spaulding Enterprises who later handled her divorce. Alan, angered that this upstart was moving in on his ex-wife and becoming a father figure to his son, turned Phillip against Mike, thus causing tension in Mike and Elizabeth’s relationship when Phillip refused to accept him. Meanwhile, Jackie married Alan and became close to Phillip. Mike and Elizabeth’s relationship didn’t fare as well and the two parted ways. Elizabeth would go on to marry Justin Marler-thus meaning that all four of Phillip’s parents intermarried. Throughout the marital merry-go-rounds, the question of Phillip’s parentage became the secret that drove all four characters’ motivations. When both Justin and Elizabeth learned the truth, all struggled to find a way to tell little Phillip the truth. But when he suffered from a heart condition, they all believed it best to protect him from the truth. Flash forward a few years: Jackie and Alan divorce after Alan falls for Mike’s daughter Hope; Justin and Elizabeth also divorce and Justin remarries Jackie, who is later killed in a plane accident, while Elizabeth, after battling custody of Phillip with her ex, retires to Europe to recover from an emotional breakdown. Phillip returns to Springfield an intelligent, handsome, and cocky teen. He befriends Rick Bauer and newcomer Mindy Lewis, and later falls for Beth Raines, a quiet girl at Springfield High, but during his usual teen escapades, his fathers-Justin and Alan-struggle whether or not to tell Phillip the truth, when Alan receives a blackmail note threatening to tell the teen all (the note actually came from Beth’s evil stepfather, who was unhappy about being fired as head of security at Spaulding and over Beth’s relationship with Phillip). The backdrop to this family drama culminated at Mindy Lewis’s eighteenth birthday at the country club. While her family and friends celebrate, Phillip is in the stables being told the brutal truth from Bradley Raines, who is still smarting after Alan Spaulding upbraided him in front of wife Lillian. The scenes leading up to and including Phillip’s confrontation with both his fathers are some of the most compelling drama ever to appear in Guiding Light‘s history. Phillip’s hurt and anger at not only being lied to about his parentage, but over the fact that he never had a chance to know Jackie Marler as his mother are heartbreaking. Actor Grant Aleksander hits all the right notes as he keys into Phillip’s wounded emotions. When he yells “How could you do this to me?” hitting hard with emphasis on me, the source of his hurt, the fact that he, a Spaulding, is not invulnerable to the lies and manipulations of the world, becomes a shocking revelation to the teen as he begins his lifelong struggle to pull away from his Spaulding values. Phillip’s identity, not only as Alan’s son but as an individual, come into play, and Aleksander captures his raw emotions and confusion. This episode would also solidify Phillip’s relationship with Beth. Phillip would later become obsessed with Beth, the only person who understood him and accepted him for who he was. Their romance would set them up as a celebrated supercouple in Guiding Light‘s history, but it was Phillip’s relationship with father Alan that defined the character throughout the years. Phillip’s discovery is a brilliant example of great acting and great writing which brought about the climax of five years’ worth of compelling storytelling.
10. Nola’s Comeuppance – Nola Reardon was a dreamer, a hungry dreamer. The daughter of a boarding house owner, Nola wanted to pick off the dust of her impoverished life and start anew, preferably as the wife of the very cute doctor Kelly Nelson, who boarded with her family. Scheming and manipulative, Nola refused to take no for an answer, even when it became apparent that Kelly was fast falling for his best friend’s girlfriend, Morgan Richards. Kelly and Morgan eventually fell in love and planned to marry, but Nola was determined to make Kelly hers. In a scheme that would eventually blow up in her face, resulting in a sequence that fans continue to bring up as one of Guiding Light‘s brightest moments, Nola gets Kelly drunk and leads him to believe that the two had sex. She later has sex with Floyd Parker, who has been smitten with Nola this whole time, hoping to get pregnant so she can pass the baby off as Kelly’s. When her plans succeed, she runs to Kelly with the wonderful news. The news isn’t so wonderful to Kelly, but he does the right thing by breaking off his engagement to Morgan and proposing to a delighted Nola. Just when it seems that nothing could go wrong, the loose threads of all Nola’s lies start to quickly unravel. First, Nola has to conceal the truth of her conception from Kelly, who is working on his internship at Cedars, as well as keep Morgan, who doesn’t trust Nola, from discovering the truth and telling Kelly. She’s very good at keeping her lies in place, until her mother, Bea, finds out the truth and delivers a fatal blow to Nola’s dreams: she tells Kelly the truth, leading to a twenty-minute sequence in which Kelly confronts the deluded Nola. Written by soap scribe Douglas Marland, Kelly’s confrontation, in which he finally throws Nola’s lies and manipulations back into her face, was a winner with fans, who had longed to finally see the hated Nola get her comeuppance. Like her earlier counterpart Lisa on sister soap As the World Turns, Nola inspired animosity from fans (actress Lisa Brown got tons of hate mail every week), who hated the way she came between fan faves Kelly and Morgan. Kelly’s confrontation became a way for those fans to vicariously say all the things they have yelled at her to their TV sets. Yet it is to Marland’s credit that he wrote Nola sympathetically, allowing fans to recognize Nola’s actions were the desperate cry for love and acceptance. Nola’s comeuppance transformed her when she finally accepted her responsibilities and chose to raise her child on her own, despite Floyd’s proposal of marriage. Nola’s transformation into a Guiding Light heroine became complete when she met and fell in love with mysterious archeologist Quentin McCord, creating a popular and memorable romantic supercouple. Nola’s comeuppance is a perfect example of how longterm storyline arcs can still reveal character growth and development, while at the same time provide audiences with a much-needed catharsis when their favorite or much hated characters are rewarded or punished for their actions. Compelling and intriguing, Nola’s comeuppance is another highlight in Guiding Light’s long and illustrious history.