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Agnes Nixon
Legendary Agnes Nixon ready to retire
Posted Sunday, October 08, 2000 8:23:43 PM
Her career spans over three decades and includes countless Daytime Emmys and other high honors. But Agnes Nixon, a 1994 inductee into the Soap Opera Hall of Fame, is apparently ready to hang up her pen and call it a career.


Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1927, Agnes turned to writing at an early age as a way to escape the domineering ways of her Irish Catholic grandmother, who kept an ever-watchful eye on her.


At age 24, Agnes moved to New York City and met with Irna Phillips, a women whom Agnes' father hoped would talk Agnes out of a career in writing. As it turns out, Phillips was more than impressed with Agnes' writing and the two women teamed up to develop the radio soap opera The Guiding Light. At about the same time, Robert Nixon came into Agnes' life. The two were subsequently married and remained married for nearly 50 years, until Robert's death in 1997..


Nixon's career in daytime television began in 1968 when she created the story of the fictional town of Llanview, Pennsylvania. 32 years later, One Life to Live is still going strong. Apparently not satisfied in having just one daytime project under her belt, Nixon grabbed her pen and in 1970 created what may be her greatest project --- All My Children.


For thirty years, Nixon has watched over the small town of Pine Valley, Pennsylvania, a town she modeled after there area in which she grew up --- Philadelphia's Main Line. Pine Valley evokes a images of a small town America, a place where people don't have to lock their doors. Ironically, viewers have often mused that residents of Pine Valley could save themselves a lot of heartache if they simply locked their doors.


Nixon shaped and modeled All My Children carefully, as if she were sculpting a piece of fine pottery. The show's strong suit has always been its families. Carefully mixed within the love and romance and betrayal, the show has been a focal point for current issues and controversial topics. In 1972, All My Children chronicled the anti-war sentiment brewing over VietNam and in 1973, the venerable Erica Kane underwent the first legalized abortion on television. Throughout its 30-year history, Nixon's All My Children has battled intolerance and discrimination. In 1989, Pine Valley found itself coping with the AIDS crisis when one of its residents, Cindy Chandler (played by Emmy winner Ellen Wheeler) , contracted and later died from the illness. More recently, the show has taken a look at homosexuality with dramatic, thought-provoking and award-winning storylines --- all overseen by Agnes Nixon. Through it all, Nixon hasn't lectured the audience nor told her viewers what's wrong and right. She's presented a storyline and allowed viewers to draw their own conclusions and, hopefully, do the right thing.


In 1983, Nixon developed yet another daytime serial. This time the name of the game was Loving, also set in a small Pennsylvania town. When Loving transformed itself into the trendy, though short-lived, The City in 1995, Nixon was there as a storyline consultant. In its short tenure, The City also had a series of firsts, one of which was featuring the first transgendered person on a daytime drama.


After a mini-break, Nixon returned to full-time head writer status of All My Children in 1999. It was widely believed that Nixon had been brought back to raise the show's sagging ratings and to help All My Children honor its roots and remain on course with the vision Nixon had back in 1970 when she created the show.


Now, Nixon is working feverishly on what could be her last hurrah in daytime television. According to insiders at ABC, Nixon is working solo on what may be All My Children's biggest storyline in some years --- Bianca's coming out. Sources say that Nixon is mulling over every word in the script to make sure that things are just right. After the storyline winds down, though, the same sources say that Nixon will either go into full retirement or move to the background and let fellow co-head writer, Jean Passanante, take the reigns.


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