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As The World Turns Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

"As the World Turns" (or "ATWT" to those in the know) was created by soap opera pioneer Irna Phillips, who wanted a show to focus on character development and follow the slower pace of life itself. She got what she desired as the show aired for a whopping 54 years from 1956 through 2010 as it followed the dramas and sagas of the Hughes family. While it's not the longest-running soap in history ("General Hospital" is still kicking, 58 years on), it was the most-watched daytime drama for 20 years from 1958 through 1978 as 10 million people a day tuned in to see what, exactly, was making the world turn.

A show on the air for so long inevitably requires an extensive cast of characters and a number of Hollywood stars got their starts on "As the World Turns" – Amanda Seyfried, Martin Sheen, and Julianne Moore were all part of the cast before their careers took off. (In fact, Moore even returned for the series finale.) For devoted viewers, the cast of "ATWT" became idols in their own right, even those whose name may not be recognized by people who don't tune into daytime dramas. Sadly, a number of cast members of this beloved series have passed away, so read on to find out which "ATWT" actors have died.

Helen Wagner

Throughout its 54-year run, "As the World Turns" introduced dozens (if not hundreds) of characters. Throughout it all, there was one constant: Nancy Hughes, the matriarch of the Hughes family, played by Helen Wagner. Wagner uttered the first line of the series and would go on to play Nancy for over 50 years in the longest-running character of history, solidifying her place as a soap opera legend. Nancy was an unwavering woman, who represented traditional values and propriety, and many viewers found comfort in Wagner's solid nature in an ever-changing world. Wagner became a part of history when a live telecast of "As the World Turns" was interrupted by Walter Cronkite's announcement of the shooting of President Kennedy, leading to what Wagner would later call her "dubious claim to fame" (via The NY Times).

Wagner got her soap start with a role as Trudy Bauer on "Guiding Light" from 1952 through 1953 and went on to star in the soap opera, "Valiant Lady." She starred opposite Charles Ruggles in the sitcom, "The World of Mr. Sweeney," before getting cast in "As the World Turns," which would dominate her time and resume for the rest of her life. "As the World Turns" was canceled in 2010 with its final episode airing in September of that year. Wagner made her final appearance in April 2010 and passed away from cancer a few weeks later in May. Her death was written into the series as characters remembered her life.

Benjamin Hendrickson

Part of what set "As the World Turns" apart was its focus on professionals such as doctors and lawyers. The series' portrayal of these characters would go on to influence other soaps, which started to use these professions as reliable tropes for the genre (via Harvard Magazine). In the melodramatic world of soaps where any crime can and does happen, police officers are essential, and Benjamin Hendrickson's Chief Detective Hal Munson became an indispensable thread in the fabric of "ATWT."

Hendrickson played the firm yet gentle Hal Munson for over 20 years from 1985 until his death in 2006. Munson first appears in Oakdale to investigate the evil James Stenbeck but quickly becomes embroiled in the lives of the Hughes family and others. Hendrickson was born in 1950 and got his start in theater after attending Juilliard. Prior to "ATWT," he appeared on a few soaps such as "Guiding Light" and a starring turn in "Texas." Sadly, Hendrickson died by suicide in 2006 at his home in New York. His death was later written into the series as his character was killed in the line of duty. 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Lisa Brown

"As the World Turns" and "Guiding Light" were considered "sister shows" by creator Irna Phillips, so it's no surprise that there's some crossover with the casts of both shows. Lisa Brown first appeared on "Guiding Light" in 1980 as Nola Reardon and then in 1985, she started as Iva Snyder on "ATWT," which she would play until 1994. Iva was a troubled young woman with a difficult past, whose appearance in Oakdale shakes things up with her religious family.

Although Brown's acting credits were limited as she only appeared on one other series –- "Loving" in 1995 –- her experience in the soap world was undeniable. In fact, she also worked as an acting coach for "Guiding Light," lending her expertise to over 1,400 episodes. Brown died from an undisclosed illness in 2021 when she was 67 and many mourned her death — including Martha Byrne, who played her daughter on "ATWT:" "Lisa was my mentor, mother, sister and so much more for my entire life ... For the fans, she loved and respected you all more than you will ever know. She loved entertaining you and her appreciation for your support was immeasurable. We are devastated at the loss of an incredible woman" (via Deadline).

Anthony Herrera

In the world of soaps, villains abound — and Anthony Herrera's James Stenbeck is one of the most memorable of the series. James was introduced in 1980 as a greedy, manipulative lawyer and widower whose main interest in life is himself. In Herrera's hands, James cheats on his partners, smuggles drugs and stolen goods, attempts murder, and the list goes on.

Herrera's soap career began with a stint on "Search For Tomorrow" in 1975, which eventually led him to "As the World Turns." He appeared periodically on the soap, "Loving," from 1984 through 1991 and had roles in the films "Foreign Student" and "Extreme Justice" in the '90s. Herrera was the biological father of actress Gaby Hoffmann, but the two were estranged. Herrera was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1997 and subsequently wrote a book about his experiences (2005's "The Cancer War") and promoted the significance of stem cell research (via Stone County Enterprise). Herrera's cancer, which had been in remission, returned and he died in 2011 at the age of 67.

John Colenback

While the character of Dan Stewart was introduced in 1962, John Colenback didn't play this role until 1966, and he embodied Dan for the next seven years. In this world of seemingly infinite doctors and lawyers, Colenback's Dan Stewart stood out as being debonair, although he had his fair share of dramas — like discovering that his niece is really his daughter and losing his wife after she falls down the stairs.

Prior to "ATWT," Colenback starred in the soap opera "From These Roots," but he initially made his name in the theater. He made his Broadway debut in 1961 with a role in "A Man for All Seasons" and would go on to star in the Broadway show, "After the Rain," in 1967. Other theater roles included an off-Broadway turn in "Twelfth Night" and regional productions of "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead." Colenback was a lifelong supporter of LGBTQ causes and organizations such as The Names AIDS Quilt Project. He died in 2015 from complications related to pulmonary disease. He was 79.

John Reilly

Oftentimes in the soap world, actors take breaks from their roles and reprise them later. Such was the case with John Colenback and the role of Dan Stewart, which he left for a few years in the '70s. So, John Reilly stepped in to play Dr. Dan Stewart from 1974 through 1976 and filled the shoes so well that he'd go on to become a tried and true soap star.

Following his turn on "As the World Turns," Reilly would go on to have recurring roles in series like "Quincy M.E.," "How the West Was Won," and "Dallas." His real claim to fame began with an 11-year run as Sean Donely on "General Hospital." Fans followed the rollercoaster of Reilly's Sean, who swung between hero and villain like it was nobody's business. He continued on in the soap world as he appeared as Jennie Garth's father in "Beverly Hills, 90210" and had a long run on "Passions." Reilly died in 2021 when he was 86 from undisclosed causes. His daughter noted that, with his death, "the brightest light has gone out" (via Deadline).

Michael Louden

Michael Louden's Duke Kramer was first introduced to the citizens of Oakdale in 1988. Duke was a moody and angry young man, who discovered that his father was John Dixon (the person from whom he most definitely inherited that anger gene). Duke would go on to have a long relationship with Lien Hughes (played by later "ER" star Ming-Na Wen) and he left the show in 1990, although he would return briefly in 1993.

Louden graduated from Juilliard and, after his time in "As the World Turns," would continue on to have brief appearances in projects like "The Langoliers," "Arli$$" and the film, "Space Cowboys." Louden co-hosted the G4 series "Arena" in 2003 and played a "cop-loving drag queen" in the LGBTQ slasher flick, "Hellbent," in 2004. He also worked extensively in theater, including a role in the play, "Three Feet Under," which was directed by comedy legend, Lily Tomlin (via The LA Times). Louden was only 40 when he died suddenly in 2004 from undisclosed causes.

James Douglas

"As the World Turns" is a world that turns with the efforts of doctors and lawyers galore, including James Douglas as Grant Colman, the brusque lawyer who appeared on the show from 1973 through 1981. Douglas made a name for himself in the world of daytime soaps with his turn as another lawyer, Stephen Cord, on "Peyton Place" — where he fell in love with Betty Anderson (Barbara Parkins) and fought with his half-brother, Rodney Harrington (Ryan O'Neal).

Douglas starred in over 400 episodes of "Peyton Place" from 1965 until its ending in 1969 before moving on to the complicated lives of the folks in Oakdale. Douglas became a familiar face in the soap world as he also had recurring appearances on "Another World," "One Life to Live," and "The Edge of the Night." While his work was primarily in television, Douglas also appeared in films such as the TV movie of "A Clear and Present Danger." Douglas died in 2016 at the age of 86 from unknown causes (via Deadline).

Ruth Warrick

In the world of soap operas, Ruth Warrick stands out as a legend, who first graced the daytime screens as Janet Johnson on "Guiding Light" in 1952. Warrick moved on to Phillips' next show, "As the World Turns," where she joined the original cast to play the stubborn and independent Aunt Edie Hughes from 1956 through 1960. Edie was known for her refusal to play by the rules, as she wouldn't settle down and instead fell for a married man — all of which was almost unheard of at the time.

Warrick continued her soap streak with a role as Hannah Cord in "Peyton Place" and she cemented her iconic status by playing socialite Phoebe Tyler in "All My Children." Warrick was part of the original cast of "All My Children" and appeared on living room screens for 35 years, telling The NY Times in 1985: "In one week, we play to an audience larger than Clark Gable played to in his whole career. You say 'Phoebe,' and 50 million people know what you mean." Prior to her soap stardom, Warrick hit it big in the film world after making her feature film debut in "Citizen Kane," where she played Orson Welles' first wife, Emily. Warrick died in 2005 at the age of 88 after complications from pneumonia, and both her death and a tribute to her life's work were written into "All My Children."

Michael Morrison

"As the World Turns" gave viewers their fair share of heartthrobs, including Michael Morrison's Caleb Snyder, who first appeared on the show in 1988. Caleb was Holden Snyder's (Jon Hensley) younger brother, who returns to Oakdale after accidentally getting a girl pregnant in Chicago.

Born in New Orleans in 1960, Morrison's first on screen appearance was in the 1983 TV movie, "Hobson's Choice," followed by a guest starring role in "Miami Vice." "As the World Turns" marked his biggest role. Sadly, his life was cut short in 1993, when he died in his sleep from a drug overdose at just the age of 33 (via The NY Times). Morrison's "ATWT" costar, Susan Marie Snyder, who played Caleb's wife Julie, noted that he was replaced the next day and "that was pretty traumatic. The part of me who made 'Julie' real was deeply in love with the part of Michael who played 'Caleb.' It was very difficult to separate that out." (via Santa Barbara: le site francais). Morrison left behind a wife and young son.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Carmen Duncan

In the soap world and that of "As the World Turns," Lisa Grimaldi is a trailblazer — the first "vixen" of soap operas, whom Time Magazine once referred to as "the most hated woman on TV" (via TV Fanatic). While Eileen Fulton played Lisa for 50 years from 1960 through 2010, Australian star Carmen Duncan stepped in for a few episodes in 2004 while Fulton was on medical leave.

Although Duncan only appeared in a few episodes of "ATWT," she was already a bona fide soap star known to fans worldwide. Duncan first found stardom in her homeland with roles on Aussie series like "You Can't See Round Corners," "The Spoiler," and "Number 96." Duncan moved Stateside and launched her soap career there with her portrayal of independent and successful businesswoman, Iris Carrington Wheeler, in "Another World" from 1988 through 1994. Duncan appeared in dozens of series and films over her 50-year career with her final role in the film "Hotel Mumbai," opposite Dev Patel. Duncan died in 2019 at the age of 76 from breast cancer.

Farley Granger

A fiery woman like Lisa Grimaldi needs her share of men to keep her interested. As such, fans were treated to the love interest du jour in the form of Farley Granger's Earl Mitchell, a mysterious Interpol agent investigating James Stenbeck. Granger appeared on the series from 1986 through 1988 and left after Earl was killed off.

Granger became a star in the 1940s and 50s after being cast in two Alfred Hitchcock films: "Rope" (1948) and "Strangers on a Train" (1951). Although he'd found success in film as an MGM star, Granger decided to pursue his passion for television and theater in particular. He bought out his Goldwyn contract to get the freedom to do theater. As he told The NY Times in 1977: "Hollywood was never a place for me. The stage was the magic." After "ATWT," Granger appeared on screen a few more times with a guest role in "Murder She Wrote" and a final appearance in "The Next Big Thing" opposite Connie Britton. An open bisexual, Granger had relationships with Shelley Winters –- described as "the love of my life and the bane of my existence" in his autobiography –- and Robert Calhoun, his longtime partner (via The NY Times). Granger died in 2011 at the age of 85 from natural causes.

Robert Hogan

Robert Hogan appeared on "As the World Turns" from 1991 to 1992 as the L.J. McDermott, the father of Larry McDermott. Although his tenure on the series was brief, fans by then would have been well-acquainted with Hogan's face, as he'd already appeared in a number of beloved soaps and TV shows.

Hogan's television career took off with his starring role as Gilly Gillespie in "The Young Marrieds" from 1965 through 1966, followed by his portrayal of Tom Winter on "Peyton's Place." With turns on classics like "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "I Dream of Jeannie," and "Mork and Mindy," Hogan became a face people recognized, even if they didn't know his name. That would change with the release of "Hogan's Heroes," as Bob Crane's titular character, Robert Hogan, was named after him (via The Hollywood Reporter). Hogan's later appearances included recurring roles on "The Wire" and "Law & Order," with his final role in the short film, "The Deplorable." In 2021, Hogan died at the age of 87 following complications from pneumonia (via USA Today).

Nathaniel Marston

In 1998, "ATWT" viewers met Nathaniel Marston's Eddie Silva, a young man who grew up in the foster care system and witnessed his mother's violent murder. Eddie's storyline is one of self-discovery as he tries to find his biological father — as well as himself, in his own pursuit of love. While his character left the show in 2000, Marston continued to make waves in the soap world.

Following his exit from "As the World Turns," Marston became part of the cast of "One Life to Live," where he played both recovering drug addict Al Holden and later, Michael McBain, after Al was killed off and fans wrote in to demand that Marston return to the show (via The NY Times). Marston left "One Life to Live" in 2007 and had a few more roles on series like "Law & Order: SVU," "White Collar," and "Castle." His final appearance was as the protagonist in the 2011 LGBTQ+ film, "Walk a Mile in My Pradas." Tragically, 40-year-old Marston died in 2015 after getting into a car accident.