Agnes Nixon, legendary creator of daytime serials All My Children, One Life to Live and Loving, died Wednesday at the age of 88.
One of the foremost women of television serial drama, Agnes Nixon was a rare personality in the world of entertainment – she had a serial on the air five days a week, 52 weeks a year for over 47 years. Before creating All My Children, One Life to Live and Loving for the ABC Television network, Nixon worked on other shows such as Search for Tomorrow, As the World Turns, Guiding Light and Another World.
“It is with a heavy heart I mourn the passing of television pioneer Agnes Nixon, someone I was proud to call a friend,” said Robert A. Iger, chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. “Agnes’ impact on daytime television and pop culture is undeniable. 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. On behalf of Walt Disney and ABC, I want to extend our deepest condolences to her family.”
Agnes is recognized as the pioneer in introducing social relevance to daytime television. Highly controversial topics which, at the time polarized the population, such as the Vietnam War, drug addiction, child abuse, racism, abortion and AIDS have all been dramatically dealt with in Nixon storylines. In the process, Nixon totally changed the traditionally escapist nature of daytime serials while striving to make the world a better place. Nixon said, “My aim has been the fostering of dialogue on important issues between people of opposing views in the hope of fostering a mutual understanding and respect.”
A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Mrs. Nixon, then Agnes Eckhardt, graduated from the Northwestern School of Speech and moved to New York, where she became a freelance writer for such outstanding television dramatic series as “Studio One,” “Philco Playhouse,” “Robert Montgomery Presents,” “Somerset Maugham Theatre,” “Armstrong Circle Theatre,” “Hallmark Hall of Fame,” “My True Story” and “Cameo Theatre.” When nighttime programs moved west, Miss Nixon, by then married to Robert Nixon, a Chrysler executive, stayed in the east and began writing daytime serials.
In the spring of 1981, Mrs. Nixon was the recipient of the prestigious National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Trustees Award. In presenting the award, Barbara Walters noted that Agnes Nixon was both the first writer and first woman to be so honored by the Academy. In 1992, she was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1992.
Mrs. Nixon was a member of the International Radio and Television Society, and of the Museum of Television and Radio; a trustee of the National Arthritis Foundation; served on the Advisory Council of Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute; and was one of a ten-member board of the Harvard Foundation, established by then President Derek Bok and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences with the purpose of fostering racial harmony in the Harvard community with the hope that it will be emulated by other schools throughout the country. She was also a recipient of the Harvard Foundation Award.
In 1993, Mrs. Nixon received a Gold Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement. Also during that year, she was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Television Hall of Fame.
Over the course of her historic, groundbreaking career, Nixon won five Daytime Emmy Awards, five Writers Guild Awards, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award during the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards.