By Rachelle Burkett-Rodarte
“Days of Our Lives” cast members spent October 31 at the Titanic attraction in Pigeon Forge. The soap opera drama is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary. There were mixed emotions about what the show meant to each of the cast members, as they had different favorite moments. Some were surprised that they were chosen to play a part. Others were extremely confident they were picked to portray their character. One wondered if she could play the bad girl of her character. All were thrilled that the show had made it to the historic fiftieth year. The cast members were not the only ones thrilled to be there. An estimated five thousand or more fans turned out to meet the cast and get their autographs. The obsession with the show led many fans to feel a sense of family with the cast. Some even brought birthday presents for a surprise party of a cast member.
Looking back over the fifty years of the “Days of Our Lives” show, I was surprised how the soap opera had influenced American society. Fashion and hairstyles were only the surface of influence. One of the longest running daytime show on television, it brought mystery and suspense into the family living room. I remember my mother, folding laundry in the living room so she wouldn’t miss her soaps. Many college students I went to school with wouldn’t register for a class if it was scheduled during the time the soap opera aired. Students crowded into the television rooms to see what happened next. Watching “Days of Our Lives” became a national past time.
All in all, the show was exactly w hat it was meant to be an afternoon drama. There were many births, deaths, weddings and funerals in this lively drama. Viewers were held spell bound during the Salem Stalker episodes. There were also some early funerals that turned around in later plots. Many social questions of the day were sorted out in this day time drama. Through hospital scenes and murder investigations, the suspense laid the platform to open a line of dialog for risky social issues. The show also boasted many firsts in the industry. The soap braved territories like a baby dying of SIDS and the divorce that followed. Questionable paternity due to rape led to a green wedding. The show had the first complete African American family, the first gay wedding, and the first daytime interracial romance. But these groundbreaking scripts are what kept “Days of Our Lives” fans coming back again and again.
However, the underlining story that followed the families and individuals played out the message that it is love that made the difference. A very ordinary scene that rates the highest in my book is the Horton women sitting around Grandma Alice’s living room table having tea and donuts, together. Times change but one thing is for certain, the donuts were always made with love.