Agnes Nixon

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Agnes Nixon

Agnes Nixon (born Agnes Eckhardt on December 27, 1927) is a Daytime Emmy award-winning writer and producer. She was born in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Having started her career in soaps working for Irna Phillips, Nixon has had an extraordinary career. She is best known as the creator of soap operas such as One Life to Live and All My Children. Having a key role in the production of these programs, she was either executive producer or consulting producer for both shows for many years: on One Life to Live from 1968 to 1975, and All My Children from 1970 to 1981. She continued to write the program with Wisner Washam until 1983, and again with him from 1988 to 1992, continuing on as a consultant in recurring capacities until 2000.

She has also worked briefly as a writer on As the World Turns, and was head writer for Search for Tomorrow, Guiding Light and Another World. Other soap operas to her credit include Loving, and the short-lived, The City. Because of her long career and the number of successful shows she has created or been a part of, she is often termed the "Queen" of the modern soap opera.

Nixon is believed to have written the first medical related storyline on a soap opera. While writing Guiding Light in the 1960s a friend of hers died from cervical cancer. Nixon wanted to do something to educate women about getting a Pap smear so she wrote it into the show. This storyline aired in 1962. Medical records show that after this storyline the number of women who took a Pap smear grew dramatically. Some of the difficulties of getting this storyline to air was the use of the words “cancer,” “uterus,” and “Pap test.” In 2002 she recived a special Sentinel for Health "pioneer award" for her work on Guiding Light.

From 1970 until 1992 every episode of All My Children was written by either Agnes Nixon or her protege Wisner Washam. In 1992 ABC executives decided that the show needed new blood and upgraded Megan McTavish to the position of head writer. While this angered some fans no one could deny that McTavish made some important changes by re-writing major storylines. When the show debuted in 1970 the father of Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) had simply abandoned his wife Mona (Frances Heflin) to be with another woman. McTavish changed history so that Erica had been raped by a friend of her father and had a child, Kendall Hart (Sarah Michelle Gellar, now played by Alicia Minshew).

When McTavish was brought back to the show in 1999, her storylines were not met with so much success. Producers fired her and surprised the soap community by promoting Agnes Nixon back to head writer. Nixon was well aware that this would probably be her last major stint in daytime television and wanted to leave one final legacy.

It had always been Nixon's intention that her soaps would deal with important social issues. Being an advocate of gay rights Nixon decided to forever change the landscape of the show by having a major character come out. Although the show had gay characters in the past they had always been supporting players. In 2000, Erica's daugher Bianca Montgomery (Eden Riegel) returned to Pine Valley with a secret and for months the audience was shown her trying to keep her sexuality a secret from everyone around her.

Although this was at first met with the expected criticism it renewed interest in the show and Eden Riegel gained a huge gay fan base. This storyline led to All My Children winning a casting Arios award, a GLAAD Media Award and was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Best Drama Series.

To Celebrate the 35th aniversary of All My Children (on January 5th 2005) she apeared on screen playing "Agnes Eckhardt" (Nixon's maiden name). The character was a board member of Pine Valley hospital. the episode included several in-jokes about the behind the scenes running of the show. For example, while Agnes was speaking, Opal Cortlandt (Jill Larson) said "The way she's talking you would think she built the town with her own bare hands". While baby sitting, Simone Torres (Terri Ivens) said "I've been so baby friendly lately", as the actress has spent the last several months on her maternity leave. Verla Grubbs (Carol Burnett) said to Bianca Montgomery "I've been following your story since the beginning (Carol Burnett admits to having been a fan of the show since it debuted in 1970). This episode is very significant as it was the last screen appearance of original castmember Ruth Warrick before her death ten days later.

Nixon is still highly involved in All My Children (although she hasn't been active in her other soap One Life to Live since the mid 1980's). She sits around the writing table with the current writing team (headed by none other than Megan McTavish). In 2003 she appeared in an episode of A&E Biography about All My Children.

She was inducted into the Soap Opera Hall of Fame at a Planet Hollywood restaurant in 1994. She received the Trustees Award for Continued Excellence from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1981.

Preceded by:
Head Writer of All My Children
Succeeded by:
Wisner Washam

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Preceded by:
Wisner Washam
Head Writer of All My Children
Succeeded by:
Megan McTavish

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Preceded by:
Megan McTavish
Head Writer of All My Children
Succeeded by:
Jean Passanante

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