Soap opera actress Helen Wagner dies at 91

Mon May 3, 2010 12:51pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Actress Helen Wagner, best known for playing the same role on the U.S. soap opera "As the World Turns" for more than half a century, has died, the show's publicist said. She was 91.

Texas-born Wagner, who also played several roles on Broadway, died on Saturday. No cause of death was given.

Wagner played the role of Nancy Hughes on the CBS soap opera for the past 54 years and uttered the show's first words when it premiered in 1956.

She held the Guinness World Record for playing the same role on television for the longest time, according to a statement released by the show.

"Helen will always remain the heart and soul of 'As the World Turns'," said executive producer Christopher Goutman.

Wagner had been married to Broadway producer Robert Willey until his death in 2009.

One of the longest-running daytime television soap operas, "As The World Turns" is scheduled to run its last episode on September after falling ratings.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Patricia Reaney)

<p>Soap opera veteran Helen Wagner, star of the daytime series "As the World Turns" poses as she arrives at the 33rd annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Hollywood, California April 28, 2006. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>