"Throughout our history, As The World Turns has remained dedicated to sharing compelling stories that have entertained fans for more than five decades," said Executive Producer Chris Goutman. "We are disappointed and saddened by the news that the show is not being renewed. It will certainly be a loss for all of us, and for the show's loyal audience."
The series will end in 2010 -- and will also mark an end to a remarkable record in television held by Helen Wagner, who portrays Hughes family matriarch Nancy Hughes. Wagner, who spokes the first line in the 1956 premiere of ATWT, has played the longest-running character in television history.
The show, which is set a fictional Midwestern town and tapes in Brooklyn, N.Y., also featured cast members who went on to become Hollywood icons including James Earl Jones, Parker Posey, Meg Ryan and Marisa Tomei, producers said.
Like many midday television dramas, ATWT evolved, introducing story lines that weaved in contemporary and controversial issues. According to show producers, the soap introduced daytime TV's first gay male character, Hank Eliot -- a move that earned GLAAD's first media award in 1990.