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Irna Phillips

Irna Phillips created soap operas for radio and television that were followed by massive audiences, including Guiding Light, and introduced plotlines that shaped the format of many soaps that followed. Phillips dreamed of becoming an actress and taught English and drama at junior colleges and teachers’ colleges in the Midwest while working at a Chicago radio station on her summer breaks. In 1930, she created one of the first radio soap operas, Painted Dreams, moving to NBC with a new creation, Today’s Children, in 1932. In the 1940s, she created five more soaps, including Guiding Light, which became the first radio serial to successfully transfer to television in 1952. Phillips was known for her cliffhanger endings and her use of organ music to create moods, and was one of the first scriptwriters to utilize the plot devices of the amnesia victim and the murder trial. She went on to write for other soap operas, including As the World Turns, Another World, and Days of Our Lives, and served as a consultant for Peyton Place.


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Date of Birth

Chicago, IL
United States

Date of Death
Screenwriter, Educator

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Irna Phillips." (Viewed on December 10, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/phillips-irna>.


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