September 18, 2009 12:00 AM

After 72 years on the air, Guiding Light is over.

Longtime fans said goodbye to their favorite dramatic and dysfunctional families, the Spauldings and the Lewises, on Friday, when CBS aired the soap’s final episode after many seasons of marriages, divorces, remarriages, scandals, back-from-the-dead encounters and numerous miracles — seven! — that had paralyzed characters walking again.

But beyond the melodrama, Guiding Light bolstered the careers of many of Hollywood’s most famous stars. Before Footloose, Kevin Bacon played alcoholic teen T. J. ‘Tim’ Werner in 1980. James Earl Jones was one of the first African-American actors to have a regular role on a soap, when he starred in the 1960s. Heroes star Hayden Panettiere played a young Lizzie Spaulding from 1996 to 2000. And die-hard fans will even remember when Calista Flockhart had a minor role as a babysitter in the late ’80s.

As soap operas struggle to remain profitable and reality shows provide a heaping portion of heartache and backstabbing, the dimming of Guiding Light truly marks the end of an era. But before you put away your bonbons and that box of Kleenex, here is one last clip of the longest-running TV drama in history. In it, Josh and Reva (played by Robert Newman and Kim Zimmer), Springfield’s longtime on-again, off-again couple, finally reunite — presumably for good this time — in front of the town’s iconic lighthouse. –Amy Keith

Tell us: Are you sad to see the end of Guiding Light? What are you favorite memories of the soap?

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