Communication alumna, soap opera trailblazer Agnes Nixon dies at age 93

Stavros Agorakis, A&E Editor

Northwestern alumna Agnes Nixon, best known for creating the hit daytime television shows “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” died Wednesday.

Beginning her career as a radio scriptwriter, Nixon (Communication ‘44) broke new ground for the soap opera genre by introducing socially- and politically-relevant topics to the shows she produced and wrote for, including drug addiction, domestic violence and the Vietnam War. Popularly referred to as the “queen of the modern soap opera,” she received a Daytime Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2010 for her contribution in changing the “traditionally escapist nature of daytime serials,” according to the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

“Agnes Nixon was a protean figure in television, creating several of the longest-running and most successful daytime dramas,” School of Communication Dean Barbara O’Keefe said in a news release. “I feel very fortunate to have known her — I admired her both as a woman who became a successful leader in the entertainment industry and as a lovable, kind and generous alumna.”

Nixon has had a significant impact on the NU theater community. She established the Agnes Nixon Playwriting Festival, a two-day event that annually recognizes three student playwrights who put up staged readings of their works. The festival will commemorate the alumna’s life when it returns this spring.

The University Archives house a featured collection documenting the alumna’s 60-year career in radio and television, including her Emmy award and written work from her years at NU.

Nixon is survived by four children and 11 grandchildren.

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