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Remembering the super couples of 'As the World Turns'

Meg Ryan as Betsy Montgomery and Frank Runyeon

Meg Ryan as Betsy Montgomery and Frank Runyeon as Steve Andropolous in the CBS soap opera "As the World Turns.) Credit: CBS

The final curtain falls Friday for long-running soap opera "As the World Turns" (CBS/2 at 2 p.m.), which debuted as a 30-minute serial April 2, 1956.

In its 54 years, "ATWT" dominated the ratings for two decades, prompted a prime-time spinoff ("Our Private World"), introduced daytime television's first gay male character (Hank Elliot) in 1988 and won four daytime Emmy Awards for best show. It also created some of soap's greatest super couples. Here are five that "ATWT" fans will never forget.

 

Holden and Lily. Holden Snyder (Jon Hensley) and Lily Walsh (Noelle Beck, since 2008, but Martha Byrne most famously) captured soap fans' hearts with their poor-boy, rich-girl love story. They met when Holden was a stable boy working for Lily's mother. Their on-again, off-again relationship weathered the possibility of their being related, amnesia, two of Holden's secret love children, kidnappings and more. Even when apart, their feelings for one another were evident. Together, they had three children: Faith, Ethan and Natalie.

 

Jeff and Penny. As the soap's first super couple, Jeff Baker (Mark Rydell) and Penny Hughes (Rosemary Prinz) were credited with launching the show to No. 1. Their storied romance reached its pinnacle in 1958, when they married on Christmas Eve, and viewers across the country reportedly tuned in, dressed in their Sunday best. Jeff also recorded a love song for her, aptly named "Penny." Their romance ended when Jeff died in a car accident.

Steve and Betsy. The star-crossed love of Steve Andropoulos (Frank Runyeon) and Betsy Stewart (Meg Ryan, Lindsay Frost) began with a deathbed promise to Steve's brother that drove Betsy to marry another man. But her love for Steve repeatedly brought her back into his arms, and upon discovering her daughter, Dani, was his, Steve married Betsy on May 30, 1984. Their wedding was watched by 20 million viewers, making it the second-highest-rated episode in U.S. soap history.

 

Luke and Noah.Luke Snyder (Van Hansis, since 2005) and Noah Mayer (Jake Silbermann) were named one of television's top power couples by TV Guide and great super couples by Entertainment Weekly. They were the first gay super couple on daytime TV. At first, Noah struggled to accept his sexuality but eventually admitted his feelings for Luke. The characters made history by sharing the first gay male kiss on U.S. daytime television. A YouTube video of the kiss was the most watched the following day.

 

Tom and Margo. Tom Hughes (Scott Holmes, since 1987) and Margo Montgomery (Ellen Dolan, since 1990) fell in love while investigating Mr. Big. They married in 1983 and went on to become a soap anomaly: They were one of the only super couples to marry and stay that way for more than 25 years. Their marriage survived affairs, resulting in each having a child by his or her lover; Margo facing murder charges twice and being raped; a legal separation; and plenty of drama involving their son, Casey.

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