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Aside from off-the-wall antics, the show also dealt with down-to-earth issues with relative restraint. Racism, drug abuse, rape, openly gay relationships and unwanted pregnancies were among the topics addressed.

In 2011, ABC canned two soap operas - “All My Children” and “One Life to Live.” The decision was due to the genre’s declining profits. A plan to take the show online failed, making Friday the end of an era.

As of Jan. 16, “General Hospital,” about to mark its 49th anniversary, will be the only daytime drama ABC has left.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.

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