"As the World Turns" Airs Final Episode

The cast of "As the World Turns" poses for a photo in May 2010.
CBS/John Paschal

NEW YORK (CBS) After 54 years and almost 14,000 episodes, "As the World Turns" is coming to an end.

The final episode of the CBS soap opera aired on Friday.

The show debuted in 1956 and went on to be a huge hit, quickly topping the daytime ratings, and maintaining its status as the No. 1 daytime drama for two decades.

But soaps, which once ruled daytime TV, have been on the decline for several years. At the height of their popularity, 40 years ago, there were 19 on TV. That number is now down to six.

"It's all about the bottom line," executive producer, Christopher Goutman said on "The Early Show." "Scripted drama in daytime is a tough proposition, because it's expensive to produce, and I understand that. We are a victim of the times."

The show also launched the careers of some of Hollywood's biggest stars, including Martin Sheen, Lauryn Hill, Dana Delaney, Emmy Rossum, Parker Posey and Julianne Moore, who earned a daytime Emmy for her dual roles as half-sisters Frannie and Sabrina Hughes in 1988. Moore returned to the show in April 2010, reprising the role of Frannie for a guest appearance.

"The Talk," a daytime chat show similar to "The View," will replace the departing soap opera.