In mid-1973, the theme of the show and its background music was changed from acoustic organ-based to orchestra-based. The version of the opening and closing themes, first used in 1968 (and scored for piano and organ), was re-scored in an orchestral version.
In the fall of 1975, the name was changed in the show's opening and closing visuals from The Guiding Light to Guiding Light in an attempt to modernize the show's image, and in the same year it adopted the harp-and-string-laced "Ritournelle" as its theme song. The serial was still called The Guiding Light by CBS (and the show's staff announcers) until fall 1981, when the "The" was completely dropped from references and a more upbeat musical theme was adopted.
In November 1977, the show expanded to a full hour.
Put on trial for the murder of Stanley Norris was his third wife, nurse Leslie Jackson Bauer Norris, who was discovered by an employee of Stanley's over his dead body. Mike Bauer would defend Leslie (as he had Peggy almost two years earlier). In the end, Marion Conway would confess to shooting Stanley because she was deeply troubled that her daughter, Linell had fantasies about her boss, Stanley, divorcing Leslie and marrying her. Stanley treated Linell like garbage. After Marion's eleventh-hour confession, she would suffer a heart attack and die in the courtroom.
Though they deeply loved each other, Sara and Joe's marriage became strained and Joe began having an affair with Sara's nemesis Charlotte Waring. Joe soon confessed the affair to Sara, but in the meantime, Charlotte was rushed to Cedars after suffering an apparent heart attack. Joe tried to save her life, but she did not pull through, and he was blamed for her death, catapulting him into a self-destructive affair with the unstable Kit Vested, who'd had an obsession with Joe for some time. It would later come out that Kit had caused Charlotte's death by poisoning her tea, and in an attempt to get her out of the way so she could be with Joe, she later poisoned Sara. Fortunately, Mike got word of Kit's plans and was able to make it to Sara to get her to the hospital in time. When Joe discovered the truth about Kit, she tried to shoot him, but in the struggle for the gun she was shot instead in April 1974. After Kit's death, Sara and Joe tried to resume their relationship, adopting a son, Timothy "T.J.". Joe had a heart attack in 1976 and Sara was once again a widow.
Papa Bauer died in his sleep in February 1973, a few months after Goetz died in December 1972.
Religious matters gave way to cementing the bonds of family. In the 1970s, Bert Bauer's two sons fought over the lovely Leslie. Though Leslie loved Ed, her marriage to him didn't work, due to his alcoholism, and she became involved with his brother Mike. When things seemed to have finally resolved and she was happy with Mike, Leslie was tragically killed in a hit-and-run accident in 1976, leaving behind her and Ed's young son Freddie (now known as "Rick").
Mike and Leslie had overall an idyllic marriage (with the only two problems, besides Leslie put on trial falsely for Stanley's murder, being that Leslie would find out that Dr. Steve Jackson was not her biological father, and Mike being somewhat unsatisfied with Leslie wanting to better herself education wise). However, the lives of Ed, and Barbara and Stanley's children, Ken and Holly, took some rather interesting twists and turns.
Ed returned to Springfield after learning that his father had supposedly been killed in a plane crash, and Janet soon followed. Unfortunately, Janet was to learn that Ed was still in love with Leslie. Then Janet's father, Grove Mason also showed up in Springfield. When Grove discovered that Ed had been unfaithful to Leslie with his daughter, Grove confronted Ed at Cedars hospital and collapsed and died from a heart attack. Leslie would then grant Ed a divorce and married, first Stanley and later, Mike. Ed would be pursued by several women, but Janet cooled things off, still upset about her father's death.
For a while, Ken Norris started a relationship with his former stepmother, Kit Vestid, but later would be attracted to the now available Janet Mason. It was a shock when Ken, who was Mike Bauer's law partner, ended up marrying Janet, because Ken was known to be somewhat mentally unstable. Janet seemed to love the man despite this knowledge.
Meanwhile, Holly ended up in Cedars after nearly being run into by a car, and Ed became her physician. After having a series of uneventual relationships, the now 30-year old Ed was wowed by Holly and agreed to go to Las Vegas with her. Holly, not realizing that Ed was an alcoholic, got him drunk and then got married to him. When Holly and Ed returned to Springfield everyone was also shocked, none more than his aunt Meta who vehemently took a dislike to Holly. Meta's third husband Bruce Banning and Bert tried to tell Meta to not interfere, but Holly heard what Meta felt about her and was concerned that Ed might leave her at any moment.
Janet found out that her mother, Ellen Mason had become an alcoholic after her husband's death. Janet asked Ed to help get her mother into Alcoholics Anonymous, and Ken seeing the two of them together started to become pathologically and violently jealous. While Kit was going after Joe and Sara Werner, Ken started to become violent with Janet, forcing her to have sex with him so she would get pregnant, which she did. She gave birth to a daughter named Emily. After the birth of Emily, Ellen started to go to AA, and Ken started to seem more mentally stable after Janet forced Ken to see a psychiatrist). Then he truly became loving and devoted to both Janet and Emily. But one evening when Ellen had an alcoholic relapse, Ken caught Janet and Ed talking privately to each other and Ken became even more jealous and stopped going to see his psychiatrist and stopped taking his medications. Ken did not tell Janet or his partner Mike about this. A few evenings later, while he and Janet were out on a date, Ken drove the car into a tree. Ken and Janet were taken to Cedars emergency room, and although bruised Janet seemed fine, Ken appeared to be blind. But none of the doctors could see any reason for Ken's blindness. Of course, Ken was faking his blindness. When Janet desperately started clinging more closely to Ed, Ken became even more jealous. Ken also talked his then pregnant sister, Holly, into believing the worst about Ed and Janet's renewed closeness, with their mother Barbara scolding both of them about how they were treating their spouses. Although Holly seemed to agree with her mother, secretly Ken did not. Then one evening, in April 1975, things came to ahead when Ken (who had secretly bought a revolver) went to Holly and Ed's house and waited outside in the bushes in front of the house. When Ed came home with Janet, Ken came out of the bushes and shot Ed in his right hand.
Ed was taken to Cedars, and it would be learned that he could no longer operate with his right hand. Ken was taken to a mental hospital and would not be seen again until 1998. Janet left town with Emily and Ellen, and relocated to San Francisco, never to be heard from again until 1987 and 1995 and again in 1999, although from time to time throughout the remainder of the 1970s, Barbara was said to be visiting them.In 1987 ,Janet had offscreen became the fiancee to Billy Lewis's half-brother Kyle Sampson and had become pregant with his child only to later miscarry .Janet and Kyle's father cardinal John Malone both perished in a plane crash leaving Kyle comatose in a Swiss Clinic later to die himself sometime before 1994 never having emerged from his coma. .Emily and Ellen remained living in San Diego with Ellen dieing in 1995 prior to Barbara Norris returning to Springfield.Ken Norris was said to be living near his daughter Emily in 1999 after he to left Springfield again.
In late 1977, Alan Spaulding arrived at the long vacated Spaulding summer estate with his emotionally distant wife, Elizabeth. Elizabeth doted on young Phillip, whom she believed to be her son. In reality, her baby was stillborn, and Alan had obtained Phillip from an unknown woman. That woman, Jackie soon followed, and although she was still in love with her former husband cardiologist, Justin Marler, she married Alan after he and Elizabeth divorced in 1978 to make sure she was close to her son. (Justin had no idea he was a father; Alan had no idea Jackie was Phillip's mother.)
Through all of this, Alan also carried on an affair with Diane Ballard. Originally Phillip's governess, Elizabeth fired Diane when she sensed inappropriate interactions between her and Alan; almost immediately, Alan then hired her as his personal assistant at Spaulding Enterprises. Diane, a sometime vindictive but shrewed businesswoman, harbored fantasies of being the next Mrs. Spaulding, but would continually be let down when Alan married two other women.
Also brought to town for a while was Alan's personal attorney, the smooth talking Dean Blackford. Dean met the widowed Dr. Sara McIntyre, whom he romanced and married. Sara had attempted to romance Justin, but Justin was in over his head dealing with trashy photojournalist Brandy Shelloe, who had broken up his and Jackie's marriage. Mike Bauer tried to warn Sara that Dean was a shady character, and indeed Dean was. He tried to win sole custody of Phillip for Alan by paying off a man named Ramon de Vilar to falsely testify that Elizabeth had had an affair with him. This ploy did work for a while, and Alan was awarded sole custody after he married Jackie.
Later it would be learned that Dean would have kept the de Vilar affadavits, that de Vilar had lied in court, and Dean would started being threatened. De Vilar threatened Dean that he'd admit that he had perjured himself, and Alan told Dean to deal with it as Dean saw fit. Dean then ended up shooting and killing de Vilar. Sara started having suspicions about her third husband, and Dean tried to do away with her on their honeymoon in January 1979, but Mike showed up and Dean ended falling to his death from a cliff. Elizabeth fell in love with Mike Bauer. However, she ultimately could not marry him because, thanks to Alan, Phillip blamed Mike for his parents' breakup and hated him as a result.
The Dobsons also created one of the sexiest and most complicated "vixens" in the show's history when, in 1975, nurse Rita Stapleton arrived in Springfield and began working at Cedars, where she immediately caught the eye of the recently separated Dr. Ed Bauer. On the rebound from neurotic Holly Norris, and depressed over his inability to perform surgery, Ed had begun drinking heavily again, but he became infatuated with Rita, and was able to become sober with her help. They becamse even closer when Rita's younger sister Eve arrived in Springfield with their elderly mother Viola, who'd just suffered a stroke. Ed recruited stroke specialist Dr. Emmett Scott (Jackie Marler's father), and the two were able to help Viola make a complete recovery.
Ed asked Rita to marry him, but on the same day he proposed she was arrested and charged with murder. Rita, as it turned out, had a sordid past with bad boy Roger Thorpe which, unfortunately for her, came out during her ensuing murder trial. Rita was accused of murdering Cyrus Granger, an elderly rich rancher from Waco, Texas, for whom she'd worked as a private duty nurse a year earlier. (She could not have committed the murder in question, as she was in the Granger stables with Roger at the time).
This all happened off-camera from August to November 1975, prior to Rita's arrival in Springfield, and during a three-month-long period where Zaslow was absent from the show, so the story was told largely in flashbacks. Rita was exonerated, but at the cost of her budding relationship with Ed, who already hated Roger for his affair with Holly during their brief marriage. (Roger was, in fact the biological father of the child Holly had while married to Ed, Christina, who was born in July 1975; the truth about this came out when Chrissy needed a blood transfusion and Holly couldn't provide it because she had had hepatitis as a child. Roger had also at one point attempted to rape Holly's sister-in-law, Janet Mason Norris).
On the rebound from Ed, Rita briefly dated Dr. Peter Chapman, but things did not progress when she realized that he was much more attracted to her nemesis Holly Norris Bauer. For a time, Rita was a subject of a stalker who pushed her down a flight of stairs, tampered with her brakes and set her apartment on fire (while her blind sister Eve was inside; she barely escaped). The stalker turned out to be Cyrus' mentally deranged daughter-in-law, Georgene Belmont Granger. While holding Rita and Eve at gunpoint in their apartment building laundry room in May 1978, Georgene would confess to being the real murderer of Cyrus, as well being responsible for her husband Malcolm's death. Georgene killed Cyrus for fear that he would change his will to leave the bulk of his fortune to Rita, unaware that he had already done so; her husband Malcolm had died from a heart attack in the midst of an argument, where Georgene accused him of having an affair with Rita). Ed and Springfield Police Chief Larry Wyatt were hiding outside the laundry room and overheard the confession, and so were able to overtake Georgene. She was arrested and Rita was then finally able to put the ordeal behind her.
Around the same time, a strange man started appearing around Springfield, following various members of the Bauer family around. A short while later, it was revealed that he was the father of Hillary Kincaid, a student nurse who'd recently moved to Sprinfield to do her internship at Cedars. However, Hillary became mystified when her father refused to meet any of her friends or colleagues from Cedars (particularly Ed and Rita). Shortly after this, Mike was honored as Man of the Year by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce. Rita attended the ceremony, but decided to watch from backstage so as not to run into Ed (from whom she was still estranged), and from where she was standing, she saw a this same man, tearful, watching Mike receive his honor. Remembering having seen him around town, Rita followed him out and demanded to know who he was and what he was doing in Springfield. The man, "Bill Morrey", confessed to Rita that he was, in fact, Bill Bauer, Ed and Mike's presumed-dead father. He explained that during his last few years with Bert, he had also been having an affair with another woman, Simone Kincaid, in Vancouver. Though the plane he was to have been on eight years earlier had indeed crashed, Bill had actually missed the flight. In a drunken stupor, and tortured over his double life, he did not contact Bert to tell her he was alive; eventually he made his way to Simone, who got him sober, and he had remained with her ever since.
Eventually he did reveal himself, first to Mike and then to Ed and Bert. Though he did not remian in Springfield, he was able to make peace with the Bauers. Ed and Mike also accepted Hillary as their half-sister.
Roger Thorpe had been on the show and in a self-destructive relationship with Holly since 1971, but only when the Dobsons arrived did the character become truly malevolent. The meaner he got, the more popular he became with viewers. He took up briefly with Hillary Kincaid Bauer, who was still vulnerable from having learned of her father's double life. Rita, who had grown close to Hillary and felt protective of her, saw that Roger was merely seeing Hillary to get to Ed and Mike (since she had been revealed to be their half-sister). One night, in October 1978, Rita confronted Roger about his misguided relationship with Hillary. Roger became enraged, blaming Rita for hiw own failed marriage to Peggy (due to his providing Rita an alibi during her murder trial) and raped Rita. By this time, she had patched things up with Ed and they were engaged. Rita, afraid to tell Ed for fear that he wouldn't believe her, remained silent and they were married. Roger also was involved with Dean Blackford, after Roger discovered the de Vilar affidavits. Dean tried to run down Roger with his car, but Dean didn't succeed. After Dean died, Roger stole the affidavits and would blackmail his then-boss, Alan, with them.
Zaslow was unhappy with his earlier rape scenes with Rita, which he felt came across as a seduction. The Dobsons crafted a full-fledged marital rape (at the time this was not considered a crime) episode involving Roger and Holly who had married in 1979. This rape scene was a counter attack against rival network NBC's soap opera Another World, whose much ballyhooed expansion to 90-minute telecasts (complete with the death of a major character) happened that same day.
Holly bravely took Roger to court, but Justin's sleazy lawyer brother Ross, hired by Alan, got Roger acquitted. (Ross would quickly reform and has remained a core character for over twenty-five years.) When it looked as though Roger was going to be acquitted, Rita could no longer bear the guilt and came forward to confess that Roger had also raped her. However at the very same time as Rita was admitting Roger's rape of her, Holly was pointing a gun at Roger. Afraid tht he would be acquitted and terrified that he would take their daughter Christina out of the country, Holly shot Roger to "death", and was convicted, despite the extenuating circumstances (she'd had flashed back to the rape).
While Holly was in jail, Ed and Rita raised Christina. Rita felt an enormous sense of guilt at not having come forward when Roger raped her, and felt that Ed also blamed her for Holly's troubles. To make matters worse, Ed seemed to be more concerned for Holly, and later Elaine "Lainie" Marler, Justin and Ross' younger sister (who had been a victim of a hit-and-run while training for a marathon), making Rita feel all the more neglected. She started having an affair with a former boyfriend from high school, Dr. Greg Fairbanks, who had just relocated to Springfield. Fairbanks was also was dating Rita's younger sister Eve at the time, though neither sister initially knew that he was seeing the other. (Eve had just divorced her husband, artist Ben McFarren.) When Rita later found out she was pregnant, she wasn't sure if the baby was Ed's or Greg's; she initially planned to abort the pregnancy, but after discussing her situation with her mother, Viola, she decided to have the baby.
Holly was later released from prison when Sara and Mike showed the court that Holly had indeed flashed back to the rape the day she shot and "killed" Roger. Roger was very much alive, however, and attempted to abduct Christina from a charity carnival at Cedars, but instead, in an Emmy-winning sequence, circumstances led to his chasing a pregnant Rita through a hall-of-mirrors as the Donna Summer/Barbra Streisand hit "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)" played in the background. Roger kidnapped Rita, holding her captive in the Bauer cabin for several days. When in haste to escape Mike and Ed who were closing in, he knocked over a kerosene lantern, setting the cabin on fire. Ed and Mike were able to rescue Rita, but the baby did not survive the ordeal. (The baby would turn out to be a boy and be Ed's son--not Greg's as Rita had feared.) Kasdorf was also pregnant in real life at the time and later said that she found the emotional scenes were tough to play; the actress would take several months of maternity leave shortly after filming the miscarriage scenes. (It was explained that Rita returned with her mother, Viola, for a visit to West Virginia.) Roger would later attempt to kidnap Christina, in Santo Domingo but ended up kidnapping Holly, leading her into the Island of Lost Soul's jungle with Ed and Mike in pursuit.
The Bauers' and the Spauldings' lives grew ever-more complicated as Alan married Mike's daughter Hope, and eventually had a wild fling with Ed's wife Rita, who was Hope's aunt. When the affair finally was exposed in 1981, Rita left town for good.
In 1977, the character Nurse Katie Parker was introduced around the same time that Roger's first wife (and longtime Bauer friend) Nurse Peggy Scott Dilman Fletcher Thorpe (still played by Fran Myers) left town with her teenage son Billy Fletcher after learning about the tryst Roger had had with Rita. Katie became roommates with Hillary Bauer and, for a time, struck up a romance with Dr. Mark Hamilton who kept putting off marrying Katie. Hillary was also not bereft of suitors after her nasty break up with Roger Thorpe. Katie's trashy younger brother, Floyd Parker, showed up on Katie and Hillary's doorstep in the spring of 1979 and took an instant shine to Hillary. Floyd had competition for a while from young attorney Derek Colby who had helped Ross Marler defend Roger Thorpe during the marital rape trial.
Derek also helped Mike get Holly's friend and former prison inmate, Clara Jones (played by Anna Maria Horsford) released from prison. Horsford was one of the first African-American characters on the show to be given a substantial storyline. Mike and Derek proved that Clara had not shot her husband, but that he was killed by drug dealers with whom he had gotten involved.
Hillary, though, would turn down both Floyd and Derek. During 1979 and early 1980, Hillary, Floyd, Katie, Mark and Derek provided much of the comic relief on the show. Floyd would also start dating and romancing Lainie Marler.
In 1978, Lucille Wexler and her daughter Amanda Wexler arrived in Springfield. They were introduced via Eve Stapleton and her husband, artist Ben McFarren. Ben had originally been romantically involved with Mike's daughter, Hope, back in 1976. But when Hope found out that Mike and Ben were covering up crimes involving Ben's younger brother, Jerry McFarren, Hope dumped him and left Springfield for a while, until she returned in 1979. Unfortunately, as she left town, Eve caught sight of Ben kissing Hope (not realizing they were saying goodbye), and Eve ran out in the pouring rain, tripped and fell, and lost her eyesight for half a year.
Later in 1978, Eve underwent a risky surgery, regained her eyesight and married Ben. After they returned to Springfield from their honeymoon, Ben and Eve moved into the Wexler Estate's small guest cottage. Lucille, an insecure, controlling woman, disapproved of Eve and her friends and family's rather liberal ways, and started becoming suspicious of the McFarrens. Lucille was harboring a secret that confused both Amanda and Amanda's first husband, architect Gordon Middleton, who Amanda left on her honeymoon when she couldn't be intimate with him.
Later, Eve would find out from Gordon that the reason for Amanda's lack of intimacy stemmed from watching Lucille being raped by a man, when Amanda was a young girl. But Lucille was apparently harboring more secrets than that, because when Ben tried to show his art work at the Binnoker art gallery to raise funds to send Eve to college to fulfill her dream of becoming a teacher (as her mother had been), Lucille secretly burned down the gallery. With no funds to send Eve to school, Lucille hired Ben and Eve to do various odd jobs around the main house at the Wexler Estate, and Ben got a job at Spaulding Enterprises as a graphic artist. Eve and Ben became virtual slaves to Lucille.
Ben also met up with the wild Diane Ballard, who, in her loneliness waiting for Alan, seduced Ben and they had an affair. At the same time Ben got Amanda to put away her dolls and stop acting like a child, and restart her dream of becoming a concert pianist. Amanda herself was falling for the worldly Ben, and Lucille started becoming nervous that Ben was going to find out all her secrets. She started to find ways to get Ben in trouble, and even kill him. The first thing Lucille did was make sure that in a visit to the Wexler Estate by Diane, Amanda found out about Ben and Diane's affair. A livid Amanda told Eve, which caused Eve to leave Ben, and move out on her own. Eve would first start a relationship with Dr. Greg Fairbanks (who was simultaneously having an affair with her sister Rita) and then surprisingly, with Ross Marler. Ross would be hired by Lucille as her attorney, and Ross would fall for Amanda, creating a very interesting quadrangle between Eve-Ben-Amanda-Ross.
Meanwhile, Lucille continued to look for ways to kill Ben, even though Lucille apparently had a debilitating stroke. Then in the fall of 1979, Lucille was summoned by Alan Spaulding's father, Brandon Spaulding to his "death" bed, and the audience would learn the startling secret that Lucille was hiding: that Amanda was actually the product of an affair between Alan and a woman that Alan had known when he was younger, Jane Marie Stafford. When Ben started to become suspicious of Lucille's involvement in Brandon's "death", Lucille continued to find even more bizarre ways to kill her nemesis, Ben McFarren. Of course Lucille couldn't stop Ben and Amanda from eventually marrying in March 1980.