Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

Most prolific daytime TV stars of all time

1/
Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock

Most prolific daytime TV stars of all time

The hallmarks of daytime TV are easy to recognize—the operatic score that swells as an evil twin is revealed on an afternoon soap opera, the comforting chatter of early morning talk shows, and the exhilarating joy of catching an episode of The Price is Right on a day when some lucky soul gets to play Plinko. In an era where the medium of television is in a constant state of flux, daytime TV remains reliably familiar no matter when you tune in, and that’s thanks in large part to the stars that have dedicated their careers to the sometimes thankless task of creating quality daytime programming. From career soap stars to the indomitable Oprah Winfrey, these men and women put their hearts and souls into work that's been appreciated for years by everyone from stay-at-home parents and retirees to kids stuck on the couch during sick days.

Stacker has compiled a list of the 50 most prolific stars in daytime TV history. Their scores are based on the amount of Daytime Emmy Awards they’ve been nominated for and their number of wins. These two scores have been weighed against one another to create a Stacker score that decided their spot on the list. The end result is a list of 50 TV legends that deserve major kudos for making daytime TV an entertaining and enduring part of the cultural landscape in an era where it feels like nothing stays the same.

2/
Frantogian // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Eric Braeden

Total nominations: 8

Total wins: 1

Stacker score: 19.23

Eric Braeden has been playing the great Victor Newman on The Young and the Restless for 38 years and counting. As Victor, Braeden is one of the genre’s greatest villains and heroes; a self-made tycoon capable of unthinkable evil grounded by a tempestuous love story with ex-stripper Nikki Newman.

3/
s_bukley // Shutterstock

#49. Kimberly McCullough

Total nominations: 6

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 19.23

Child actors who join soap operas generally know that their time on the show is limited due to the genre's time-honored tradition of "soap opera rapid aging syndrome" or "SORAS." Kimberly McCullough is the exception to the rule. She joined General Hospital as Robin Scorpio at age 7, and has continued playing the role on and off ever since, even winning a Daytime Emmy for a heartrending story about her teen character contracting HIV.

4/
Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock

#48. Jess Walton

Total nominations: 6

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 19.23

Jess Walton is the third actress to play Jill Fenmore on The Young and the Restless, but there’s no doubt that she made the rags to riches, social climbing executive her own. However, it’s impossible to mention Jill without discussing Katherine Chancellor. The women's volatile onscreen feud lasted until Walton’s scene partner, Jeanne Cooper, passed away in 2013.

5/
Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock

#47. Julie Marie Berman

Total nominations: 4

Total wins: 3

Stacker score: 19.23

There is no daytime TV couple more famous than General Hospital’s Luke and Laura, and Julie Marie Berman played their only daughter, Lulu Spencer from 2005-2013. During that time, Lulu became the first character in the show’s history to have an abortion.

6/
Ari Blinder // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Chandler Massey

Total nominations: 4

Total wins: 3

Stacker score: 19.23

Chandler Massey broke down a major barrier for Days of Our Lives with his beautiful performance as Will Horton, an openly gay young man. Massey took home the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series three years in a row (2012-2014) and became the first actor to receive a Daytime Emmy for playing a gay character.

7/
Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock

#45. Elizabeth Hubbard

Total nominations: 9

Total wins: 1

Stacker score: 21.15

Although she’s most famous for playing Lucinda Walsh on As the World Turns — a role that netted her eight Daytime Emmy nominations — Elizabeth Hubbard is one of daytime’s most prolific stars. In addition to As the World Turns, she also had roles on Guiding LightThe Edge of NightThe DoctorsOne Life to Live, and the Swedish soap Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden.

8/
Greg Doherty // Getty Images

#44. Steve Burton

Total nominations: 7

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 21.15

As General Hospital’s Jason Morgan, Steve Burton is a stoic, action hero who has been through it all — amnesia, a memory-mapping experiment, murder cover-ups, and dalliances with the mob. The character’s two constants are his passionate fanbase, and his ongoing love story with con woman turned private investigator, Sam McCall.

9/
Daniel Flather // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Meredith Vieira

Total nominations: 7

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 21.15

Since 1992, there hasn’t really been a time when Meredith Vieira wasn’t a part of the daytime television landscape. She went from balancing hard news stories and fluff pieces on NBC’s Today Show to serving as the original moderator for The View, to hosting the recently canceled Meredith Vieira Show, and Vieira remains one of the most trusted names in news.

10/
Matthew Peyton // Getty Images

#42. Jerry verDorn

Total nominations: 7

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 21.15

Before some of the genre’s longest-running shows began to fall victim to network cancellations, Jerry verDorn was a permanent fixture in the daytime landscape. For more than 26 years the actor starred as Ross Marler on Guiding Light, before joining One Life to Live as Clint Buchanan from 2005-2013.

11/
David Shankbone // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Dr. Mehmet Oz

Total nominations: 7

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 21.15

The world was first introduced to Dr. Mehmet Oz in 2004 on The Oprah Winfrey Show. It didn’t take long for his unique way of dispensing medical advice to earn the doctor his own series, The Dr. Oz Show.

12/
David Livingston // Getty Images

#40. Sarah Joy Brown

Total nominations: 5

Total wins: 3

Stacker score: 21.15

Sarah Joy Brown originated the role of General Hospital’s Carly Corinthos, a ruthless femme fatale with a taste for revenge. Carly met her match in mobster Sonny Corinthos, and the two characters become one of daytime’s super couples.

13/
ABC // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Helen Gallagher

Total nominations: 5

Total wins: 3

Stacker score: 21.15

From 1979 until the show’s cancellation in 1989, Helen Gallagher starred on Ryan’s Hope as the show’s strong, Irish-Catholic matriarch, Maeve Ryan. The role earned her five Daytime Emmy nominations, and three wins.

14/
Joe Seer // Shutterstock

#38. Gina Tognoni

Total nominations: 5

Total wins: 3

Stacker score: 21.15

Gina Tognoni’s soap career began on One Life to Live when she took on the role of troubled teen Kelly Cramer. Soon the actress transitioned into more adult roles, first as Guiding Light’s complicated Dinah Marler, and more recently as the mostly-reformed bad girl Phyllis Summers on The Young and the Restless.

15/
press photo // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Jeanne Cooper

Total nominations: 10

Total wins: 1

Stacker score: 23.08

Jeanne Cooper was without a doubt the grande dame of the soap world. During her 40 years playing Katherine Chancellor on The Young and the Restless, Cooper had her 1984 facelift written into the story, proudly portrayed Katherine’s alcoholism as an ongoing struggle, and took part in a bitter rivalry with Jill Fenmore. While she passed away in 2013, Cooper was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmys in 2004.

16/
Mingle MediaTV // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Nancy Lee Grahn

Total nominations: 8

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 23.08

If you need a heroine with a strong sense of justice for your soap, then Nancy Lee Grahn is the person to call. First, she played the determined lawyer Julia Wainwright Capwell on Santa Barbara, before moving on to the equally fierce princess turned lawyer, Alexis Davis, on General Hospital.

17/
Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock

#35. Martha Byrne

Total nominations: 8

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 23.08

On As the World Turns, Martha Byrne starred as Lily Walsh, one half of the soap’s hallmark couple, Lily and Holden. But while her role as good girl Lily made her famous, taking on the role of Lily’s less scrupulous long-lost twin sister Rose solidified Byrne’s place in daytime TV history.

18/
Peter Kramer // Getty

#34. Larry Bryggman

Total nominations: 8

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 23.08

From 1969-2004, Larry Bryggman starred as Dr. John Dixon on As the World Turns, a man with a working-class background and a major chip on his shoulder. He may have been one of the town’s most gifted doctors, but he was seldom a man who could be described as good.

19/
ABC // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Julia Barr

Total nominations: 8

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 23.08

It’s not easy to be a scene-stealer when your primary scene partner is Susan Lucci, but Julia Barr more than held her own as Erica Kane’s archrival Brooke English on All My Children.

20/
celebrityabc // Flickr

#32. Ellen DeGeneres

Total nominations: 4

Total wins: 4

Stacker score: 23.08

Ellen DeGeneres is a true trailblazer in the world of daytime talk shows. The comedian effortlessly transitioned from primetime actress to host in 2003. Since then, The Ellen DeGeneres Show has broken The Oprah Winfrey Show’s record number of Best Daytime Talk Show wins, while DeGeneres has gone on to show that there’s no end to her charity. In celebration of her 60th birthday, DeGeneres recently gave a special audience $1 million dollars.

21/
SAMHSA // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Wayne Brady

Total nominations: 9

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 25.00

For four seasons, comedian Wayne Brady was the host of his own daytime chat show, The Wayne Brady Show. However, it’s his gig as the host of Let’s Make a Deal that has earned him accolades and allowed his charismatic personality to truly shine.

22/
Angela George // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Steve Harvey

Total nominations: 9

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 25.00

Steve Harvey has to be one of the busiest entertainers in Hollywood. He currently has three shows airing on daytime television, and three more airing in primetime — Little Big Shots and its two spinoffs. Thanks to Family Feud, his talk show Steve, and The Steve Harvey Morning Show, Harvey has become one of the modern faces of daytime television.

23/
Dfree // Shutterstock

#29. Kelly Ripa

Total nominations: 9

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 25.00

From 1990 to 2002, Kelly Ripa was stirring up trouble on All My Children as Hayley Vaughn, but in 2001, her career trajectory took a major turn when she became the co-host of Live! with Regis and Kelly. Since Regis Philbin retired, Ripa has become the show’s primary host, and in 2014, The Hollywood Reporter named her one of the most powerful people in media.

24/
Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock

#28. Rick Hearst

Total nominations: 7

Total wins: 3

Stacker score: 25.00

Over the course of his career, Rick Hearst has appeared on five different soaps: Days of Our LivesGuiding LightThe Young and the RestlessThe Bold and the Beautiful, and most recently, General Hospital. While all of his roles have been different, Hearst excels at playing men with a dark side that women can’t seem to resist.

25/
Christopher Polk // Getty

#27. Michael E. Knight

Total nominations: 7

Total wins: 3

Stacker score: 25.00

There are a precious few truly “good” characters in the world of soaps, but Michael E. Knight’s Tad Martin is one of the genre’s true heroes. Knight played the character off and on from 1982 until All My Children ended in 2011, becoming a soap legend in the process.

26/
Kevin Winter // Getty

#26. Ben Bailey

Total nominations: 7

Total wins: 3

Stacker score: 25.00

Game shows are a familiar part of the daytime TV landscape, but there’s only one that takes place inside of a New York taxi cab. As the host of Cash Cab, Ben Bailey asks his unsuspecting guests trivia questions while simultaneously navigating the city’s traffic.

27/
Kristin Murphy // Getty Images

#25. Rosie O'Donnell

Total nominations: 5

Total wins: 4

Stacker score: 25.00

Rosie O’Donnell hosted The Rosie O'Donnell Show from 1996 to 2002, before joining The View in 2006. Despite exiting the series in 2015, O’Donnell’s strong personality and willingness to always express her opinions on the state of the world has left a lasting impact on the genre.

28/
Frazer Harrison // Getty Images

#24. Michelle Stafford

Total nominations: 10

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 26.92

Michelle Stafford originated the role of Phyllis Summers on The Young and the Restless in 1994. Although she started out as a villain, Stafford’s go for broke performance made her a fan favorite, and one of the show’s most dynamic antiheroes. Stafford currently stars on General Hospital as another morally complicated woman, Nina Clay.

29/
David Shankbone // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Regis Philbin

Total nominations: 6

Total wins: 4

Stacker score: 26.92

Thanks to Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee (and later Live! with Regis and Kelly) Regis Philbin was the undeniable face of daytime talk shows from 1988 to 2011. Despite leaving his morning show in Kelly Ripa’s hands in 2011, Philbin remains the Guinness World Record holder for the person who has spent the most hours on TV.

30/
NBC Television // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Peter Marshall

Total nominations: 6

Total wins: 4

Stacker score: 26.92

As the original host of The Hollywood Squares, Peter Marshall became a fixture in homes across the country from 1966 to 1981.

31/
Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock

#21. Kristoff St. John

Total nominations: 11

Total wins: 2

Stacker score: 28.85

In addition to his 11 Daytime Emmy nominations and two wins, Kristoff St. John has earned an impressive 17 NAACP Image Award nominations and 10 wins for his role as Neil Winters on The Young and the Restless. Since 1991, Neil has been a Genoa City stalwart and one of the town’s few reliably good men.

32/
Greg Doherty // Getty Images

#20. Scott Clifton

Total nominations: 9

Total wins: 3

Stacker score: 28.85

Scott Clifton’s soap opera career began in 2003, and he has quickly established himself as one of the genre’s newest heartthrobs. As Dillon Quartermaine on General Hospital (2003–2007), Schuyler Joplin on One Life to Live (2009–2010), and Liam Spencer on The Bold and the Beautiful, Clifton has grown up in front of viewers eyes, effortlessly moving from an aimless teen character to a romantic businessman.

33/
Kathy Hutchins // Shutterstock

#19. Maura West

Total nominations: 9

Total wins: 3

Stacker score: 28.85

While she has starred on multiple soaps, Maura West will perhaps always be best known for playing As the World Turns’ feisty antiheroine Carly Tenney.

34/
nrkbeta // Flickr

#18. Martha Stewart

Total nominations: 5

Total wins: 5

Stacker score: 28.85

A modern-day domestic goddess, Martha Stewart crafted perfect tablescapes and cooked up delicious meals from scratch on The Martha Stewart Show from 1993 to 2005. Despite being convicted for the felony charges of conspiracy and obstruction in 2004, Stewart remains a respected businesswoman and a daytime TV fixture thanks to her PBS series, Martha Stewart's Cooking School.

35/
George Rose // Getty Images

#17. Dick Clark

Total nominations: 10

Total wins: 3

Stacker score: 30.77

He may be best known as the host of American Bandstand, but Dick Clark’s charming persona as the host of Pyramid from 1973–1988 led to him taking home three Daytime Emmy Awards.

36/
Frantogian // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Christian LeBlanc

Total nominations: 12

Total wins: 3

Stacker score: 34.62

Christian LeBlanc joined The Young and the Restless in 1991 as Michael Baldwin, a stalker and attempted rapist who went after one of the show’s most beloved characters, Christine Blair. His character was sent to jail, but he returned in 1997 a reformed man. Since then, Michael has become a fan favorite and wooed one of Genoa City’s most respected businesswomen, Lauren Fenmore.

37/
Frazer Harrison // Getty Images

#15. Susan Flannery

Total nominations: 10

Total wins: 4

Stacker score: 34.62

As Stephanie Forrester, Susan Flannery was the matriarch of the Forrester clan and the grand dame of The Bold and the Beautiful from 1987 until she retired in 2012. While she’s best known for playing the tough as nails Stephanie, Flannery actually got her soap opera start on Days of Our Lives in 1966 as Laura Spencer Horton.

38/
Jason LaVeris // Getty Images

#14. Oprah Winfrey

Total nominations: 6

Total wins: 6

Stacker score: 34.62

Before she was a living legend, Oprah Winfrey was a Chicago talk show host whose unique take on tackling subjects big and small led to The Oprah Winfrey Show revolutionizing the daytime talk show game when it went national in 1986.

39/
s_bukley // Shutterstock

#13. Kim Zimmer

Total nominations: 11

Total wins: 4

Stacker score: 36.54

Kim Zimmer has appeared on multiple soaps, but her most famous role is easily Guiding Light’s Reva Shayne. As one of the show’s primary matriarchs, Reva was a survivor who fans could relate to, even as they swooned over her love story with Josh Lewis.

40/
iDominick // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Jonathan Jackson

Total nominations: 9

Total wins: 5

Stacker score: 36.54

Although Jonathan Jackson has moved on to primetime roles in shows like Nashville, he got his start as General Hospital’s Lucky Spencer. As the son of the legendary couple Luke and Laura, Lucky was destined to be a fan favorite, but Jackson’s winning performance certainly didn’t hurt.

41/
Soap Opera Fandom

#11. Justin Deas

Total nominations: 9

Total wins: 6

Stacker score: 40.38

Until 2012, Justin Deas had more Daytime Emmy acting awards than any other actor. While Anthony Geary took his title, Deas’ soap history that began with Ryan’s Hope and continued through his long-running turn as Buzz Cooper on Guiding Light has secured his place as one of the most reliable actors in daytime.

42/
ABC // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Erika Slezak

Total nominations: 9

Total wins: 6

Stacker score: 40.38

Erika Slezak spent a whopping 41 years playing One Life to Live’s Victoria Lord Riley. Victoria is one of the genre’s most enduring heroines. Before One Life to Live came to an end, she dealt with the death of three husbands, breast cancer, jail time, and dissociative identity disorder.

43/
Jeffrey Mayer // Getty Images

#9. Pat Sajak

Total nominations: 16

Total wins: 3

Stacker score: 42.31

Wheel of Fortune is one of America’s most beloved game shows, and although it has had other hosts, none are as synonymous with the series as Pat Sajak. While he first hosted the series in 1981, Sajak didn’t settle into the role permanently until 1983 when Wheel of Fortune began it’s still wildly popular syndicated run.

44/
Teresa Simmons // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Susan Lucci

Total nominations: 21

Total wins: 1

Stacker score: 44.23

The First Lady of daytime TV, Susan Lucci was always the bridesmaid at the Daytime Emmys until she finally took home the top prize in 1999. Her 21 nominations for playing All My Children’s indomitable Erica Kane were well-deserved, as is her legacy as America’s most famous soap star.

 

45/
s_bukley // Shutterstock

#7. Phil Donahue

Total nominations: 9

Total wins: 8

Stacker score: 48.08

The Phil Donahue Show was on air for 29 years, and in the process, it introduced a new kind of talk show to the American public — the tabloid talk show. The man himself, Phil Donahue, seemed to believe no subject was off limits, leading to his series becoming a monster hit that would influence talk show hosts for decades to come.

46/
Kevin Winter // Getty Images

#6. Peter Bergman

Total nominations: 20

Total wins: 3

Stacker score: 50.00

Peter Bergman has not one, but two iconic soap characters. From 1979-1989, he starred as Dr. Cliff Wagner on All My Children before moving on to The Young and the Restless as Jack Abbott in ‘89. Bergman remains in the role of Jack to this day, and from the moment he stepped into the wealthy playboy’s shoes, the character has been locked in a feud with business rival Victor Newman.

47/
Getty Images

#5. David Canary

Total nominations: 16

Total wins: 5

Stacker score: 50.00

David Canary had a lead role on Bonanza for many years, but in 1984 he took on the dual role of Adam and Stuart Chandler on All My Children. He famously played both men almost continuously until 2013.

48/
David Becker // Getty Images

#4. Heather Tom

Total nominations: 17

Total wins: 5

Stacker score: 51.92

Heather Tom has grown up on the set of soap operas. She began her daytime career in 1990 as Victoria Newman on The Young and the Restless, and she continued to play the spoiled heiress until 2003. These days she’s continuing to garner accolades as Katie Logan on The Bold and the Beautiful.

49/
Joe Seer // Shutterstock

#3. Anthony Geary

Total nominations: 16

Total wins: 8

Stacker score: 61.54

No star has won more Daytime acting Emmys than the legendary Anthony Geary. As General Hospital’s Luke Spencer, Geary holds the distinction of being one half of the most famous daytime couple of them all — Luke and Laura.

50/
Albert L. Ortega // Getty Images

#2. Alex Trebek

Total nominations: 28

Total wins: 4

Stacker score: 69.23

Since Jeopardy!’s revival in 1984, the man asking some of TV’s hardest questions has been Alex Trebek. The wry host has not only made his mark on daytime TV, he’s become a pop culture icon in his own right, appearing as himself on shows as far-ranging as The Golden Girls to The Simpsons.

51/
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

#1. Bob Barker

Total nominations: 24

Total wins: 14

Stacker score: 100.00

From 1972 to 2007, Bob Barker hosted The Price is Right, a game show that is as firmly embedded in pop culture as any program can get. Barker helped make The Price is Right the longest-running daytime game show in American history, and although he’s retired, his animal activism still remains a part of the show as the current host, Drew Carey, still urges viewers to have their pets spayed and neutered at the end of every episode.

2018 All rights reserved.