Irna created several radio programs which included:
- Painted Dreams; 1930-32
- Today's Children; 1932-38
- The Road of Life; 1937
- Woman in White; 1938
- The Right to Happiness; 1939
- Masquerade; 1946-47
- Young Doctor Malone; 1939-60
- The Brighter Day; 1948-56
At the height of her popularity, Irna was writing two million words a year, the equivalent of thirty to forty novels.
Irna was the first person in television history to have control over shows running on all three networks; ABC, CBS, and NBC.
No once, in all her years writing soaps, did Irna ever actually write. She instead dictated every word to her secretary, Rose.
Not only was Irna responsible for creating a number of television and radio soaps, but she also introduced techniques such as the organ bridge to give a smooth flow between scenes and the cliff-hanger ending to each episode.
Irna was portrayed by Emmy nominated actress Beth Ehlers, on the January 25, 2007 episode of Guiding Light. The "Inside the Light" episode told the story of how the show got its start in radio and moved to television, complete with the actors/actresses of today playing the stars of yesteryear.
Irna attended Northwestern University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Wisconsin.
Despite her wealth, Irna never owned her own home. She earned approximately $300,000 a year.
Irna never married, she did however adopt two children, Thomas Dirk and Katherine Louise.
Before getting into radio and television, Irna worked as a Speech and Drama Instructor at a Junior College in Missouri.
While working on the soap opera Love is a Many-Splendored Thing in the early 70s, Irna attempted to introduce an interracial couple. When the studio refused the idea, she quit the show.
Irna coined the famous phrase, 'Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives' that is heard at the start of every episode of NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives.
Irna was the youngest of ten children.
Irna is called the mother of Soap Operas.
Irna: I never had any formal religious training, although I considered myself a Jew. However, I knew something very important was missing in my life. Like many young people I wanted to believe in something. I don't know why, but for some reason I did not turn to Judaism. At this stage in my life I was still uncommunicative and did not express my feelings to anyone. I did learn, however, of Dr. Preston Bradley and the People's Church. Each Sunday morning Dr. Bradley held services in a theatre on Wilson Avenue which was only a few blocks from my home. Doctor Bradley's church was nondenominational; people of all creeds and races were welcome. Although I don't consider myself a religious person, I have never forgotten the underlying theme of Dr. Bradley's approach to religion - the brotherhood of man. I created The Guiding Light with this minister and his theme in mind.
Irna Phillips: (after killing off a beloved character on "Guiding Light" in 1958) We would be most unrealistic if we failed to recognize that as there is birth there is also death: as there is happiness there is also sorrow. We would be most unrealistic, lacking in integrity and honesty, if we did not fulfill what we believe is our obligation to you, the viewer.
Irna Phillips: Our day-by-day existence is a serial drama.
Irna Phillips: None of us is different, except in degree. None of us is a stranger to success and failure, life and death, the need to be loved, the struggle to communicate.
Irna Phillips: (on why she never married) Why would I want to get married? If I wanted to pick a fight, I can always call up one of the buffoons in Cincinnati!
Irna Phillips: (on her writing method) I really don't think I write - I act.