Timely Daytime Serial Brought Back To TV By Public Demand
April 28, 1962
Last week we ran a feature on how a nighttime series, THE LAW AND MR. JONES, was brought back to TV by public demand. This week we would like to give equal space to a daytime series which was brought back to TV by public demand.
The name of the series is THE CLEAR HORIZON, which deals with a young Air Force Officer and his wife who live at Cape Canaveral.
The series is written and produced by a former Navy Officer, Manya Starr.
The series died from the network last March after a nine month run and there was an avalanche of complaints from viewers who had just become acquainted with the characters and life at the Cape.
Despite the complaints, Manya had little hope that the series would be renewed.
"But I sure did fight for it," she recalls. "I urged the public to write the sponsors and the network and they did. They were besieged with mail. But the death sentence was carried out just the same."
Renewal of the series looked hopeless so she put it out of her mind, and Manya and her businessman husband and their two young songs left for a vacation at a remote spot in the Barbados Islands.
The place they chose was really isolated. There was no electricity and no telephone service. The only connection with civilization was a schooner which ran in an erratic schedule to another larger island.
"You can imagine our reaction," Manya laughs, "when, a few days after our arrival, a Barbadian walked up to me on the beach and handed me a note from CBS! The message, which had been phoned to an island nearby, written out and delivered by boat and bicycle, said that THE CLEAR HORIZON was being returned to TV. That was the shortest vacation our family ever had."
Back in New York at her typewriter, she picked up the storyline where it had ended the previous March. The cast which had been featured was rounded up again, included Edward Kemmer and Phyllis Avery who portray the young Air Force officer and his wife, and supporting players Rusty Lane, Eve McVeagh and James Edwards.
"Our show," says Manya, "is clear proof that daytime drama needn't be soggy, maudlin or irrelevant to contemporary life. It has all the immediacy of today's headlines and brings into sharp focus the great achievements being made in our race to conquer space. But even more important-and this is the aspect which the military forces like-viewers can absorb the information painlessly because the continuing storyline provides the human interest which makes it entertaining."
Although THE CLEAR HORIZON is filmed on the West Coast, Manya writes the scripts in New York.
"It sounds like an awkward setup," admits Manya," but actually it runs very smoothly. Let's face it, actors don't like writers hanging over their necks just as writers don't like it either."
Ed Kemmer pointed out that, while he enjoyed his role when the series first originated, he finds it even more fascinating now.
"Naturally, the fact that Commander Allan Shepard and Colonel John Glenn have made successful flights does add a new excitement to this role," says Kemmer. "In a way, I enjoy the same thrill as an actor might enjoy if he were portraying any of our country's great men."
"But what really adds a touch of reality," injects Manya Starr, "are actual film clips from Cape Canaveral which we integrate into the series. The Army and Air Force have taken such an interest in the program that, through a mutual agreement, they have permitted us to use certain footage from Canaveral."
Manya always had a flair for writing and upon her discharge from the service, she prevailed on a fellow officer to introduce her to the Hummerts, a well-known production company, who were turning out more daytime shows for radio than any other group. They were impressed with her and she got the assignment of doing the scripts for the CLAUDIA series, remaining on that job for 18 months.
Turning her attention to television in the early days of the industry, she ran up a long list of imposing credits including 19 months of writing THE EGG AND I on CBS. Other work included THE DOCTOR'S WIFE, FIRST LOVE, SUSPENSE, TALES OF TOMORROW and FOUR STAR PLAYHOUSE.
"But I always had one goal in mind," she recalls, "and that was to create my own series. I wanted it to be something as up-to-date as tomorrow's headlines." Thus - THE CLEAR HORIZON.
Asked if there are any problems in scripting a show as technical as this one, Manya says, "Yes, indeed. I have two small sons who usually decide to play 'spaceman' just when I sit down at the typewriter. I guess they feel they're providing the proper atmosphere for my work!"