Today in Soap Opera History (December 16)

1966: The final episode of A TIME FOR US. 1968: David
Selby debut on DARK SHADOWS. 1983: Chase found new
information about Falcon Crest in his grandfather's will.
1996: AW's Jake planned to steal the Lassiter Christmas tree.
"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see."
- Winston Churchill

"Today in Soap Opera History" is a collection of the most memorable, interesting and influential events in the history of scripted, serialized programs. From birthdays and anniversaries to scandals and controversies, every day this column celebrates the soap opera in American culture.

On this date in...

1957: On THE EDGE OF NIGHT, Dalton refused Mike's (John Larkin) resignation then argued that his leaving would be a disservice to the public.

1966: ABC aired the final episode of daytime soap opera A TIME FOR US (formerly A FLAME IN THE WIND). Jane Elliot, Conard Fowkes and Margaret Ladd were among the stars.

1968: David Selby debuted on DARK SHADOWS as Quentin Collins. Terry Crawford also aired for the first time as Beth Chavez.

In the episode, Amy Jennings had moved into Collinwood, with Liz hoping she'll be a playmate and good influence on young David. But while playing in the West Wing, the children discovered a secret room containing the malevolent spirits of Quentin Collins and Beth Chavez. Quickly putting the children under his power, Quentin ordered them to move his skeleton from the room and bury it in the woods. He then told them that they're to systematically kill members of the family. In the meantime, Liz told Roger that she's worried about Vicky, who's been despondent since the disappearance of Jeff Clark. As the episode ended, David acted on Quentin's marching orders by stringing a wire across the grand staircase. When Amy told Roger that she heard a prowler near the main door, he subsequently investigated and took the fall Quentin intended for him.



1977: On ANOTHER WORLD, John Randolph (Michael M. Ryan) and Evan Webster's (Barry Jenner) dispute evolved into a struggle over a gun. Evan was shot dead.

Thanks to Scott for sending in the item above. He adds the following details:

Note: This scene was replayed at the beginning of Monday, December 19. AW had a history of replaying especially dramatic "climax" moments the day (or Monday) after they originally aired, even lengthy ones like December 16. Ira Cirker was often the director of the most intense episodes.


Context: John Randolph had ended his long-term marriage to Pat (Beverly Penberthy) and wed duplicitous Olive Gordon (Jennifer Leak) in March 1977. At Olive's insistence, the couple began building an elaborate new house designed by slithery architect Evan Webster. Soon Evan and Olive were having a torrid, adulterous affair. The Dec.16-19 shooting took place at the newly-finished house. John was in shock after the event; it was only after Olive arrived home and discovered Evan's body that John realized his wife's deception. Her hysterical reaction ("You killed him!" "Evan..", pushing her husband away in rage & disgust) told John the truth. 


Aftermath: John had a breakdown, became mute and was psychiatrically hospitalized. Eventually, he recovered and was cleared of charges. He and Olive divorced, but she ironically would cause his death in March 1979 (when he became trapped in a fire she set to kill Alice). 


Jennifer Leak was an outstanding (and since unsung) soap villainess in 1977. Long-term AW viewers will remember her doe-eyed act with John and tormenting Alice (by denying Ray a divorce) and blackmailing Molly Ordway to do her bidding ("Do you want to go back to the cows & pigs in Chadwell?") Olive came to Bay City as Raymond Gordon's (Ted Shackelford) estranged wife. The neglectful mother of two sons, Olive enticed her way in to John Randolph's office and life. She drove the final nail into the Randolph marriage by ingratiating herself with John's daughter, Marianne. All niceties stopped on her wedding day to John.


1983: On FALCON CREST, Chase (Robert Foxworth) found a clause in his grandfather's will that gave him the legal right to get rid of Angela from Falcon Crest.

1985: On DAYS OF OUR LIVES, Jennifer (Melissa Brennan, now Melissa Reeves) was attacked at the hospital.



1986: Douglas Lambert (Eddie Weeks on GENERAL HOSPITAL) died of complications due to the AIDS virus at age 50.

1988: On THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, Bill (Jim Storm) thought Stephanie (Susan Flannery) should encourage Ridge (Ronn Moss) to marry Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang).



1996: On ANOTHER WORLD, Jake (Tom Eplin) made plans to steal the Lassiter Christmas tree, knowing it would have special meaning to Vicky (Jensen Buchanan).



2003: Madlyn Rhue, who played Daphne DiMera in DAYS OF OUR LIVES, died at age 68.

2004: ABC aired the 9,000th episode of ALL MY CHILDREN. "Part of it is the script is different every day," Susan Lucci (Erica Kane) told the Associated Press about how the show had stayed fresh. "You have no choice. It's hot off the presses."

2005: John Spencer, who played Leo McGarry in THE WEST WING, died four days before his 59th birthday. THE WEST WING wrote Leo's death into the show.

2011: Dan Frazer, who played Lt. Dan McCloskey in AS THE WORLD TURNS for many years, died at age 90.

Celebrating a birthday today are:
Eugene Robert Glazer (ex-Peter, GENERAL HOSPITAL) - 71
Ben Cross (ex-Barnabas, DARK SHADOWS) - 66
Larry Poindexter (ex-Justin, SANTA BARBARA; ex-Ben, DAYS OF OUR LIVES; ex-Greg, A NEW DAY IN EDEN; ex-Asher, GENERAL HOSPITAL) - 54
Melanie Smith (Claire, GOTHAM; ex-Emily, AS THE WORLD TURNS; ex-Celia, MELROSE PLACE) - 51
Benjamin Bratt (Jake, PRIVATE PRACTICE) - 50
Florencia Lozano (ex-Téa, GENERAL HOSPITAL; ex-Téa, ONE LIFE TO LIVE) - 44
Daniel Cosgrove (ex-Scott, ALL MY CHILDREN; ex-Chris, AS THE WORLD TURNS; ex-Bill, GUIDING LIGHT) - 43
Matthew Mahaney (ex-Kurt, DAYS OF OUR LIVES) - 43
LaChanze (ex-Yvette, ONE LIFE TO LIVE) - 42
Paul Leyden (ex-Blake, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS; ex-Simon, AS THE WORLD TURNS) - 41
Jack Krizmanich (John, PASSIONS) - 35
Scott Bailey (Nathan, THE BAY; ex-Sandy, GUIDING LIGHT; ex-Stan, UNDRESSED) - 35
Krysten Ritter (ex-Kay, ONE LIFE TO LIVE) - 31
Amanda Setton (ex-Kim, ONE LIFE TO LIVE; ex-Penelope, GOSSIP GIRL) - 28

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you would like to submit a piece of soap opera history for this daily column, please email it to editor@welovesoaps.com.

4 comments:

  1. If I recall correctly, when Olive discovered that Evan was dead, with tears in her eyes, she screamed to John--"You killed the only man I ever loved." Which left John speechless. I loved Olive and Evan. When they were having their secret affair, Evan came up with a ploy to keep people from suspecting they were lovers. He said they would pretend to despise one another. When they were in the company of others, they wouldn't show each other civility and that way, no one would have a clue as to what they were up to. Olive thought his idea was ingenious.

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    1. I had forgotten the machinations Evan and Olive used to keep suspicion at bay. It sounds like them! Thanks for adding it.

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  2. I appreciate the through line of having Frame Construction always needing an architect. First, Evan and later Robert Delaney who designed Steve's house - great set, I still remember that cantilevered fireplace mantle, as I kid I either wanted to live in Steve Frame's house or April Scott's penthouse. Today's soaps lack the sets as well as characters that have job specializations beyond cop, p.i., doctor or son of a rich person.

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    1. In the mid 1970's, Another World had a different canvas then many other soaps. Harding Lemay moved the professional action away from the hospital, where it was prominent on almost every other show. AW was unique that a construction company was center stage, then a publishing house. This gave a sophisticated patina to the show and made way for interesting characters. All kinds of people from different social classes interacted with each other- architects, secretaries, college students, artists. Rachel became a sculptress and met curators and gallery owners; Gwen was an architect; Gil was a blue collar cop; Ada a beautician; Iris represented the idle rich & moved in a world of socialites; Sven, Helga, Beatrice and Louise were domestics; Rocky a stable hand, Brooks a chauffeur;. Vince ran a small repair shop out of a garage: Mimi was a waitress. Angie was the girl next door, a secretary with modest ambitions who was hung up on bad boy Willis. When the architects were designing and building you would hear the projects talked about for months, see blueprints and even scale models of the projects, like Cory Publishing and the shopping center.

      You are so right about the sets. For a brief time, AW experimented with beginning scenes with exterior shots of real houses to set the coming scene. The Randolph house was a ranch with the iconic window & gauzy curtains; Iris & Mac's houses were mansions: Alice's was modern, with many steps leading up to the front door.

      Also, AW would give you tantalizing, expanded looks at the interior of character's houses. The Randolph interior was almost always the entry & living room & hall to the bedrooms, but suddenly you would see their terrace and kitchen; just by extending the set a trifle you would see Marianne's bedroom. Iris's drawing room was iconic & oft-used. Then you would see a snippet of the patio, then the whole thing. Or just the edge of her pool; unexpectedly you would see the whole pool with people swimming in it. The Cory mansion was almost always the living room in the 1970;s; one day Rachel and Iris confronted each other in the dining room, which was beautiful & never really seen again. Another time, you saw the kitchen.
      A lot of care went into these "touches."

      Another touch AW used was mentioning characters for years who were never seen, but provided useful functions. Rose, Angie & Joey Perrini were Ada's next door neighbors and referred to for years. When they finally showed up, you felt you knew them. Same with secretaries Pam & Joan. Sally had a friend she rode the school bus with every day- Heather Jessup. She provided good background & fodder to keep Sally busy off screen, but still show Alice as a concerned mother.

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