Today in Soap Opera History (January 2)

1962: Our Five Daughters premiered with Jacqueline Courtney s
tarring as one of the daughters. 1968: Dark Shadows'
Angelique dug her way of Jeremiah's grave. 1980: ATWT's
Barbara was keeping a big secret. 2004: Rebecca and Julian were
married on Passions.
"A page of history is worth a pound of logic."
― Oliver Wendell Holmes

"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...

1959: CBS Radio aired the final episode of Bakcstage Wife, the story of Mary Noble, a girl from a small town in Iowa who came to New York seeking her future. The show was created by Frank and Anne Hummert and premiered August 5, 1935 on the Mutual Broadcasting System. Claire Niesen played the role of Mary from the early 1940s until the end of its run.

1959: CBS Radio aired the final episode of Our Gale Sunday, the popular soap opera that had premiered on March 29, 1937. The show followed the life of Sunday, an orphan from Colorado who struggled to find happiness as the wife of "a wealthy and titled Englishman." Dorothy Lowell originated the role of Sunday. Vivian Smolen played the part for the final 13 years of the series. Frank and Anne Hummert adapted the show from the 1904 Broadway play, "Sunday," which starred Ethel Barrymore. This play was the source of the catchphrase, "That's all there is, there isn't any more."

1959: CBS Radio aired the final episode of This is Nora Drake, the story of a nurse (Charlotte Holland, Joan Tompkins and Mary Jane Higby as Nora) and later departmental supervisor on the staff of Page Memorial Hospital. The series premiered on October 27, 1947. During its run the cast included Mercedes McCambridge, Larry Haines, Dick York, Alan Hewitt, Ralph Bell and Lesley Woods.

This is Nora Drake was written by Milton Lewis, directed by Arthur Hanna, with Bill Cullen as the announcer.

1959: CBS Radio aired the final episode of Road of Life, an Irna Phillips serial that had run on NBC and CBS radio stations since September 13, 1937. The show ran on both networks for several of its 22 years on the air. Road of Life was the first major soap opera to be set in the world of doctors and nurses.

According to "The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio," it departed significantly from the "common hero" so favored by Frank and Anne Hummert, and launched writer Irna Phillips to the top of daytime drama. The hero, Jim Brent, was first shown as a young intern at City Hospital; he was last heard two full decades later as a quiet, strong, and mature figure, at the top of his professional powers. Phillips took the title from a piece of personal philosophy--that the doctor's road is the Road of Life.

Although NBC was considered the home network during the best years, the CBS run often drew better ratings. The show's peak ratings year was 1940-1941 when the show drew a 9.2 on CBS and 7.3 on NBC.

1962: NBC daytime soap opera Our Five Daughters premiered. The show was written by Leonard Stadd and directed by Paul Lammers, and aired at 3:30 p.m. ET following Young Doctor Malone. Esther Ralston played Helen Lee, mother of five daughters, whose husband Jim (Michael Keene) was critically injured in an accident. He became an invalid and the abrupt change caused havoc for his wife and children. Other cast members included Jacqueline Courtney as Ann Lee, Patricia Allison as Barbara Lee, and Iris Joyce as Marjorie Lee. Our Five Daughters ran until September 28, 1962. Jacqueline Courtney went on to star in the original cast of NBC's Another World as Alice Matthews in 1964.

1962: On The Guiding Light, Bert (Charita Bauer) cooked breakfast for her son Mike (Paul Prokopf), who was back home from Venezuela, and told Mike she knew Bill had told him about her illness and need for surgery. Bert expressed her concern about Mike being in the same town as his ex-wife, Robin. Mike asked about Robin's marriage to Alex Bowden (Ernest Graves). At home, a suspicious Alex made phone calls to check on Robin's whereabouts and, unable to track her down, poured himself an early-morning whiskey. Attorney George Hayes (Philip Sterling) stopped by, and Alex told George his suspicions about Robin and Mike now that Mike was back. Alex's ulcer acted up, and George called Dr. Bruce Banning as Alex held his head in despair.

Note: Bert's uterine cancer surgery occurred soon after this episode. The impact of this story is one of the proud accomplishments writer Agnes Nixon speaks about often when discussing her career.

1968: On Dark Shadows, Ben (Thayer David) found Angelique (Lara Parker) after she clawed her way out of the grave. Angelique explained how she summoned Jeremiah (Timothy Gordon) and now his ghost remained to torment her.

1970: Augusta Dabney debuted as Barbara Norris on The Guiding Light.

1971: A ban on cigarette advertising on television went into full effect.  In 1969, Congress proposed a ban on all cigarette advertising on TV and radio. As expected, the tobacco companies were initially against it. However, they soon realized that a ban on TV commercials would free up funds for other types of advertising, and would also remove the anti-smoking PSA requirement. Rather than fight the inevitable, they decided to cooperate, and the proposal was signed into law by President Nixon in 1970.

The ban took effect on January 2, 1971, in order to give the cigarette companies one final chance to advertise during the New Year's Day bowl games on TV. The last televised cigarette ad ran at 11:50 p.m. during The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson on January 1, 1971.

1980: On As the World Turns, Melinda (Ariane Munker) tracked Barbara (Colleen Zenk) down at a hospital in Philadelphia fearing she was sick. Meanwhile, Joyce (Barbara Rodell) made her way back to Oakdale.

1980: Peter Brown aired for the final time as Greg Peters in Days of our Lives.

1980: On The Edge of Night, April (Terry Davis) told Draper (Tony Craig) that she heard their baby's name in a dream.

1984: The Young and the Restless added a brush stroke logo to its opening. The logo was designed by Sandy Dvore who had previously drawn the actor images in the opening. He also designed the opening titles for THE WALTONS (1973-1981) and Knots Landing (1987-1989).

1986: On Santa Barbara, Mason Capwell (Lane Davies) woke up with a massive New Year's hangover. Meanwhile, Dr. Mark McCormick (Jon Lindstrom) found his long lost wife, Wendy (aka Janice Harrison), after seeing her on the cover of a magazine. She ran out on him two years earlier.

1989: On Ryan's Hope, Delia (Ilene Kristen) sing "Chica Chica Boom Chic" in a fantasy sequence. Karen Morris-Gowdy returned to the show as Faith Coleridge after a five-year absence.

Thanks to Jennifer for sending in the item above.

1990: Actor Robert Perault, who played the third Jeff Martin in All My Children, died at age 43. His Jeff returned to Pine Valley during Christmas in 1976 after Mary's death.

1990: All My Children's "Falling Pictures" opening debuted.

1991: Guiding Light's "Hold On To Love" theme debuted.

1995: German soap opera Verbotene Liebe (Forbidden Love) premiered. The show finishes its weekday run on January 31, then returns on February 27 as a weekly series.

1997: On Another World, Jake McKinnon (Tom Eplin) was being secretly watched.

2004: On Passions, Rebecca (Andrea Evans) and Julian (Ben Masters) were married.

2004: on One Life to Live, Kevin was upset to learn that Kelly faked a threatening note from the "Music Box Killer." Natalie accepted John's invitation to a party at Ultra Violet on New Year's Eve. Jen refused Rex's advances at the party. Nora was stunned to find Troy waiting for her in the ladies room at the Palace, and begged Troy to turn himself in. Troy refused, and took off. After another fight with Walker/Todd, Blair and Kevin made love. Gabrielle Medina (Fiona Hutchison) was the next victim of the Music Box Killer.

Thanks to Enrique for sending in the item above.

2005: Actor Stan Watt, who played Charles Lamont in Love of Life, died at age 74.

2006: Actor Raúl Dávila, who played Hector Santos in All My Children in the mid-1990s, died at age 74.

Celebrating a birthday today are:
Julius LaRosa (ex-Renaldo, Another World) - 84
John Considine (ex-Reginald/Vic, Another World; ex-Grant, Santa Barbara; ex-Scooter, Knots Landing; ex-Phillip, The Young and the Restless; ex-Brian, Bright Promise) - 80
Ron Hale (ex-Mike, General Hospital; ex-Roger, Ryan's Hope; ex-Jim, Love is a Many Splendored Thing; ex-Walt, Search for Tomorrow) - 69
Wendy Phillips (ex-Lucille, Savannah; ex-Lauren, Falcon Crest) - 62
Gabrielle Carteris (ex-Andrea, Beverly Hills, 90210; ex-Tracy, Another World) - 54
Tia Carrere (ex-Jade, General Hospital) - 48
Nancy St. Alban (ex-Michelle, Guiding Light) - 45
Renee Goldsberry (ex-Evangeline, One Life to Live) - 44
Taye Diggs (ex-Sam, Private Practice; ex-Sugar, Guiding Light) - 44
Kiko Ellsworth (ex-Jamal, Port Charles; ex-Stan, General Hospital) - 42
Ronnie Marmo (ex-Ronnie, General Hospital)
Dax Shepard (Crosby, Parenthood) - 40
Ryan Brown (ex-Billy, The Young and the Restless; ex-Bill, Guiding Light) - 40
Paz Vega (ex-Olga, Más que amigos; ex-Luz, Companeros) - 39
Erica Hubbard (ex-Cassie, Lincoln Heights; ex-Jenny, Undressed) - 36
Shelley Hennig (ex-Diana, The Secret Circle; ex-Stephanie, Days of our Lives) - 28
Danny Miller (ex-Aaron, Emmerdale; ex-Kyle, Grange Hill) - 24

Actress Anna Lee was born 102 years ago today. She was best known to soap fans for her longtime portrayal of Lila Quartermaine in General Hospital. She passed away in 2004.

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you would like to submit a soap history entry for this date or a future date, email

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