Remembering Woodbridge: A History of the Late, Great 'Secret Storm' (Part 2)

Jean Mowry was the original Susan Ames on The Secret Storm.
Remembering Woodbridge: A History of the Late, Great 'Secret Storm'

The Soap Box
Vol. III No. 13 December 1978
by John Genovese

(continued from Part 1)

The eldest child, Susan, showed signs of becoming another Pauline. She was bossy and dominating, forming an unhealthy attachment to her father. Young, impressionalbe Jerry Ames had it even worse, however. He fell in with a hoodlum, Spike Conklin, and together they tried to cause trouble for Ed Winslow, the man in the other car during the fatal accident. Jerry was sent to reform school, and Peter was brought up on charges of neglect. Jerry escaped from reform school and was in much emotional turmoil, but he soon returned to the fold.

Pauline was determined to even the score with Peter after he threw her out, so she allied herself with Bart Fenway, an ambitious Tyrell's employee who wanted Peter's job in the worst way. Peter later discovered Fenway's villainy, and the dishonorable employee was terminated. Then Pauline met Jane Edwards, the warm and wonderful house housekeeper Peter hired. Knowing that Peter and Jane were forming an attachment, and that the Ames children were ready to accept Jane as a part of the family, Pauline had to work fast. So she managed to get hold of Skip Curtis, Jane's ex-husband, an escaped convict who arrived in Woodbridge and caused a ruckus for Jane by making her pregnant. Pauline had a rumor campaign going, claiming that Jane's child was really Peter's. Then the police managed to catch up with Skip and shot him dead at Pauline's home.

By that time, J.T. Tyrell was also dead and gone. Jane almost became a member of the family, becoming engaged to Peter and accepting his affection. However, on the very night before Peter and Jane were to marry, Jane's other husband Bruce Edwards showed up in Woodbridge. Jane had loved Bruce even though he had been presumed dead in the Air Force. He soon learned of Jane's links with Skip and her plans to marry Peter, and he bitterly went home to his mother, Mary. Pauline found a temporary ally in Bruce's old flame, Julie, but no such luck. Jane and Bruce finally reconciled happily, and they left Woodbridge after Jane gave birth to a baby boy.

June Graham as Mrya with Peter Hobbs as Peter.
Peter got over the loss of Jane once he was introduced to Amy's school teacher, Myra Lake, who was insecure and living a sheltered life with her forceful father, Ezra Lake. Peter was taken with Myra's beauty, and Myra, fearing she was aging, fell in love with Peter but was still unsure of herself. Susan and Jerry did not share Amy's fondness of Myra. Pauline, once again springing into action, found the wheels turning inside her head with the advent of another ambitious Tyrell's employee named Bryan Fuller. Pauline discovered Bryan's affair with his secretary, Lucy Stokes, and used this information against him in order to involved him in a scheme for Bryan to lure Myra away from Peter. Bryan and Myra soon became close, but Bryan chose ambition over beauty and married the wealthy Pauline. Peter and Myra married, much to the delight of Ezra Lake, but the marriage was all wrong.

Susan had been greatly influenced by these surroundings events and married Alan Dunbar, whom Peter disapproved. Peter's preference for Susan was her old boyfriend, Joe Sullivan, a conscientious reporter for The Woodbridge Herald, who worked with Peter to help expose local gang boss Frank Bennett. Alan Dunbar was being forced to work for Bennett and help him control schools and properties in Woodbridge. Joe carried a torch for Susan, but eventually left town once this crime ring was apprehended. Susan and Alan moved to San Francisco and everything seemed fine. However, a pregnant and distraught Susan soon called Peter with the news that Alan had disappeared with an heiress, Ella Prentiss. Peter flew out to San Francisco to try to persuade Susan to return home. While Peter was there, Bryan attempted to steal Peter's job. Eventually, Alan's playmate was killed in an auto accident and he, Susan, and their newborn son, Petey, returned to eventually set up residence in the very exclusive area of Wodobridge known as Candlewick Hills. Peter returned to Tyrell's, and Pauline obtained a divorce from Bryan.

Jerry's love life was varied, to say the least. He dated someone named Debbie Ness when in high school, then was linked to Nancy Hewlett, whose father, George, was a Herald executive and Grace's friend. Nan loved Jerry more than he loved her, however. Then, Jerry's first "great love" proved disastrous.

The lucky (?) girl was Kate Lodge, an unhappy girl with little self-esteem or family resources. Jerry persuaded his father to give Kate's alcholic father a job at Tyrell's and soon found himself married to this loser's daughter. It was obvious that Kate, no matter how hard she tried to fit into Woodbridge society, would never be happy as an Ames. Then, Harry Crawford, someone from her unsavory past, showed up in town and began blackmailing her, eventually killing her. Jerry stood trial for the crime but was exonerated.

If there was ever a person to be barely tolerated by Grace Tyrell or the Ames family, it was the pompous egotistical, unscrupulous, ever-so-phoney Arthur Rysdale. Arthur was president of Woodbridge Country Club at a time when Pauline returned after a long post-divorce trip to Mexico with a rather crude young Mexican protege, Eduardo Gegama, whom Pauline brought into the country club over many bigoted cries. The Ameses detested Eduardo and weren't exactly in love with Arthur for letting Pauline bring him into the club, but this wasn't the main reason for the Ames vs. Rysdale vendetta. Arthur was publisher of The Clarion, a local tabloid with a reputation for scandalous journalism. It was only natural that Arthur should become a part of the family to make for plenty of conflicts: he and Pauline were married!

June Graham as Myra, Jada Rowland as Amy, and
Cec Linder as Peter.
Grace was fit to be tied when Arthur became her son-in-law, while high school senior Amy was gaga over Arthur's charming son, Kip, with whom she had the lead in the school play. Kip was Arthur's pride and joy--ironically, the only person Arthur really loved. Whatever he did, whether it be good or abysmally rotten, he did for Kip. Kip, unfortunately, lacked drive and needed a tutor, and a young man named Julian Dark fit the bill. Julian seemed like a nice chap, but in truth he was a psychopath who was getting into the good "graces" of Grace while poisoning her at the same time--in order to be named in her will and make off with the Tyrell money.

Susan and Alan's marriage was on the rocks for several months when an author named Jeff Nichols began to make Susan's heart go aflutter. It was soon discovered that Jeff was working his way into the Ames family to write a scandalous novel based on their lives and loves! Susan and Alan reconciled, and for the longest time their major woe was overspending.

The marriage of Peter Ames to the younger, fragile Myrna was weakened by Myrna's attraction to businessman Nick Cromwell, and Peter's heart condition which was aggravated by high blood pressure.

***

This is where the story had left off in the latter part of 1963, and CBS was all set to let The Secret Storm go at that. A serial that at one time had been the most powerful character drama of the daylight hours had digressed to, "Will Kip ask Amy to the prom?" Viewers were turning off. Even the expansion from fifteen minutes to a half-hour in 1962 hadn't helped. The Secret Storm was abating.

But the powers that be (or were) found new hope in new writers. It was decided that before any decision was made about cancellation, that writers, who were all new to soaps, would be tried out. This is how the three-and-one-half year headwriting regime of Jane and Ira Avery saved The Secret Storm.

Continue reading Remembering Woodbridge: A History of the Late, Great 'Secret Storm' (Part 3)...

4 comments:

  1. Please, please continue to do more of this on your site on a regular basis. I love the histories of the shows, the characters, and the soap town. The history of soap opera is something that needs to be preserved and revered. Thank you very much, O'neill

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    1. We will definitely be doing more of this in the future. :)

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  2. I'm thoroughly enjoying this read through the history of Secret Storm. It's so conflicting because as I continue to read it, I know I'll never be able to view this soap, which then makes me not even want to continue reading knowing it's unavailable for consumption.

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    1. I understand how expensive it was to keep episodes back then but it boggles my mind something like Joan Crawford's appearance wasn't deemed noteworthy enough for someone to save (thank goodness we have the audio at least). I imagine there are at least a few random episodes out there in storage, people's garages, etc.

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