Today in Soap Opera History (January 3)

1977: Lovers and Friends premiered on NBC. 1980: Edge of 
Night's Cliff ate soup Mrs. Corey intended for Deborah.
1995: Days' Alice interrupted Bo and Billie's wedding.
2001: All My Children's Bianca was outed at the Crystal Ball.
"The present contains nothing more than the past, and what is found in the effect is already in the cause."
― Henri Louis Bergson

"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...

1938: Irna Phillips' radio soap opera Woman in White premiered on NBC Red. The show told the story of Karen Adams, a young nurse who dedicated her life to others, taking care of two young siblings after the death of her parents. Karen spent much of her time counseling others, although she did find time to marry and experience some marital difficulties of her own. The show ran until 1942 but returned from 1944 to 1948 as the story of nurse Eileen Holmes and her romance with Dr. Paul Burton, with only a few characters remaining from the original version. During this later period, Woman in White appeared as part of The General Mills Hour, along with two other Irna Phillips serials, The Guiding Light and Today's Children, and Phillips experimented with combining plots and moving characters among the three stories.

1961: On As the World Turns, Dick Baker (Court Benson) visited Penny (Rosemary Prinz), who was recuperating from her stay in the hospital. Nancy (Helen Wagner) asked Penny to rethink her commitment to Jeff. Meg Blaine (Teri Keane) asked Joe to give "Jack Bailey" a job in the bar.

1968: On Another World, Rachel (Robin Strasser) and Russ (Sam Groom) crossed the state line and were married by a justice of the peace. The magistrate's wife, Effie, was their witness. Rachel had convinced Russ they could keep the marriage a secret from his mother, Mary, since he promised her to remain free of responsibility until he finished his internship and residency.

When Rachel arrived back on Bay City, she gloated to Ada (Constance Ford), "Say good luck. Say you're happy. Say fireworks, music, blue skies, champagne, merry-go-round, rainbow! I'm married to Dr. Russell Matthews!"

1977: NBC daytime soap opera Lovers and Friends premiered.  The show, created by Another World head writer Harding Lemay and executive producer Paul Rauch, was set Point Clair, a wealthy suburb of Chicago, and focused on the trials and tribulations of two neighboring families, the wealthy Cushings and the middle class Saxtons.  The cast included Rod Arrants, Richard Backus, Vicky Dawson, Patricia Estrin, Stephen Joyce and Nancy Marchand.

Lemay commented on the show and his relationship with Rauch in a 1997 interview:

"We created a soap opera together, Lovers and Friends. That lasted a year or two. It was too much. I found it interesting to be working on one soap and to be able to switch my mind completely into a whole other set of characters. We had wonderful actors like Nancy Marchand and Richard Backus. It didn't work because I didn't have the energy to fight for what I wanted to do and they changed a whole lot of things. After the first six months I didn't write it anymore. I just collected the royalties."

1978: Kate Mulgrew aired for the final time as part of the contract cast of Ryan's Hope. Mary Carney took over the role of Mary Ryan two episodes later. Mulgrew returned to the show for visits as Mary's ghost in 1983, 1986 and 1989.

1980: On As the World Turns, Joyce (Barbara Rodell) secretly watched Teddy play after Nancy (Helen Wagner) and Mary picked him up after school.

1980: On The Edge of Night, Cliff (Ernie Townsend, now Ernie Pysher) ate the soup Mrs. Corey intended for Deborah.

1986: On Santa Barbara, Santana (Gina Gallego) and Cruz (A Martinez) arrived in Las Vegas and demanded Gina (Robin Mattson) tell them where to find Brandon. Back in Santa Barbara, Mark (Jon Lindstrom) and Janice signed the divorce papers.

1990: On General Hospital, Katherine (Edie Lehmann) and Sean (John Reilly) came to the secret room where a very much alive Robert (Tristan Rogers) was hiding.

1991: Aimee Brooks aired for the final time as Sarah Horton in Guiding Light.

1992: Dame Judith Anderson died at age 94.  She starred as Minx Lockridge as part of the original Santa Barbara cast.

1994: Onderweg naar Morgen (On the Way to Tomorrow) debuted on Dutch television. The writers initially based the show on story bibles from American soap Ryan's Hope, written by Claire Labine and Paul Avila Mayer.

1995: Morgan Englund aired for the final time during his initial run as Dylan Lewis on Guiding Light. He returned for guest appearances over the years, including the final week in 2009.

1995: On Days of our Lives, Alice Horton (Frances Reid) objected at Bo (Robert Kelker Kelly) and Billie's (Lisa Rina) wedding.

1997: On Another World, Rachel Cory (Victoria Wydham) fainted during dinner at Carlino's.

2000: As the World Turns moved production into the Midwood Brooklyn studio that had been home to Another World until June 1999.

2001: On All My Children, Bianca (Eden Riegel) was outed at the Crystal Ball to Erica's (Susan Lucci) dismay. When Erica pressed her to deny being gay, Bianca replied: "But Mom, I am gay."

2003: On The Bold and the Beautiful, Stephanie (Susan Flannery) explained to Bridget how important it was to keep the secret of Ridge's paternity.

2003: On The Young and the Restless, Ashley (Eileen Davidson) finally admitted to Brad (Don Diamont) that she was artificially inseminated, and Victor was Abby's biological father. Brad became furious that Ashley kept this information from him. Ashley tried to defend herself, but Brad stormed out.

2007: Brody Hutzler aired for the final time as Patrick Lockhart in Days of our Lives.

2007: Guiding Light debuted its "Find Your Light" opening theme.

Thanks to Enrique for sending in the item above.

Celebrating a birthday today are:
Dabney Coleman (ex-Louis, Boardwalk Empire) - 84
Steve Inwood (ex-Moreno, General Hospital) - 69
Victoria Principal (ex-Pam, Dallas; ex-Gwen, Titans) - 66
Mark Drexler (ex-Roger, Days of our Lives) - 64
Frank Dicopoulos (ex-Frank, Guiding Light) - 59
Shannon Sturges (ex-Molly, Days of our Lives; ex-Sheridan, Passions; ex-Kate, Port Charles; ex-Reese, Savannah) - 48
Jason Marsden (ex-A.J., General Hospital) - 42
Nicholas Gonzalez (ex-Luke, Sleepy Hollow; ex-D.J., The O.C.; ex-James, Melrose Place) - 40
Telly Leung (ex-Wes, Glee) - 36
Alex D. Linz (ex-Phillip, The Young and the Restless) - 27

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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