Today in Soap Opera History (March 6)

1979: One Life to Live's Karen Wolek confessed her past on the
witness stand in one of the most memorable scenes in soap opera
"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...

1927: William J. Bell, iconic soap opera writer and producer who co-created The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, was born. He died on April 29, 2005 at age 78. To read some early articles on Bell and his wife Lee Phillip, click here and here.

1966: On Another World, Lee Randolph (Gaye Huston) informed Pat Matthews that she was taken with [Guiding Light's] Hope Bauer and enjoyed being with Hope's father, Mike Bauer, more than anyone she's ever known.

1979: On Ryan's Hope, Roger Coleridge (Ron Hale) tried to comfort this sister, Jillian (Nancy Addison), who begged to receive shots for her pain more often. Later, Jillian later bribed an orderly to bring her pain pills.

Thanks to Jennifer for sending in the item above.

1979: On One Life to Live, Karen Wolek (Judith Light) admitted her past as a prostitute on the witness stand. Viki Buchanan (Erika Slezak) was on trial for murdering Marco Dane (Gerald Anthony).

1979: On Another World, John Randolph (Michael M. Ryan) died in a fire at Alice's cottage.

1980: On The Edge of Night, Draper (Tony Craig) was taken to state prison.

1984: On Guiding Light, Beth (Judi Evans) and Lillian (Tina Sloan) met with a girl who was being abused by a family member, and Mindy fretted about her pregnancy.

1986: On As the World Turns, Bob (Don Hastings) and Kim (Kathryn Hays) agreed to not keep anymore secrets from each other (Douglas Marland was head writer).

1986: On Knots Landing, Abby (Donna Mills) forced Olivia (Tonya Crowe) to tell her the truth after finding a joint in her purse. Meanwhile, Gary (Ted Shackelford) asked Abby for a divorce.

1991: On The Young and the Restless, Nina (Tricia Cast) took out her gun after she overheard David (Michael Corbett) say he was just using her.

Douglas Marland
1993: Legendary soap opera scribe Douglas Marland died at age 58. He was head writer of As the World Turns at the time of his death, a position he had held for 8 years. He held previous jobs as the head writer at General Hospital, Guiding Light, The Doctors and Loving. He was also a co-creator of Loving and a writer for Another World.

Just 7 weeks after his death, Soap Opera Digest published an article in the April 27, 1993 issue titled "How Not To Wreck A Show" in which Marland laid out the basic rules every soap writer should follow in order to be successful..

How Not To Wreck A Show
* Watch the show.

* Learn the history of the show. You would be surprised at the ideas that you can get from the back story of your characters.

* Read the fan mail. The very characters that are not thrilling to you may be the audience's favorites.

* Be objective. When I came in to ATWT, the first thing I said was, what is pleasing the audience? You have to put your own personal likes and dislikes aside and develop the characters that the audience wants to see.

* Talk to everyone; writers and actors especially. There may be something in a character's history that will work beautifully for you, and who would know better than the actor who has been playing the role?

* Don't change a core character. You can certainly give them edges they didn't have before, or give them a logical reason to change their behavior. But when the audience says, "He would never do that," then you have failed.

* Build new characters slowly. Everyone knows that it takes six months to a year for an audience to care about a new character. Tie them in to existing characters. Don't shove them down the viewers' throats.

* If you feel staff changes are in order, look within the organization first. P&G [Procter & Gamble] does a lot of promoting from within. Almost all of our producers worked their way up from staff positions, and that means they know the show.

* Don't fire anyone for six months. I feel very deeply that you should look at the show's canvas before you do anything.

* Good soap opera is good storytelling. It's very simple.

1995: On General Hospital, Felicia (Kristina Wagner) gave birth to Georgianna "Georgie" Jones at Luke's club in a room full of Port Charles residents.

Thanks to Enrique for sending in the item above.

1997: Guiding Light began using a shortened 15-second version of the "Hold on to Love" opening sequence that debuted in 1992

Thanks to Na'Vell for sending in the item above.

2001: On The Bold and the Beautiful, Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) told Thorne (Winsor Harmon) she had to stop Rick and Amber's wedding, and get Amber out of Rick's life.

Celebrating a birthday today are:
David Spielberg (ex-Ambrose, One Life to Live; ex-Ned, Falcon Crest) - 77
Joanna Miles (ex-Gerry, The Edge of Night; ex-Linda, A Flame in the Wind; ex-Mary Lou, The Secret Storm; ex-Anne, All My Children) - 76
Anna Maria Horsford (Vivian, The Bold and the Beautiful; ex-Clara, Guiding Light) - 68
Gary Tomlin (ex-Bruce, Search for Tomorrow; Former writer/producer of several daytime soaps, mostly recently Days of our Lives) - 66
Jacklyn Zeman (Sophia, The Bay; Bobbie, General Hospital; ex-Bobbi, The Edge of Night; ex-Lana, One Life to Live) - 63
Connie Britton (Rayna, Nashville; ex-Vivien, American Horror Story; ex-Tami, Friday Night Lights) - 49
Moira Kelly (ex-Mandy, The West Wing; ex-Karen, One Tree Hill) - 48
Andrea Elson (ex-Debbie, The Young and the Restless) - 47
Erica Shaffer (ex-Tamar, Days of our Lives) - 46
Melanie Silver (ex-Maxie, General Hospital) - 28
Max Lucero (ex-Brady, Days of our Lives) - 24

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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