Today in Soap Opera History (September 29)

1969: Bright Promise premiered on NBC.
1978: The final episode of For Richer, For Poorer aired on NBC.
1986: Another World's Marley and Jake were married.
1989: Terry Lester debuted as Mason Capwell on Santa Barbara.
"More and more, I tend to read history. I often find it more up to date than the daily newspapers."
― Joe Murray

"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...

1947: Radio soap opera Claudia premiered. Due in large part to the success of the two Claudia movies, the D'Arcy advertising agency decided to bring the characters to radio in a five-a-week quarter-hour serial on behalf of its client, Coca-Cola. Kathryn Bard was cast as Claudia and Paul Crabtree as David, with Joe King announcing.

1969: Bright Promise premiered on NBC at 3:30 p.m. ET. NBC and Bing Crosby Productions in Hollywood came up with this daytime vehicle for Dana Andrews, created by Frank and Doris Hursley (creators of General Hospital) and directed originally by Gloria Monty (The Secret Storm, General Hospital). Andrews played Tom Boswell, president of Bancroft College, with support from Coleen Gray, Ivor Francis, Richard Eastham, Susan Brown and Paul Lukather. After Andrews left and the show changed format, the ratings rose but not enough, and the show ended on March 31, 1972

NBC Picks Up Full Season of 'This Is Us'

Justin Hartley as Kevin, Chrissy Metz as Kate. Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC
NBC has ordered an additional five episodes of the network's new hit drama series This Is Us, bringing the full season order to 18.

"It's a rare moment in this business when a show so instantly delivers both critical acclaim and hit ratings, but This Is Us is just such an extraordinary achievement," said Jennifer Salke, President, NBC Entertainment. "Creator Dan Fogelman, along with co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and the gifted producers, cast and crew, has delivered the kind of heart and depth that resonates with every segment of the audience, and we're proud to extend its presence on our schedule."

"We are thrilled. This order for a complete first season of 18 episodes is exactly what we'd wanted and hoped for," said executive producer Dan Fogelman. "We'd carefully mapped out an 18-chapter story for the first year of the show, and this allows us to follow through with our exact initial intent. And to get the order so early on is a tremendous show of confidence and a boost for our entire cast and crew. I'm starting to sound like a broken record but I have to thank Dana, Gary, Jonnie, Howard and my amazing partners at 20th as well as Bob and Jen and the fine folks at NBC for continuing to do absolutely everything right by me and this show. I'd gush more but I have to go back to work."

Last week's This Is Us series premiere generated a 4.5 rating in adults 18-49 and 14.3 million viewers overall in L+5 averages from Nielsen Media Research - an increase of 1.7 rating points going from live plus same day to L+5. The 4.5 makes it the #1 series premiere of the fall season to date, while the show's L+SD rating makes it NBC's highest-rated scripted program in that Tuesday 10-11 p.m. time period in more than six years.

On digital platforms, it's NBC's most-viewed series premiere on record, more than doubling the network's previous record for most one-day views of a debuting series across NBC digital platforms.

Agnes Nixon Dead at 93

Agnes Nixon
Legendary soap opera writer and producer Agnes Nixon died early Wednesday morning. She was 93.

The Museum of Broadcast Communications wrote a wonderful summary of Nixon's career that included excerpts from below.

Often termed the "queen" of contemporary soap opera, Nixon was best known, and most honored, for introducing social issues into the soaps. She first wrote for the CBS daytime drama Search for Tomorrow in the 1950s, then learned her craft under the tutelage of Irna Phillips.  In the early 1960s, in her first head writing job, with The Guiding Light, she had the heroine, Bert Bauer (Charita Bauer), develop uterine cancer. Typical of this storyteller, she was also personally motivated: a friend had died of cancer and Nixon hoped to teach women to have Pap smears.

Following The Guiding Light, Nixon became head writer of Another World (1965-1967), creating the character of Rachel Davis (played by Robin Strasser).

The real beginning for the presentation of issues in television soap opera, however, was the first show Agnes Nixon created, One Life to Live (1968), written for ABC, which was then attempting to get into the soap game. In 1968 social structures and attitudes were changing, and One Life was rich in issue stories and characters: leads who were Jewish, up-from-poverty Irish-American, Polish, and the first African-American leads, Carla Gray (Ellen Holly), doctor-to-be, and Ed Hall (Al Freeman, Jr.). Gray's story, for example, had her develop from a character who was passing as white to one who embodied black pride, with white and black loves along the way, to antagonize racists. Ironically, when Holly and Freeman brought Carla and Ed back to One Life in the mid-1980s, they seemed out of place in by-then WASP-ish Llanview, Pennsylvania. "Color" in this era was created not by race, but by style, in the persons of the nouveau riche, Dallas-style oil family, the Buchanans. By the Democratic mid-1990s, however, interracial and Hispanic families had become central characters.

WATCH: Alison Sweeney Visits Home & Family and Shares Blueberry & Banana Ice Cream Recipe

Alison Sweeny on Home & Family.
Copyright 2016 Crown Media Family Networks/Photographer: Jeremy Lee
Longtime Days of our Lives star Alison Sweeney (Sami Brady) appeared Tuesday on Hallmark Channel's Home & Family. Sweeney can be seen in The Irresistible Blueberry Farm on Sunday, and shared "Alison’s Healthy Blueberry Ice Cream" recipe (see below) during the program.

Alison’s Healthy Blueberry Ice Cream

2 frozen bananas, chopped. (Make sure to chop them before freezing, freeze for at least 2 hours)
1 cup of frozen blueberries
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise (Be sure to scrape down the sides of the blender to make sure all the ingredients fully blend in for ultimate creaminess)

Combine in a powerful blender or food processor.

Watch a clip from Sweeney's visit to Home & Family below, and find out more information about her upcoming primetime appearances.

Today in Soap Opera History (September 28)

1962: Daytime soap operas The Brighter Day (CBS) and
Our Five Daughters (NBC) aired for the final time.  1981: General
Hospital was featured on the cover of Newsweek.
1987: Delia had a courtoom fantasy on Ryan's Hope.
"More and more, I tend to read history. I often find it more up to date than the daily newspapers."
― Joe Murray

"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...

1962: CBS aired the final episode of daytime soap opera The Brighter Day. The show was created for NBC Radio by Irna Phillips in 1948. The television version premiered on January 4, 1954, and the episodes ran on both TV and radio for 2 years. The Brighter Day was originally set in Three Rivers until a move to New Hope in 1953.

1962: NBC aired the final episode of Our Five Daughters, a daytime soap which starred silent film icon Esther Ralston as Helen Lee, the mother of five young women including Jacqueline Courtney's Ann (pictured, upper right).

Nelson Aspen Previews His "Full Circle" Return to Don't Tell Mama

Nelson Aspen returns to Don't Tell Mama in October.
Photo Credit: Ryan Brown
Last October, international entertainment reporter Nelson Aspen performed at Don't Tell Mama in New York City for the first time in nearly 30 years, and created a fantastic night of music, comedy and showbiz scoops. He returns to the venue for a new series of shows starting October 7.

We Love Soaps spoke with the Search for Tomorrow alum about his new show, "Full Circle." Read our exclusive interview below to find out what he has planned.

WE LOVE SOAPS: We're just over a week away from the first of your three October shows at Don't Tell Mama. Last year's shows were so much fun. What can fans expect this time around?
NELSON ASPEN: ...even MORE fun! This show started as an afternoon at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival before moving on to be a concert performance at the Sydney Opera House and, then, a cabaret show here in New York City. It has evolved into a being a very tight variety show in the vein of Merv Griffin or Mike Douglas (for those of us old enough to remember them!). It's called "Full Circle" because, thematically, I bring the audience along for my journey from NYC in the 1980s, to Hollywood for more than 2 decades, and back again. All in about 70 minutes! Songs, stand-up, audience interaction and guest stars...there's something for everyone.

WE LOVE SOAPS: What special guests will be making appearances?
NELSON ASPEN: Two Broadway goddesses! Anita Gillette will be joining me October 7 and 14, Shelly Burch on Oct 21. Of course, don't be surprised to see some famous faces in the audience...who might just get pulled up on stage for an impromptu moment in the spotlight. There could be some "Where Are They Now" moments, too. Daytime TV has been such a huge part of my life for so long that its influence is well represented onstage and off. (I have a secret, subtle SFT tribute planned that only die-hard aficionados will notice...ha ha!)