Saturday, January 31, 2009

60 Years Ago Today - The First Daytime TV Soap

These Are My Children debuted on NBC on January 31, 1949. The show was broadcast live from Chicago, Illinois. It aired fifteen minutes a day, five days a week, at 5 p.m. ET.

The show told stories of the Henehan family in post war Chicago, where the family owned a boarding house, ruled over by Mrs. Henehan. Other characters included son John and his wife Jean as well as one of the chief boarders Katherine.

Created by Irna Phillips, These Are My Children is said to be the first network daytime soap. It was cancelled a month after it debuted because AT&T could no longer supply the cable required to transmit the show. The soap was based in large part on Phillips's early radio serials Today's Children and Painted Dreams.

Alma Platts as Mrs. Henehan
George Kluge as John Henehan
Joan Arlt as Jean Henehan
Jane Brooksmith as Patricia Henehan
Martha McClain as Penny Henehan
Margaret Heneghan as Aunt Kitty Henehan
Eloise Kummer as Katherine Carter

The first soap opera on television period is another discussion. Some say the first soap on TV was broadcast during the summer of 1946 on WRGB, a General Electric Station in Schenectady, New York. Called War Bride, this 13-part series was the story of a returning GI and his new wife. Soon to follow was the prime time drama Faraway Hill which aired on the DuMont Network in 1946. Other sources claimed A Woman to Remember on the DuMont network (1947) was the first real television soap, broadcast from Dumont's New York studios located in Wanamaker's Department Store.

All of these examples show that soaps have been around on television for over 60 years and have survived through many doom and gloom predictions over the years. Some predicted in 1960 they would never be as popular on television as radio. Others said in the mid-1970s that game shows would soon replace the soaps. Can the daytime soap genre make another comeback?

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