Today in Soap Opera History (December 13)

On this date in...

1954: Procter & Gamble's popular radio soap THE ROAD OF LIFE, created by Irna Phillips in 1937, made its television debut on CBS in the 1:15-1:30 time slot.

Because many CBS affiliates chose to run local news and talk shows during this time, the program never achieved the popularity it might have and aired its last TV episode on July 1, 1955. The radio version of the show continued into the 1959 season when the golden age of the radio soap opera began to wind down.

Written by Charles Gussman, who brought wit and cleverness to his soaps, the story centered on handsome doctor Jim Brent and his wife Jocelyn in the small town of Merrimac. The heroine of a medical drama, Jocelyn would suffer from a number of ailments. A large factor in the story was the relationships between three generations of Brent's and Jocelyn's well to do but highly dysfunctional family, the Overtons.

Donald McLaughlin starred as Dr Brent, and Virginia Dwyer played Jocelyn on both radio and TV. Both would move on to other soap roles: McLaughlin as Chris Hughes on AS THE WORLD TURNS, and Dwyer as matriarch Mary Matthews on ANOTHER WORLD. Imagine if ROAD OF LIFE had been successful on TV and how that might have impacted the casting of ATWT and AW later on.

1957: On THE EDGE OF NIGHT, Hester worried that Martin wants a "stay-at-home wife" and was insanely jealous of her male co-worker Henry Muller who kissed all the women and called them "darling"

1984: Canceled THE EDGE OF NIGHT taped its final episode (which aired on Dec. 28).

1984: On AS THE WORLD TURNS, Maggie worried about baby Jill. Notice the writers listed in the credits including Cynthia Benjamin and Susan Bedsow Horgan (head writers), Jessica Klein, Garin Wolf, Ralph Ellis and Courtney Simon.

1984: On GUIDING LIGHT, Roxie had a funny fantasy of herself as a successful business woman.

1985: Actress Ann Williams died at age 49. Her notable soap roles included stints on THE DOCTORS as the first Dr. Maggie Fielding and on THE EDGE OF NIGHT as television station owner, Margo Huntington Dorn. Her most memorable role was Eunice Gardner Wyatt on SEARCH FOR TOMORROW (1966–1976). Her final soap role was as alcoholic June Slater on LOVING.

2008: British soap actress Kathy Staff (Doris Luke, CROSSROADS; Vera Hopkins, CORONATION STREET; Winnie Purvis, EMMERDALE FARM) at age 80.

Celebrating a birthday today are:
Heather North (ex-Sandy, DAYS OF OUR LIVES; ex-Kitty, PARADISE BAY) - 61
Wendie Malick (ex-Carol, DYNASTY; ex-Henchwoman, ANOTHER WORLD; ex-Taylor, PAPER DOLLS) - 61
Steve Buscemi (Nucky, BOARDWALK EMPIRE) - 54
Johnny Whitaker (ex-Scott, GENERAL HOSPITAL) - 52
Karen Witter (ex-Tina, ONE LIFE TO LIVE; ex-Elke, FALCON CREST) - 50
Robert Leeshock (ex-Bruce, ONE LIFE TO LIVE; ex-Eddie, GUIDING LIGHT; ex-Keith, BEVERLY HILLS, 90210; ex-Monty, LOVING) - 50
Brooke Alexander (ex-Julia, ONE LIFE TO LIVE; ex-Samantha, AS THE WORLD TURNS) - 48
Christie Clark (Carrie, DAYS OF OUR LIVES; ex-Cindy, GENERAL HOSPITAL) - 38

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1 comment:

  1. I remember ATWT back then because ATWT was going through a transition at the time. ATWT was all over the map. They had some good stories, Besty & Steve for example but they had several stories that fell flat. They did create Lucinda Walsh character which lasted. Robert Calhoun longtime EP for P&G's soaps came in and started to tighten up stories and direction, started cutting the slack, bringing in Harding Lemay as writing consultant and brought back Chris & Nancy and the feel of ATWT fans wanted started to take place. It was becoming Oakdale again. This wasn't a good time for ATWT under their tenure. Only P&G soap at this period that was riding a wave of consistency and ratings was GL at this period. AW was going through its own transition and Harding went back as headwriter. Robert went on to be EP w\Doug and (L. Caso became EP) then moved over to GL after Gail Kobe had left GL went through one or two EPs and had Robt. once again performed magic. Robert Calhoun was P&G's go to guy for there soaps and he knew the P&G brand and successful at all his soaps. He didn't change the wheel or try outrageous stories but simple character driven soaps. That's a good EP.