Thursday, December 13, 2012

Today in Soap Opera History (December 13)

Don MacLaughlin & Virgina Dwyer starred in THE ROAD OF LIFE
on both television and radio.
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 p.m. ET 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 as 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.

1957: On THE EDGE OF NIGHT, Hester worried that Martin wanted a "stay-at-home wife" and was insanely jealous of her male co-worker Henry Muller.

1976: On ANOTHER WORLD, Michael Randolph and Molly Ordway were married

1983: Actress Leora Dana, who played Sylvie Kosloff on ANOTHER WORLD in the late 1970s, died at age 60

1984: THE EDGE OF NIGHT taped its final episode (which aired on December 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 (Kristi Ferrell) had a funny fantasy of herself as a successful business woman.

Ann Williams
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.

1985: On DALLAS, J.R. (Larry Hagman) convinced Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) to move back to Southfork, which meant she gave up her custody of John Ross. (This turned out to be a dream, though, after Bobby turned up alive in Pam's shower at the end of the season).

1996: On ANOTHER WORLD, Ghost Ryan (Paul Michael Valley) tried to warn Bobby (Robert Kelker-Kelly) about Grant.

2001: On THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, Rick (Justin Torkildsen) promised Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) she would not going to regret letting letting him move in with Amber.

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

Celebrating a birthday today are:
Heather North (ex-Sandy, DAYS OF OUR LIVES; ex-Kitty, PARADISE BAY) - 62
Wendie Malick (ex-Carol, DYNASTY; ex-Henchwoman, ANOTHER WORLD; ex-Taylor, PAPER DOLLS) - 62
Steve Buscemi (Nucky, BOARDWALK EMPIRE) - 55
Johnny Whitaker (ex-Scott, GENERAL HOSPITAL) - 53
Karen Witter (ex-Tina, ONE LIFE TO LIVE; ex-Elke, FALCON CREST) - 51
Robert Leeshock (ex-Bruce, ONE LIFE TO LIVE; ex-Eddie, GUIDING LIGHT; ex-Keith, BEVERLY HILLS, 90210; ex-Monty, LOVING) - 51
Brooke Alexander (ex-Julia, ONE LIFE TO LIVE; ex-Samantha, AS THE WORLD TURNS) - 49
NeNe Leakes (Roz, GLEE) - 45
Lionel D. Carson (ex-Ty, LOVING) - 43
Christie Clark (ex-Carrie, DAYS OF OUR LIVES; ex-Cindy, GENERAL HOSPITAL) - 39

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you would like to submit a piece of soap opera history for this daily column, please email it to [email protected].


  1. NeNe Leakes is no longer on "Glee" playing Roz. NeNe is now on the new NBC sitcom "The New Normal".

  2. She is still going to appear in Glee when she has time. :)

  3. Where did you hear thi info from, Roger?

  4. I read an interview with her recently where she said she was trying to go back. She's just very busy at the moment. You'd think since they're both Ryan Murphy shows it would be easier. I loved her on Glee but don't think she's really needed since Sue is back to being extra mean.

    Have you watched The New Normal? The show 'Sing' that is produced by Andrew Rannels character looks just like Glee.

  5. I don't watch "The New Normal"! I didn't care for the Roz character on "Glee" and I agree with you that she's not needed on the show anymore!

  6. In the above picture, Roger, Virginia Dwyer almost resembles Helen Wagner (1918-2010, ex-Nancy Hughes, ATWT)!

    Brian :-)

  7. Never realized Ann Williams died so young. Loved her as Margo on Edge. Do we know what caused her death?

  8. She had cancer. James, if you haven't read Ann's story, here's a good piece in the NYTimes.

    Her four kids wrote a book a few years ago as well. I've been meaning to interview them but have never gotten around to it.