Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Today in Soap Opera History (March 6)

On this date in...

1927: William J. Bell, iconic soap opera writer and producer, 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 (Gaye Huston) informed Pat that she was taken with [GUIDING LIGHT's] Hope and enjoyed being with Mike Bauer more than anyone she's ever known.

1979: On ONE LIFE TO LIVE, Karen Wolek (Judith Light) admitted her past as a prostitute on the witness stand.

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.

1982: Deidre Hall appeared on the cover of TV Guide Canada to promote the DAYS OF OUR LIVES cookbook by Gloria Loring.

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 being pregnant.

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 DAYS OF OUR LIVES, Bo (Peter) snuck in to see Kim (Patsy Pease).

1986: On KNOTS LANDING, Abby (Donna Mills) forced Olivia to tell her the truth after finding a joint in her purse, and Gary asked Abby for a divorce.

1991: On THE YOUNG AND A RESTLESS, Nina (Tricia Cast) took out her gun after she overheard David say he was just using her.

1993: Legendary writer, Douglas Marland, died at age 58. He was head writer of AS THE WORLD TURNS at the time of his death. Marland's rules on "How Not To Wreck A Show" were published in the April 27, 1993, issue of Soap Opera Digest.

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.

2009: THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL's Jack Wagner appeared on THE PRICE IS RIGHT.

Celebrating a birthday today are:
David Spielberg (ex-Ambrose, ONE LIFE TO LIVE; ex-Ned, FALCON CREST) - 74
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) - 73
Anna Maria Horsford (ex-Clara, GUIDING LIGHT) - 65
Gary Tomlin (Co-Executive Producer, DAYS OF OUR LIVES; ex-Bruce, SEARCH FOR TOMORROW; Former writer/producer of several daytime soaps) - 63
Jacklyn Zeman (Sophia, THE BAY; Bobbie, GENERAL HOSPITAL; ex-Bobbi, THE EDGE OF NIGHT; ex-Lana, ONE LIFE TO LIVE) - 60
Connie Britton (Rayna, NASHVILLE; ex-Vivien, AMERICAN HORROR STORY; ex-Tami, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS) - 46
Moira Kelly (ex-Mandy, THE WEST WING; ex-Karen, ONE TREE HILL) - 45
Andrea Elson (ex-Debbie, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS) - 44
Erica Shaffer (ex-Tamar, DAYS OF OUR LIVES) - 43
Melanie Silver (ex-Maxie, GENERAL HOSPITAL) - 25

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. How interesting. In 1979, Another World expanded to 90 minutes on March 5, pushing its start time back to 2:30 p.m., thereby competing with the last half of One Life to Live. So, OLTL countered that programming move on March 6 with the now iconic scenes of Karen on the witness stand.

    If I had been a OLTL viewer in 1979, I sure would have had a hard time switching over to AW at 2:30 p.m. on that day.

  2. That episode of As The World Turns is one of my favorites for its sheer hilarity in the restaurant scenes. From Lisa's (Eileen Fulton) iconic words about Lucinda ('Oh, how I despise her) delivered with zen-like zest, to the lunacy of the fight/melee that breaks out punctuated by Lucinda (Elizabeth Hubbard) breaking both a glass and breaking out in uncontrollable laughter and ending in the arrests of half the diners in the restaurant. Just madcap without being camp. And the camera work back then was something to behold!

    Hey, does anyone think that if Destiny on OLTL engages in a life as an escort (as has been rumored) that perhaps Karen Wolek might be running that agency?? I'd just love to see that cameo with Judith Light!

  3. Always love to see "Classic" ATWT! RIP Douglas Marland. It makes me so sad how Goutman and Passanante broke every single one of Douglas Marland's rules...particulary during the final months of ATWT. Under Douglas Marland's guidance the show would have remained brilliant...instead of being ruined by "The Powers That Be" and their huge egos.