Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Today in Soap Opera History (December 4)

1950: THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS premiered. 1981: FALCON
CREST made its debut.  2000: PORT CHARLES kicked off
"Fate." 2009: VENICE premiered.
"That is the supreme value of history. The study of it is the best guarantee against repeating it."
- John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir

"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...

1933: After its August 14 debut on local station WLW in Cincinnati, radio soap opera MA PERKINS graduated to the NBC Red network in the 3 p.m. ET timeslot. The show was produced by Frank and Anne Hummert, the prolific team responsible for numerous radio dramas including JUST PLAIN BILL, BACKSTAGE WIFE and YOUNG WIDDER BROWN.

In his New Yorker essay “O Pioneers!,” James Thurber discussed how the Hummerts recognized the potential that the serials that aired in the evenings would have if they were broadcast during the day instead. This simple move acknowledged that women at home were the primary decision makers when it came to purchasing, and rightly recognized that a women’s household routine might be supplemented with narrative escapism. Radio historian and biographer Jim Cox noted that the pair did even more: they “intended to seize the housewives’ attention and alter the pattern of their daily existence.” For sponsors and the female audience, it proved a match made in heaven.

1950: THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS premiered on CBS. It was the first show on television to use the new invention known as a teleprompter. Pictured to the right are two stars of the early TV soap, Nana Bryant (Mrs. Martin) and Olive Stacey (Connie Martin Thayer). The show was replaced in 1952 by a TV version of radio soap THE GUIDING LIGHT.

1974: On ANOTHER WORLD, Ada (Constance Ford) told Sam (Jordan Charney) she wasn't sure Rachel would ever get over Steve.

1979: On AS THE WORLD TURNS, Marcia (Cynthia Bostick) began to wake up after her fall down the stairs.

1981: FALCON CREST premiered on CBS. The show's original cast included Jane Wyman, Robert Foxworth, Lorenzo Lamas, Billy R. Moses, Jamie Rose, Abby Dalton and Susan Sullivan. DALLAS moved to the Friday 9 p.m. ET timeslot (one hour earlier) to provide a strong lead-in for the new primetime soap.

1986: Shannon Tweed aired for the final time as Savannah Wilder in DAYS OF OUR LIVES.

2000: PORT CHARLES kicked off its thirteen-week story arc format with "Fate."  Watch here.

2009: Crystal Chappell's indie soap VENICE premiered.

Celebrating a birthday today are:
Dena Dietrich (ex-Katie, SANTA BARBARA; ex-Carlotta, ALL MY CHILDREN) - 85
Bernie McInerney (ex-Mark, THE EDGE OF NIGHT; ex-Father Richards, RYAN'S HOPE; ex-Will, ONE LIFE TO LIVE; ex-Rex, AS THE WORLD TURNS) - 77
Donnelly Rhodes (ex-Phillip, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS) - 76
Katherine Woodville (ex-Marie, DAYS OF OUR LIVES) - 75
Patricia Wettig (ex-Holly, BROTHERS & SISTERS; ex-Nancy, THIRTYSOMETHING) - 62
Denise Galik (ex-Rhonda, PORT CHARLES/GENERAL HOSPITAL; ex-Cindy, GENERAL HOSPITAL; ex-Christine, FLAMINGO ROAD; ex-Linda, KNOTS LANDING) - 62
Daniel Markel (ex-David, AS THE WORLD TURNS; ex-Sam, ANOTHER WORLD) - 50
Marisa Tomei (ex-Marcy, AS THE WORLD TURNS) - 49
Anthony DeSando (ex-Grant, ONE LIFE TO LIVE) - 48
Kevin Sussman (ex-Walter, UGLY BETTY) - 43
Kristina Osterhaut (ex-Hope, DAYS OF OUR LIVES) - 40
Arielle Renwart (ex-Leah, GUIDING LIGHT)
Charity Shea (April, SINGLE LADIES) - 30
Nafessa Williams (ex-Margo, THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL; ex-Deanna, ONE LIFE TO LIVE) - 24
Lauren Boles (Ciara, DAYS OF OUR LIVES) - 10

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. I want to look as good as Marissa Tomei when I get to that age! I heard she had put out a workout video a few years ago. I may have to check that one out.

  2. Dena Dietrich played Wilma Marlowe, Natalie and Janet's mother, after Natalie's death, who's Carlotta?

    1. Thanks! She also played Carlotta Stolpinsky ten years earlier.