Today in Soap Opera History (January 3)

1977: LOVERS AND FRIENDS premiered on NBC. 1980: EON's
Cliff ate soup Mrs. Corey intended for Deborah. 1995: DAYS'
Alice interrupted Bo and Billie's wedding. 2001: AMC's
Bianca was outed at the Crystal Ball.
"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see."
- Winston Churchill

"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...

1938: Irna Phillips' radio soap opera WOMAN IN WHITE premiered on NBC Red. The show told the story of Karen Adams, a young nurse who dedicated her life to others, taking care of two young siblings after the death of her parents. Karen spent much of her time counseling others, although she did find time to marry and experience some marital difficulties of her own. The show ran until 1942 but returned from 1944 to 1948 as the story of nurse Eileen Holmes and her romance with Dr. Paul Burton, with only a few characters remaining from the original version. During this later period, WOMAN IN WHITE appeared as part of THE GENERAL MILLS HOURS, along with two other Irna Phillips serials, THE GUIDING LIGHT and TODAY'S CHILDREN, and Phillips experimented with combining plots and moving characters among the three stories.

1961: On AS THE WORLD TURNS, Dick Baker (Court Benson) visited Penny (Rosemary Prinz), who was recuperating from her stay in the hospital. Nancy (Helen Wagner) asked Penny to rethink her commitment to Jeff. Meg Blaine (Teri Keane) asked Joe to give "Jack Bailey" a job in the bar.

1968: On ANOTHER WORLD, Rachel (Robin Strasser) and Russ (Sam Groom) crossed the state line and were married by a justice of the peace. The magistrate's wife, Effie, was their witness. Rachel had convinced Russ they could keep the marriage a secret from his mother, Mary, since he promised her to remain free of responsibility until he finished his internship and residency.

When Rachel arrived back on Bay City, she gloated to Ada (Constance Ford), "Say good luck. Say you're happy. Say fireworks, music, blue skies, champagne, merry-go-round, rainbow! I'm married to Dr. Russell Matthews!"

1977: NBC daytime soap opera LOVERS AND FRIENDS premiered.  The show, created by ANOTHER WORLD head writer Harding Lemay and executive producer Paul Rauch, was set Point Clair, a wealthy suburb of Chicago, and focused on the trials and tribulations of two neighboring families, the wealthy Cushings and the middle class Saxtons.  The cast included Rod Arrants, Richard Backus, Vicky Dawson, Patricia Estrin, Stephen Joyce and Nancy Marchand.

Lemay commented on the show and his relationship with Rauch in a 1997 interview:

"We created a soap opera together, LOVERS AND FRIENDS. That lasted a year or two. It was too much. I found it interesting to be working on one soap and to be able to switch my mind completely into a whole other set of characters. We had wonderful actors like Nancy Marchand and Richard Backus. It didn't work because I didn't have the energy to fight for what I wanted to do and they changed a whole lot of things. After the first six months I didn't write it anymore. I just collected the royalties."

1980: On AS THE WORLD TURNS, Joyce (Barbara Rodell) secretly watched Teddy play after Nancy (Helen Wagner) and Mary picked him up after school.

1980: On THE EDGE OF NIGHT, Cliff (Ernie Townsend, now Ernie Pysher) ate the soup Mrs. Corey intended for Deborah.

1989: On RYAN'S HOPE, Jillian (Nancy Addison Altman, who returned on this episode after a year away) told Frank she was coming home.

Thanks to Jennifer for sending in the item above.

1990: On GENERAL HOSPITAL, Katherine (Edie Lehmann) and Sean (John Reilly) came to the secret room where a very much alive Robert (Tristan Rogers) was hiding.

1991: Aimee Brooks aired for the final time as Sarah Horton in DAYS OF OUR LIVES.

1992: Dame Judith Anderson died at age 94.  She starred as Minx Lockridge as part of the original SANTA BARBARA cast.

1994: ONDERWEG NAAR MORGEN (On the Way to Tomorrow) debuted on Dutch television. The writers originally based the show on story bibles from American soap RYAN'S HOPE, written by Claire Labine and Paul Avila Mayer.

1995: Morgan Englund (Dylan) left GUIDING LIGHT. He returned for guest appearances over the years, including the final week in 2009.

1995: On DAYS OF OUR LIVES, Alice (Frances Reid) objected at Bo (Robert Kelker Kelly) and Billie's (Lisa Rina) wedding.

2000: AS THE WORLD TURNS moved into the Midwood Brooklyn studio that had been home to ANOTHER WORLD until 1999.

2001: On ALL MY CHILDREN, Bianca (Eden Riegel) was outed at the Crystal Ball to Erica's (Susan Lucci) dismay. When Erica pressed her to deny being gay, Bianca replied: "But Mom, I am gay."

2003: On THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, Stephanie (Susan Flannery) explained to Bridget how important it was to keep the secret of Ridge's paternity.

2003: On THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, Ashley (Eileen Davidson) finally admitted to Brad (Don Diamont) that she was artificially inseminated, and Victor was Abby's biological father. Brad became furious that Ashley kept this information from him. Ashley tried to defend herself, but Brad stormed out.

2007: Brody Hutzler aired for the final time as Patrick Lockhart in DAYS OF OUR LIVES.

Celebrating a birthday today are:
Robert Loggia (ex-Tony, SEARCH FOR TOMORROW; ex-Frank, THE SECRET STORM; ex-Yuri, EMERALD POINT N.A.S.) - 84
Dabney Coleman (ex-Louis, BOARDWALK EMPIRE) - 82
Steve Inwood (ex-Moreno, GENERAL HOSPITAL) - 67
Victoria Principal (ex-Pam, DALLAS; ex-Gwen, TITANS) - 64
Mark Drexler (ex-Roger, DAYS OF OUR LIVES) - 62
Frank Dicopoulos (ex-Frank, GUIDING LIGHT) - 57
Shannon Sturges (ex-Molly, DAYS OF OUR LIVES; ex-Sheridan, PASSIONS; ex-Kate, PORT CHARLES; ex-Reese, SAVANNAH) - 46
Jason Marsden (ex-A.J., GENERAL HOSPITAL) - 40
Nicholas Gonzalez (Luke, SLEEPY HOLLOW; ex-D.J., THE O.C.; ex-James, MELROSE PLACE) - 38
Telly Leung (ex-Wes, GLEE) - 34
Alex D. Linz (ex-Phillip, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS) - 25

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


  1. AMC looked great in 2001. I liked Bianca's coming out story. Susan Lucci did very good work in that s/l.

    I have always thought Kristian Alfonso was one of TV's most beautiful women and she never looked better than DAYS in the mid-90's. Thanks for the clip.

  2. After reading Harding Lemay's book I marveled about how he wrote both AW and Lovers & Friends at the same time. In the book he notes that he got a single fee for writing that could either be divided among a writing staff or kept for himself (obviously before WGA rules). Lemay had a very small staff, no word processing programs, and he had to mimeograph the scripts which makes his accomplishment even more remarkable.