Saturday, December 13, 2014

Today in Soap Opera History (December 13)

1954: Radio soap The Road of Life made its TV debut.
1979: General Hospital's Monica gave birth to AJ.  1991: All 
My Children's Adam and Erica married for the second time.
2010: One Life to Live's Natalie accepted John's proposal.
"Most of us spend too much time on the last twenty-four hours and too little on the last six thousand years."
― Will Durant

"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...

1954: Procter & Gamble's popular radio soap opera 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 (Helen Shields) worried Martin wanted a stay-at-home wife and about his jealousy of her male co-worker, Henry Muller.

1965: On Peyton Place, Russ Gehring (David Canary) continued his attempts to locate Allison MacKenzie (Mia Farrow), who had amnesia and didn't remember Elliot was her father.

1976: On Another World, stalwart Michael Randolph (Lionel Johnston) married scheming Molly Ordway (Rolanda Mendels) at the White Gate hotel in Ogden. Willis Frame (Leon Russom) was the best man, while Angie Perrini (Toni Kalem) served as maid of honor.

Thanks to Scott for sending in the item above.

1979: On As the World Turns, Carol (Rita Walter) pleaded with Ralph (Keith Charles) not to take legal action against Jay (Dennis Cooney).

1979: On General Hospital, as Lesley (Denise Alexander) struggled to help Monica (Leslie Charleson) give birth to Alan James "A.J." Quartermaine Jr. at home, Monica blurted out that Rick (Chris Robinson) was the father of her baby.

1983: Actress Leora Dana, who played Sylvie Kosloff on Another World in 1978-79, died at age 60.

1984: On Search for Tomorrow, Lloyd (Peter Haskell) obtained a copy of Rebecca's birth certificate and fingerprints.

1984: The Edge of Night cast and crew taped the show's final episode, which aired on December 28.

Ann Williams
1985: Actress Ann Williams died at age 49 after a battle with cancer. Her daytime credits 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 character was Eunice Gardner Wyatt on Search for Tomorrow (1966–1976), famously shot by Morgan Fairchild's Jennifer.

Her final soap roles were alcoholic June Slater on Loving and Lucy in Guiding Light, a blind woman that befriended Beth Raines (Judi Evans) in the clip below.

Williams left behind four kids in her real life who had a story as fascinating as their mother's characters. Read it here.

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 ended up being a dream after Bobby turned up alive in Pam's shower in the season finale.).

1991: On All My Children, Erica (Susan Lucci) and Adam (David Canary) were married, again.

1993: Former One Life to Live and Loving casting director Bobby Hoffman died at age 71.

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 was not going to regret letting letting him move in with Amber.

2007: On Guiding Light, Doris (Orlagh Cassidy) was down after losing the Springfield mayoral election to Buzz.

2008: British soap actress Kathy Staff (Doris Luke, Crossroads; Vera Hopkins, Coronation Street; Winnie Purvis, Emmerdale Farm) died at age 80.

2010: On One Life to Live, Natalie (Melissa Archer) accepted John's (Michael Easton) marriage proposal.

Celebrating a birthday today are:
Heather North (ex-Sandy, Days of our Lives; ex-Kitty, Paradise Bay) - 64
Wendie Malick (ex-Carol, Dynasty; ex-Henchwoman, Another World; ex-Taylor, Paper Dolls) - 64
Steve Buscemi (Nucky, Boardwalk Empire) - 57
Johnny Whitaker (ex-Scott, General Hospital) - 55
Karen (Witter) Lorre (ex-Tina, One Life to Live; ex-Elke, Falcon Crest) - 53
Robert Leeshock (ex-Bruce, One Life to Live; ex-Eddie, Guiding Light; ex-Keith, Beverly Hills, 90210; ex-Monty, Loving) - 53
Brooke Alexander (ex-Julia, One Life to Live; ex-Samantha, As the World Turns) - 50
NeNe Leakes (Roz, Glee) - 47
Lionel D. Carson (ex-Ty, Loving) - 45
Christie Clark (ex-Carrie, Days of our Lives; ex-Cindy, General Hospital) - 41

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you would like to submit a soap history entry for this date or a future date, email [email protected].

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