Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Remembering Woodbridge: A History of the Late, Great 'Secret Storm' (Part 4)

Lawrence Weber was the final actor to play Peter Ames on The Secret Storm.
Remembering Woodbridge: A History of the Late, Great 'Secret Storm'

The Soap Box
Vol. III No. 13 December 1978
by John Genovese

(continued from Part 3)

Amy was resuming her college studies, while also trying to be the ideal "faculty wife" for Paul. She received understanding from Paul's superior, Dr. Alex Gordon, and his equally sympathetic wife, Doris. She befriended Jimmy and eventually discovered that this troubled young man was becoming a junkie and falling in love with her! Casey and his singer gun moll, Rocket [played by Donna Mills], were taken hostage by the mob and Rocket was killed. Casey freed himself and confessed to the Ames family, but he was fatally shot by hit men. As for Jimmy, he worked out of his personal insecurities with this parents (who lived in Baltimore). The rest of the ring was apprehended, and Susan and Alan reconciled in a matter of months. Paul was unhappy that Amy had kept Jimmy's addiction a secret for so long, but nonetheless the Brittons returned to normalcy.

Running concurrently with the Casey chronicles was Jerry's newfound love for Hope Crandall, a delightful young artist he met in a Paris bistro. Jerry brought Hope to Woodbridge as his wife, and the family was deliriously happy over Jerry's wonderful choice of a wife. Hope discovered Woodbridge to be a fine home, but didn't know the risks involved when she sketched two hoodlums she saw in the rough "Old Mill" section of town. The hoods roughed her up, and their chief contact (Casey) "accidentally" ruined her sketches. Pauline took Hope on as a protege and persuaded Briggs, the proprietor of a local disco called Sam, to show some of Hope's works there. Oddly enough, Sam was a dope front!

Once the narcotics faction was vanquished, however, Jerry and Hope had to contend with Matthew Devereus, Arthur's old friend, a suave New York gallery owner who sponsored Hope's art show in Woodbridge and lusted after her. Matthew's wife, Carol, knew about his penchant for wooing his beautiful young charges. Hope's first student, Sally Marshall, was a schemer with her hooks out for Jerry, who by now was disguntled with his wife's concentation on a career and wanted her to chuck the art business. As if this weren't enough for poor Hope to bear, she came down with a hand pain which was diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis and had its roots in Hope's dilemma of home vs. career. Jerry became more difficult to live with; Matthew became more forceful; Carol threatened to name Hope as co-respondent in a divorce action against Matthew--the tensions were mounting for Hope until it all came to a head when Jerry made a drunken, angry speech at her formal Woodbridge showing. Within weeks, Jerry and Hope reconciled their differences, Matthew and Carol effected a divorce in New York, Hope's condition was cured and the arthritis proved to be a misdiagnosis, and Jerry left his reporting job at the Herald to accept an offer from a Venezuela news syndicate. And thus, off went Jerry and Hope to Venezuela before returning to Paris.

Arlen Dean Snyder played Dr. Tony Porter.
While Kip remained in Vienna, Arthur returned to Woodbridge, as did Janet. Although Arthur was his old exasperating self, Janet was turning over a new leaf and was determined to become one of the "good people of Woodbridge" while holding on to her basic gutsy self. She had been living in New York and had become engaged to Dr. Tony Porter, a middle-aged widower with a sixteen-year-old daughter, Wendy, whose mother had died twelve years earlier. Janet's concerted efforts to win over Wendy were rather extravagant--she constantly bought clothes for the girl. Wendy rather liked Janet in the beginning of Tony's new marriage to her, and dated the rich, spoiled Eddie Grant until he made a drunken pass at her at a party. Paul Britton helped straighten Eddie out, since the boy was one of his students, and made Eddie's big-shot father, "E.C.," realize that Eddie must learn the virtues of hard work and perseverance.

At the same time Janet and the Porters made their mark, Peter Ames purchased the local TV station and was placed into contact with George Bennett, a TV talk show producer, and his female assistant, Brooke Lawrence. George was a dried-out alcoholic with a stable home life, but despite his love for his devoted wife Marion and small daughter, Peggy, he still had a great deal of affection for Brooke. Little did ol' George know that Brooke was a dauntless career woman whose respect for him didn't exceed the plan she so successfully carried out: to confuse him around the office to the point of his going back to the bottle and getting himself fired, only to allow for Brooke's taking over his job!

Marian Bennett became friendly with Susan and confided that she did not trust Brooke, certain that Brooke was the reason for George's return to alcoholism. But Peter and Valerie were initially convinced that Brooke was a fine woman. Just as Peter prepared to fire George, Brooke took the dejected producer to a bar and made sure he was half in the bag before leaving the premises. George took a fatal fall into a dam while walking home, and the distraught Marian was now totally convinced of Brooke's treachery. Then one night, in true-old-movie fashion, Brooke made an obvious pass at Peter in her apartment--which Peter immediately reported to Valerie. Val confronted Brooke and a struggle ensued in which Brooke was killed. Val stood trial for manslaughter, but the death was proven an accident. Other characters in the Brooke Lawrence scenario included Freddy Fay, a gigolo writer Brooke was supporting; Stella Novik, Brooke's maid, who stole from her employer on orders from her husband, petty thief Karl Novik; Olivia Prentiss, Brooke's neighbor; and Ellie Simmons, George's longtime secretary.

Paul Britton had caused quite a stir when he taught a racy novel, "Night of Apollo," in an English course. Conservative Woodbridge residents must have been delighted in late 1966 when the Brittons moved to Wisconsin where Paul had accepted a guest lectureship.


Backstage, the ratings had been slipping quite a bit over the past year. So Jane and Ira Avery were replaced by John Hess in early 1967. Although the stories continued strong for a while, the show's downward direction had already begun--and The Secret Storm was to continue on a slump for the next seven years.

Continue reading Remembering Woodbridge: A History of the Late, Great 'Secret Storm' (Part 5)...

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