Remembering Woodbridge: A History of the Late, Great 'Secret Storm' (Part 7)

Lori March as Valerie Ames with Jada Rowland as Amy Ames.
Remembering Woodbridge: A History of the Late, Great 'Secret Storm'

The Soap Box
Vol. IV No. 1 January 1979
by John Genovese

(continued from Part 6)

Casting replacements abounded during this period. Susan and Pauline reappeared from story limbo; storylines were abruptly wrapped up to give way to new ones; the budget was increased to allow for a rash of sumptuous new sets--Woodbridge was hopping, and the Ames family had a new lease on television life. But the glories were all too brief, as evidenced by the storyline digression over the last five years of The Secret Storm.

Grace Tyrell took ill but thankfully remained her lovable, feisty old self. Amy decided to turn the tables on Belle and realized that Paul still loved her, so the former Mr. and Mrs. Britton arranged to meet at a hotel. When Paul was picked up for speeding and could not arrive to meet her at the hotel, Amy considered it a rejection and began to lose her mind. She locked herself in her room and played with dolls. Valerie knew that her stepdaughter was not playing with a full deck and committed Amy to an institution run by the handsome Dr. Ian Northcote. Susan and Pauline didn't trust Ian's obvious "sexiness" at first, until they realized that Amy was making progress. Belle, Amy's victorious archrival, was left with the care of Paul's daughter, Lisa, but saddled her newly-arrived aunt, the sharp and down-to-earth Aggie Parsons, with babysitting chores. Paul took a job with an elderly publisher, Kingsley Collins, and halted Belle's jet-setting plans.

Nola Hollister and Alex Lockwood parted, and Nola accidentally shot Wilfred dead during a struggle over one of Wilfred's prize rifles. Nola became the "merry widow" and sold the family home, much to the consternation of Laurie. Joan left Woodbridge, and Ken reconciled with Jill. The Stevenses were sure their marriage was on the mend until they began writing careers. While Ken's floundered, Jill's skyrocketed. Then a jarring coincidence presented itself when both Jill and Laurie became pregnant by Ken!

A proud Jill refused to heed Valerie's advice to tell Ken and divorced him to marry middle-aged publishing magnet Hugh Clayborn. Laurie married Ken and gave birth, but the child died moments later. Jill's baby, on the other hand, was born healthy.

Hugh loved Jill but had a dominating nature, insisting on the name of Hugh Clayborn III (Clay) for Jill's child. Jill began to listen more to the warnings of Hugh's divorced sister, Birdie Burke, who knew Hugh's spoiled daughter, Didi, for the scheming brat that she was. After numerous quarrels about Didi and the raising of Clay, Jill and Hugh separated but reconciled happily--only to be killed in a plane crash!

Troy Donahue as R.B. Keefer with Jennifer Darling as Irene Sims.
Irene Sims arrived in Woodbridge with Amy's ring, which she had found on a bus at the time. Amy was left in the lurch by Paul. Following Irene was R.B. Keefer (known simply as "Keefer"), her bad-seed boyfriend who--as fate would have it--was revealed to be Belle's ex-husband! Keefer blackmailed Belle, threatening to tell Paul all the delicious tidbits of her past.

Valerie and Ian found themselves deeply in love, and for the first time Valerie knew that she was not desecrating the memory of her beloved Peter. But Ian had a mentally ill wife, Mary Lou, who had been in his institution for years, and for whom he still felt a great debt. The woman was living in the past, constantly playing an old Jo Stafford recording of "You Belong To Me" which would drive any fellow patient bonkers if played ad infinitum. When Ian's menacing twin brother, Owen, came on the scene, however, he had more motive to kill Mary Lou than some tiresome old recording. It seems Mary Lou had seen Own dig a grave for a little neighborhood boy named Billy Watson whome he had accidentally killed. Owen, tormented and hellbent on concealing his tracks forever, hired Keefer to kill Mary Lou and impersonated Ian in order to frame his brother for the crime. Nola Hollister took a shine to Owen, but he gave her the brush-off and concentrated on his evil doings. The jig was up for Owen once Keefer discovered that it was Owen Northcote, not Ian Northcote, who had hired him to do the job on Mary Lou. Owen killed Keefer, and Belle was arrested for the crime until evidence against Ian came to light. Ian replace Belle in prison until Valerie extracted a confession out of Owen, who took a fatal dive down a flight of stairs. Valerie and Ian were married, Amy was released from the institution, and Pauline joined a sick Arthur who had been in Europe. Irene Sims took a singing stint at a nightclub but later moved elsewhere with her new love: Nick Kane.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Check back on Sunday for Remembering Woodbridge: A History of the Late, Great 'Secret Storm' (Part 8).

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