Monday, August 17, 2015

FLASHBACK: A Complete, Concise Yearly History of TV Soap Operas - 1947 to 1977 (Part 4)

Patricia Allison and Jacqueline Courtney starred in Our Five Daughters
as Barbara and Ann Lee.
A Complete, Concise Yearly History of TV Soap Operas

The Soap Box
Vol. III No. 10 September 1978
by John Genovese

(continued from Part 3)

Two anthology serials made their appearances this year. One was For Better or Worse, seen on CBS from June 29, 1959 to June 24, 1960, which presented one marital case a week from the files of the show's narrator, sociology professor James A. Peterson. Produced by John Guedel (Art Linkletter's House Party) and directed by Hal Cooper (Maude), it proved that anthology doesn't work in the daytime.

NBC attempted The House on High Street which was based on juvenile cases and starred Philip Abbott as probation officer John Collier. It began September 29, 1959 and ended February 5, 1960.

Nobody had tried a daytime serial about a drifter until Full Circle, a CBS failure with Robert Fortier as traveler Gary Donovan who came to a Maryland town. Dyan (then Diane) Cannon, John McNamara, Jean Byron and Byron Foulger (the late father of General Hospital's Rachel Ames) were supporters. Born: June 27, 1960. Died: March 1, 1961.

The Clear Horizon starred Edward Kemmer and Phyllis
Avery as Roy and Ann Selby.
Serial veteran Edward Kemmer starred as another type of traveler when he played Roy Selby on Clear Horizon, which CBS kicked off on July 11. This serial was about air corps officers at Cape Canaveral and their anxious wives. Phyllis Avery co-starred as Selby's wife, Ann, with Craig Curtis, Denise Alexander, Lee Meriwether, Grace Albertson, Ted Knight, Richard Coogan and Jan Shepard in other featured roles. Taped in California, it was canceled on March 1, 1961, but returned a year later on March 8, 1962--only to become extinct for good on June 11 of that year.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Most sources list the return date of The Clear Horizon as February 26, 1962.

ABC was the undisputed "third network" in these particular days of television, and had made no entries whatsoever into the floundering arena of daytime serials until October 10 of 1960, when The Road to Reality premiered. It was a day-to-day account of a group therapy session which starred John Beal as Dr. Lewis, with patient members played by Robert Drew, James Dimitri, Judith Braun and Kay Doubleday. A noble effort, it was nonetheless axed March 31, 1961 and quickly forgotten.

From These Roots was replaced on January 2 by Our Five Daughters, clearly an effort to cash in on the success of As the World Turns with a traditional family nucleus and plenty of young characters to keep the audience happy. Esther Ralson starred as the mother, Helen Lee, with Michael Keen as her husband Jim. The five daughters were Mary (Wynne Miller), Barbara (Patricia Allison), Jane (Nuella Dierking), Marjorie (Iris Joyce) and Ann, played by current soaperstar Jacqueline Courtney. Another dismal failure for NBC, this show ended on September 28, 1962, along with the longer-running Brighter Day.

April 1 of this year spelled the beginning of three-way serial competition, in which CBS was to slowly encounter more obstacles in maintaining its lead. On this day, NBC premiered two new serials and ABC premiered one.

Ben Jerrod, Attorney at Law was presented on NBC and was the first serial to be aired regularly in color. Its historical significance ends there, because it was yanked the following June 28. A Roy Winsor Production, it starred Michael M. Ryan (now John Randolph on Another World) in the title role of an attorney whose lover jilted him, causing him to take a long look at his life and shed his high-paying position to become a small-town lawyer in a community called Indian Hill. Addison Richards co-starred as his superior, John P. Abbott. Written by William Kendall Clarke, it had great possibilities but fell prey to mismanagement on the West Coast.

The Doctors starred Fred J. Scollay, Richard Roat,
Abby Lewis and Wynne Miller.
NBC had far better luck with The Doctors, which took over the New York studio vacated by Young Doctor Malone. Sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive, it had a painfully slow start and several brushes with cancellation. It began on a one-story-per-day basis, with Jock Gaylor, Richard Roat, Margo Moser and Fred. J. Scollay in the key roles. Later, it went to one story per week and added James Pritchett as Dr. Matt Powers, co-starring with Ann Williams as Dr. Maggie Fielding. On March 2, 1964, it became a full-fledged serial but continued to suffer until around 1966, when audiences became firmly enmeshed in the routine of Hope Memorial Hospital and its staff and patients. Adam Kennedy, Joan Anderson, Patricia Harty and Dorothy Blackburn were supporters in the early serial cast. The creator was Orin Tovrov.

General Hospital starred John Beradino (Steve), Emily
McLaughlin (Jessie), Robin Blake (Judy) and
Roy Thinnes (Phil).
The greatest success of the three new shows was undoubtedly ABC's General Hospital, created by Frank and Doris Hursley and written originally by Theodore and Mathilde Ferro. A gripping story of hospital life and love, it has always been headlined by John Beradino as Dr. Steve Hardy and Emily McLaughlin as nurse Jessie Brewer. Roy Thinnes, K.T. Stevens, Allison Hayes, Jana Taylor and Ralph Manza were in the original cast.

Continue reading Part 5 of A Complete, Concise Yearly History of TV Soap Operas - 1947 to 1977...

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