Tuesday, August 18, 2015

FLASHBACK: A Complete, Concise Yearly History of TV Soap Operas - 1947 to 1977 (Part 5)

Another World starred Jacqueline Courtney, Vera Allen and Susan Trustman
as Alice, Granny and Pat Matthews.
A Complete, Concise Yearly History of TV Soap Operas

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

(continued from Part 4)

Another slow-but-sure hit came on May 4 when NBC cashed in on Irna Phillips' knack for family drama. Another World began as the story of the Matthews family following the death of attorney Will Matthews. The role of Will's flighty and domineering widow Liz Matthews was originated by Sarah Cunningham but soon taken over by Audra Lindley. John Beal was Jim, Virginia Dwyer was Mary, Susan Trustman was Pat, and Jacqueline Courtney was Alice. A Procter & Gamble Production, it was the first soap to deal with the subject of abortion and also the first to expand to a full hour on January 6, 1975. William J. Bell originally co-wrote the series.

Alas, this sudden string of success was short-lived. On October 5, 1964, The Young Marrieds made its mark on ABC as another West Coast serial. Created by James Elward (The Secret Storm), it revolved around three married couples in New York City. Peggy McCay, Paul Picerni, Susan Brown (now Dr. Gail Adamson, General Hospital), Mike Mikler, Norma Connolly and Barry Russo starred. Comedy actor and director Charles Grodin, Susan Seaforth, Irene Tedrow and Constance Moore held other roles. It expired March 25, 1966.

The combined experience of producer Joseph Hardy and head writer Don Ettinger went for naught when both left Love of Life for a new ABC venture enttitled, Flame in the Wind. A very promising and contemporary story of families from opposite sides of the tracks, it featured Margaret Hayes, Tom Fielding, Walter Coy and Rita Lloyd as the wealthy faction, with Lenka Petersen, Roy Poole and Beverly Hayes on the blue-collar side. It began December 28, 1964 and was retitled A Time for Us on June 28, 1965. As of December 16, 1966 it had no title, no cast and no home, but it helped inspire other ABC hits to come.

NBC should have realized its mistake in doing a serial in Toronto, Canada. Moment of Truth had a virtually unfamiliar cast with the exception of its star--Douglas Watson, now Mac Cory of Another World, who portrayed professor Robert Wallace. A story about life in a college town, it lasted from January 4 to November 5.

Eileen Fulton moved from daytime to primetime in
the ATWT spinoff series Our Private World.
Although it wasn't a daytime serial, Our Private World is still worth of mention because despite its time format (two nights per week), it was produced in the same manner as a daytime serial--on videotape. (Peyton Place was done on film.) It was also the spin-off of As the World Turns which starred Eileen Fulton as Lisa Hughes starting a new life in Chicago and meeting up with an upper-crust family, the Eldridges, represented by Geraldine Fitzgerald, Nicolas Coster, Sam Groom and Julienne Marie. When Lisa became pitifully underexposed, the show met the scrap heap. A product of Irna Phillips and Bill Bell, it began May 5 and ended September 10 on CBS.

On September 27, 1965, four more failures were born--two on NBC and two on ABC.

NBC was now attempting a late-morning block of soaps with Morning Star and Paradise Bay, both created by Ted Corday (Guiding Light, As the World Turns) and taped in California. Both youth-oriented stories with sophisticated backdrops, they never caught on and were both terminated on July 1, 1966.

Morning Star was set in New York and starred Elizabeth Perry as fashion designer Katy Elliott, with Edward Mallory (now of Days as Bill Horton) as her love interest. Bill Riley, Ed Prentiss, Sheila Bromley, Betsy Jones Moreland, John Dehner and Ron Jackson were in supporting roles.

Paradise Bay was a pictureesque coastal town in California. Keith Andes starred as radio personality Jeff Morgan, with Happy Days' Marion Ross as his wife Mary. Heather North and Dennis Cole were the young interests, and such veterans as Walter Brooke, Alice Rineheart, June Dayton, Mala Powers and K.T. Stevens appeared. Its younger characters comprised a rock group called "The Moonglows"--that alone was enough to send viewers packing for Rosehill or Oakdale.

Leave It to Beaver's Tony Dow starred as Chet in
Never Too Young.
ABC jumped on the youth kick that same day with Never Too Young, with Malibu Beach as its locale. Little more than a continuing beach party, it featured Tony Dow, Robin Grace and Tommy Rettig. It emanated from California and exited on June 24, 1966.

The network's other new offering was the complete opposite--a hospital soap with an unending sea of incredible melodramatics. That was The Nurses, a serialized version of an old CBS nighttime drama. The weekday show starred Mary Fickett as nurse Liz Thorpe of Alden General Hospital, with Melinda Plank, Nat Polen, Judson Laire, Sally Gracie and Paul Stevens in other important roles. Produced by Doris Quinlan, it departed on March 31, 1967.

Maree Cheatham, Macdonald Carey and Mary Jackson
starred as Marie, Tom and Alice Horton in the Days of our
pilot. Jackson was replaced by Frances Reid as
Alice when Days premiered on November 8, 1965.
The last serial attempt of 1965, however, was certainly no fad. Days of our Lives made its debut on November 8 as a creation of Irna Phillips, Ted Corday and Allan Chase. The saga of the problem-plagued Hortons, it limped along for two years and then took off like a shot. Macdonald Carey (Dr. Tom Horton), Frances Reid (Alice Horton) and John Clarke (Mickey Horton) remain the stars.

Continue reading Part 6 of A Complete, Concise Yearly History of TV Soap Operas - 1947 to 1977...


  1. Thanks so much for this.It is so informative.

  2. Dark Shadows is coming up in the next installment, no?