FLASHBACK: A Complete, Concise Yearly History of TV Soap Operas - 1947 to 1977 (Part 6)

Dark Shadows starred Louis Edmonds and Joan Bennett as siblings
Roger Collins and Elizabeth Collins Stoddard.
A Complete, Concise Yearly History of TV Soap Operas

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

(continued from Part 5)

The final attempt at serial anthology to date was Confidential for Women, which stuck it out a few months on ABC. It involved week-long stories based on cases of co-narrator Dr. Theodore Isaac Rubin. Jane Wyatt was the key narrator.

On June 27, 1966, ABC instituted another fad. Fortunately, it was a long-running and commercially successful fad in daytime. It was Dark Shadows, created by Dan Curtis and produced by Robert Costello. The spooky, campy account of ghastly doings in the Collingwood mansion, it made stars out of Jonathan Frid, David Selby, Kate Jackson, Donna McKechnie and Roger Davis, and was graced by such "established" talents as Joan Bennett, Grayson Hall, Clarice Beckham, Anthony George and Jerry Lacy. It ended April 2, 1971, when it was decided the show ran its course.

Wedding scene, on the set, from Love is a Many
Splendored Thing
CBS, which hadn't premiered a soap in seven years, enlisted Irna Phillips in adapting a serial very loosely from a famous novel and movie. Love is a Many Splendored Thing concerned the in-laws of the book's protagonist Mark Elliot, who intermarried with other surrounding families in San Francisco. A stylish and refreshing story, it was a fabulous stepping stone for David Birney, Donna Mills and Leslie Charleson (now Dr. Monica Webber on General Hospital), all beautiful and talented young performers. Other established serial veterans on the series included Judson Laire, Gloria Hoye, Jane Manning, Albert Stratton and Paula Trueman. Its most popular producer was John Conboy, who brought his special stylish magic to The Young and the Restless. Its head writer regimes were among the finest: Jane and Ira Avery, Don Ettinger, James Lipton, and finally Ann Marcus (Days of our Lives). After numerous cast changes alienated viewers, it was lopped off on March 23, 1973, after five and a half years.

Agnes Nixon (top) created One Life to Live in 1968.
ABC finally scored another hit on July 15 with Agnes Nixon's One Life to Live. Mrs. Nixon, a protege of Irna Phillips, had been head writer of The Guiding Light and Another World before creating this individualistic story of American families from all ethnic groups and walks of life who found their melting pop in the city of Llanview, supposedly outside of Philadelphia. Lee Patterson has been playing Joe Riley, editor of the Banner, since the shows's inception (except for a year's absence). Another original, Lillian Hayman, returned as Sadie Gray after several years. Other originals on the show included Doris Belack, Allan Miller, Patricia Roe, Ernest Graves, Antony Ponzini and Trish van Devere.

On December 30, NBC started Hidden Faces which immediately had two strikes against it. It was trying to emulate Edge of Night in its crime drama aspect (Irving Vendig created Faces with Charles Fisher and Lawrence White, all Edge alumni), and it was scheduled opposite the almighty As the World Turns. Conard Fowkes, Gretchen Walther, Tony LoBianco, Stephen Joyce and Ludi Claire starred, and it was terminated on June 30, 1969.

Where the Heart Is starred James Mitchell as
Julian Hathaway.
This was the year that the CBS Television network leased Love of Life and The Secret Storm from American Home Products, abruptly forcing out Roy Winsor. Besides owning Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, the network went ahead on a fourth project which came from the typewriters of former Edge writers Lou Scofield and Margaret DePriest. It was Where the Heart Is, the engrossing (but often hilarious) saga of the moderately wealthy Hathaway family in the very proper Connecticut town of Northcross. Diana van der Vlis was Kate, James Mitchell was Julian, and Louise Shaffer was Allison. Other performers included Diana Walker, Gregory Abels, Mark Gordon, Delphi Harrington, Barbara Boxley, David Cryer and Priscilla Pointer. Its final writing regime was that of Claire Labine and Paul Avila Mayer, who went on to write Love of Life and create the popular Ryan's Hope. It began September 8, 1969, and would probably still be running had network dealings not become so sticky in 1973. It ended on March 23 of that year, along with Love Is a Many Splendored Thing. Its last two directors--Richard Dunlap and Bill Glenn--also directed Love's replacement, The Young and the Restless.

NBC and Bing Crosby Productions in Hollywood came up with a daytime vehicle for Dana Andrews entitled Bright Promise, created by Frank and Doris (General Hospital) Hursley and directed originally by Gloria Monty (Secret Storm, General Hospital). Andrews played Tom Boswell, president of Bancroft College, with support from Coleen Gray, Ivor Francis, Richard Eastham, Susan Brown and Paul Lukather. After Andrews left and the show changed format, the ratings rose but not enough. Born: September 29, 1969. Died: March 30, 1972.

Continue reading Part 7 of A Complete, Concise Yearly History of TV Soap Operas - 1947 to 1977...

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