FLASHBACK: A Complete, Concise Yearly History of TV Soap Operas - 1947 to 1977 (Part 7)

All My Children starred Karen Gorney as Tara Martin and
Richard Hatch as Philip Brent.
A Complete, Concise Yearly History of TV Soap Operas

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

(continued from Part 6)

On January 5, an excited ABC launched the serial which became its number one daytime draw, and one of the most famous serials of all time. All My Children, created by Agnes Nixon and produced by Bud Kloss, began with Rosemary Prinz as an extra boost to the cast. The folksy blend of romance, fantasy and caricatured satire set in Pine Valley caught on almost immediately. A traditional family design involves the wealthy Tylers and the humble Martins, with premiere cast members Mary Fickett, Ray MacDonnell, Ruth Warrick, Hugh Franklin, Frances Heflin and Susan Lucci still in the series. A favorite among college students, it is the subject of a book by Dan Wakefield, entitled "All Her Children."

On March 30 of this year, ABC premiered two less successful serials and NBC brought forth a spin-off.

The Best of Everything ran a mere six months on ABC and ended September 25. James Lipton adapted it from the Rona Jaffe novel about the woes of working girls in New York, set mainly at Key Publishing Company. It publicized its "stars"--Geraldine Fitzgerald, Gale Sondergaard and Patty McCormack--very highly, but no go. Don Wallace was executive producer; Jacqueline Babbin produced!

A World Apart was created by Katherine L. Phillips, Irna's daughter, and combined Irna Phillips' own life story with examples of the generation gap. Susan Sarandon and Matthew Cowles were siblings Patrice and Chris Kahlman, adopted children of soap opera writer Better Kahlman (played by Elizabeth Lawrence and later Augusta Dabney) who had never married. A well-written family drama in the World Turns vein, it also featured Susan Sullivan, James Noble, Kathleen Maguire, Stephen Elliott, Tom Ligon and William Price. Set in Chicago, and taped in New York, its directors included Tom Donovan and Walter Gorman. Donovan also produced. It was cancelled June 25, 1971.

Part of the final cast of NBC's defunct Somerset.
NBC's debut was a highly-touted off-shoot of Another World called Another World: Somerset, while the mother show became Another World: Bay City. This spin-off featured Another World regulars Jordan Charney (as attorney Sam Lucas), Ann Wedgeworth (Lahoma Lucas) and Carol Roux (Melissa Matthews) whose characters relocated to Somerset, fifty miles away from Bay City. Robert Cenedella was head writer of the two shows at the same time, but in 1971 the new show became simply Somerset and the characters ceased to intervisit between shows. Produced by Lyle B. Hill, its cast over the years included Paul Sparer, Georgann Johnson, Edward Kemmer, Joel Crothers, Gloria Hoye, Michael Lipton and Jobeth Williams. After numerous cast reshufflings, writer changes and drastic storyline upheavals, this erratic and chaotic account of contrived small-town tragedies finally bit the dust on December 31, 1976.

Viewer interest in serials had sagged badly because of too many of them being aired. So NBC arrived at a possible way out of the daytime doldrums by replacing Bright Promise with Return to Peyton Place on April 3. Writer James Lipton and executive producer Don Wallace (both of The Best of Everything) performed the same chores to get Peyton off the ground in the daytime. Patricia Morrow (Rita Harrington), Evelyn Scott (as tavern owner Ada Jacks) and Frank Ferguson (as general store operator Eli Carson) repeated their nighttime roles, with other important roles filled by Guy Stockwell, Bettye Ackerman, Warren Stevens, Julie Parrish and Katherine Glass. The story sagged, and the show never made it--it died January 4, 1974.

Continue reading Part 8 of A Complete, Concise Yearly History of TV Soap Operas - 1947 to 1977...

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