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Bright Promise

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Anyone remember "Bright Promise"?

It aired on NBC at 3:30 pm from Sept. 1969-March 1972, and centered on young people in a university town.

I was in high school at the time, and remember falling for Susan Brown, who played BP's heroine Martha Ferguson -- whose college professor husband cheated on her with a student.

I write to Susan numerous times during the show's run, as well as afterwards when she joined GH and PC, and she responded every time with nice notes, BP scripts, and more... what a classy lady.

"Bright Promise" was a terrific soap, I thought, ahead of its time -- no doubt aided by Gloria Monty's leadership.

A young Tony Geary was in the cast, and I remember his making an indelible impression as a young man of seemingly "limited capacity" taken in by Martha (Susan Brown) who turned out to be a creative, artistic type. Geary sang on the show, strumming a guitar, and I can still hear one of those songs in my head, "Hello, Rainbow," that played in one of the show's last episodes.

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I would kill to see "Bright Promise". There is a wonderful site devoted to Susan Brown's work and unfortunately this is the only soap they seem to be lacking information on. What a pity as it sounds rather fascinating once it dumped the Boswells and the college and focused on the antics of Sandra Jones and the Pierce family.

The set up for the later episodes seems like classic soap with the Martha/Sandra rivalry and the Sandra's marriage to Martha's brother. I would love to see the storyline with Anthony Geary playing David Lockhart who turned out to be the illegitimate son of the late Sylvia Bancroft, who Martha went on trial for killing.

I think both Bright Promise and Return to Peyton Place should have been given more time to develop.

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The action on Bright Promise centers around David Lockhart, who has returned to the college town of Bancroft to seek out his real parents. Their identity is known to everyone but him. On the surface it appears as if David wants to learn the facts so he can share their lives. Outwardly he holds no resentment. But under truth syrum, it is discovered that when he finds them, he plans to kill them. In the meantime, it becomes apparent that he really does know them, though only as causal friends and fellow residents of Bancfort and that he likes them very much.

Bright Promise, approaching its third season, is produced by Jerry Layton in association with Bing Crosby Productions. It is seen weekdays on NBC-TV and originates from Burbank, California.

The cast of characters are:

SUSAN BROWN (Martha Ferguson) was born in San Francisco, California. "I've wanted to be part of the theatre ever since I was eight years old and saw my first play. From that age on I began to write, direct and act out my own material and charge admission!" she states. "So, being an actress as a grown-up is like a dream come true." Susan completed her dramatic education at the American Theatre Wing School in New York and for some time after that, thought New York was where she'd stay. While she did television commercials (she was the famous "Wanda the Witch"), she also performed on stage, in stock productions, and guest-starred on various TV series. Returning to California ten years later for her work on Bright Promise, the actress now says she has no plans to leave again. Susan's other series have been From These Roots and The Young Marrieds.

For Bright Promise, she plays a reserved, overwrought woman. "I'm not at all like Martha," she tells us, commenting on her role. Susan is soft-spoken and a much happier person, while many of Martha's reactions and reservations have to do with the kind of life a small college town like Bancroft offers. Because of Martha's shell, she is often the recipient of problems everyone else seems compelled to unburden, while she herself has little realization that some of her own problems are far more serious.

Susan approves of the idea of daytime series. "I love working with the same people each day. It gets to be like a little close-knit family." She is unmarried and lives in North Hollywood. Her spare time is spent reading, gardening and playing with her animals.

GAIL KOBE (Ann Boyd Jones) portrays the Dean of Women at Bancroft College and in real life has her own drama class at Valley State College. She is therefore very much concerned with the campus, both on and off-screen. Gail is also an active member of Theatre West in Hollywood and has been an assistant director for several productions at the Mark Taper Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Directing has been her goal, but like numerous other females, she has to ask the question; "When will women's ambitions be taken seriously?" Outside of Ida Lupino (who is presently making a comeback as an actress), and four or five others out of a union of 500, women are seldom given the director's helm.

Teaching invigorates Gail. "I thought I could never teach," she says, "but I love it. I stress activities I feel will make my students stretch their talents." Before joining Bright Promise she was a regular on Peyton Place and has been a guest star in more than 150 television shows. In her spare time Gail, born Gabriella Kieliszewski in Detroit, Michigan, likes to sew and cook, do needlepoint as well as build furniture. Gail is single and lives in Van Nuys.

ANYTHONY EISLEY (Charles Diedrich) just recently joined the cast as a regular. His familiar face can be seen in many current product commercials, and he's remembered best for his three years in Hawaiian Eye. 20 years ago he starred in A Date With Life and has appeared on The Secret Storm. In television's early years, he was in Playhouse 90, Studio One and Perry Mason. More recently, he's appeared in The Name of the Game, Wild, Wild West and Ironside, among others. On Bright Promise, Eisley plays a rich man with a mysterious background which, as the story unfolds, ties in with the whole cast of characters. He is currently showing interest in Martha and trying to get close to his son.

The handsome, Philadelphia-born actor says he's glad to be back in a series because of the sense of security and the feeling of being settled, although his first month with the program proved to be quite hectic. The day Anthony was called to begin working full-time, he had just signed a lease for an apartment in Oceanside which is close to San Diego and three and a half hours from the Burbank studios. He decided that wife Judie and their four offspring should stay and enjoy themselves and that he'd get down whenever possible. So he began commuting on weekends and spending the rest of his time in their rambling home in North Hollywood.

REGINA GLEASON (Sylvia Bancroft) might be called a jack of all trades. She's been a stewardess for American Airlines has a real estate broker's license and is a certified dental assistant. However, this graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts says acting is her first love. So far Regina has appeared in 30 plays in Hollywood and more than 500 nighttime television shows, including Ironside and Love, American Style. She is divorced and lives with her two daughters, Jennifer and Julie, in Sherman Oaks. In the plot of Bright Promise, she is the real mother of David Lockhart and has taken over the part from Anne Jeffreys. While everyone else knows about their relationship, so far David doesn't. Tension mounts as her daughter wants to identify with David, and Sylvia Bancroft fears that others in the town might spill the news.

Born in San Diego, California, Regina has more than 80 relatives still there, including her brother, Dr. Matthew Gleason, a famous plastic surgeon. He just recently handed her an interesting assignment. Life magazine wants to write him up, so he called her to ask if she'd help him find a patient.

MARK MILLER (Howard Jones) can best be remembered for his most recent role a few years ago in Please Don't Eat the Daisies. For that NBC show, he wrote three episodes, one of which won an Emmy. He has been the star of four other television series and has appeared in numerous other television shows, plays and films. Eventually he would like to go on to directing. Born in Houston, Texas, Mark is married to Bea Miller, a writer. They live in Brentwood with their three daughters, Marisa, Penelope and Savannah. Mark studied architecture in college but also wrote and acted in plays. One of them won him an award that led to the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.

Mark is an elder in the Presbyterian Church and each Sunday has a rap session with other members. He believes; "You can't leave your roots. They have you in their tentacles for life." It is for this reason and because his father was a colorful oil man, that he is planning to do a book about him someday. Regarding plays, he doesn't think young people can write good ones because they do not have the experience, although he admits there are exceptions.

Edited by CarlD2

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DABNEY COLEMAN (Dr. Tracy Graham) started out to be a lawyer but after a year and a half of schooling at Texas University, decided acting was really more satisfying. He enrolled at New York's American Academy of Dramatic Arts and after his first play, he was really hooked. Dabney and his actress-wife Jean Hale and their two children live in Pacific Palisades. They enjoy gardening together as well as being avid tennis players.

As the attractive and interesting Dr. Graham on Bright Promise, he has infatuated Martha Ferguson (Susan Brown). She can not get her divorce (husband was played by Paul Lukather) and so far the good Doctor is not putting up a fight to gain Martha's affection. Dabney was a regular on That Girl and has done many films including I Love My Wife, Downhill Racer and The President's Plane Is Missing, a movie made for television. Also included in his credits are numerous television commercials.

TONY GEARY (David Lockhart) started with probably the hardest role on the show - that of a mentally retarded child just released from a sanitarium because of age, put out on his own to try and make a life for himself. The part has been upgraded considerably to where David is now in college, has a job at the hospital with Dr. Walsh and a cute little girlfriend named Judy Jacobs. Soon part of the long plot will unfold and he'll discover he's really part of the Bancroft family - and - well, we wouldn't want to spoil all the fun for you.

Tony was born in Coalville, Utah. He left the University of Utah in his junior year when he was selected to play Jack Albertson and Martha Scott's son for the stage show The Subject Was Roses. Tony has done a great deal of other stage work, guest-starred on numerous series and was recently seen in the John Wayne special Swing Out, Sweet Land. He is a bachelor and resides in a remote log cabin in North Hollywood. Tony considers himself a loner but hopes to find the right girl and settle down. Some of his spare time is spent playing the guitar and writing.

JOHN CONSIDINE (Dr. Brian Walsh) is part of a show-business family. His father is producer-director John Considine, Jr. and his grandfather was in vaudeville as well as having been a theatre owner. Born and raised in Los Angeles, John went on to graduate from UCLA. Then he headed for New York, where he studied with Lee Strasberg. John has many films as well as other series to his credit including The F.B.I., Mannix and Marcus Welby, MD. He and his brother, actor Tim Considine, have co-authored numerous scripts presented on television.

John and his wife Toby resided in Pacific Palisades with their three sons, John, Kevin and David. In addition to acting, he keeps in shape and with what's going on with the kids by coaching football and basketball. He also teaches an adult television writing course at Palisades High School.

DAVID LEWIS (Dean Henry Pierce) has always wanted to be an actor. "My father's diaries say this was true from the time I was a year old! Acting however, turned out to be totally different than I had expected," he admits. "It's a marvelous life if you are prepared to go hungry part of the time. If anyone asked me about becoming a professional, I'd discourage them. If they still wanted to, I'd help them all I could. Personally, I have no drives in any other direction. I'm miserable when I'm not acting. It is my way of expressing how I feel about things." Lewis has guest-starred on numerous series and was a regular in The Farmer's Daughter which ran for three seasons, The John Forsythe Show and Peter Loves Mary. For King of Hearts, with Donald Cook and Jackie Cooper, David received the Clarence Derwent Award. Some of his motion pictures are Generation, The Apartment and That Certain Feeling.

David sticks by daytime serials saying, "People in real life aren't really as poised as they appear to be in slick plays and major motion pictures. Their lives are more complicated. Even when they have a problem solved, they fluctuate and go over and over it again." Five years ago he almost had a change of heart about acting. He became very interested in metaphysics and even considered going into the ministry but opted instead to continue performing. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania he is still single and lives in North Hollywood. He loves to paint and do home remodeling.

PAMELA MURPHY (Sandy Jones) left Pittsburgh for New York to seek her fortune and fame and began by doing singing commercials for the New York Transit Authority. She's appeared in two other series, Our Private World and Search for Tomorrow, before joining Bright Promise. She has also guest-starred in numerous roles for such series as Medical Center and Hawaii Five-O. Pamela is married to producer-director Michael Maeredy, and they live in West Hollywood.

PETER RATRAY (Stuart Peirce) always wanted to be an actor, "but when you're a little kid from the Midwest, you just don't go around telling everyone." Two years in college at Ohio State University and he still hadn't changed his mind. Peter quit school and headed for New York. "I have the typical story," he laughs. "With sixty bucks in my pocket and not knowing a soul, I was going to conquer the town." After a few walk-ons, the breaks came, and they were followed by over 70 major roles, both on Broadway and in small towns on the theatre circuit. Peter previously starred in The New People for ABC and was in two other daytime serials, Love is a Many Splendored Thing and Our Private World. He and his pretty wife, actress Ann Willis, reside in Hollywood in what used to be a temple for the Theosophy Society. Peter and Ann spend as much time as possible together, sharing the same hobbies, such as doing the paintings that adorn their walls and going to junk shops. "Antique stores are a bore," he points out. "They're all sterile while the junkier the shop, the more you're likely to find."

Edited by CarlD2

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I thought someone would comment on that.

He looks a bit like Bill Eckert there.

Khan, is this one of those shows you wished you'd seen?

All I've seen is the opening credits shot with Dana Andrews, who was already gone by this time apparently.

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Khan, is this one of those shows you wished you'd seen?

Not really, no. In fact, come to think of it, there aren't any old soaps that I haven't seen that I'd like to. Except, maybe classic DOCTORS and EDGE OF NIGHT. (I watched those shows with my mom when I was little, but both were in serious decline by that point.)

Edited by Khan

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When did you start watching those shows? I know EON's decline was supposed to have started what, 83?

Heh, I always enjoy your analysis of soaps, so I was hoping you were as obsessed with the older soaps as I am.

There are some I don't care about seeing -- of the old ones I mostly want to see SFT, LOL, and Where the Heart Is.

This one, on paper, doesn't do a lot for me, but reading some comments about it and knowing the cast from elsewhere, I get a little more interested.

I also want to see all of A World Apart, because of the cast, and because of the last episode, with the christening and Clifton Davis singing "Everything Is Beautiful." I love that episode.

Is any of Bright Promise available?

When I saw this stuff I thought some fans here might want to read it -- I hope a few BP fans are still here.

I guess BP isn't the greatest term these days...

Edited by CarlD2

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I remember both "Bright Promise" and "How to Survive a Marriage" very, very vaguely ... nothing about the storylines, really, just a fond feeling for certain cast members ... Susan Brown, Dabney Coleman and Tony Geary on BP and Fran Brill, Rosemary Prinz and Jennifer Harmon on HTSM. I'd love to see both shows again.

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I'd like to see them too. I am especially interested in the story on HTSAM about Fran Brill becoming a widow and having to learn to take care of herself.

Were you surprised when Dabney Coleman became such a prominent film and primetime actor? Did he ever talk about his soap work?

I have a few HNTSAM things and one or two more BP things I will be posting when I can, so I hope you get to read them.

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I'd say it's quite possible all of BP exists. It was produced by Bing Crosby Productions (Ben Casey, Hogan's Heroes), which is now owned by CBS, so perhaps perhaps.

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