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Sedrick

HOW TO SURVIVE A MARRIAGE

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I didn't know about Fran Brill being a puppeteer! Thanks for that tidbit. I wish I had taken notes all those years ago when I was watching the shows! I naively believed they would always be around and as entertaining as they were then. Looking forward to the other articles!

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Apparently this short-lived soap did have enough time to do a special one-hour episode. Maybe a stunt too little to late, but this ad comes from I believe January 1975:

nbcday750106-2.jpg

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Not exactly the most flattering photos for an ad.

I wish I could see the premiere that got so many complaints.

Edited by CarlD2

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That new time of 1.30 put the show up against ATWT and was the final nail in the coffin.The show was displaced from 3.30 by AW expanding and then a few months later DOOL expanded and took the 1.30 timeslot.

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I liked Jennifer Harmon, but I get what you are saying about her speech pattern! She drove me crazy on Guiding Light as the nutcase who was stalking Daniel. She was nutty, but fun.

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Until I read this I thought the widowhood story started when the show did. How long was it before he died? I wish I could see that story, as Schemering talked about how good it was.

I think that some works suffered with how to write a feminist heroine, in how to not make them seem too hard or unsympathetic. Is that what happened with Harmon?

I had no idea that Lynn Lowry was in so many horror movies or in Score, which was written up as being an intellectual type of pseudo-porn, bisexual film. Do you remember her character on this show?

I hope this brought back some memories for you. I haven't seen a lot of the show in magazines so this one I was interested in.

I just saw this thread. If anyone is still interested, David Bachman died the first week of July 1974, exactly six months into the series.

It was a very well-written storyline, amazingly shocking for that era with so many details typically glossed over on other soaps. I remember after David had the first attack and was hospitalized, the doctors told him that he probably would not survive due to irreversible damage to his heart. He insisted on signing papers that would allow his organs to be donated after his death. This was fairly shocking for 1974 and so different from the norm of everyone gathering around the patient to reassure him that everything would be okay. Those scenes of David telling Fran about the organ donation, the realization that he would indeed die, along with his goodbye to his sixteen year-old daughter Rachel (who blamed herself for the heart attack) were so heartbreaking. The last scene, when David was suddenly seized with a second attack and Julie held his writhing body as Fran stood by quietly watching her husband die...it is unforgettable.

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That sounds so sad. Was it too much for viewers? It's amazing how much of a risk soaps at this time would take and how they respected the intelligence of viewers.

Why did Rachel blame herself? I guess they must have argued.

Didn't this actor have a similar death on OLTL as Dave Seigel? I've seen photos of him and he seems like an actor I would have been very interested in. Unfortunately I've never seen any of his work.

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David owned a garment manufacturing business and had gone into deep debt. He hid the declining fortunes from his family. As Rachel's 16th birthday approached, she desired a lavish sweet sixteen party. David was tormented. He loved his daughter deeply but knew that he could not afford the party as he was actually bankrupt. He was ashamed, distraught, and felt less than a man because he could not provide even simple things like a birthday party for his daughter. Rachel was unaware of this and began to argue petulantly with David almost daily. Under tremendous stress, he finally consented to the party, but while hanging decorations, fell from a chair and suffered a heart attack. Rachel thought that her quarreling with him had caused the attack.

It was only upon his death that Fran and Rachel realized that extent of David's stress. It was a very difficult period for both mother and daughter. Rachel went into a severe depression and basically retreated from life. Fran did not have long to mourn or experience shock as she could not pay the mortgage on the house. She feared what would happen to her children as she had always been a wife and homemaker, and now she had a family to support in a world of economic crisis. Fran attempted to get a job, but she was considered either overeducated (she had a college degree) or not educated enough for more technical jobs. Rachel had to emerge from her depression and get a part-time job in a supermarket to help make ends meet. Fran's good friend Peter Willis co-signed a second mortgage, and Fran managed to hang on to her home, but it was tough and bleak. In today's world, with people losing homes and a recession looming, can you imagine a soap doing this today? The sensibility for daytime has changed. Now it is all about rewriting history so that you can have twins and the CIA and back from the dead, etc. How to Survive a Marriage truly reflected the period of time from whence it came, unlike today where you cannot find a single soap opera that even comes close to delineating anything remotely real and significant.

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Thanks. That sounds very harrowing and yet also easy to relate to. I can see why the woman who played Fran got so many letters and cards from viewers.

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Didn't Alan Miller and Rosemary Prinz play a married couple on Knots Landing years after HTSAM? Somehow involved with Laura Avery.

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Oh I forgot he played that part. So I have seen him. He was OK on there, just a little too old for the story to fully work. Yes. He was Laura's boss, Scooter, at the real estate place she worked out. They fell for each other, and he was going to leave his wife (Rosemary) but I think she got pregnant again by Richard.

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On paper,at least,HTSAM sounds ahead of its time,actually dealing with the realities of money and illness etc.

This is fertile ground for storytelling and if it is weaved in with the more traditional and fantasy elements,the shows would be all the better for it.

Current soaps play fast and loose with these issues and are hollow and lifeless as a result.

Saynotoursoap,your contributions are so fascinating and invaluable.Thank you!

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On paper,at least,HTSAM sounds ahead of its time,actually dealing with the realities of money and illness etc.

This is fertile ground for storytelling and if it is weaved in with the more traditional and fantasy elements,the shows would be all the better for it.

Current soaps play fast and loose with these issues and are hollow and lifeless as a result.

Saynotoursoap,your contributions are so fascinating and invaluable.Thank you!

I think it was ahead of its time, or at least, it attempted to do something that other soaps were not doing. I wish more soaps today would follow that way thinking rather than attempting to copy one another.

I do not intend to give the impression that How to Survive a Marriage was all doom and gloom. There were lighter moments. After David Bachman died, Fran became especially close to her next door neighbors The McGees, an Irish family consisting of Johnny McGee (Armand Assante) a former professional boxer, his mother Patricia, and his young bride Maria. Johnny refused to talk to about his boxing career and had taken up carpentry. Fran needed help around the house, little things that David had not taken care of, and she and Rachel did not know how to fix. Johnny offered to make all the repairs, as he knew she was struggling to keep her head above water. I remember an episode where they stayed up late sharing a pizza and just talking. Johnny confided to Fran that he had accidentally killed a man in a fight, and that is why he no longer boxed. He had become a carpenter so that he could create instead of destroy. The two were reaching out to one another to talk about their fears and the things that they could not articulate to their families. They had a warm moment and Fran laughed for the first time since David's death.

There were quiet scenes such as these that were intimate and not preachy as some of the scenes with Julie could be. In a way, it was like Ryan's Hope, perhaps even more realistic, though with dialogue that was not as poetic. But like RH, HTSAM did foster a feeling of hope, as the title suggests. The last scene of the series, in fact, had all of the remaining cast gathered at Noah's Ark and discussing how things had changed for the better during the previous year, and it ended with everyone laughing and raising their glasses in a toast "to survival".

Edited by saynotoursoap

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That sounds very moving.

Do you think the main story, Jennifer Harmon's divorce, was the weakest part of the show?

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That sounds very moving.

Do you think the main story, Jennifer Harmon's divorce, was the weakest part of the show?

No, Carl. Chris' story was the major storyline. The only thing I found clunky at all about the series was when Julie Franklin launched into one of her psych diatribes, which seemed more like a televised therapy session than drama. Had that aspect been toned down earlier, and the initial writing not so pedantic and hip, the soap would have been better. Despite this quibble, I do want to reiterate that in general the series was good, particularly as it went on and developed. NBC really never gave it chance, but the network was one of the more unforgiving for underachievers. Has everyone here seen the HTSAM clip on YT?

Edited by saynotoursoap

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