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Love Is a Many Splendored Thing

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Carl, thanks for the 60's scans. I loved Nancy Hsueh and thought she was so beautiful. At the time, she was the only American-Asian actress on soaps, and one of the few in daytime history. I begged my parents to take me to see the film Targets in 1968 because Nancy was in it. She was a good actress, and her life was sadly cut short before she was even 40 years old. Her husband Danny Carr is a nice looking fellow. They remained married until Nancy's death. Thanks for these memories. Of the short run soaps, Love Is a Many Splendored Thing is one that I miss the most.

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We may never truly know what happened to Meredith Baxter and David Birney. None of us are privy to what goes on behind closed doors. On one hand, I want to side with David Birney, but his silence, so far, about Meredith's upcoming book speaks volumes. Meredith has always portrayed strong women in all her TV and TV movie roles, so, I find it a little bit hard to believe that she was not as strong in real life.

And Meredith's mother Whitney Blake created the sitcom One Day at a Time, which focused on the resilient Ann Romano, a staunch feminist. Your correlation between Meredith's onscreen and real life personas is interesting, because I dislike David Birney for the same reason. He plays such arsey characters on television, it is easy for me to imagine him being arsey in real life. David was supposed to be the big deal as Mark Elliot, but personally, I preferred Tom Fuccello's Mark

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I never knew her mother was involved in that, I always just thought it was Norman Lear.

I'm glad you enjoyed the scans. I have a few more (not of Nancy unfortunately) I mean to post sometime.

She really is stunning and it annoys me that she was fired and that Asians still seem to have no place on soaps. The idea of hey let's fire the Asian and then our show will take off played out again on Sunset Beach.

What did you think of Diana Douglas on the show? She's the one I seem to see the most articles about at the time (aside from the young stars), I guess because of her marriage to Kirk.

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Two more facts:

1) Cissy Houston supposedly named her daughter, Whitney, after Ms. Blake, who co-created ODAAT w/ her husband, and former "Good Times" writer, Allan Manings.

2) The first ODAAT pilot was actually written by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, who went on to create "Designing Women," among other shows. I don't know whether it was her pilot that had Ann mother to only one daughter, but I know at some point, someone decided Ann needed a second. Hence, Valerie Bertinelli.

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I never knew her mother was involved in that, I always just thought it was Norman Lear.

I'm glad you enjoyed the scans. I have a few more (not of Nancy unfortunately) I mean to post sometime.

She really is stunning and it annoys me that she was fired and that Asians still seem to have no place on soaps. The idea of hey let's fire the Asian and then our show will take off played out again on Sunset Beach.

What did you think of Diana Douglas on the show? She's the one I seem to see the most articles about at the time (aside from the young stars), I guess because of her marriage to Kirk.

I liked Diana very much. She was very warm and motherly in the role and made a good matriarch with Judson Laire's Will Donnelly. They had a sweet romance, marrying within a year after Lily's arrival on the series. Judson Laire was very good in his role, too, and everyone rooted for him to be happy. Diana's Lily was the perfect mate for him. It is a shame soaps moved away from those types of characters because they created a solid foundation for the story.

I thought Love Is a Many Splendored Thing had such an intimate family feel to it. All of the characters were friends and family, and there were seldom real villains on the show as part of the regular cast. The marriage of Will and Lily was also a marriage of the Chernak and Donnelly families, so that Pete and Betsy were automatically accepted by the audience. I loved scenes with Will providing counsel to fellow doctors Pete and Betsy, he treated them as if they were his bilogical children, and Iris and Laura sought Lily's sound advice when they had problems. If the soap were rebooted today, the writers would probably make Lily a bitch, and have Pete and Betsy plotting to kidnap and murder Will or something equally repugnant.

Off the top of my head, I can only think of one truly warm matriarch left in soaps, and that's Erika Slezak's Viki. But, Lily was working class and had struggled to provide a good future for her children. This was another good aspect of LIAMST. The writers often paired incongruent characters, so that Betsy, fiercely independent, fell in love with a man who wanted a wife and family. Wealthy Helen Elliot married cop Tom Donnelly, who was uncomfortable with his wife's money. There were natural conflicts within characters to generate story.

Love Is a Many Splendored Thing was a good soap. It would not go over today because it was too optimistic and positive. It is similar to Ryan's Hope in that respect, but LIAMST had more plot and moved at a faster pace than RH.

Edited by saynotoursoap

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Two more facts:

1) Cissy Houston supposedly named her daughter, Whitney, after Ms. Blake, who co-created ODAAT w/ her husband, and former "Good Times" writer, Allan Manings.

2) The first ODAAT pilot was actually written by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, who went on to create "Designing Women," among other shows. I don't know whether it was her pilot that had Ann mother to only one daughter, but I know at some point, someone decided Ann needed a second. Hence, Valerie Bertinelli.

#1 I knew. #2 I did not. That is interesting, Khan. Designing Women and ODAAT both had "issue" stories, but the approach toward the humor was different. Do know anything about Linda's script? Was the humor different than the Norman Lear style? Why was her script rejected? Fascinating.

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The way you describe the show makes me want to see it. It sounds fantastic. I have mostly only read about it, and the stories seemed fairly dark at times (like the bad seed story) so it's nice to hear they had a warm tone.

Do you think CBS should have given the show more time? If they had do you think it might have regained steam?

What did you think of Michael Zaslow and Paul Michael Glaser?

I also wonder if Michael Hawkins was better here than he was on RH.

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She really is stunning and it annoys me that she was fired and that Asians still seem to have no place on soaps. The idea of hey let's fire the Asian and then our show will take off played out again on Sunset Beach.

I cannot comment on Sunset Beach. To be honest, I have never seen a complete episode of Sunset Beach. I do have the overseas promo episode for it used by Channel Five for the UK launch. From all of the clips and commentary, it looks intentionally campy and fun.

I agree about Asian characters. Despite the woeful neglect of minorities in general on soaps, Asian characters have been underutilized even more than African American and Latino characters. I still look on in disbelief when I see Kassie Wesley playing Blair on One Life. I will concede that Kassie made Blair the long running character she is. Perhaps Mia Korf never would have succeeded on that level, but it is ridiculous that Blair was established as an American Asian character, and it was later dropped. If Timothy Stickney had not been successful as R.J., would the producers have recasted with a blond haired white guy? I think not. I miss Phillip Moon as Keemo on Y&R, too.

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Early on Sunset had an Asian actress, Kelly Hu, in a love story with Tim Adams. Then they brought in some hokey thing about an arranged marriage, but it was obvious she was in love with Adams. Suddenly, she was fired, and she went off with this fiance she suddenly loved. The show never had any Asian characters again.

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Do you think CBS should have given the show more time? If they had do you think it might have regained steam?

I did not think it ever really lost steam, but from a financial standpoint, I suppose CBS did the right thing. CBS wanted to remain atop the ratings. Cutting LIAMST and Where the Heart Is helped CBS maintain its ratings. Also, LIAMST was never really a hit comparatively. Yes, it had a healthy rating and share, but it followed ATWT on the schedule and lost huge numbers of households. Throughout most of its run following ATWT, LIAMST was down anywhere from 3 to 4 full rating points, which is more than significant. GL only lost 1 - 2 rating points in the same slot.

In terms of quality, I preferred LIAMST over most of ATWT and the rest of the P&G soaps on CBS. I thought that CBS' house produced soaps, while lower rated, were fresh, interesting, and better productions. LIAMST had good storylines. The actors were attractive AND talented. The sets were much better than P&G's. LIAMST had a more contemporary look, partly because it was set in California and partly because of the youth influence. It was bright and colorful. I recall how dreadful the sets were on P&G. They looked as if they had been left over from the 50's with out of date wallpaper, furniture, and fixtures. Even Eddie Layton's organ music managed to sound more upbeat and pop flavored than the rest of the lot. I really do not know why the series was not better accepted by the audience, but then again, the popularity of some high rated, long running soaps escapes me. It is all down to personal taste.

What did you think of Michael Zaslow and Paul Michael Glaser?

I also wonder if Michael Hawkins was better here than he was on RH.

I liked all of the Pete Chernaks. Paul Michael Glaser was an earthier Pete, more overtly physical, especially with the ladies. He seemed like a working class guy who had fought his way to the top of a successful career. Michael Zaslow's Pete was not as rough around the edges. Perhaps it was the physical differences in the actors. PMG is beefier than Zaslow and just looks like he comes from a modest background. Zaslow had a natural elegance about him, which he used well later as Roger Thorpe. I am not saying that he was effeminate, but he approached Pete with greater sophistication -as if he were already settled and enjoying the finer things in life. I do not know why Zaslow was replaced. He did not play the part long. Vince Baggetta's Pete was more like Paul Michael Glaser's interpretation, and I wonder if that was the reason for the change. Of the three, it is Vince's Pete I remember the most, but of course, he played the part longer.

No, Michael Hawkins was awful on LIAMST, too. Hawkins is like Jonathan Frid, a slow study. But the lost, stricken look in Frid's eyes worked for the character whereas it did not for Mark Elliott and Frank Ryan. Hawkins should not act on soaps or any program in which he has to memorize new lines daily. Also, he looked ancient compared to the other Marks. Seriously, he came off as being 40ish, and Mark was supposed to be in his late 20's. Hawkins is somewhat sleazy, too. In the 70's, while separated from Mary Jo Slater, he intimated to the press that he was having an affair with Veleka Gray, which she, outraged, denied. I did not care for Veleka Gray and Hawkins as Mark and Laura. If Hawkins had to play Mark forever, I would have preferred him being offed in that garage by Maria. I was happy when Gray and Hawkins left. Barbara Stanger and Tom Fuccello did not attain the same viewer popularity as Mills and Birney, but I liked them just fine as a couple.

Edited by saynotoursoap

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I was reading in a January 1968 TV Picture Life daytime roundup thing, and in the section for LIAMST, they say that before the show began airing, Leslie Charleson replaced Brooke Mills.

Have any of you ever heard anything about this?

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It's funny how in the past people looked older than they do today.

It's like movies from the 40's where everyone looked and acted over 30 or even 40 but were actually often in their twenties.

Marlena Laird went on to direct GH in the Monty years.

Whatever happened to Chuck Weiss?

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I'm more interested in why Marlena Laird is dressed like a supervillainess from the old Spiderwoman comic.

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