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Love of Life Discussion Thread

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Here's what was happening on Love of Life around April 76.

On this day in Rosehill, two doors slam: Ben slams Arlene's car door saying he can't run away with her, he loves his wife; Arlene slams the Hart's front door lashing out at Betsy: "Ben is my husband, not yours. We've been married for three years; you never were his wife." Betsy looks at Arlene in amazement and shouts: "You're lying. You're crazy, that can't be true." "It's true, sweetie," Arlene continues bitterly, "And it's about time you knew." Betsy's searching and pained eyes are still trying to discern whether what Arlene says is the truth when Ben walks in the door. Betsy runs into his arms and cries: "Arlene has been saying terrible things about you; tell me they're not true." Ben observes his wife's shaken state and realizes he owes her the truth. He takes Betsy aside and tells her the whole sorry tale. Ben couldn't have hurt her more if he had taken a butcher's knife and plunged it into her chest. Betsy runs to her room, crying in pain. Ben's guts are twisted into a knot, his eyes fight to hold back the tears; he realizes he may have lost the best thing that has ever happened in his life. He runs after Betsy and corners her in the bedroom. Ben tries to touch her, but she recoils in disgust. Her tear-streaked face speaks of the pain he has just caused her. Betsy tells Ben that as soon as her brother Tom arrives, she's going to leave this house. She never wants to see him again. Ben declares his love for her and begs her to stay, but in Betsy's eyes Ben has already showed his true colors and these declarations of love fall on deaf ears.

Felicia's new life with her husband brings back memories of a childhood spend caring for her invalid father. She's trying to remain strong for Charles, but the strain is beginning to show. Charles observes these cracks in her facade and worries that he may be placing too big a load on her shoulders. This is a frustrating realization, for he already knows he'll always have to rely on her for some things.

Cal is still getting flak about Rick from Eddie and Van. Both of them feels he's not the right sort of man for her. He's been involved with a lot of women and Cal is just too innocent to handle him. Cal tells them, in no uncertain terms, that it's her life -- and her love -- and to please stay out of it.

Betsy's World Crumbles

Betsy's whole world has gone into a tailspin. Her romanticized vision of the perfect love and marriage has been shattered like priceless stained glass. She sits in Cal's apartment trying -- unsuccessfully -- to put the pieces back together. Her friends and family rally around, attempting to nursemaid her back to emotional health; but it does very little good. Betsy is too wrapped up in her cocoon of grief to respond to their kindness.

The crude and callow cad (?) who did this to Rosehill's Pollyana is also suffering greatly for his sins. Ben desperately wants his wife and baby back. He's using every emotional ploy in the book to try to convince Betsy that he loves her; but it's all in vain. It's like the iceberg meeting the Titanic. Betsy's icy demeanor sinks all chances of Ben's ploys succeeding -- even when he shows Betsy some real divorce papers (Ben flew down to Haiti and got a divorce from Arlene), it does little to crack the ice. Wallowing in his grief and agony, Ben's now a man to be pitied.

Ben's Troubles Increase

Ben may be in for more than emotional grief if Jamie has his way. Jamie tells Meg he wants to prosecute Ben to the full extent of the law. He wants her darling son to pay for his actions. Jamie goes to see Betsy and asks her to sign a statement of the facts of the case. Betsy declines, saying she's not interested in vengeance; she doesn't want anything to do with Ben. Jamie's not about to take no for an answer. He leaves the statement with he saying: "Think about it Betsy. This isn't vengeance; it's justice. Don't you want Ben to pay for what he's done?"

Ray walks into the bar at Beaver Ridge. He spies Arlene sitting alone and in his usual gentlemanly manner, plops right down in the seat next to hers. Arlene tells him to get lost. Ray develops an immediate case of deafness and the words don't penetrate. He sees the distraught state Arlene's in and seizes upon the opportunity to make his move. Despite the repugnance she feels when she looks at this oily gent, Arlene responds a bit. Her need to talk -- or spew venom -- wins over any disgust she may be feeling.

Stretched to Her Breaking Point

Betsy is being pressured by Jamie to sign a complaint against Ben -- an action which could result in Ben's imprisonment. In her pain and confusion, she cannot feel joy at the first movements of her baby. In anguish, she goes to see Dr. Albertson, telling her she does not want the baby. The doctor manages to calm her down, reminding her that no matter what the state of things with the baby's father, Betsy's love for the baby is just as real as the baby itself. Don't, pleads Dr. Albertson, make the baby pay for the pain his father has caused. Calmer now, Betsy goes home feeling able to cope somehow with the things she must face.

Van rushes to smooth the waters until Betsy is calmer. Although she agrees with Bruce, that Ben probably deserves it, what purpose would it serve to have him put in prison? And how would Meg react? Van is further distressed by this situation when she learns that Rick knew all along about Ben's deception; with Rick and Cal so deeply involved, Van is concerned about the kind of man Rick is -- how can he help but, eventually hurt Cal?

Ben, busy packing a bag to leave Rosehill, will not be stopped, even by Meg. He almost wishes, he tells her, that Betsy would sign the complaint. Ignoring Meg's pleas that she will, somehow, get Betsy back for him, Ben replies that this time she can't buy an out for him. It is time he grew up and became a man, and maybe then Betsy would return to him.

Desperate, Meg goes to Betsy to beg her not to sign the paper and to offer a substantial trust fund for the baby. Once again she is coldly rebuffed. Betsy will not allow Meg's money to destroy her baby the way it destroyed Ben.

Feeling Utterly Deserted

Meg tells Rick that she wants out of the new project because she doesn't want Rick destroyed too, with her money. He is frantic, because this project is, to him, the answer to all his dreams, but philosophically he suggests they forget it for now and have a drink.

Van's, as well as Eddie's, fears for Cal's happiness seem very well founded when, well into their cups, Rick and Meg embrace quite passionately. He seems to have forgotten that he is secretly engaged to Cal and that he has given his word to Van that he would never, intentionally, hurt Cal.

Rick may be getting more than he bargains for when he says "go" to the Schuyler Mountain project. Meg will provide the financial backing -- without, she says, strings. He hopes she means it when she assures him that it is not a trade-off for their night together.

Cal Losing Out?

He asks himself what he has done, and when Cal arrives at the club, he is so preoccupied that he calls it short. Meg, standing unseen in the background, smiles when she hears Rick tell Cal not to mention their secret engagement to anyone.

Jamie tells the District Attorney about Ben's bigamy. The D.A. begins an investigation into the matter. Compelled by honor, Bruce hands over a letter he secured from Betsy. In the letter, Ben admitted to Betsy that he was already married to Arlene. Bruce is fearful that his action will destroy the new family feeling -- the only good thing arising from this mess.

He is right, at least as far as Meg is concerned. She will never forgive him. Her first move is to attempt to get Ben to leave the country. He says no. Her second is to get him a lawyer.

At a meeting called at the D.A.'s office, Arlene, under subpoena, tries to stonewall the D.A. when he asks her about the bigamy; she is forestalled by her mother, who begs Arlene to be truthful. Horrified when she sees the damning letter, Arlene cannot understand how Betsy could supply the evidence against the father of her unborn child.

After talking to his grandmother and Eddie Aleata, Ben takes heed of their heartfelt advice not to run away this time, to face up to the consequences of his actions and prepare the way for a kind of rebirth: to become a man.

Ben Faces the Music

To the surprise of everyone present in the D.A.'s office, especially the three important women in his life -- Betsy, Arlene, and Meg -- Ben walks into the meeting. He admits writing the letter and states that what it says is true. When formally charged, Ben calmly says that he has got a long way to go to make up for what he has done, but he regards this as a good start.

Felicia, overwrought by her intense caring to Charles, finally has the beginning of a breakdown. Joe firmly tells her she must have some rest and orders to hire a nurse. Felicia looks worried at the announcement, and Charles's face mirrors displeasure.

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dc11786   

This is Margaret DePriest's work, correct? She really seemed to coast off Labine & Mayer's work. She seems like someone who does a good enough job at keeping the ball rolling, but not necessarily generating the spark.

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Cat   

Thanks for posting the synopses, Paul Raven. The synopsis-writer really got into it! :lol:"Betsy's whole world has gone into a tailspin. Her romanticized vision of the perfect love and marriage has been shattered like priceless stained glass."

The descrip may not have the dynamism of Labine & Mayer's work... but all the same, the write-up makes me wish I could watch the show.

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Here is an article about the beginning of LOL. Written by reporter John Crosby (I already posted an article by him about "The First Hundred Years" and he is clearly not fond of soaps). It was published on August 23rd, 1952 in a newspaper of Reno, Nevada.

" "Three human beings filled with the explosive mixture of hate and love are exposing themselves to the open flame of direct contact. Each of these person must now say or do things which he or she would never do. And the result is certain to be catastrophic. Can any of them stop the disintegration sure to occur?"

Chances are no one can because that was the teaser on an episode of one of television's rapidly multiplying list of soap operas specifically "Love of Life" which is billed as "the exciting story of Vanessa Dale and her courageous struggle for human dignity." Just how, Vanessa's "struggle for human dignity" has been interrupted for three weeks while the actress who plays her (Peggy McKay) takes a European holiday. The camera, meanwhile, is trained mostly on Vanessa's poisonous married sister Meg Harper (Jean McBride) who is currently trying to break up the romance between her husband

Charlie, and the pretty, thoroughly wholesome young painter, Sandra Gamble, he met in Paris.

"This is what you live on" Sandy shouted to the poisonous Meg last week. "People writhing in trouble, screaming silently, people unhappy and showing it! You love that , Mrs. Harper!" That illuminating scrap of dialogue not only explores Meg's character fairly thoroughly, but also the nature of soap opera and the people who are addicted to it. In the transference from pure sound to sight and sound, nothing has changed very much. Soapland folk are still writhing in trouble, screaming (though not necessarily silently), terribly, terribly unhappy, and for the first time showing it. You no longer have to imagine the tears: you can see them, a great technological stride forward.

"Love of Life" went on the air last fall and climbed to third place in the daytime ratings in six months. In second place is another soap opera produced by the same ad agency (Blow) called "Search for Tomorrow," the almost perfect soap opera title (In soap opera, they're always searching and there is always a tomorrow when things might work out but don't).

The serial follows the old soap tradition. Vanessa may love life, but it's hard to see why in less than a year of air tune, she has been mixed up in aa murder(she was found guitly but wrathed out of that one) smuggling and narcotics. At other times her heart and those of the viewer has been lorn by the unhappiness of Beanie, Meg's son, who had no will to live because he heard his mother say she didn't want him.

John D. Hess, who writes the show, is not primarly a radio writer. He writes short stories and has written a play about to be produced on Broadway this fall. Once in awhile his current chore, his writing for TV, gets a little too much for him and he sticks his tongue out at himself in print. One episode, for example, ended with a stage direction which read: "She closes the rest of the gap with near violence, kissing him with the same violence with which she had slapped him . . .hands around his neck and as our rating goes up three full points: Fade out".

"Love of Life" has quite an extensive cast of characters but you never meet more than two or three of them in a single episode. Mostly, you'll find just two people, glaring at one another and standing so close to each other (simplifies things for the director) that the actors get cross-eyed. One will be saying to the other: "You aren't satisfied to know how wretched you've made everybody. You've got to actually see it. Or: " Everything you've over touched all your life Meg, has turned unclean and fallen to pieces. Bui not this. Not with this. Or this is one of my pets "You're representing the woman who still has the gall to call herself my wife.'

The imporlant thing about televised soap opera, beyvond wringing the heart, is ( a ) to save money (B) to stretch out the plot; as thinly as possible over the most possible episodes. Hess has a lot of little tricks to accomplish this. One is the telephone. A lawyer character consumed half of one installment in the telephone, expostulating first to Meg, then to Charlie, to get the two into his office. The next installment they got there, all right, but they spent much of it trying to stalk out but not quite leaving. Most any episode finds one character, his hand on the knobs, threatening to walk out forever.

Another soap adage, never violated, including this case, is that men, either the good ones or the bad ones, are essentially weak, women, both good and bad, essentially strong. Hess not only follows this rule but has garnished it with the following observation as expressed by Meg: "I know that when all's said and done that a weak man needs a strong woman and a strong woman needs a weak man. " "

Here is an article about the beginning of LOL. Written by reporter John Crosby (I already posted an article by him about "The First Hundred Years" and he is clearly not fond of soaps). It was published on August 23rd, 1952 in a newspaper of Reno, Nevada.

" "Three human beings filled with the explosive mixture of hate and love are exposing themselves to the open flame of direct contact. Each of these person must now say or do things which he or she would never do. And the result is certain to be catastrophic. Can any of them stop the disintegration sure to occur?"

Chances are no one can because that was the teaser on an episode of one of television's rapidly multiplying list of soap operas specifically "Love of Life" which is billed as "the exciting story of Vanessa Dale and her courageous struggle for human dignity." Just how, Vanessa's "struggle for human dignity" has been interrupted for three weeks while the actress who plays her (Peggy McKay) takes a European holiday. The camera, meanwhile, is trained mostly on Vanessa's poisonous married sister Meg Harper (Jean McBride) who is currently trying to break up the romance between her husband

Charlie, and the pretty, thoroughly wholesome young painter, Sandra Gamble, he met in Paris.

"This is what you live on" Sandy shouted to the poisonous Meg last week. "People writhing in trouble, screaming silently, people unhappy and showing it! You love that , Mrs. Harper!" That illuminating scrap of dialogue not only explores Meg's character fairly thoroughly, but also the nature of soap opera and the people who are addicted to it. In the transference from pure sound to sight and sound, nothing has changed very much. Soapland folk are still writhing in trouble, screaming (though not necessarily silently), terribly, terribly unhappy, and for the first time showing it. You no longer have to imagine the tears: you can see them, a great technological stride forward.

"Love of Life" went on the air last fall and climbed to third place in the daytime ratings in six months. In second place is another soap opera produced by the same ad agency (Blow) called "Search for Tomorrow," the almost perfect soap opera title (In soap opera, they're always searching and there is always a tomorrow when things might work out but don't).

The serial follows the old soap tradition. Vanessa may love life, but it's hard to see why in less than a year of air tune, she has been mixed up in aa murder(she was found guitly but wrathed out of that one) smuggling and narcotics. At other times her heart and those of the viewer has been lorn by the unhappiness of Beanie, Meg's son, who had no will to live because he heard his mother say she didn't want him.

John D. Hess, who writes the show, is not primarly a radio writer. He writes short stories and has written a play about to be produced on Broadway this fall. Once in awhile his current chore, his writing for TV, gets a little too much for him and he sticks his tongue out at himself in print. One episode, for example, ended with a stage direction which read: "She closes the rest of the gap with near violence, kissing him with the same violence with which she had slapped him . . .hands around his neck and as our rating goes up three full points: Fade out".

"Love of Life" has quite an extensive cast of characters but you never meet more than two or three of them in a single episode. Mostly, you'll find just two people, glaring at one another and standing so close to each other (simplifies things for the director) that the actors get cross-eyed. One will be saying to the other: "You aren't satisfied to know how wretched you've made everybody. You've got to actually see it. Or: " Everything you've over touched all your life Meg, has turned unclean and fallen to pieces. Bui not this. Not with this. Or this is one of my pets "You're representing the woman who still has the gall to call herself my wife.'

The imporlant thing about televised soap opera, beyvond wringing the heart, is ( a ) to save money ( b ) to stretch out the plot; as thinly as possible over the most possible episodes. Hess has a lot of little tricks to accomplish this. One is the telephone. A lawyer character consumed half of one installment in the telephone, expostulating first to Meg, then to Charlie, to get the two into his office. The next installment they got there, all right, but they spent much of it trying to stalk out but not quite leaving. Most any episode finds one character, his hand on the knobs, threatening to walk out forever.

Another soap adage, never violated, including this case, is that men, either the good ones or the bad ones, are essentially weak, women, both good and bad, essentially strong. Hess not only follows this rule but has garnished it with the following observation as expressed by Meg: "I know that when all's said and done that a weak man needs a strong woman and a strong woman needs a weak man. " "

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KateW   

Thirty years ago today (February 1, 1980), CBS aired the final episodes of both Love of Life and Beat the Clock. The following Monday (February 4, 1980), Y&R expanded to 1 hour and was given a new timeslot, 1 pm ET. CBS also gave new timeslots to As the World Turns, 2 pm ET, and Guiding Light, 3 pm ET.

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Who were the first Love of Life actors to move to another soap?

i would say Margo McKenna(Betsy)who went to EON as Emily and Chandler Hill Harben who was the first Max on Texas.

And Velekka Grey who turned up on ATWT as the first Lyla.

Any more you can think of?

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YRBB   
Kay Alden's favourite soap.

No, wait, I made a mistake: it was Where the Heart Is, another Labine & Mayer.

I thought it was LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING....unsure.gif

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Chris B   

It was Where the Heart Is. Has to be. Love Is A Many Splendored Thing had so many cast and writing changes, I can't see Alden falling for it. Unless it was during the Leslie Charleston/Beverlee McKinsey/Donna Mills heart attack era. I'd love to see that show.

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dc11786   

From the Claire Labine/William Bell interview in On Writing:

BELL: Well, let me tell you a story about that. Kay Alden—this is before I met her—was so upset that Where the Heart Is went off that she wrote the network and said she was so damned upset, she wouldn’t ever watch The Young and the Restless.

In regards to Love of Life's syndication deal, I have to wonder if Marcus thought it was a real possibility. At the time, her comical serial "The Life and Times of Eddie Roberts" was also airing and in some press she mentioned that stations were looking to find a nightly serial given the moderate success of "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman." I wonder if Marcus suspected she could get a production company to push a more edgy "Love of Life" to a late night audience focusing on the Rosehill College set.

Others who got work post "Love of Life" included Ron Tomme, who appeared as a con artist in Joe's revenge against Jack on "Ryan's Hope" in the spring of 1981. Ted LePlat ended up as Andy Norris on "Guiding Light." Ann McCarthy was Sam Walker on "Texas" with Chandler Harben Hill. Mark Pinter went to "Guiding Light" as Mark Evans. Dana Delaney returned to "As the World Turns," this time as Hayley (previously she had appeared as a dayplayer).

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I have nothing but the fondest memories of Love of Life. Ironically, I always associate their February 1980 cancellation with the death of the Grande Dame of Washington, DC society - Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Teddy's eldest, at age 94. (Feb. 20, 2010)

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That's wonderful, my library has On Writing but I haven't read it since I was a teenager--I'll have to pick it up again. I have to admit I love Kay Alden's story--getting in as an enthusiastic fan and doing so well, etc. Where the Heart Is seems to have shared a bit with later cult faves like early Santa Barbara--not taking itself too seriously and maybe as well, having a bit of a perverse or shocking sense of humour and story.

I always find it interesting that Roy Winsor never seemed to actually *write* for his shows much or for very long... (And I wonder what really happened between him and Agnes Nixon--she didn't seem impressed when she discussed why she only wrote the first twelve or thirteen weeks of Search for Tomnorrow in her Museum of Broadcasting interview LOL)

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