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From These Roots

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If there's any long-gone soap I would LOVE to see, it's From These Roots. There's not much about it online, but I remember reading about in Chris Schmering's incredible book in the 80s. Supposedly, it was very literate, intelligent, and well written. And of course it didn't last very long. Anyone remember this long-lost gem? See wiki link.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_These_Roots

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Again John Pickard and Frank Provo, who I mentioned in that other thread.

I think Eric from Montreal mentioned them once or twice before the SON crash.

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Some info on From These Roots

It ran on NBC from 3.30 -4.00 from July 58 till Dec 61.

The lead in was Today Is Ours which premiered the same day but lasted only a few months and then Young Dr Malone which outlasted FTR by about a year and in fact replaced it when FTR was cancelled.

The competition CBS The Verdict Is Yours ABC Do You Trust Your Wife/Who Do You Trust?

At the premiere,Liz Fraser,a fiction writer, had just returned to Strathfield,a New England own,to rejoin her father Ben and work as areporter on his newspaper,The Record.

Ben was the patriach of the wealthy Fraser family.

Lis often confided in Kass,the family maid,played by Vera Allen.

Ben's son,Ben Jr, wed Rose Corelli.They had marital difficulties.

Dr Buck Weaver loved Liz,but Liz loved playwright David Allen and Maggie,Buck's receptionist loved Buck.

Eventually,when Liz married David,Buck married Maggie on the rebound.

Barbara Berjer was only supposed to play on the skids actress Lynn Franklin for a few episodes,but was so popular she stayed for most of the showsrun.

Lynn married director Tom Jennings,but was eallyin love with Liz's husband David.

Since both Liz and david were writers,their marriage began to suffer from career conflict,and scheming Liz took advantage of their difficulties to get David for herself.

FTR concluded happily,with Liz and David staying together and experiencing career success.

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I've heard the title of this show quite a bit, but never read about it until today. It sounds fascinating.

I love Barbara Berjer from GUIDING LIGHT and would really enjoy seeing the Madame Bovary storyline that her character was involved with.

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Not much has been mentioned about this show,which is always given positive reviews in write-ups.Thought I'd bump this thread to perhaps get discussion going.

One of FTR's claims to fame is the incident when actress Julie Bovasso walked off the set shortly before live airing and a production assistant had to go on in the role of Rose.

This article from Aug 61 mentions an actress and character that I've never seen mentioned in any reference books.As the show was cancelled in December.that story probably had barely got off the ground and matbe was curtailed when news of cancellation came through.

Israeli actress Yardena has joined the cast of NBC TV's From These Roots, in the role of a sophisticated girl who poses a threat to the happy marriage of Liz and David Allen (Ann Flood and Robert Mandan).

Yardena plays Helene,a new fashion consultant on the staff of 'Lady Fair', the magazine on which Liz Allen is editor. In coming shows,Roy Cleveland (Richard X Slattery), the millionaire publisher of 'Lady Fair', enlists the glamorous newcomer in his attempts to break up Liz and David.

Once a private in the Israeli Army,and a member of the Oroth Repertory Company in Jerusalem for five years, Yardena has appeared in numerous television shows,two movies and Off broadway theater since coming to the Us three and a half years ago.She had a small role in From These roots a year ago.

her name is pronounced Yar-day-na and is the Israeli equivalent of Jordana. "I was named for the river Jordan",she says,explaining that it is a common practice in Isreal to name babies after rivers,trees,flowers and mountains.

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Thank you for finding this. Like you said, I'd never heard of this story. It could have been very interesting if given the chance. When people say all soaps were alike, I am even more disappointed that this show isn't around to prove them wrong.

How long was the Roy Cleveland character around?

So much talent came out of this show. I especially would like to see the episode which was all about an episode of a television show, or a play, or whatever.

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One of the soap books was shocked this show managed to last as long as it did because NBC was cancelled crazy. NBC did cancel the show in 1959 and planned for the final episode to be in June 1959. I'm pretty sure a game show was set to replace it. Sarah Hardy, who played the show's younger female lead, said the writers planned to leave the story up in the air in case someone changed their mind. At last minute, they did change. Sarah Hardy played Lyddy Benson, Liz Frazer's niece.

I don't know if this is documented in soap books, but she was a reporter like her aunt. She also worked at the Strathfield Record, the family newspaper. Lyddy married Lance Patterson, an English professor. At one point in the story, Lyddy's mother, Emily, suffered from a hysterical pregnancy.

According to another article, Yardena also appeared on the serial a year earlier.

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That's crazy, NBC canceled and then changed their mind. How often does that happen?

If the show was that tough imagine how it would have lasted on CBS or even ABC.

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Here is what Matt P. Smith had to say about From These Roots:

premiered

June 30, 1958

last telecast

December 28, 1961

setting

Strathfield

created by

John Pickard & Frank Provo

network

NBC

production company

Procter & Gamble Productions

NBC

broadcast history

Mon-Fri

3:30pm - 4pm

(6/20/58-12/28/61)

Premiering the same day as Today is Ours, Roots was infinitely better received by critics and was longer lasting. Roots was created by the same writing pair who had earlier created the failed NBC soap Concerning Miss Marlowe. The duo had also served as writers for the successful Love of Life. It should be noted (just for trivia’s sake) that Pickard & Provo were a romantic couple, possibly the only gay couple to ever create and head writer a daytime drama.

From These Roots focused on Liz Fraser and the rather large Fraser family in the small New England town of Strathfield. Liz had returned home from Washington, DC, to take over the local newspaper from her ailing father, Ben. Other members of the family included Ben, Jr.; his Sicilian wife Rose; their children Dan, Sara, and Robin; Emily; her husband Jim Benson; and their children Liddy and Tim; as well as members of Rose’s family, the Corellis. Storylines included Liz’s romance rivalry with wealthy Enid Chambers over magazine publisher Bruce Crawford (and later romance with Dr. Buck Weaver before finding love and marriage with David Allen, who just so happened to have been married briefly to the aforementioned Enid, but not before weathering the schemes of new romantic rival Lynn Franklin); Emily’s romantic difficulties when it was revealed that husband Jim had an affair with Rose’s sister Luisa Corelli; and Liddy’s romance (and eventual marriage to) Lance.

Although it never set the ratings on fire, Roots was highly regarded and lasted 3 ½ years because of Procter & Gamble’s faith in the show. Roots was rather innovative for its time, even at one point staging a full-scale production of Madame Bovary, focusing both on the actual stage production as well as the behind the scenes activities of the production. Roots was regarded as one of the best produced, most intelligently written, and best acted soap operas of its day; counting many famous people among its fans – including celebrated playwright Tennessee Williams who so respected the show that he once jokingly accused the writers of stealing his unpublished script ideas.

Late in the show’s run, Procter & Gamble sold the show to NBC (possibly around the same time as it also sold The Brighter Day to CBS). It was a bad idea and P&G should have known better. It wasn’t long afterward that NBC saw the chance to stage a star vehicle for a former big-name silent movie star (Esther Ralston) and cancelled Roots in favor of that series, Our Five Daughters. IMO, From These Roots was a series that could have and should have been a much larger success than it was. If it had been on CBS, perhaps it could have been.

The cancellation of the series didn’t hurt the careers of many of the actors, however, as quite a few them later appeared on a number of P&G soaps – often in the roles that would make them soap opera stars. Just look at this talented cast: Liz Fraser was played by Ann Flood (later to become Nancy Karr, the longest running cast member on The Edge of Night); Jim Benson was played by Henderson Forsythe (who would go on to appear for 30 years as Dr. David Stewart on As the World Turns after his Roots character was murdered); Maggie Barker (who was Liz’s best friend and later married Buck) was played by Billie Lou Watt (who went on to a 13 year run on Search for Tomorrow as Ellie Harper Bergman); David Allen was played by Bob Mandan (who would go on to a memorable run as Sam Reynolds, Joanne Tate’s fiancé, on Search for Tomorrow); Lynn Franklin was played by Barbara Berjer (who did several memorable P&G soap stints including Claire Cassen on As the World Turns; Barbara Norris on The Guiding Light and Bridget Connell on Another World); Jimmy Hull was played by John Colenbeck (probably best remembered as Dan Stewart on As the World Turns); and Gloria Saxon was played by Millette Alexander (who would go on to have a popular 13 year run as Sarah McIntyre Warner on The Guiding Light). Other cast members included Joseph Mascolo (Stefano, Days; Massimo, B&B ) as Jack Lander; Charlotte Rae (Mrs. Garrett, The Facts of Life) as Hilda Furman; Audra Lindley (the original Liz Matthews on Another World before branching out into prime-time as Helen Roper on Three's Company); Craig Huebing (Dr. Peter Taylor, General Hospital) as Tom Jennings; Frank Campanella (Harper Devereaux, Days) as Artie Corelli; and a very young Richard Thomas (one of the many Tom Hugheses on As the World Turns before finding fame as John Boy Walton on The Waltons) as Richard.

Now, you tell me, isn’t that one talented cast?!

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I would guess NBC just wanted the show gone - and P&G must have too if they sold it. I can't imagine anyone actually having faith in a vehicle for a woman who had not been seen in a major role in almost thirty years. This wasn't exactly Garbo.

I wish some of From These Roots was available. I especially would like to see Barbara Berjer's work.

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I *really* want to see some of those early 60s soaps. It seems like a lot of them were ambitious in trying to bring primetime-ish qualities (like the taped anthology shows from the 50s) to daytime. It's so unfortunate that so little of this stuff is still around because it would be great evidence of how wide the spectrum of what's considered good soap opera can be.

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August 1960 TV Radio Mirror. Julie was the actress who walked off the set right before taping and a production assistant had to take her place.

SOD22779012.jpg

SOD22779013.jpg

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rather conservative," Len explains. Today, the young Waylands agree: "Our marriage is the harmony of opposites. We complement each other. And beneath all our differences are certain basic qualities more alike than unlike."

None of this would have seemed logical to them at the time. Julie and Len worked together a year, not unfriendly, not particularly friendly. "We didn't quite know what to make of each other." During the morning ritual of going down to breakfast after early rehearsal, with others in the show, they found they could talk together easily. But interest ended when the broadcast was over and they went their separate ways from the studio.

Until one spring afternoon, when Julie and young Sarah Hardy, who is Lydia Benson in the daytime drama, decided there would never be a better time, or a lovelier day, to have some lessons in driving. Len owned a car, was obviously the type to make a good teacher - and what in the world were they waiting for?

It must be reported that - in Julie's case, at least - driving lessons were no great success at that time. Getting to know Len outside the context of the show, and his getting to know her, was far more successful. "A little of what I call my 'rambunctiousness' began to rub off on him. A little of what I call his 'over-cautiousness' rubbed off on me. It was good for both of us."

Len, who had been catapulted into acting almost by accident while he was still in school, was also interested in writing, had a play then ready for production. Julie, first and foremost an actress, was already establishing herself as a serious painter, poet and musician. "I married her to get a picture she painted which now hangs over our sitting-room fireplace," he teases. It's a neo-surrealist canvas in brilliant reds and white. "I liked an impressionistic landscape he had bought for himself," she counters. "But I really married Len because he promised to keep me in fresh-cut roses for the top of my piano."

The way it really happened was like this: On the evening of August 3rd, a ear ago, Len took Julie to dinner to celebrate her birthday. To a romantic restaurant, on Long Island - very like one of the romantic settings used on From These Roots. The date, the background, the mood - all was perfect. They recognized they were in love and decided to get married - that night, if possible. But New York law requires a three-day waiting period. They drove up to Connecticut, but the same law prevails. It was too late to find a Gretna Green in Maryland. Next weekend, they told each other, they would drive to Massachusetts - to Provincetown, down on Cape Cod - visit Julie's artist brother and his wife and children, and do the thing right by having some of the family present. But those plans also went awry.

On August 12, practically on the spur of the moment, they decided to take advantage of a rehearsal break and run down to City Hall. "A spontaneous decision on the part of both of us - the nicest way to have a wedding," Julie says. For witnesses, they took Dolores Sutton, who is Rose's sister Louisa on the show, and Helen Shields, who is Rose's sister-in-law Emily Benson. Back in time for a quick celebration, with roses and kisses for the bride and congratulations for the groom, before they went on the air.

Julie had a bachelor-girl apartment. Len had bachelor quarters. Neither seemed suitable for a couple. They went house-hunting, found a duplex apartment in an old Greenwich Village house with high ceilings, plenty of fireplaces, and space enough for everything. ("Until my paintings just kept getting bigger and bigger," says Julie, "and I have to have even more room to splash around in, and I took a big loft studio not far from the apartment.")

Len's own special triumph in the art of woodworking - some good-looking walnut bookshelves - was moved into the new home. A triumph which can only be appreciated when he explains that he sometimes dreams up furniture designs completely impractical of execution. "And even when they're practical, I'm apt to cut a little too much here and leave a little too much there." The bookcase is one of his more spectacular successes.

The guardian of their household also moved in with them. "Marie," a small brown streak of a dog, who leaps at strangers with the thrust of rocket power and later sidles up affectionately as if to say, I was only fooling, because I knew all the time you were a friend. Marie is part dachshund, part Corgi, and all loyalty. Julie found her ,shivering and hungry and in pain from a broken rib, in the doorway of the little Tempo Theater she owned and operated at the time, for which she was producer and actress. (It was in her first production there, starring in Genet's "The Maids," that she won an "Obie" - the off-Broadway award for the best actress of the year 1955-1956.)

"I think Marie had been treated cruelly and it made her suspicious of all strangers, but I took her home and cared for her. She was jealous of Len at first, now I believe she's jealous of me with Len. He takes her out walking and she is very attached to him. Dogs have individual personalities, like humans, and this dog has a real funny one. If we don't say hello to her when we come in, she sulks until we do."

Housekeeping has become a somewhat cooperative affair, because both Julie and Len are such busy people. Meals are seldom on a rigid schedule. Julie's mother calls up, asks, "Are you drinking your milk? Is Len drinking his?" In the way of mothers who have fussed and worried over their children, of any age, since the world began.

"Len isn't the type of man to hang around a kitchen," says Julie. "I like to cook, but I can't give it that much time. So we manage anyhow, and Len has gained weight since we're married. I don't particularly like the routine of housework, but what woman does? We do it for those we love."

Julie is interested in doing experimental plays and motion pictures. She recently finished a film, to be released this summer, in which she played a peasant girl who transforms her desolate surroundings into a land of fantasy. It was shot largely at daybreak and twilight, to set the mood of the story, and required erratic working hours for cast and crew. But it's the kind of picture she enjoys making.

She has appeared at the Provincetown Playhouse, with little-theater groups in San Francisco, in off-Broadway plays - Coceteau's "The Typewriter" and Ionesco's "The Lesson" - and on Broadway, in 1957, in "Monique." She has done William Gibson's "Dinny and the Witches," and another of Ionesco's plays "Victims of Duty." For some, she has received rave personal notices, even when the plays didn't. "The minute Julie walks into a scene, things begin to happen," her husband says with loving pride.

Len has been enjoying a long run in the off-Broadway production of "U.S.A.," adapted from John Doe Passos, which traveled to Chicago for a week's performances in May and may be playing later in London. His background includes work at the Pasadena Playhouse, writing and acting radio scripts in California. After his return from Air Force service in World War II, he went on tour in "Tobacco Road," playing Lov Bensey. He has played stock, appeared on Broadway as Steve in Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire," joined the touring company in the part of Mitch.

When Len was in Chicago, playing "Stalag 17," he began his TV career as the male lead in the daytime serial, A Time to Live, later was on another serial, First Love. On nighttime TV, he played in the old Studio One dramas, Justice, The Phil Silvers Show, Kraft and Armstrong Circle Theatres, has tried his hand at producing and directing - and enjoys both - but thinks of himself primarily as an actor.

Len is a country-bred boy. Julie is a city-bred girl. He taught her to ride a horse - "Me, who never saw a cow until I was twenty-one." He's a sports and baseball fan and the Yankees are a permanent passion. He likes to make things grow.

She wants a large apartment in New York, with a big outdoor terrace hung high in the sky. He longs for a rambling old country house. They will probably compromise and have both one day. "It's the country boy in Len that I found so refreshing when I first got to know him," she says. "But I feel one must live near one's work, and must always go on working. Without it, one dies."

They would like to do a play together, but, type-wise, they admit they are very different. "We would make an unlikely couple in a play - unless the script called for a cowboy who fell in love with a gypsy."

There is no competitive spirit between them. "It's not a healthy thing, where there is competition between husband and wife," Julie says. "Len and I have none of that. We have mutual respect for each other's work. We help each other. Each wants the other to have full self-expression."

As time permits, each follows his own special interests. Painting and music and poetry are to Julie, "solo" creative efforts, something she can do without depending on other people. Writing and working in his basement workshop are Len's "solo" creative efforts. He is interested in writing for theater. She has been approached by a gallery, to exhibit some of her paintings. Neither wants to make the dilettante, amateur approach to anything. He doesn't let a script go out until every scene has been polished. She refuses to join the hordes of "hobby painters" who rush into exhibition. "All this makes for a level of mediocrity, and Len and I are against it."

Both realize that a marriage of opposites can be what Julie calls "a touchy kind of thing, unless handled with a great deal of maturity. You are apt to hang on to your own personality and not try to understand the other person's. A woman sometimes marries a man very like herself, and a man chooses such a woman, because there seems to be a kind of safety in it. But it may not be the best marriage for either.

"The important thing is to recognize the ways in which you are different. Especially for the wife. While Len and I are both emotional, his emotions are more inward. He is more controlled. Mine explode outwardly, for everyone to see. He is still the cautious one - but not so cautious as he once was. I am still flamboyant - but perhaps just a little less so. Each has influenced the other in subtle ways.

"This whole idea of opposites seems quite wonderful to us. Perhaps because the important basic values are the same for both." Julie Bovasso and Len Wayland have learned love's lessons well.

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