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Bright Promise

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I can't find anything to back it up, but I think I remember reading that they also had a hand in Ted Corday's other soaps, Morning Star and Paradise Bay. My memory could be making that up, though.

Looking at that article you posted...Susan Brown looks a lot like 70s-era Kathryn Hays in that picture! And Geary looks like he just came from the set of Room 222. It's so weird reading short biographies of him and David Lewis without GH being mentioned.

ETA: Wait, no, I'm sure BCP didn't do the Corday shows. I'm confusing them because I always figured...the Cordays owned DAYS and saved the episodes, so they must have owned Morning Star and Paradise Bay and saved those episodes, too.

Edited by All My Shadows

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Thank you, Carl, for this article. It was a fascinating read. I knew David Lockhart’s parentage was a central plot in the show’s final months, but this really fills in some of the blanks. It really seems like the show was in a good place, creatively. David Lockhart had been taken in by the show’s lead heroine, Martha Ferguson, who was being romanced by Charles Diedrich, David’s biological father. I assume there was animosity between Martha and Sylvia Bancroft, David’s biological mother and Charles former paramour. Adding in David’s desire to see his parents dead, I understand more clearly the circumstances that led to Martha going on trial for Sylvia’s murder in the show’s final days.

In response to your question Carl, I’ve seen it listed that 605 episodes of Bright Promise were produced. However, this would mean the show was preempted on fifty occasions. I think the number is probably closer to 650. Episode 500 would probably have aired in August/September 1971, which means it probably was filmed in July/August 1971.

Another photo from the 500th episode party has been published taken from a different angle. It features the cast arranged in the same manner, but it only shows the four actors on the left. The picture identifies them as Gail Kobe, Susan Brown, Mark Miller, and John Considine. I think the label is inaccurate. The actress on the far left doesn’t look like Gail Kobe, who I believe is the woman to the right of John Considine. I think the people featured in the photo are: unknown, Susan Brown, Mark Miller, John Considine, Gail Kobe, Richard Eastham (?), unknown blonde, Pamela Murphy, Tony Geary, and Peter Ratray (with his hand on Pamela Murphy). Anyone else want to venture any guesses?

I’ve read newspaper articles from 1971 reporting Regina Gleason had signed on for the role of Sylvia Bancroft. I suspect it made big news because she was replacing Anne Jeffreys, who was interviewed about joining “Bright Promise” quite a bit because she was a former movie star slumming it on soap. The papers were interviewing Anne Jeffreys in March 1971 about the role so I assume she premiered around that time. When introduced, Sylvia was described as a “wealthy widow with a dark and secret past.” Original “Bright Promise” celebrity Dana Andrews departed the series in 1970 probably some time in the fall after being with the series for a year. Anyway, my point is I think this news is probably covering events that happened in August/September 1971.

After reading this article, I’ve been wondering what could have been if “Return to Peyton Place” had never come about. The ratings for “Bright Promise” weren’t that bad; it beat timeslot competition “One Life to Live” on ABC. The only real threat to BP was “The Edge of Night,” which would have been moved to 2:30 in September 1972 at Proctor & Gamble’s request. Could BP have picked up some of the lost “Edge” viewers in the switch? And if they had, would OLTL have managed healthy enough numbers to survive into the 1980s?

The other thing I considered was Lin Bolin’s appointment to head of NBC daytime drama in August 1972. Would Bolin, who was big in the women’s movement, allowed Gloria Monty (a director and producer at BP) to takeover the reigns of the series? Or possibly allowed Gail Kobe to develop her talent as producer in the 1970s and taken over a bigger role at BP in the 1980s? Also, had Monty managed to gain control at BP could she have managed to cause BP to be the supersoap GH managed to be in the 1980s? And if Monty had managed to stay with NBC daytime, what would have happened to ABC daytime? Without Monty, GH would likely have been cancelled. And if BP had managed to outperform OLTL, it’s possible to think OLTL would have been cancelled as well. The ABC lineup of today would be very different.

On the otherhand, Lin Bolen does come in and cancels BP’s replacement, Return to Peyton Place, in favor of her own focus group creation, “How to Survive a Marriage.” More than likely, BP would have ended up cancelled in January 1974; only prolonging its execution a mere twenty-one months. In order to prevent this, the show’s ratings would have needed to be towards the top of the ratings If Bolen came in and promoted someone along the lines of Gloria Monty, who managed to swipe away Pat Falken Smith from “Days of Our Lives,” I think its possible BP could have been a success.

It’s cast was fairly good. For the most part, Tony Geary is a well loved performer. Jennifer Leak, who played David’s half-sister Elaine, turned in a memorable performance as a villainess on “Another World” could have usurped her mother’s role as resident rich bitch. Susan Brown went on to play other strong older romantic leads on “Return to Peyton Place” and “General Hospital.” Dabney Coleman probably would have fit in well as the ‘Bruce Sterling’ of BP once Martha and Tracey finally tied the knot. Pamela Murphy’s Sandy was described as being in the mold of Erica Kane and Lisa Miller Hughes so I cannot imagine how she could not have sparkled in the role. John Considine is a strong performer who was playing a roguish doctor.

The storyline seemed sound for “Bright Promise” had it not concluded its plots in March 1972. The triangle between Charles Diedrich, Martha Ferguson, and Dr. Tracey Graham could have played out for some time. Martha was fond of Charles’ son David and would have worked to repair the damaged relationship between father-and-son. In the meantime, Martha would have grown close to Charles and, once David came to like Charles, David would encourage the pairing between Charles and Martha. Or maybe he would be torn if Dr. Tracey Graham was the psychiatrist who helped David to come to terms with the role of his parents’ in his life.

Another plotline from around the time of the show’s cancellation involved Dr. Brian Graham and Ann Boyd Jones’ secret love affair, which produced a child. Ann was married to Howard Jones, Mark Miller’s character. Mark Miller took some time off from the soap in the summer/fall of 1971 to film a movie. I assume in his and Howard's absence, Ann and Brian began a tryst and the child was a result. I’m not sure if Ann had the child before the serial ended, but I seem to recall it being referenced in an article I’m no longer able to locate.

I wonder how this story went over with the audience. Colleen Gray’s Ann was meant to be a non-traditional matriarch ala Lucille March from the Hursleys’ other soap “General Hospital.” As the dean of women, Ann was concerned about the well being of her students the way the typical soap matriarch fussed over her children. Gray was typically billed with Dana Andrews in the articles related to the premier of “Bright Promise.” I suspect Gail Kobe might have been able to play Ann successfully as a more gray character. Didn’t she play a rather complicated character on PP? Her storyline certainly suggested this.

“Return to Peyton Place” did a similar plotline with Connie Carson, Eliot Carson, and Dr. Michael Rossi. I don’t think that was well received by the audience as a whole. Connie was suppose to be a noble upstanding citizen and faithful wife. The BP story might have worked because Martha Ferguson was the show’s tent pole noble character by that point and Ann Boyd Jones might not have been viewed as the traditional female romantic lead by the housewives who struggled to identify with the single working woman who married late in life.

Pamela Murphy played Sandy Pierce, a character who didn’t appear in the show’s final episodes. Murphy had been pregnant when the show’s cancellation was announced. The pregnancy was given quite some press because Sandy’s character had undergone a hysterectomy, which was a major plotline either right before or during the time Murphy had learned she was pregnant. Typically, the show would write in the pregnancy, but since Sandy had spent a great amount of time bemoaning her inability to have more children, this was going to be possible. Anyway, the child was due in April, but was born early. Murphy named the baby Oliver, and he later appeared on “Guiding Light” nearly thirty years later playing Romeo Jones. Because Oliver was early, Stu and Sandy reconciled via telephone.

If the show hadn’t been cancelled, I assume Sandy would have swooped back into town in late May/early June just as Martha’s trial was reaching its natural conclusion during sweeps month. No longer busy with the trial, Stuart could focus on his and Sandy’s marital issues. Of course, Sandy and Stuart wouldn’t be able to make it work for one reason or another and more than likely Sandy would be left to pursue one of the other two men in Martha’s life, Tracey Graham or Charles Diedrich. Both men were well off and could provide her with the financial stability she was looking for. Also, her romancing either man would have infuriated poor Martha to no end, especially if it was causing her brother Stuart heartache.

I think the ingredients were there for some potent drama. If the show had been given a bit more time, and a solid producer/head writer combination, BP might have been able to build up a loyal audience.

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dc thanks for all the extra information. Your articles and background information on the early 70s soaps have been most of what we've had so I'm glad you have again helped more with this show's information. These sound like great stories, soapy, character-driven stories. I wonder why NBC gave up on the show? Were they just trigger-happy? And for a new/updated version of a show which had just went off the air after a long run.

I wonder if Regina Gleason is the blonde woman.

Does she remind anyone else of Bev Callard/Liz on Corrie?

I didn't know Pamela Murphy's son played Romeo on GL. I liked him a lot, I felt like GL wasted him in the Tony/Marah mess.

Who was directly in charge of Bright Promise? I mean the creative choices.

I have an interview with Mark Miller from this issue. It's not a big insight into the show, but I'll post anyway, in case someone wants to read it.

Looking at that article you posted...Susan Brown looks a lot like 70s-era Kathryn Hays in that picture! And Geary looks like he just came from the set of Room 222. It's so weird reading short biographies of him and David Lewis without GH being mentioned.

I know what you mean about the GH actors.

I think Susan suits short hair much more.

Edited by CarlD2

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Fascinating stuff as always.Thank you DC for taking the time to detail your memories of BP.

I wonder if Dana Andrews departure was anything to do with his alcoholism?

As the show concluded,Martha was acquitted of Sylvia's murder and she married Tracy.At the wedding reception,Martha's brother Stuart,who had conducted her defense was persuaded to phone sandra,opening the way for reconciliation.

Reports at the time state that Jeffrey's began in March but by August Gleason was in the role.Did Jeffreys not take to the daytime routine?She says she only had to appear twice a week. By Sept 72 she was back on primetime in the shortlived 'Delphi Bereau'.

I spoke to Anne Jeffreys last year in Palm Springs at the showing of her movie Riff Raff. She was elegant, quite beautiful and very gracious.During her talk to the audience she referred to Marvin Paige (GH casting director) who was there also and jokingly harangued him for 'getting me on that awful show General Hospital'

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turned to acting I knew that the key to success was preparation. Architecture also helped me as a writer - it taught me the importance of discipline and structure."

Slender, tall, dark and undeniably very handsome, Mark was born in Houston, Texas, the son of an oil field worker. Upon graduation from Texas University, he came to New York where he enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Not surprisingly, he graduated at the top of his class.

He launched his professional career as the juvenile lead with the Newport Summer Theatre. He worked there with Sarah Churchill and Jeffrey Lynn in The Philadelphia Story. On tour he performed with Peggy Ann Garner in The Moon is Blue, with Franchot Tone in Second Man, Picnic, Bus Stop, Sabrina Fair and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs.

Mark received a call to tour with The Dark At the Top of the Stairs almost right after he and Beatrice were married. The newylweds traveled almost 40,000 miles all over the USA while Mark was working with the national company.

Besides guest appearances on numerous nighttime television shows, Mark has had starring roles in four regular series, in addition to his role on Bright Promise. He portrayed Bill Hooten on Guestward Ho, Randy Washburn on General Hospital, Professor Jim Nash on Please Don't Eat the Daisies and also starred in European Eye.

His motion picture credits include Youngblood Hawke, The Hook and The Trouble With Blondes.

Incidentally, Mark's talent as a writer was distinguished while he was playing on Please Don't Eat the Daisies, when he was nominated for an Emmy Award for one of the episodes he wrote. The segment, "The Magnificent Muldoon," featured Burgess Meredith in the title role.

California is a good home for Mark because he has a deep love for the sea. He enjoys sailing, swimming and water skiing. While he was in Texas, he was a champion water polo player.

Having had much experience in the video medium, Mark readily attests to television's good points. "TV, especially when one is a regular in a series, is more demanding than any other performing art," he observes. "It is also more gratifying. The week-in, week-out cast of a TV series really gives an actor a chance to identify with a group of fellow actors. There is a camaraderie and a fellowship rarely equalled on the stage or in films.

"TV is a rewarding way to enrich and broaden our lives. I certainly plan to see that my children take full advantage of television in the dramatic, exciting years ahead."

You can be sure that Mark Miller will be very much a part of television's exciting future.

by Derek Gardner

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This is from the same issue, the Daytime Lowdown section.

Jennifer Leak (Elaine Bancroft on Bright Promise) was a dedicated daytime serial fan long before she ever acted on one. She found them therapeutic. "If anyone should know just how much good such shows as Bright Promise can do for distraught married people, it should be me," maintains the 22-year old Welsh actress who admits to suffering through an unhappy marriage. "I can never forget the emotional upheaval of my housewife days. I began to rely on daytime drama as a pacifier. I was involved. These people were having my kind of trouble only more so. Somehow it gave me a lift, a feeling that I wasn't a minority sufferer." But Jennifer won't mention what shows she watched because "they are competitors of ours and I shan't give them a plug!"

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Paul Raven, I didn’t watch the show, but I’ve pieced together information here and there. The article Carl posted clarified some things for me. In Soap Opera History, the author discussed Martha Ferguson killing Sylvia Bancroft, her ward David Lockhart’s mother. The papers I’ve read talk about Sylvia having a dark secret and this article Carl posted mentions Charles’ own secret connections and trying to connect with his son. I draw a lot of conclusions and hope they are right. Sometimes I’m incorrect so feel free to correct me.

So I make conjectures about how the storylines played out. I don’t know for sure there was tension between Sylvia Bancroft and Martha Ferguson, but I feel safe in coming to that conclusion because Martha is accused of murdering Sylvia before the series ends. The fact Charles Diedrich was romantically interested in Martha leads me to believe that David would have been involved since he is Martha’s ward and obviously Charles’ biological child. I imagine once Sylvia’s murder was resolved that the Tracey/Charles/Martha triangle would play out. It would seem the logical extension of the current storyline. Maybe Charles would have been dumped or revealed to be the true killer.

My main point was I could see how Shaw was developing the canvas. I could see where, ideally, Shaw could take the characters and storylines in an engaging manner. I don’t know anything for sure.

I thought maybe the blonde was Regina Gleason, but she looks older than Gleason. I’m think Sydna Scott, but I’m not sure if she would still have been around in 1971. Cast list for these old serials are terribly inaccurate.

Jerry Layton was the executive producer. He produced “The Doctors” before working on the Canadian serial “Strange Paradise.” He was replaced by “Dark Shadows” producer Robert Costello on that serial. At BP, Layton replaced Richard Dunn. SP and BP premiered around the same time so Layton may have been behind the move away from the college. Frank and Doris Hursley created the show and were the first head writers followed by Rick Edelstein. The show’s final writer was Robert J. Shaw.

Regarding the show’s cancellation, I suppose it was similar to the cancellation of “Capitol.” NBC was hoping to get cash in on name recognition. I know “Bright Promise” didn’t have brilliant numbers, but it didn’t fare badly considering the competition.

On another soap board, I was told “Bright Promise” had aired overseas. The person who told me this said one of the actors was receiving residuals from the broadcasts in either the late 1970s or early 1970s. As Brent brought up in another thread, soaps from the 1970s were broadcast in foreign markets. They had to be transferred there somehow. I think there is a lot of lost material out there; it just needs to be found. UCLA has an episode or two of “Bright Promise” in their archive if I’m not mistaken.

In regards to Dana Andrews, it’s possible his drinking had something to do with his departure, but I haven’t read anything to suggest that. Eric James, the actor who played Tom’s son, stated he and Andrews were disappointed in the scripts; they felt promises had been broken. In interviews, Andrews talked up the show saying he was really satisfied with the early scripts as he had a daughter who was away at school. Even later, when interviews were looking down on him for slumming it, he talked about how the show dealt with real issues compared to the extreme situations perpetuated on nighttime dramas. Of course, Andrews was the face of the show and really couldn’t say anything bad. I assume Andrews asked to be let out of his contract after the first year or didn’t renew.

Paul, I find Sylvia Bancroft’s casting a bit bizarre. Today, I was thinking Anne Jeffrey’s carries herself as a society matron. I could see her playing this rich bitch based on her role on “Port Charles.” I’ve never seen Regina Gleason act, but I associate her with Kitty Horton, who always came off as low class in my mind. I’m not saying Gleason couldn’t play a spoiled diva; it’s just not the role I envision her playing. I find it odd that the role was recast only to be killed off within six months. Maybe the show needed Anne more than twice a week as the David storyline progressed and she felt committed to her family? It might have been limiting to only feature Sylvia twice a week, which would also explain why Sylvia was ultimately killed off. If they couldn’t use her, they ultimately chose to write her off.

Carl, is the Miller interview and the comments from Jennifer Leak from the same issue as the first article? If so, I find it odd Leak isn’t mentioned other than in passing that Sylvia Bancroft’s daughter is looking to connect with David. However, Lesley Woods and Richard Eastham don’t get a bio. I was sort of hoping they would reveal more details about Sandy Pierce. I have so many questions regarding her character.

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Yes, they're all from the same issue. You're right, that is odd. I wonder if she had just come on the show?

You're right that they don't mention much about Woods or Eastham. I'd like to know more about Woods, as I have only seen her on B&B as Grandma Logan, and I know her soap career spanned many decades.

Sorry I don't have more info -- if I get more of these and they have any other details I'll post them.

I know Schemering wrote about the show too but I don't remember him going into a lot of detail.

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By my estimate, Jennifer Leak had been on the show for some time. I think her arrival pre-dated the arrival of Anne Jeffreys' Sylvia as she was described as a daughter was mentioned in some the press regarding Jeffreys' arrival. The papers interviewed her in June 1971 about hot pants. Apparently, Ms. Leak loved wearing them and had tried to wear them on the show. Jerry Layton, the producer, told her it was a no go. Cast list state Leak was only on the show in 1971, but I wouldn't be surprised if she arrived in late 1970 and stayed through the conclusion. She isn't listed in the cast list from the January 1971 Daytime TV FrenchFan posted, but this doesn't mean she wasn't there. Given the storyline, I don't know how Leak wasn't with show from at least early 1970 until the show's conclusion.

One interesting nugget I uncovered was Paul Lukather was off the show for four and half months in 1971. Bill Ferguson disappeared from the canvas in December 1970/Janaury 1971 and returned May 18th, 1971. What I do find interesting is that by the time of this article, which appears to be written in August, Bill Ferguson was written off again. Paul Lukather stated in an interview he had a three year contract with the show didn't plan on renewing it. I wonder if they killed Bill off offscreen as heroines of the early 1970s like Martha weren't allowed to divorce. The only one I can think of Althea on "The Doctors."

I have Schemering's book and he doesn't go into much detail. He explains the focus was on the college and then more typical family drama involving the Jones and Pierce families. Mary Ann Copeland's Soap Opera History delves into the story a bit more. She talks about Sandy Jones Pierce sleeping with her professor, Bill Ferguson, marrying a man, divorcing a man, birthing an illegitimate child, developing a mysterious illness, standing trial for murder, and later marrying Stu Pierce. From another source, I know Sandy suffered a hysterectomy so I suspect that was linked to the illness. I would love to know the name of her child, it's father, and who she supposedly married before she married Stu Pierce. Wesley Hyatt's Encyclopedia of Daytime Television implies that Sandy only wed Stu and that she cheated on him. Hyatt usually has interesting information, but his book is scarce on "Bright Promise" information.

Also, it is never been clarified how Howard Jones and Isabel Jones were related to Sandy. One would assume they were her brother and mother, but I've never seen definitive proof. Hopefully, something will turn up some day.

Thanks again for these Carl. Additional information: Mark Miller's daughter Penelope is actress Penelope Ann Miller and the husband Jennifer Leak alludes to is actor Tim Matheson.

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Thanks again for sharing all this with us. I read the above post several times to take everything in. I have to love Jennifer Leak for asking to wear hot pants :lol: And all the great story information. It's amazing to me that you have found so much about the show. I didn't realize there were so many other soap history books.

I had no idea his daughter was Penelope Ann Miller.

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Lucille Ball. When Lucy was ready to cast the role of her daughter in the movie, Yours Mine and Ours, in 1968, she personally picked Jennifer for the role.

Many claim that the two beauties could pass for mother and daughter. Both are redheads, tall and blue-eyed and both have a marvelous sense of humor. From the time that Jennifer entered Lucy's life, the comedienne never stopped singing the praises of the talented young actress. Lucy was proud to claim her as a brilliant newcomer.

Jennifer was born in Cardiff, Wales, and when her father became a United Nations Security officer, the family moved to Israel. But Jennifer didn't fare well in Israel and had to be sent back to Wales to recover her health and attend school. Their next move was to Canada, where Jennifer's father then became an official at the city prison in Toronto. Jennifer attended Sir George Williams University in Montreal but turned to a modelling career in Toronto and won the title of "Miss Toronto."

She also turned her attention to dramatics and won a role in a show titled Wojeck on Canadian television. An agent saw her on the show and took her to California, but success did not come at that time. She returned to Canada and during her two week vacation, visited California once again, this time with success. She auditioned for the role in Lucille Ball's film and won it.

She and Lucy hit it off right away because their respective backgrounds were similar in one respect - they had both been models. And as things worked out, Lucy was right about Jennifer's talent. In November, 1968, Jennifer appeared with Lloyd Bridges, Ralph Meeker and Anne Francis in a CBS movie, Lost Flight.

Now Jennifer has happily settled into her role on Bright Promise but doesn't wear her hot pants to the studio. She says, "I wear them practically everywhere, except on the show. That's still a no-no. You see, I play the role of a secretary and it's probably thought that hot pants are unprofessional. But I've noticed that career women all over are wearing them to the officers. They're definitely a young fashion.

"Another thing about hot pants: men get as big a kick out of seeing them as we do wearing them."

Jennifer is not one to rely on her beauty alone. She has a very serious side to her; a religious side. When she was 19 years old, she almost lost her life in an automobile accident. She was driving with a friend and a cousin to see the Notre Dame-Michigan State football game. The wind forced the small foreign car into the opposite lane. Fortunately, there was nothing coming up the road at the time, but the wind was so forceful that it overturned the car. The car was demolished and all three passengers just stood looking at the wreck in a state of shock. They had been able to walk away from the accident without a scratch. From that day forward, Jennifer knew for sure that there was Somebody up there watching over her and she has come to regard every moment in life as a precious gift to be used wisely. She has never forgotten the incident.

Even though Jennifer has all the equipment necessary to be a "sex symbol," she most certainly doesn't need it. She has enough beauty and talent to take her a long way and not since the days of Betty Grable has anything created such a stir as Jennifer Leak in hot pants.

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Actually, it was another article I read about Jennifer Leak and hot pants. She sure talked enough about that subject. In the article I read, Leak specifically mentioned being told by Jerry Layton, her producer, that she was not allowed to wear them onscreen. I wonder if TPTB were trying to lure viewers in thinking Jennifer might actually show some leg. I don't know. It's bizarre that this seems to be mentioned in several different articles.

Thank you, Carl. It was nice to see a picture of Leak from her "Bright Promise" days. It is so different from the picture Eddie Drueding has of her on his "Another World" site from her days as Olive.

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Do any of you know more about this? Like how long he was out, or what the recast was like?

December 1970 TV Picture Life:

Bright Promise - Paul Lukather (Bill Ferguson) had infectious hepatitis, resulting in all cast members of BP and DAYS getting innoculations. He was replaced during his illness by John Napier.

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