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Secret Storm The 50's from 'Illustrated History of Soap Operas" by Robert LaGuardia

Feb 1st 1954

Tragedy struck the Ames family of Woodbridge on the first day of the show. Beautiful wife and other Ellen Ames was critically injured in an auto accident. Susan Ames (Jean Mowry)comforted her father Peter Ames (Peter Hobbs). On Friday,five days after the premiere,Ellen died. The Secret Storm was a daring experiment, the first television serial ever to open with such tragedy.

Ellen's father, Judge JT Tyrell (Russell Hicks), went into shock,while his wife, Grace (Majorie Gateson) stood by. Haila Stoddard played Ellen's sister Pauline, a catalytic character in the story for many years.

For months viewers felt the enormous impact of the Ameses' grief over Ellen's sudden death. Peter's children included, besides the adult Susan, teenager Jerry (Robert Morse) and nine year old Amy (Jada Rowland).

Warren Berlinger replaced Robert Morse in the role of Jerry and remained in the part for several years.

Aunt Pauline, who had always loved Peter, began to take advantage of his vulnerable situation. Peter was showing signs of mental breakdown and could not see through Pauline's designs on him and the children.

Jerry brooded a great deal over his mother's death and, after attempting to kill the negligent driver who caused the accident, was sent to reform school. When Secret Storm was cancelled twenty years later, Jada Rowland was the only remaining member of the original cast.


Peter fell in love with his new housekeeper, Jane Edwards (Virginia Dwyer), and wanted to marry her. Pauline, still in love with Peter, broke up their marriage plans by bringing to Woodbridge Jane's husband, Bruce Edwards, who was thought dead.

Bruce Edwards (Ed Bryce)-who had been living on a desert island before coming to town-was killed in a gangland shootout, and Jane finally left town.


Susan, trying to take her mother's place, became possesive. Everyone worried about frail looking Amy, who was hurt and troubled by all the family confusion. Years later, Amy would become the troubled heroine of the story.


Rachel Taylor replaced Jean Mowry as Susan, who fell in love with golf pro Alan Dunbar (James Vickery) . Initially a shady character with gangland connections, Alan turned sympathetic and married Susan. After giving up golf, Alan became an investment banker, and then when Peter sold his derartment store and bought a newspaper, Alan finally became a reporter. Because of Peter's paper,the Herald, a number of characters were reporters.


Mary Foskett was the new Susan and stayed until 1963. Joan Hotchkiss came on as Myra, Amy's teacher ,with whom Peter fell in love.

For a few years Beverly Lunsford replaced Jada Rowland as Amy Ames. But Jada would return and play Amy for a total of fifteen tears.

Aunt Pauline was a colorful character who became involved with all sorts of criminal types. Carl King played one of her boyfriends, Bryan Fuller, an industrial engineer who was involved with the Mafia.Pauline eventually married and divorced him.


Les Damon joined the cast briefly as a member of the Mafia. Criminals and their victims abounded in the storylines.

In mid 1959,Peter married Myra. From the first, their marriage was troubled because of conflicts between their families.

More to come...

Edited by Paul Raven
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Bruce was first played by Biff McGuire in 1955.

Ed Bryce took over as Bill Bauer in 1959 from Lyle Sudrow.

Jane Edwards was also played by Marilyn Monk and Barbara Joyce.

Susan was also played by Norma Moore in 1958 and Dick Trask also played Jerry in 1954.Ken Gerard and Wayne Tippit were later in the role.

June Graham became the second Myra in 1959.

Wendell Phillips (1958) and Don McHenry (1958-63) played Ezra Lake,Myra's father.

Jane Edwards had a son,David and Bruce's mother also appeared.

In 1957, Pauline was temporarily blinded.

Judge Tyrell is listed only as appaering in 1954,so I assume he died also,which would have further upset the Ames.

The first headwriter was William Kendall Clarke.

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There are four episodes from 1960 available for viewing online at the Museum of Broadcast Communications. One episode is from February and the other three are from August. I was actually surprised by the relationship between Myra and Susan as well as the characters themselves. Most soap books talk about how Susan, following the death of her mother, had taken on the role of family caregiver and wasn't pleased when Jane Edwards romanced her father. After this incident, the book would simply refer to Susan's marriage to Alan, the birth of her son Petey, and litle else. I didn't realize that Susan continued to be threatened by the presence of women in her father's life. Brent's recollections even set me back further when he said that Susan had issues with Valerie Ames, Peter's third and final wife. I didn't realize how threatened Susan was by these women. Everyone goes on about Lemay creating Iris with this Oedipus complex, but it seems Susan was in a bit of a similar situation, or am I reading into this too much?

The one episode in February is one of the ones available on youtube. Susan is whining about her husband's career while blaming Myra for all her problems. Peter says Amy deserves a good school to go to. A blonde Amy appears in the episode, someone other than Jada Rowland.

Anyway, I particularly like the August episodes. Pauline has fled Woodbridge after it has been revealed her husband/fiancee Bryan Fuller has been fleecing Tyrell's for thousands of dollars and placing the blame on Peter. Apparently, Susan had befriended Bryan and had thought he was this wonderful guy. When the truth came out, Peter laid into his daughter about her behavior towards Myra, who had suspicions about Bryan. Peter told Susan she always alligned herself with the wrong side. It was a wonderful moment. The family went to the Tyrell cabin, I believe at Spruce Lake. Amy had gone into town with Myra's father giving Myra and Grace a chance to chat about the family's latest situation. Myra talked about how Amy adored Ezra and that he found the girl amusing. It seemed like Ames/Lake family had blended quite well.

I thought June Graham was fine as Myra. She seemed rather quiet, but very much a person of character. Roy Windsor stated in an interview he felt the Myra Lake story didn't work. I wonder if he meant the entire storyline? I thought Myra seemed like a woman with strong morals and a was a caring stepmother towards Amy. In 1962, I think a very married Myra was pursued by a man other than Peter. I think this may have been the story Windsor had trouble with since it seemed like Myra was fighting temptation. This doesn't seem to fall in line with the women who would follow Myra after she departed.

I've appreciated Jon and Brent's reflections on "The Secret Storm." As another poster said, I can reread these posts all day.

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Wonderful 1961 clip which conveys the brooding quality that was particular to SS at that time, and also confirms my supposition that there are 1960 kinescopes of SS "out there" waiting to be catalogued and made available for full viewing again. Wonderful stuff! Keep the "Secret Storm" coming.

All Best,


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Enjoyed your comments. I can assure you it was an absorbing program to watch, that in my perception, didn't talk down to the audience, and wasn't in any way juvenile. One writer said it was the Eugene O'Neill like serial of daytime TV. I don't know about that--but it was heavy and didn't make any bones about it! If you wanted Grandpa's old world coffee pot whimsy, you had better tune into another program.

All Best,


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Jerry was killed off later wasn't he, or just written out?

That clip impressed me more than I expected. There's a real sorrow there, not any type of exaggerated emotion. The way he talks about his mother's death, and his relationship with his sister, seem so real.

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Jan 1962

Secret Storm actor resigns after 8 years.

Constant viewers of CBS long running daytime serial ' Secret Storm' are in for a mild shock next Monday. The face and figure of a principal character will be different - although the name will be the same and the plot will go on and on and on.

After eight years of playing problem dogged Peter Ames, department store owner and widower with three children,actor Peter Hobbs has decided to quit after next Friday's episode.

he is giving such short notice-his departure is not entirely amicable-that there's no time to wrap up the current storyline, and, as is the usual practice, send the character to India or some other remote place to cool off before bringing on the new actor to play the old role.

"I' sorry to lose Hobbs", said Roy Winsor, producer of the show,"but his leaving isn't a real problem. There's just one answer-recast the part. In a daytime serial, it's the character,not the actor,that counts".

Hobbs says he is leaving-"after all, eight years is enough"- largely because he has some television ideas of his own he wants to pursue.

*Hobbs did return to daytime with roles on Bright Promise and Days.He also was in scores of primetime shows.Born in 1918, he is still living.

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