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The Brighter Day

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IMDB doesn't even list this for her. I wonder how long she was on the show and what the story was.

January 1960 TV Radio Mirror - what's new on the East Coast

No Duckling Ugly She: Lin Pierson, as Diane Clark on CBS-TV's The Brighter Day, plays a homely, sadly dressed gal of twenty with problems. Actually a tawny beauty, Lin says, "When I read for the part, they said I was too pretty. I went to a five-and-ten, bought a pair of glasses, pulled back my hair and washed off my make-up. They hired me." Lin and actor-husband Dana White live in Manhattan with a cat and a Vespa scooter. She says, "I'm blonde, five-five and thin. I eat anything that's fattening and nothing happens and Dana always worries about me." Husband Dana plays the part of Danny Fraser on NBC-TV's From These Roots. Lin says, "Now, how about him, since we were talking about looks being deceiving? He plays an eighteen year old on that show and he's older than I am. Well, I'm twenty-five." Lin explains she helps along her dowdy appearing on Brighter Day by dressing badly. "But I'll tell you something. I was in Grant Central station the other day - looking like myself, I thought - when a woman came up to me and asked if I wasn't Diane from the show. Honestly, i don't know whether to be pleased or insulted."


Edited by CarlD2

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I love that story about the kitchen.

I wish we could see more of this. The thought of Lois Nettleton and Hal Holbrook in scenes together is a treat.

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situation..."until," as he says, "it came time ot consider the matter of Vicki and the new baby." Admittedly, then, both Hal and Ruby were concerned.

Ruby, who is taking a few years' hiatus from the footlights to star in her important real-life role of being a mother, explains: "I had never been separated from Vicki. We knew she was bound to suffer a s hock if ever she thought she might have a rival for our affections."

To prevent it, they began to take Vicki into their confidence many months before the baby was due, seeking to share the coming child with her. "When she asked questions," Hal says, "we'd tell her straight. We didn't go in for any of this stork stuff."

On the whole, their approach was most successful, but it did produce certain small consternations. With a chuckle, Hal recalls: "It was bad enough when Vicki would run up to strangers on the street, bend backwards, and announce proudly, 'See, I've got a big tummy - just like Mummy's!' But, the day she almost broke up a friendship, we wondered if we had gone too far."

That happened during a weekend spent with another young couple who had just bought a new home in Connecticut. The place adjourning was one of "estate" proportions, owned by an older woman who most kindly invited them to use her swimming pool. Hal and his friend were loafing around the stone fence, talking with her, when small Vicki dashed up, all eyes, Surveying the woman's ample figure, she piped in penetrating childish treble, "You have a big tummy."

Hal says, "Thank heaven, our host was quick-witted. Pretending to misunderstand, he replied, 'Yes, Vicki, she does have a big Tommy. A beautiful big Tom cat. Let's go try to find him.' That saved the day. Later, when I found out how self-conscious the woman really was about her size, I shuddered to think what Vicki nearly did to a fine friendship."

Noticing a small undercurrent of fear in Vicki's growing excitement, Hal and Ruby realized they must plan the actual homecoming of the baby as carefully as the would a second-act climax in a play. Vicki went to stay with friendship when Ruby left for the hospital and, on July 1, 1955, David Vining Holbrook made a safe debut into the world via Caeserean section. When they arrived home, Ruby put tiny David in his crib in the bedroom before Hal went to fetch Vicki. On meeting her, he had much to say about "Mummy's anxious to see you" - but not a word about the baby. After opening the door for the excited child, he vanished. "We wanted Vicki to have her mother all to herself when she came home," he explains.

Mother and daughter were left alone in the living room and, for half an hour, they talked and played just as they always had. At last, when Ruby felt Vicki was happy and calm, she asked, "Do you remember, Vicki, what I promised to bring to you from the hospital?"

Vicki's eyes widened in delighted recollection. "Ooooh, my baby!" she exclaimed. "Mummy, did you bring me my baby brother? Where is he?"

Ruby replied gently, "He's waiting for you in his crib." Hand in hand, the petite, dark-haired woman and the sunny, sandy-haired child walked in to meet the new member of the family.

Drawing on their skill as actors, Hal and Ruby had controlled a crisis and brought it to a happy conclusion. From then on, David was Vicki's baby," Hal says proudly. "Instead of having a rival, she had some one new to love and share generously with us. She feels secure and her nose was never 'out of joint,' not for a minute."

Hal, Ruby and their children live in a modern apartment with large rooms and big windows, high above Manhattan's busy streets. It is conveniently close to a park, a playground and a good nursery school which Vicki attends. But, like many young parents, the Holbrooks are considering a move to the country. "It sounds as though it would be good for the children - until we realized how it would cut down the time we have with them. My schedule would make commuting difficult, and Ruby would have a real problem when she goes back into show business eventually."

Ruby, whose present contact with the theater is restricted to a class in modern dance, has no immediate plans beyond the hope that, when she does return, it will be to some production where she and Hal can work together. That's what they've always done, since they met on the bare stage of The St. John's Players, a civic theater group in chilly Newfoundland.

Hal was then in the United States Army Engineers. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Mr and Mrs. Harold R. Holbrook, Sr., he had been reared in Boston. He prepped at Culver Military Academy in Indiana, from which both his father and his uncle had been graduated. "There's where I got lured into a play," he says. "And, from then on, it was show business for me."

Joining a summer stock company in Clevleand proved decisive, for its director was Edward A. Wright, head of the drama department at Denison University, Granville, Ohio. Hal says, "Ed persuaded me to go to Denison, and we've been friends ever since. He was best man at our wedding and he got us started in the theater."

Hal had a year at Denison before the Amry called him at Denison before the Army called him and sent him to St. John's in Newfoundland - the jumping-off place for Europe. Ruby was a native of St. John's, the daughter of Emanuel and Amelia Johnson. My father," she smiles, "was the only member of his family who broke away form the fishing village where they all lived and went to the big city (pop. 67,000) to become a traveling salesman."

In high school, Ruby appeared in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, learned to be a stenographer, and wondered how she would ever get from remote St. John's to the theatrical production centers. Romance and career merged the night both she nad Hal joined the Players. "In a little Chinese play, 'Lady Precious Stream,' we were cast opposite each other. While being make-believe lovers on-stage, we fell in love - for real."

At the end of the war, when Hal was shipped back to the United States, Ruby flew to New York and they were mrried Stpember 21, 1945, at the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration. For them, the place held a double significane. Hal's favorite uncle had been married there. It also is beloved and famed among actors as "The Little Church Around the Corner."

As soon as Hal completed his Army service, they both enrolled at Denison. They were graduated in 1948, and the two left on tour immediately. The idea for this had its germ in one of Ed Wright's class assignments. "He gave me Mark Twain's 'An Encounter With an Interviewer' and suggested I work it up into a sketch," Hal says. "I read it through, then grabbed the telephone to protest this was utter corn and I couldn't do a thing with it."

Wisely, Wright suggested Hal take a second look, paying particular attention to the philosophy behind it: "That's the way I discovered Mark Twain's straight-faced satire. It's just as sharp, just as funny today, as it was when he wrote it. I've been a Mark Twain fan ever since."

The resulting skit became the foundation for a series of small dramas, based on historic characters or scenes from famed plays, which Hal and Ruby worked into two hours of entertainment - a show which one friend describes as "a sort of Ruth Draper, doubled." They loaded two costume trunks, a sound system, and a trunkful of lights into a station wagon and hti the road.

Hal sums up those eventful and hectic years: "Between 1948 and 1952, we gave over 800 performances. The only states we missed were Arizona, Oregon and Florida. We did go into Canada. We played everything from the swank women's clubs of the North Shore, outside Chicago, to high schools in tank towns where they hadn't seen a live show since Chautauqua. We'd teach a piece in the afternoon, install our lighting and sound equipment, set the stage with the furniture we had asked the local committee to provide, eat a hasty supper, play our show, catch a few hours' sleep, and get going for our next location. Our schedule while playing high schools was even worse, for then we'd do twelve or thirteen hours a week.

"We drove a thousand miles a week, forty thousand miles a year. In all of that, we missed only one date. A flood marooned us in a town in Texas and we were a day getting out. But we rebooked the week and made up the show. The pace was so furious that once RUby fainted. Fell right down flat in total exhaustion."

"It sounds almost foolish now," says Ruby, "but we were young, we took ourselves seriously - almost too seriously, perhaps - and it was wonderful experience."

That phase of their lives ended when Ruby became pregnant. As Hal says, "We didn't want to take any risks, so another girl took Ruby's place to fill out the remaining dates we had booked. Then a summer-theater job in Massachusetts helped us make a transition to New York."

That most important young lady, Miss Victoria Rowe Holbrook, arrived (also by Caesarean section) on April 22, 1952. Ruby's only non-maternal assignment that summer was to spend two weeks apartment hunting in New York. She returned tired out and discouraged. "I was the lucky one," says Hal. "I got two days off and came in late one Saturday night. Sunday morning, before going to look at the advertised apartments. I stopped to see a friend. An apartment was just being vacated in his building and I got it."

For two years, Hal has played the role of Grayling Dennis on The Brighter Day. He particularly enjoyed the sequence last summer when Grayling married Sandra Talbot: "It was such a contrast to Ruby's and my hasty ceremony, away from home and minus the usual trimmings. The wedding on the show went on for days and it really was done beautifully. My 'father,' the Reverend Richard Dennis - Blair Davies - read the service, word for word, with absolute solemnity. It was so moving, in fact, that, if Blair actually had been ordained, I'd feel like a bigamist."

While this was being broadcast, Ruby was appreciating it, too: "That's when I was in the hospital, having David. I really shocked a nurse the time I said, My husband got married yesterday.'"

Apartment living had been difficult for Ruby at first. "I felt alone and cut off from things," she recalls. "I had always worked." Shortly, however, the closeness of Hal's and Ruby's partnership provided an antidote. She became what Hal calls, "My chief audience and critic. We work out new material together."

Most of this new material concerns Hal's increasingly important characterization of Mark Twain. As this is written, he has been booked to introduce it, for national viewing, on the Ed Sullivan Show, but the exact date has not been set. Nightly, however, New Yorkers enjoy it at Jimmy Di Martino's supper club, on Grove Street in Greenwich Village, called "Upstairs at the Duplex." Downstairs at the Duplex is the bar, but the parlor floor of this charming old house which dates back to the American Revolution is Upstairs. Where Colonial ladies once danced the minuet, Hal and several friends, who have a participating interest in the room, stage their show. It is a quiet, intimate little place, so delightful that, following the premiere of "Guys and Dolls," Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Wally Coxand a group of friends came in "for a few minutes" and stayed for hours.

In such a place, Hal's Mark Twain is as much at home as if that sharp-witted gentleman had just strolled over from Tenth Street, where he once lived, to have a leisurely nightcap and a bit of conversation with friends. For Hal's impersonation of him is amazingly accurate, from snowy white curls (Hal wears a wig) to the white line n suit which Mr. Samuel Clemens made Mark Twain's trademark. With such an illusion of reality, it is not fitting that a beloved humorist repeat himself too often, so Hal and Ruby continue to increase his repertoire.

Hal, now an intense student of Mark Twain's writing, admits he gets carried away. "I want to include everything. But, since that is obviously impossible, I tend to swing to the other direction and cut it too tight, assuming that everyone else also knows what has gone before. Too often, that can result in people not even knowing what I'm talking about. That's where Ruby turn s critic. Whenever I prepare a new Mark Twain piece, I try it first on her and we work it out together."

"Working it out" involves far more than memorizing Mark Twain's words. The characterization takes on life because Hal and Ruby are among the growing group of college-trained young actors who are capable of working in all dimensions of show business. Not only can each play a scene movingly, but they are also able to do everything necessary to produce that scene. They can write or edit a script. They are equally adept in "mounting" that show. Each one can design a set, paint a flat, install the scenery, arrange the lights, hook up an amplifying system. When, in large productions, such work is not required of them, they have the confidence which comes from knowing how it should be done. They also can design and sew a costume. While costumes usually are Ruby's responsibility, Hal did his own for Mark Twain.

"It became sort of a dedicated thing, once I had started," he explains. "I had had a couple of white suits when we were on the road. But, by the time we reached New York, they were worn out. I went to a costumer and the price they wanted was staggering."

So Ruby and Hal shopped: "We found some white linen of a quality which Mark Twain would have liked. Then we bought patterns for slacks, vest and sports coat. We altered them to suit the style of his period. Then I cut them out and sewed them. I intended to do every stitch myself but, when it came to the buttonholes, I was stumped. Ruby had to do those."

It's no wonder, with such careful attention to detail, that Mark Twain has become as much a member of their family as a great-uncle. While neither Hal nor Ruby admit, at present, to having any plans to have their youngsters try impersonations of Becky Thatcher and Tom Sawyer, Vicki's hair is turning the right pinkish-blonde color and tiny David's eyes already hold the right mischievous twinkle. With the Holbrook talent and the Holbrook habit of sharing every experience with each other -w who knows?

Perhaps, with the help of the Holbrooks, Mark Twain's wondrous dream children - as well as Mark Twain himself - may gain come to life. That would indeed be a brighter day for all devotees of Americana, as well as for the many admirers of Grayling Dennis!

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The Hal Holbrook article was neat. The timing of Grayling's marriage and the birth of Ruby's baby was interesting. I recently watched Men of Honor and was thinking what a great addition Holbrook would have been to a soap around that time. I realize his career was mor uch more extensive outside soaps, but I was just thinking of what his presence could have added to a show that needed a male of a certain age in the 1990s.

The color photo of Lois Nettleton isn't very flattering. She comes across much prettier in the black and white shots I've seen of her.

I never understood the Blake / Randy Hamilton connection. I guess they were two separate characters. Many soap books have them listed interchangably.

I presume this last set of photos was used to premier 'The Brighter Day' as it was a spinoff of 'Joyce Jordan' or one of the other nursing serials. I wonder how long Reverend Dennis appeared on the former serial before it was cancelled.

I had known Redfield had been Dr. Cole on 'As the World Turns,' but I had forgotten he appeared on 'The Brighter Day.' I wonder what Redfield would have done in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' if his character hadn't been soon marginalized.

The Dennis family seems fascinating with weak Grayling, ambitious Althea, motherly Liz, and the younger set. I was surprised to see the oldest sister, Maggie?, mentioned in the synopses you posted in the radio soap thread. I had heard about her, but I didn't think she had any story of substance.

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Marcia. I hadn't noticed her until you mentioned it, and I went back and read the synopses. I guess she wasn't on the TV version. Did they think Liz took her place? I guess the family was aged by the time they were on TV (although Babby was younger wasn't she), as Patsy wasn't 16 and wasn't a tomboy on the TV version.

Is it me or does Althea look about 40 in that photo? I wonder if they wanted to have Liz as the more conventionally attractive sister, since she was quieter, and the more quirky Althea had the drive.

The funny thing with the Hal Holbrook article is how much he ended up looking like the Mark Twain photo (minus the facial hair) as he aged.

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Aren't the photos of the actresses who were providing the radio voices? Jay Meredith may have provided a voice for a 19 year old while being much older.

I think one of the soap books mentions Liz appearing on the show in the early years, but they don't credit an actress in the part. My understanding is Liz faded into the background and later replaced Marcia as the happily married sister who came to town when the family needed to celebrate or was in a crisis.

The family does seem to have evolved based on the two articles you have posted. Babby seems to be a perennial teenager, while Patsy has matured into the young unwed sister fighting off the advances of men while trying to hold the family together. It would seem Patsy replaced Liz.

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I guess I was thinking of the other actors looking similar to their character ages.

I guess Marcia may not even have been in the radio version for more than just the Hollywood arc, for all we know. That arc sounds a little strange for this show...perhaps because so much of it is about Liz and not Althea.

So did TBD's radio version stay different than the TV version?

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Was Bill Bell involved with this show? The Dennis sisters seem an awful lot like the Brooks sisters of Y&R. Liz = Leslie; Althea = Lorie, Patsy = Chris, Babby = Peggy. Even some of the personality traits. Leslie and Liz both had a breakdown, Althea seems as driven as Lorie and Patsy seems to be in love with love like Chris.

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Wasn't BD the show Sam Hall talked of writing and creating absurd speeches uttered by Rev. Dennis and his sister? Apparently Sam had contempt for the show and wanted to express his dislike of it in that way.

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