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Radio Soap Opera Discussion

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7 hours ago, EricMontreal22 said:

John M. Young, who took over writing Right to Happiness in 1942 until it ended in 1960, managed to "out-Irna" Irna Phillips in his storylines (I wonder if he wrote for anything else)

John M Young wrote some Days scripts for Bill Bell/Betty Corday in 66 and early 67. Perhaps he had pretty much retired by that point.

 

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7 hours ago, BetterForgotten said:

Thanks! In this era where TV/Film productions have shut down due to the pandemic, it would be so easy and safe to do a radio/audio production remotely.

 

Too bad this type of storytelling has all but died in North America.
 

Though I know the Christian radio drama Unshackled is still in production and going strong...

I've followed for five or so years BBC's radio soap The Archers (which I think now has become the longest running soap opera in the world--premiering in 1951 (I listen thanks to the BBC4 podcast).  Although currently we're in the third week of three weeks of classic episodes but they have started already recording episodes, premiering next week, from the actor's homes--they posted photos of how different actors have set up their own recording stations at their homes (they also apparently have rewritten the scripts so they will involved fewer characters in each 15 minute episode and will be more "introspective" which I assume means we're gonna start getting thought monologues or something, but don't really know...)

And wow, I'd never heard of Unshackled before.  It sounds like... quite the show.

7 hours ago, BillBauer said:

By the way, I'm probably the only person in the entire world who would care (especially in 2020) but that article is wrong in the way they describe Ted's shooting. Ted and Meta weren't having an "hysterical argument" at all. In fact, just the opposite. Meta was pretty calm and cold when she shot Ted. 

Thanks!  I was gonna mention that too--as you point out very different (wasn't Meta almost in a trance?)

7 hours ago, BillBauer said:

 

 

Wikipedia has her listed as "story editor" for Days but doesn't list what years. I think I had read that she was pretty involved in Days at the beginning but kept a low profile. I would imagine she gave Bill Bell the ideas for stories and then let him go with it.

Of course she helped come up with the concept with the Cordays (or is that an apocryphal story?) 

I always thought it was interesting that Bill Bell helped save the show early on--when he had basically co-created Another World and yet it was Irna's other protege, Agnes Nixon, who saved that show.

5 hours ago, BetterForgotten said:

The Archers broadcasts new episodes from Sunday-Friday.

 

 

And only Sunday-Thurs currently during the pandemic.  (I am not sure but I think it went from 15 to 12 mins when it expanded from five to six days--so really it's still the same amount of programming each week.

Edited by EricMontreal22

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Variety reports in March 43 that Light of the World - the serial based on bible stories was the top rating segment of the General Mills Hour besting Guiding Light, Woman in White and Today's Children -  all Irna Phillips soaps.

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From September 1948. 

Grace Matthews roles courtesy of Slick Jones

RADIO

 

BIG SISTER     Ruth Evans Brewster Wayne         between 1936 and 1952

THE BRIGHTER DAY      Liz Dennis      between 1948 and 1956

HILLTOP HOUSE     Julie Erickson Nixon Paterno    between  1935 and 1955

ROAD OF LIFE    Dr. Carson McVicker Fowler    between 1937 and 1955

 

TELEVISION

 

ROAD OF LIFE     Unknown  Role (probably Carson McVicker)  Unknown Year

AS THE WORLD TURNS     Grace Baker    Unknown Year

THE GUIDING LIGHT     Claudia Dillman     1968-69; 1972

 

Actress Grace Matthews left Canadian radio to reign over the weepy world of the daytime serials. Maybe it isn’t art but it sure pays

HUGH KEMP SEPTEMBER 1 1948
Queen of the Soap Operas

 

MISS GRACE MATTHEWS, a bachelor of arts from the University of Toronto, alumna of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England, and recently a star of Andrew Allan’s “Stage” series on the CBC, has a new title. She is now being hailed by the radio trade of America as the “Queen of the Soap Operas.” Since Jan. 10, 1937, the talented Canadian has been Ruth Wayne, the star of “Big Sister,” one of the most profitable and interminable of the soap operas (known also as cliff hangers, strip shows, washboard weepe:rs and defined by James Thurber as “an endless sequence of narratives whose only cohesive element is the eternal presence of its bedeviled and beleaguered principal characters”.

Miss Matthews is Big Sister on the Columbia network at. one o’clock each weekday except Saturday. Then, at three-fifteen on the same days, she is Julie Ericksen, female lead of Columbia’s sustaining serial “Hilltop House.” And every Sunday night she becomes Margot, girl Friday to the Shadow in Mutual’s thriller of the same name.

She does other odd jobs of radio acting, too, but by the soaps she is known. Sometimes in the late night silence Grace Matthews admits to some surprise at her present position. For it is something that, she never meant to Income. But, she says, “You decide to forget about art and call it business.” As business it provides Miss Matthews with a .$25,U00-a-year existence in Manhattan.

Miss Matthews looks more like the $25,000 a year girl than the fictional characters she represents. She is a svelte woman with a Fifth-Avenue look and a big-boned handsome face that would suggest a fashion editor to Hollywood. She has what Andrew Allan, drama director of the CBC, describes as “a personalized glamour which is more than the sum total of her physical attributes. It is a rare kind of magic.”

Strangest of all, these very qualities come through in her voice. Her cultivated contralto reflects a social-university background in every well-formed note. Miss Matthews, a contemplative person by nature, often puzzles over how the millions of her soap audience can accept her unquestioningly as the small-town middle-class woman known as Big Sister.

This doubt certainly never enters the thinking of the producers of the show. They know only too well that there is no relationship between realism and the soap operas and that in the dream world of the kitchen sink the most banal problems can be solved most satisfyingly by a voice which is a cross between Cleopatra and Marlene Dietrich.

The only thing finally demanded of Grace Matthews by the producers is that she be personally liked by the audience. In her present roles it is not difficult, but even if she were the vixen of the piece she would still have to be liked—or, at worst, not disliked. Once on “Big Sister” an actress used a raw, guttural voice to play the part of a nasty woman. Immediately a batch of protests came in from women of the audience. The producers didn’t change the nasty woman; just gave her nicer vocal tones. Everybody was happy.

It’s that kind of a world.

It’s also this kind of a world. Miss Matthews lives with her husband, Court Benson, a Canadian announcer and radio actor, in a swank apartment in New York’s east 70’s. That’s the district where four-room apartments start at about $250 a month. And she has a wardrobe that starts at about the same price. And a maid who comes in every day at noon to do what the press releases describe as “Grace loves to to do her own cooking in spite of an exhausting daily schedule.”

By Miss Matthews’ own admission the daily schedule is not in the least exhausting. She rises slowly about nine o’clock, nibbles through breakfast., selects the suit with which to face the day and then saunters down Madison Avenue. Just before eleven-thirty she presents herself in the grey-blue soundproofed air-conditioned vault in the Columbia Broadcasting System Building from which “Big Sister” is sent forth to North America. There is no noise, no confusion, no inspiration, no temperament in evidence. There is no studio audience, nor is there any feeling of the audience out there in Canadian and U. S. homes.

The actors involved in the day’s episode sit on tables, slump in chairs and lean against walls. They do a “first read-through,” get to know what the script is about, mark up tricky spots in their lines. On most soap operas this first run-through is the occasion for actors to make wisecracks about the characters they are playing and to moan and groan about the more fatuous of their lines.

Miss Matthews never kids the lines; she thinks it’s naïve. Her attitude is that she’s doing a job and she’ll do it well. This approach is much appreciated by the businessmen who are responsible for the shows. In their view “Big Sister” is not a story but a property. It runs through $18,000 a week; represents an investment of some $8 millions in its 12-year history. At those prices the wisecracks from the hired help have to be good to make a sponsor laugh.

After the run-through the actors gather around the microphone and the director slips in behind the glass window of the control room. Then they do it again on mike and take a timing. As a rule there is very little rehearsal of detail. The actors are all skilled craftsmen who do this stuff hundreds of times in the course of a year.

Besides, soap opera acting is very mannered and easy to do for anyone who has the basic equipment. In the words of one normally cynical director, it is “a composite of very sad readings, very long pauses.”

Grace Matthews follows the turtlepaced developments of the plot with mild interest, though this is in no way essential to her acting of the part of Ruth Wayne. The acting she can do with the front of her head while she compiles her income tax at the rear.

Just before one o’clock the actors break off and go out into the corridors for a smoke. At one o’clock they stand up to the mike again in the silent studio and 15 minutes later another episode of “Big Sister” has gone out to housewives of Canada and the U. S.

Ruth, Then Julie

The plot of this serial has gone through many convolutions during the past 12 years. In its early days Ruth Evans Wayne, a nurse, was a big sister who tried passionately to become mother and father to her orphaned sister Sue and her crippled brother Neddie. Today she is married to Dr. John Wayne and is symbolically a big sister to husband, friends and strangers, too. Like all good soap operas, “Big Sister” went to war after Pearl Harbor, suffered through rehabilitation maladjustments after VJ-Day, and is just now getting back to being thoroughly self-centred.

At one-fifteen each day, after the “Big Sister” broadcast, Grace Matthews goes downstairs at CBS for a quick lunch, generally at Colbee’s, a popular hangout for the radio-acting crowd. Her lunch is frequently interrupted by a call from PLAZA, a radio actors’ telephone agency which undertakes to find its clients anywhere in New York at any time of the day or

night to tell them that they are wanted by a director for another show.

At two o’clock Grace is back upstairs in the studios where the mood is the same, the people are roughly the same, the pacing is the same and the wisecracks are the same. Only the words are different, because this time the serial is “Hilltop House.” Miss Matthews plays the part of Julie Ericksen, the attractive young matron of an orphanage whose sympathy and understanding develop confidence, respect and love in the often unruly and unhappy youngsters assigned to her care.

By three-thirty Miss Matthews is usually through for the day and the days are roughly the same Monday through Friday. Saturday is clear and then on Sunday afternoon she spends four hours preparing to be and being Margot, female helper to the Shadow at MBS. This routine goes on through 50 weeks of the year. By the terms of her American Federation of Radio Artists contract, Grace Matthews must have two weeks’ holiday from each show. To accomplish this the writer of the serial has to write her out—send her to the mountains, or the hospital, or on a mysterious errand where the microphone discreetly does not follow.

So far this day in the life of the Sarah Siddons of the soaps sounds fairly easy. And it is—so long as everything remains normal in the studio and sickness stays away from the door. Trouble with being a leading lady of the strips is that when everything goes wrong in the studio and you are personally suffering from an attack of influenza, you still have to go on and sound like the brave cultured woman you are.

Miss Matthews has been before the microphone with a temperature of 102 and with a violently throbbing tooth and with a racking cough. If you would like an idea of what radio actors must sometimes go through, try this one: next time your throat is really tickling and you are dying to burst out in a series of racking coughs, don’t. Instead, talk for 15 minutes in a natural pleasant voice.

Fortunately, Miss Matthews is rarely ill. Only once has her voice disappeared completely. A doctor was rushed to the mike side, where, to the fascination of all, he pronounced the ailment, “globus hystericus.” He succeeded in getting the lump out of her throat in time for Big Sister to become her fascinating self.

Some Hate Soapers

As Queen of the Soaps, Miss Matthews plays to an audience estimated at close to three million people a day, a figure determined by telephone surveys made while the program is on the air. The popularity of “Big Sister” has varied this year between first and 13th place, in competition with 45 other soaps heard on the American networks.

The fan mail for “Big Sister” is fairly large. The letters of high praise are generally passed along to Miss Matthews, but critical letters are kept from her on the grounds that they might dampen her enthusiasm.

There is probably no one in all of North America without a definite attitude toward the soap serials. These attitudes range from a pathetic dependence and love through bitter and undying hatred to a kind of academic puzzlement. Psychologists can t stay away from them. In the Columbia Broadcasting System’s Reference Library there are more than 40 serious studies of the strip show, varying in length from 10 pages to entire books and bearing such titles as “Daytime Serials and Iowa Women,” “The Day-time Serial Drama—Its Psychological Background and Its Current Popularity Trend” and “What We Really Know About Daytime Serials.”

The most determined opponent of soap operadom is a New York psychiatrist, Dr. Louis Berg. He has issued a number of studies which set out to prove that soap operas: “foster anxiety conditions in the listeners; induce mental fatigue; induce all those physiological changes in the listener which are concomitants of anxiety states—rapid pulse and respiration, high blood pressure, etc.”

Through all of the studies the soap operas go on their way unchanged and unaffected. And Grace Matthews continues to draw her fat cheques and go on her very urban way. Because she is comparatively new to the business, she is now making about $25,000 a year. Ina couple of years this income should go up considerably. The union pay scale for each of her soaps is only $152.50 a week, but as a personality she gets considerably more from “Big Sister” and may soon get boosts all  around. Bess Johnson, the actress who played the lead in “Hilltop House” before Grace Matthews, and read the commercials as well, got a walloping  $1,600 a week for the job. Big money  like this is not for everyone; over half  of the 2,600 radio actors in New York  make less than two thousand dollars  a year.

Training of a Queen

Miss Matthews was born in Toronto ¡ in 1913 to a prominent family of normal business traditions. There was  no theatre blood anywhere in the lineage. She attended a private school for girls, Bishop Strachan in Toronto. It was presumed that she would make her  debut in her 18th year, but she surprised her former associates, and her family to some degree, by repudiating the social season and going on to the University of Toronto. There she took her B.A. and a series of summer courses in acting at Hart House. Among her fellow students were several who have since become well-known on the English stage; notably Florence McGee,David Manners, Kirbey Hawkes and Judith Evelyn.

Following graduation from the U. of T. she did a casual tour of Italy and France for educational purposes only and then settled down for two more  years of study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where she  was taught by Sir Kenneth Barnes,Charles Laughton and Sarah Algood.

From there she returned to Canada and easy admission to the John Holden Players in Winnipeg.

In 1938 she went down to New York, auditioned for and was signed by the New York Theatre Guild for “Dame Nature.” From there she went to summer stock at Marblehead, Mass., where she appeared in “Spring Meeting” and “Burlesque.” She was playing “Spring Meeting” at Saratoga Springs on the day war began. The following day the show closed and she returned to Canada.

Back in Toronto she turned to radio and shortly became accepted as the leading lady for almost every major show. At the same time she got her introduction to the soap operas. She  was “Soldier’s Wife,” and “Dr. Susan,” and Judy in “John and Judy.” She slipped into these without knowing quite how it happened.

When Andrew Allan started his “Stage” series in 1944 she took leads there, too, and developed new power in the better-than-average radio vehides that were available. In that year she won three national awards as Canada’s leading radio actress.

On a broadcast in 1940 she met Court Benson, an announcer who was on the hockey broadcasts from Toronto on Saturday night, and they were married shortly after. Court went overseas almost immediately with the 48th Highlanders and the romance continued by air mail. Their particular postwar dream was of a joint return to New York, where they would spend their lives acting together.

Part of the dream, at least, came true. In the spring of 1946 the Bensons put up the shutters on their pleasant way of life in Toronto and took off for that very tough town to the south.

Storming the Citadel

Now, it would be nice to record their dramatic struggle to break into the closed circle of New York radio. But it didn’t happen that way.Two hours after their first audition, at Columbia Broadcasting System, they both had leads on a show called “American Portraits.” The Bensons continued to take general auditions; turned down jobs individually in many cases in order to be able to act together. All of the good New York things happened to them and none of the bad.

Then, one day late in 1946, the radio world trembled. It was reported that Mercedes McCambridge, the actress who was then playing Big Sister, was preparing to leave the show.

The Queen of the Soap Operas was abdicating her throne and across New York hundreds of young radio actresses spent sleepless nights visioning themselves as wearers of the crown. Miss Matthews gave it little thought, but when the preliminary tryouts for 20 actresses were announced she was among the chosen.

Radio Butters the Bread

Miss Matthews auditioned four times; was heard each time by an earnest panel of experts including the producer, the associate producer, the director of the show, the audition director, the account representative of the advertising agency, the publicity man of the agency and, finally, the client, Procter and Gamble. These people chose Grace Matthews straight across the board and without ever knowing what she looked like.

The Bensons set out for New York originally with the determination to go into the legitimate threatre, but it took them no time at all to learn that the money figures of stage just don’t add up to a living. The sad fact is that a month is a long run for the average play that opens on Broadway and $300 a week is a high wage for an actor. And if an actor gets two plays a season it’s considered pretty good going.

That’s why actors turn to the soaps without any feeling of shame. Some very, very good actors have made their bread and butter and cakes and wine in that medium. Don Ameche used to play four soaps a day. Van Heflin was in the cast of a serial called “The Goldbergs.”

In anybody’s language the thing that the Bensons have built up is nice work if you can get it. Their combined income is over $40,000 a year and that buys comfort even in Gotham.

In the view of husband Court and of the world at large, Grace is a success. In her own late-night reflections she is not so certain. In Canadian radio, she recalls, she played Shakespeare and Greek tragedy as well as modern tragedy and sophisticated comedy. She growled her love scenes, ordered a mean cocktail and uttered the occasional emphatic “damn” and “hell.” In American radio her range has been much more limited. The classic parts are simply not in existence and the modern tiger women of American broadcasting are really just painted kittens. In the soaps—where self-censorship is extreme—women do not smoke and they go faint at the mention of sherry.

Once every six months the Bensons decide that New York is not really for them, that its values and its tempo are essentially false. “Then,” says Grace, “we talk of London all the time.” This past spring they almost packed their bags and took off; only the fact that Mrs. Benson was shortly to become a mother deterred them. Two months later they were again in love with “great warm stimulating New York.”

The future in radio seems somewhat uncertain to Grace, as it now does to all American actors, for television seems to threaten the other media. Certainly television will make obsolete some of radio’s more extravagant practices and will make it impossible for Grace Matthews to be Big Sister at one o’clock each day and the head of an orphanage two hours later. Or will it? Will the great American housewife fall in love even more deeply with Miss Matthews’ image than with her voice and be only too happy to see her pretending that she is six or seven different things during the course of a day? After the experience of the soap operas, daring is he who would be a prophet in this field.

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Came across a short lived  mid 70's attempt to revive radio soaps

CURTAIN CALL FOR MUTUAL'S QUARTETTE
Radio Playhouse & The Faces of Love
By Jim Widner © 2009
(From Radio Recall, December 2009)

I began collecting in the early seventies just as there was a resurgence of dramatic radio at the start of that decade. While I have fond memories of listening to the last of radio drama in the early sixties, I was actually a child of television having grown up in the fifties, and most of my radio drama experience came from the programs that were broadcast as a result of the resurgence.

During that period, it seemed as if there was no end to radio drama as many stations began carrying the programs that gave many of today’s young collectors their spark of interest in the hobby. I was familiar with many of the programs being broadcast, but was surprised when Jack French, your editor, brought to my attention some episodes of a radio soap called The Faces of Love which the Old Time Radio Researchers organization released recently in one of their Distribution CDs. Neither Jack nor I had ever heard of the program and that sparked the two of us to want to find out more.

After its offering of the Zero Hour in 1973 and its subsequent demise of that series due to low response, the Mutual Broadcasting System decided to try again creating a series of four programs under an umbrella called Radio Playhouse.

Radio Playhouse was originally the name of the umbrella created by Mutual in 1953 through which it offered over 1 million dollars worth of transcribed series to its network. Using the same concept, the umbrella of four programs premiered over WOR Mutual on August 4th, 1975. The series was produced by a division of Young and Rubicom, one of the major advertising agencies of the time. Richard Cox was the creator and producer of the series and head of Young and Rubicam Ventures, a division of the advertising agency.

The four programs would run Monday through Friday, originating out of the WOR studios and available to Mutual Network subscribing stations. Each of the four programs would be fifteen minutes in length and run contiguously thus creating a single hour long program umbrella each day. The programs’ storylines all were themed to women and with a touch of feminist rebellion prevalent in the culture in the mid-seventies. The broadcast time was from three to four o’clock PM near the end of the Daytime serial broadcast period.

First off was: The Faces of Love, which Mutual described in publicity releases:

“Suddenly, a young woman is thrust, completely unprepared, into a life of complete freedom. Her traditional background conflicts with her new-found freedom to confront her with difficult decisions at every turn.”

Program two was Author’s Studio, which Mutual summarized in these words:

“Dramatizations of famous novels in serialized form, the first of which is William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. A romantic story featuring the bright and clever Becky Sharp, a liberated woman a century ahead of her time.”

The third program was The Little Things in Life, written by a name well-known to old time radio fans: Peg Lynch, creator of the probably better known Ethel and Albert. This Lynch creation was to be:

“A light-hearted and high-spirited program which takes a fond and good-natured look at the trivialities which serve to frustrate us in our daily lives. You’ll recognize and identify with the events in the series.”

Finally, the last quarter was To Have & To Hold:

which Mutual characterized as:

“The stresses and demands which face two families of doctors who are daily involved with life and death decisions is the setting for this highly-charged dramatic program. You’ll agonize and sympathize as the doctors mix the volatile combination of emotion and intellect in a contemporary society.”

faces1.jpg

When Radio Playhouse premiered in 1975, The Faces of Love in its initial offering starred Joan Lorring and Mason Adams with Jackson Beck announcing. I haven’t heard any episodes of that run, so I’m not sure about the storyline. The second run starred a young and upcoming Morgan Fairchild as Kate Wakefield. In an email exchange with Ms. Fairchild, she told me she was living in New York City at the time and working on the television drama, Search for Tomorrow as well as appearing occasionally on Kojak and doing commercials.

In addition she had appeared on some of the CBS Radio Mystery Theatre shows, created and directed by Himan Brown. She said she got the role of Kate Wakefield because of her appearances on Radio Mystery Theatre. “There were a lot of name actors doing them and we had so much fun!” she wrote. For her radio appearances she only got AFTRA scale of $44.00 an episode!

Yet Ms. Fairchild felt it well worth the low pay for an up and coming young actress: “I got to meet so many good actors and they [the radio programs] were a hoot to work on. Also, as a young actor, I loved being able to use only my voice to convey a scene. I thought it was good training for me.”

I originally had stated in my email to her that she had appeared occasionally on Search for Tomorrow but she corrected me: “I was not ‘appearing occasionally’ on Search at the time. I was one of the regulars on it [playing the paranoid murderess, Jennifer Pace Phillips]. Susan Lucci and I were emerging as the early ‘bitch goddesses’ of daytime, as the genre went through the transformation from ‘kitchen table discussion’ shows to more high style and upscale formats.”

The title of the program, The Faces of Love, apparently comes from its opening: “Love is gentle, faithful, swift, passionate, blind and wondrous. All these are ‘faces of love’.” The gist of the storyline, at least for the programs available, has the now-widowed Kate Wakefield working for a Real Estate company in a city in the U.S. Her late husband, Tom Wakefield, apparently had been involved in drug smuggling as well as being an addict himself.

His death apparently is a mystery, but he died near Glory Point in Jamaica the location of the one hundred year old estate, now-in-decline, and belonging to the Pomeroy family. Kate decides to visit the family seemingly in search of both her past life with Tom and looking for the real cause of Tom’s death.

The series was written by Margaret Lewerth, a veteran radio writer with roots in the late thirties. Her credentials include the Columbia Workshop (adaptation of Stephen Crane’s Red Badge of Courage and others), Cavalcade of America, Ford Theater, Powder Box Theater, and Americans at Work. Her work in the soap genre includes a stint in the Frank & Anne Hummert radio factory where she penned a soap called Helpmate (1941-1944).

Besides Morgan Fairchild, the other primary star was Clement Fowler (as Lewis Pomeroy), who had an extensive stage acting career as well as film and television. In later life Fowler had an extensive career in daytime television serials based out of New York City. The veteran actor just recently passed away in August 2009 at the age of 84.

The rest of the cast was filled out by oft-appearing radio acting veterans based in the New York City area including Bryna Raeburn, Staats Cotsworth, Teri Keane, Mason Adams, Joan Shea and many others. Mel Brandt was the regular announcer.

In her email to me, Ms. Fairchild stated she loved the training the radio series gave her in using her voice to convey a scene. This is somewhat surprising because, quite frankly, she is very, very good in the role of Kate Wakefield. Considering this was early in her career, she is amazingly adept at emoting with her voice, sounding very natural in the role. The series is actually very well written and fun to listen to though the existing copies in the OTRR library have no dates. It is easy enough to put them in order even if the dates are missing.

fairchild.jpg

In creating the hour long series, Radio Playhouse, Richard Cox explained that its genesis was somewhat fortuitous. At a lunch with one of his clients, Bristol Myers, the company officials were complaining about the costs of television sponsorship. Cox, a self-described radio fan, suggested radio as a medium for sponsoring a program.

During the course of that lunch, the ad exec had mapped out an hour long umbrella consisting of “two soaps, the adaptation of a famous novel or play, and the comedy.” The show was offered to stations on a barter basis in which Bristol Myers got six minutes of commercial time and local stations would get 12 minutes to fill with their own sponsors.

At the time, and ultimately what occurred, the idea of a new dramatic program was considered “an uphill fight.” By 1975 when this series debuted, Mutual had already pulled its free offerings to local stations including Zero Hour because of disappointing response. Others had also failed. Though he was hopeful at the time, so too, Radio Playhouse including The Faces of Love would end its run and leave the air by summer’s end in 1976 after 26 weeks.

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Radio Varieties Magazine  Sept 1941

"JOYCE JORDAN" SERIAL ENTERS FOURTH YEAR

"Joyce Jordan - Girl Interne" was born on a Fifth Avenue bus! No, not the character, but the idea for the radio serial now about to complete its fourth year on the air. By c h a n c e, one day, "Hi" Brown, the show's producer, and Julian Funt, author, sat down behind a young couple on a New York motorcoach who were arguing the age-old theory that marriage and a career do not mix. They were going at it tooth and nail when the inspiration for "Joyce Jordan - Girl Interne" dawned on the politely eavesdropping gentlemen sitting behind them. Here was a theme for a good daytime serial which had landed in their laps from the blue!

 

The reason behind the tenacious appeal of the story, - few programs have its staying popularity - probably lies in its being a believable, real -life story of hospital life. "Joyce Jordan ", unlike most medical heroines, did not perform any delicate brain surgery her second day out of medical school, - in fact, she has never performed an operation at all on the show. Feeling that scalpel sequences are over -used in daily dramas of this type, "Hi" Brown and Julian Fun' have steered quite clear of experimental medicine and have dealt almost completely with the psychological phases of the field. Instead of dramatizing operating room scenes and leaving their radio audience with hanging" teasers to bring them back the next day, "Hi" and Julian let "Joyce" unravel emotional problems by common -sense, scientific methods. "Joyce" holds her daily audience through a "stream of consciousness appeal, not through perilous threats. When "Hi" was shopping around for a counter theme in the hospital story, he discovered that medicine and newspaper work ran neck and neck in the affections of feminine listeners. Hence, he picked a foreign correspondent to play the romantic lead opposite his girl physician. Right now, in the script, she has combined both marriage and her career and is wed to the newspaperman.

 

"Hi" Brown has cast many big names on his afternoon fifteen - minute program. Rex Ingram, "De Lawd" in "Green Pastures" appears in the script off and on, as does Aileen Pringle, former screen siren. Myron McCormick, who plays "Joyce's" husband, does both stage and film work besides radio. His last movie was the documentary childbirth saga, "The Fight for Life ". Agnes Moorehead, who is radio's number one actress, also lends a hand to the story, along with Theodore Newton, reporter in "The Man Who Came to Dinner", Broadway comedy hit.

 

"Hi's" first "Joyce Jordan" was Rita Johnson, lovely, blonde film star; Helen Claire, of "Kiss the Boys Goodbye" fame, came next; then Elspeth Erik, who left the cast to do Claire Booth's "Margin for Error "; finally Ann Shepherd, present "Joyce Jordan ", a prominent Chicago actress who played in starring roles at the age of sixteen. Ann got her early training behind the footlights under the name of Shaindel Kalish; then went to Hollywood to do film work under the name of Judith Blake. She changed her moniker to Ann Shepherd when she started radio work - and has held onto it ever since. A talented, emotional actress, Ann pinch -hit for Sylvia Sidney in "The Gentle People" on the stage before she got her permanent girl interne job. "Hi" and Julian work hard on the "Joyce Jordan - Girl Interne'' script every day to keep the story moving, and avoid those "dull" sequences which are responsible for the demise of many daytime dramas.

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1946

"Dr. Ruthledge "Back in "Guiding Light"

The little community of Five Points, mythical locale of The Guiding Light (NBC, five -a -week, 4 p. m., CST) is preparing a welcome home week the first week of April, celebrating the return of its beloved minister, Dr. John Ruthlege, played by Arthur Peterson. For the past two years, Peterson has been serving with the armed forces overseas and his radio character, Dr. Ruthledge, has been with the services, too -serving as chaplain. Peterson created the role of the kindly minister in 1937, when The Guiding Light was first broadcast.

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12 hours ago, Paul Raven said:

1946

"Dr. Ruthledge "Back in "Guiding Light"

The little community of Five Points, mythical locale of The Guiding Light (NBC, five -a -week, 4 p. m., CST) is preparing a welcome home week the first week of April, celebrating the return of its beloved minister, Dr. John Ruthlege, played by Arthur Peterson. For the past two years, Peterson has been serving with the armed forces overseas and his radio character, Dr. Ruthledge, has been with the services, too -serving as chaplain. Peterson created the role of the kindly minister in 1937, when The Guiding Light was first broadcast.

 

 

Hey Paul, 

 

Thanks so much for posting that. This clears up some ambiguity about the character's death. I had read that he died during WW2 while he was serving in the war as chaplain. The above article seems to clear that up and the character actually came back from the war and died sometime in 1946. That's what I suspected as I couldn't understand why it would take Ned over a year to deliver the friendship lamp to Dr. Matthews.  I'm much more likely to trust something that was published back then than a history book. We know how unreliable those can be. Thanks again. I'm thinking the death of Rev. Ruthledge and Jonathan and Claire's move were the catalysts for switching locales which happened in either late 1946 or early 1947. I don't know. Just conjecture. But this article helps. Where did it come from? 

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I believe the switch in locations was due to Irna Phillips' lawsuit with the show's first producer or a writer who argued that they were co-creator and should get a share of the profits. Phillips lost her suit. I believe she relaunched the show because of the suit because now she owned the new version of "The Guiding Light" outright. I could be wrong. The show goes off the air in November and I don't think returns to air until the spring. When the show was relaunched, the story opened with Ray Brandon being released from jail and attempting to rebuild his life. I do think the Claire Lawrence story continued from one version of the show to the other. 

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2 hours ago, dc11786 said:

I believe the switch in locations was due to Irna Phillips' lawsuit with the show's first producer or a writer who argued that they were co-creator and should get a share of the profits. Phillips lost her suit. I believe she relaunched the show because of the suit because now she owned the new version of "The Guiding Light" outright. I could be wrong. The show goes off the air in November and I don't think returns to air until the spring. When the show was relaunched, the story opened with Ray Brandon being released from jail and attempting to rebuild his life. I do think the Claire Lawrence story continued from one version of the show to the other. 

 

This sounds right, dc. I do know that the "new Guiding Light" started with the story of Ray Brandon. I also know that Jonathan and Claire were probably the only characters to survive the transition from the old Guiding Light to the new Guiding Light and the transition from Five Points to Selby Flats. Focus didn't stay on Jonathan and Claire for long, however. Although they remained characters, the story was more focused on Ray and his attempts to rebuild his life with Charlotte as well as his psycho ex-wife Julie and all the drama she brought to the table. Ray, Charlotte and Julie were the central characters in 1947 until Meta and all the Bauers took over the story in 1948. I read that she killed off the character of Reverend Ruthledge because the actor didn't want to continue in the role and she didn't want anybody else playing it. That sounds very Irnaesque but I wonder if she couldn't legally bring those characters into her "new Guiding Light". 

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