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October 1954 TV Radio Mirror

The marriage of Carolyn and Miles Nelson survived an ingenious effort to to part the during his term as governor of the state, and Carolyn has high hopes their deep, strong relationship re-established on its old, satisfying basis. But a new, unexpected strain throws a frightening light on the future. Will Carolyn's determination and faith be enough to carry her through the time ahead?

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Aside from Guiding Light, out of the dozens of radio soaps I've listened to, Right to Happiness is the most compelling. I know Irna only wrote it briefly, but every era I've heard has been pretty compelling and I believe it was well rated, I dunno why it was never transfered. It would seem natural when GL became a TV hit to pair it with RTH

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This is from the July 1950 TV Radio Mirror. Initially I was just going to post the Right to Happiness section, but I decided to post the whole thing because I love the image of each radio soap having that little picture beside it. It's such a nice way to "see" the story, even if it's just one stock photo. It reminds us how much radio soaps were about imagination.





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Interesting that Right remained on NBC when GL had moved to CBS. I have some Right episodes with the Skippy story, and of course there's a ton of GL from this era--the shooting of Ted by Meta after the camping trip with him ends disastrously is actually super intense. It's interesting that Bert started off seemign to be trouble.

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Daytime TV January 1973 mentions the top radio serials of 25 years before.

Aunt Jenny - 8.3

Ma Perkins - 8.2

Our Gal, Sunday - 7.9

Right to Happiness - 7.7

Big Sister - 7.7 (I think - it's hard to read)

Romance of Helen Trent - 7.6

When a Girl Marries - 7.4

Portia Faces Life - 7.4

Pepper Young's Family - 7.2

Young Widder Brown - 7.1

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most mothers, while she is talking things over with me, she is trying to find out the right and wrong of them herself. It's one of the reasons why this story is so true to life and why it's so great to do."

In another CBS Radio drama, The Romance Of Helen Trent, Peter's wife, Marian Russell, is the seventeen-year-old Shari, niece of Kurt, devoted to Helen, trying to find her way - just as Skip is trying to find his - in a troubled grown-up world. Marian is twenty-five, small and graceful, of Polish-German background. Her burnished blond hair ripples back from a widow's peak and hangs in a longish bob, framing blue-green eyes, a pretty nose and mouth, and gardenia-fresh complexion. She's happy in her work, thinks everyone connected with the show is wonderful, has a special fondness for the two principals - Julie Stevens, who is Helen, and David Gothard, who is Cil Whitney - and for director Ernie Ricca.

How did these two begin careers that finally brought them together so happily, and how did they fall in love and marry? The story starts with six-year-old Peter as a Powers child-model, a boy who grew up later in radio and on the stage - even though, in the beginning, his mother thought that the stage was a place where actors learned such dreadful ideas as staying up all night and living dangerously. Another mother suggested that there might be a part for Peter, then eleven, in an Ethel Barrymore play, about to open on Broadway, and reluctantly, his mother took him to audition.

The play was "Whiteoaks" and, when he got the part, and they later went on tour, she discovered that actors were hard-working people who didn't dare stay up all night and had no greater opportunity to than anyone else to live dangerously.

Marian's professional career was slower in starting - at sixteen, to be exact, in Chicago, although in Detroit, where she lived, she had always been in demand for singing stints at various civic organizations and in amateur and semi-professional theatricals. "I can hardly remember a time when someone wasn't calling on my father, or me - or both of us - to sing, but we weren't professionals. Incidentally, I used to listen to radio shows on which Peter was playing regularly - Madge Tucker's Coast to Coast on a Bus, and the lovely Let's Pretend series. And I used to tune in Helen Trent when I came home from high school in Detroit for lunch, never dreaming that someday I would be there among all those interesting people."

In Chicago, Marian studied drama, was in some plays, began a radio career, doubled in night clubs as cigarette girl, lived in a grubby little room in a theatrical boarding house they called "Crestfallen Inn." Loved it, and was happy there. When her mother came to visit and saw the place, she sat on the edge of the creaking bed and cried, begging her daughter to come back home, and it was difficult for Marian to convince her that nothing mattered so much as the happiness she was finding in learning more and more about acting. No one else in her family had chosen this way of life.

Eventually, Marian came east on the straw-hat circuit of summer stock, and finally to New York, where she and Peter first met on the fairy-tale set. She liked him right away, but had no idea what he thought of her, just kept hoping that this nice, rather quiet young man would ask her out. He didn't. He almost seemed to ignore her. "No wonder," she says now, "I was going through one of those silly young-girl periods when I was being very, very dramatic about everything. I was always 'on.' Who could stand that?"

Peter did like her. "I thought she was being a bit hammy, but could be toned down." He was shy, just the same, about asking her for a date. The films were completed, and still he hadn't asked.

They kept running into each other, around and about the studios. One day, when he was rehearsing across the street from the studio where she was doing a role in a filmed play, he pretended that he just dropped in for a quick visit. Encouraged, she sent him word when she was about to open in a play. Opening night he sent a wire, "Wow 'em, Princess." No opening now is complete without the same message, with no need for signature. The telegram was on her dressing table the day she began her role of Shari in The Romance of Helen Trent - her first big running part in a major dramatic radio serial, although previously she had played a second lead in a TV serial, The Greatest Gift.

A few months later, Peter and Marian became engaged. And, the day after he put her engagement ring on her finger, Peter and Marian decided to elope.

Perhaps Marian had read too many romantic novels, seen too many movies, played too many romantic scripts. She had always pictured the background for a honeymoon. Snow-covered landscape, a great blazing fire on the hearth, a bottle of champagne cooling for the wedding supper. December 15, 1950, was a cold day, but there was no promise of snow. She had telephoned a little in at New Paltz, in the mountains Northwest of New York, where once she had played summer stock. She told the couple who ran the inn that they were eloping and would be arriving by night.

Peter had rented a friend's car, and they picked up another friend at Poughkeepsie, New York. They were married by a justice in back of a drugstore in the town of Hyde Park, and one of their witnesses, hastily drafted from the drugstore, was a man who had been happily married for fifty years (they considered this a good omen) and had once been head gardener for the late Franklin D. Roosevelt on his Hyde Park estate.

By the time they reached the inn, however, they were held in a white spell of quietness and beauty, and they went in to find a roaring fire waiting, and a bottle of champagne chilled and ready. "It was perfect, all as if planned," Marian says.

The honeymoon lasted the weekend, because Peter was due back for a television show and Marian was rehearsing for one of the crime dramas. Later, when she went on tour with "The Giaconda Smile," after a short Broadway run, Peter went, too. That's where they found Winky, their dog, part collie, part origin unknown. Or Winky found them, we should say.

They had been hearing a low moaning through the night, and finally Peter went outside to investigate. There was this puppy, about six months old, half-starved, plagued with fleas and with thirst. Peter tore over to an all-night hamburger stand for food. Marian gave the puppy water and bathed him. When he collapsed into a long sleep they promptly named him Rip Van Winkle, took him along on the tour and back to New York when the tour was over. "Winky" is a real "lens hound" now, pokes his paw into every photograph.

When they moved into their apartment, they had suitcases, a TV set, and Peter's tanks of fish. They added the essentials - a bad, table and chairs - and, gradually, the rest. Fish and birds and the dog still dominate the small apartment. There's a handsome fish from the amazon, alone in a tank except for a tiny companion fish, Tonto. The big fellow swims to the side near the telephone whenever it rings, as if to join in the conversation. There's a tank filled with tiny squirming globules of colored fish, some of them phosphorescent, glowing strangely.

Marpie, a blue parakeet (and a social butterfly) shares a cage wit ha girl friend, confusingly named George, for the man from whose sixteenth-floor fire escape Marian rescued her. "George is a wild swamp bird, with none of the fine manners that Marple has," Marian says. "She's getting tamed a little." The two fly out of their cages to perch on the little leaded panes of the windows and peck at the putty, no doubt believing themselves to be authentic woodpeckers.

Since they believe all living things require space and freedom, Marian and Peter are thinking in terms of a house in the country on some not too far-off day. Maybe only for weekends and vacations, maybe for all the year-round. Country houses are nice for kids, too. "A girl, and a boy, in that order," Marian says firmly. The country property must have a pond or a lake so the kids can learn to swim. That's all settled.

Their apartment is in a renovated stone New York house. There's living room, bedroom, kitchenette, and - luxury of luxuries - two bathrooms. Marian's easel stands near the window, with a partly finished oil or watercolor, because she never has time to finish anything at a sitting. Her training is only high-school art class, but she won a war-poster contest then and shows striking talent. A half-finished musical composition is open on her piano, waiting for her to have enough time. She has written some books for children, with her own illustrations, and she hopes to have them published.

Peter's other talent is writing and he has sold many Western tales and outdoor stories. "I always know when Peter has a good idea," his wife says. "He doesn't talk about it, but one morning he starts getting up very early and going right to the typewriter. He does this, no matter how busy he is with other things, so the idea won't get away from him."

They divide up the work in the house, husband-and-wife style. Marian does most of the cooking, Peter usually does the dishes. If either is too busy, the other takes over. They both clean up the place. Marian is the official bookkeeper and accountant, but they both have a flair for business. Jointly they invested in peanut-vending machines, and Peter went around collecting the nickels and replacing them with peanuts. When the cost of the machines began to turn profits into peanuts, they got out of the business while they were still ahead. They own some small houses in Greenville, S.C., and an apartment building in the Bronx. "Peter is a very good landlord," Marian brags. "He fixes a lot of things himself, and he's fair with the tenants."

One of their savings accounts is marked distinctly, "South African trip." That's their dream right now. They have a fund for improving and investing in real estate, one for family emergencies. They handle their money and their affairs like solid citizens. Hardly the "dangerous living" and the rest of it that Peter's mother once feared.

What is it like, then, to be seventeen-year-old Shari in The Romance of Helen Trent, and various other women in various other radio and TV roles, and still to be Mrs. Peter Fernandez, housewife and cook and keeper of accounts?

"Wonderful," says Mrs. Peter Fernandez. "I feel like two women. Marian Russell, actress, doing the things she has wanted to do all her life. And Peter's wife, making a home and helping to build for a long and happy life together."

What is it like to be teen-age Skippy in The Right to Happiness, frequently playing other roles in other shows and, in addition, to be the responsible head of a household, a business man, and husband of a talented young actress whose own life is filled to the brim with many interests?

"Great," says Peter Fernandez. "Even when people occasionally get confused and call me 'Mr. Russell.'"

The Prince and the Princess, exercising the right to happiness, now and ever after - or a reasonable facsimiie of same!

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October 1952 Radio TV Mirror Right to Happiness recap.

Masquerading as an inmate of a women's prison, Carolyn Nelson went through dangers, humiliations and privations which will not be easily forgotten. But she would have done even more than that to help save her husband, Governor Miles Nelson, from political ruin, and to expose his enemies. Does Miles fully understand her sacrifice? Is Miles in some way changed toward her?

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