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Help with mystery soap storyline...

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The "Jingles the Clown" story came at a time shortly after Dark Shadows had been canceled. Somerset and The Edge of Night were afternoon soaps on NBC and CBS respectively that access to the teenage audience. I believe P&G may have wanted to entice those young viewers with DS styled plots. Edge ran a mystery about a supposedly haunted house, complete with walls that dripped blood, faces appearing in dark closets, seances, and hints of reincarnation.

On Somerset, one of the tentpole families were the Grants. Attorney Ben Grant and his wife Ellen had two teenaged kids, David and Jill. David had befriended a sweet, virginal young woman named Andrea Moore. Andrea hailed from a weird, wealthy family who lived in an old mansion. Andrea's mother was Emily, a cold, dispassionate woman. Emily was played by Lois Kibbee, who had just left The Edge of Night the year before as Geraldine Whitney. Andrea also had a brother, Dana, played by Chris Pennock from Dark Shadows. Emily was on her second marriage. Her new husband was Phillip Matson, a businessman with a publishing company. Phillip's creepy son Carter and his married daughter Zoe also lived in the family mansion, along with Zoe's hunky husband Julian, and Emily's nutty older sister Rowena.

Andrea was a character similar to the original Nina Cortland on All My Children. She was a traditional Gothic heroine. Sweet, quiet, weak, and easily manipulated. Andrea stood to inherit a fortune on her 21st birthday, which was coming up soon. David realized that something was terribly wrong with Andrea, as her health declined rapidly. She spent a great deal of time in her room, listless and fatigued. David called Dr. Stan Kurtz, Somerset's resident doctor, to consult on the case. Andrea was hospitalized for tests, and her condition seemed to improve without medical intervention, but when she was released to go back home, she became ill again.

Throughout all of this, the audience learned many things. Emily was incapable of showing emotion to anyone, least of all her husband Phillip, who was having a wild affair with his secretary Millee. Andrea discovered Phillip's affair, but he threatened her and eventually persuaded Andrea to keep quiet. Andrea's stepbrother Carter was investment banker who had borrowed money from the mob for a failed deal, and he could not pay back the loan. The mob sent a hitman named Virgil Paris to Somerset to either get the money back or kill Carter. Carter, meanwhile, began manipulating Andrea, as he knew she would inherit a fortune within a few months.

Andrea was also being pursued by Julian Cannell, her stepsister Zoe's husband. Julian was a classical pianist tied to a loveless marriage with the neurotic Zoe. Julian was repulsed at the thought of making love to his wife and could only play the piano when he was inspired by the beautiful young Andrea. Julian professed his strange feelings to Andrea, and she told him that he should keep them to himself, as she loved David.

Andrea's brother Dana was a frustrated writer. He was working on a children's book about a clown named Jingles. As kids, Dana and Andrea had been very close. Andrea, always sickly, had been required to take medicine daily. She hated the taste of it, so Dana dressed up as a clown called Jingles. He would come to her room with her medicine and tell her a joke to distract her.

Now, in the middle of the night, Andrea began to have surreal nightmares in which she would hear the distant jingle of bells. In her darkened room, sickened and weak, she would see Jingles emerge from the lengthening shadows with a bottle of medicine. Jingles' face was painted into a grotesque crooked smile sort of like the creepy Mrs. Beasley doll from Family Affair. We also saw wild, glassy eyes peering from behind the thick makeup. At first it was not clear if Jingles was real or a figment of Andrea's imagination as the sinister clown appeared in the background, lurking in the shadows, haunting the rooms, but unseen by other characters, as creepy organ music underscored the tension.

At the hospital, Dr. Kurtz discovered that Andrea was slowly being poisoned by arsenic. Anyone in the family could have been the culprit, with Carter the most likely choice since he stood to lose the most. However, Andrea had not given Carter a bequest, and the person who stood to inherit the fortune if she died was Dana. The police told Emily to keep the poisoning a secret from the family and to strictly monitor Andrea's food and drink. However, Andrea continued to worsen.

Finally Andrea confessed to David that she had been having visions of Dana's childhood clown Jingles. Phillip was in the process of publishing Dana's book, and the police figured out that the attempted murderer was using the costume to trick Andrea into taking tainted medicine. It had all been real, not dreams or hallucinations. When Jingles appeared the next night with the bottle of poison, David and the police were there to pull off the wig and smear the makeup to reveal...Emily's insane sister Rowena. Rowena was taken to a sanitarium, and Andrea felt she was finally safe at last.

However, at the sanitarium, Rowena remembered that it was Julian's wife Zoe who had given her the costume and bottle medicine, urging her to make sure that Andrea took it in order to get well. Zoe had discovered that Julian was in love with Andrea and knew that she would lose him for good unless Andrea was dead. Zoe paid off Virgil Paris to stop the hit on Carter and suggested there would be a lot more money if Paris would take care of Andrea instead. When he refused, Zoe lured David and Andrea to an isolated cabin in the woods. Getting David out of the way, Zoe aimed a shotgun at Andrea and revealed the entire scheme she had concocted, to murder Andrea with poison and frame Dana as Jingles. Carter, who discovered what Zoe had done, rushed to the cabin to stop her. He threw himself in front of Andrea, just as Zoe pulled the trigger and fired. David returned to the cabin to find Carter dead and Zoe now as insane as Rowena.

Zoe was committed to the sanitarium, and Rowena, now cleared of all charges, was free to leave, but she decided she wanted to stay as she was happier there than in the Moore mansion!

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Rowena must be the only soap character to want to stay in a sanitarium.

I had read about this story but never in such detail. Fascinating, and gripping. Did this help keep Somerset on the air a few more years?

Andrea went on to buy the paper for Julian before she left didn't she?

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Thank you so much, Saynotoursoap, for the detailed summary. Sounds like an intriguing storyline, and actors like Lois Kibbee, Chris Pennock, and Joel Crothers, among others, probably made it that much better. It's a shame that the show never found its footing, especially with the AW connection and the fact that most of the rest of the NBC daytime lineup during that time was, for the most part, very successful.

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