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Flame in the Wind/A Time For Us


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This was an early ABC soap that ran for a couple years in the mid-60s. I guess there was a title change similar to how Portia Faces Life became The Inner Flame. Had no idea Irna Phillips was involved--that means she had power at all three networks! Here's what Matt P. Smith had to say:

premiered

December 28, 1964

last telecast

December 16, 1966

setting

Haviland

created by

???

network

ABC

production company

ABC Television

broadcast history

Mon-Fri

Flame in the Wind

2pm - 2:30pm

(12/28/64-6/25/65)

A Time for Us

2:30pm - 2:55pm

(6/28/65-12/16/66)

Attempting to build upon it’s 2 soap line-up of General Hospital and The Young Marrieds, ABC premiered this rather traditional series about class conflict in the small town of Haviland. The two families involved were the Skerbas and the Reynolds. Al & Martha Skerba were the parents of two daughters – Linda and Jane. Craig & Roxanne Reynolds had 1 son named Steve. Roxanne’s parents were Jason & Leslie Farrell. However, the main storyline thrust was the arrival of widowed author Kate Austen (and young son Chris) who was intent on writing a thinly veiled fictualized expose of the town and it’s inhabitants. The topic of Kate’s novel didn’t make her the most popular woman in town even though publishing executive Craig was involved with the book that was going to be published by the publishing company owned by his father-in-law Jason. Meanwhile, Steve was in love with Linda whose sister Jane was secretly in love with Steve (who, incidentally, worked for Al Skerba). 3 months into the run of the series, Craig & Roxanne’s already shaky marriage fell apart and the couple split.

Oddly, ABC chose not to air Flame immediately before GH as would have been expected. Instead, the series was followed by the long-running (1958-1965) courtroom anthology series Day in Court which then led into GH. Whether it was because the show’s storylines or the fact that it was up against the hugely popular game show Password, the ratings were far from impressive.

In 1965, ABC hired legendary soap opera creator/writer Irna Phillips (who, just a year before, had been brought on board by ABC to help develop the hit novel & feature film Peyton Place into a successful prime-time soap) as an executive story consultant. Because of her recommendations, the title of the show was changed from the overly poetic Flame in the Wind to the more appropriately soapy A Time for Us and the name of the show’s leading family was changed from Skerba to Driscoll. To coincide with the name change, ABC finally changed the timeslot of the series, replacing Day in Court and using ATFU as the lead-in for GH. Flame was replaced in the 2pm slot by the short-lived American Bandstand clone (even with Dick Clark as producer & host) Where the Action Is.

As part of the revamp, author Kate Austin was sent packing out of town (oddly, her mother-in-law Louise hung around as town confidante) and the focus of the series was centered more on the younger characters (ABC, clearly going after that youth market again). Linda had become an actress in New York and had fallen in love with director Paul Davis. As Linda and Paul were conflicted over Linda’s commitment to her acting career over the prospect of marriage, Steve gave up hope and finally began to see Linda’s sister Jane. When Jane turned up pregnant, Steve & Jane got married – just in time for Linda to realize that it was Steve, after all, whom she truly loved. Meanwhile, Steve’s parents and grandparents had their own romantic issues. Grandfather Jason was involved in a possibly romantic friendship with Louise Austin while the divorced Roxanne became enamored with a gold-digging pianist named Doug Colton. To bring the Driscoll/Reynolds romantic struggles full circle, Linda set her sights on Doug after Steve rejected her. Eventually, Roxanne won out and married Doug.

Irna’s changes to the series did succeed in bringing up the ratings significantly. For the 1964-1965 TV season, Flame in the Wind received a 2.8 ratings. For the 1965-1966 TV season, A Time for Us improved to a 4.0 rating. Unfortunately, that’s where the ratings leveled off. Despite the improvements, the soap was still the lowest rated soap on the air (other, lower rated soaps, proceeded to pass it by in climbs up the charts). Not seeing any potential for future ratings growth, ABC cancelled the series and replaced it with the beauty pageant/game show Dream Girl of '67.

Quite a few big soap names came out of the cast of Flame/ATFU. Linda Skerba/Driscoll (the most recast character on the series) went through a succession of actresses. The part was originally played by Barbara Rodell who would late find soap stardom with roles on several other soaps – Lee Randolph, Another World; Jill Stevens, The Secret Storm; and Leslie Jackson Bauer, The Guiding Light – before finding soap superstardom with her long-running role (1974-1981) on As the World Turns as the wicked Joyce Colman. Rodell was replaced as Linda a few months into the show by Jane Elliot, today best known for her long running role as Tracy Quartermaine on General Hospital. Elliot only lasted a few months, herself before being replaced by Joanna Miles, who would become the 2nd Ann Tyler on All My Children. Even Miles only lasted a few months in the role before being replaced by the 4th and final Linda, Beret Arcaya, who would play the part the longest. Ironically, Arcaya never did anything else after ATFU!

Linda’s sister Jane Skerba/Driscoll was originated by Margaret Ladd who would later find prime-time fame as Emma Channing on the prime-time soap Falcon Crest. Leslie Farrell was played by Rita Lloyd who would later play the memorable roles of Lucille Wexler on Guiding Light and Edwina Walsh on As the World Turns. Young Chris Austen was played by Richard Thomas who would later appear as Tom Hughes on As the World Turns before finding prime-time fame as John Boy Walton on The Waltons. Chris’s grandmother Louise was played by Josephine Nicholas who would later appear on Texas as Marshall family matriarch Kate Marshall for that show’s entire run. Flora Perkins was played by Jacqueline Brooks who would later play the pivotal and memorable role of Beatrice Gordon (biological grandmother of Sally Frame) on Another World. Paul Davis was played by Conard Fowkes who would eventually appear on 8 different soap operas before appearing in the role he is probably best known for by today’s audience – the final Donald Hughes on As the World Turns. Also in the cast was Lenka Peterson who played Martha Skerba/Driscoll for the series’ entire run. Peterson is the mother of film and prime-time (and occasionally daytime) actress Glynnis O’Connor.

Edited by soapfan770
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This is fascinating. I had forgotten the show lasted for 2 full years. That's quite a run compared to most of the soaps of the 60's (they usually seemed to either take off or die quickly). I don't understand why they would cancel the show after such massive ratings growth. They missed a trick, as Dark Shadows was on the way to make their channel much more youth-friendly.

I had no idea so many soap names were on this. It's funny because Don Hastings said that - I think - Irna Phillips got Richard Thomas replaced on ATWT because she didn't care for him. When The Waltons started, and Irna told him she was impressed with John Boy, Don told her John Boy had played Tom. She refused to believe him. I wonder if she knew Richard at this show.

The early story sounds very Peyton Place.

Here's what Schemering said. I will skip the early part and just cut to more of the story:

The main characters included Linda Driscoll, an actress who jilted Steve Reynolds; Jane Driscoll, her sister, who fell in love with Steve; Al Driscoll, their father, who ran a construction business; Martha Driscoll, Al's wife; Steve Reynolds, who worked for Al and was caught romantically between his daughters; Roxanne Reynolds, Steve's mother, who was a troublesome divorcee; Jason Farrell, Roxanne's rich and shallow father; Miriam Bentley, a busybody who teased Jason about his wife's unfaithfulness; and Dave Simon, a medical student who was Steve's best friend. Steve eventually married Jane.

He also says the show was produced by Joseph Hardy and written by Don Ettlinger, and one of the directors was Tom Donovan.

Edited by CarlD2
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Berrett Arcaya is the actress with Conrad Fowkes. Arcaya played Linda opposite Fowkes' Paul Davis. Linda dated Paul Davis due to his ties to the theatre and her desires to be an actress. Due to this plot point, I'd assumed Linda was the less sympathetic sister, but, after watching the episode saynotoursoap posted, my opinion seems to have changed. Jane seems like someone the audience wouldn't root for with the suggestion she may let Dave Simon take responsibility for this child. It seems a bit too calculating for the show's leading ingenue. Was Linda the nice sister or were they painted with shades of gray?

"A Time for Us" has always fascinated me along with 'Where the Heart Is' and 'From These Roots.' I think its the multigenerational aspects of these stories which seem to have inspired such interest.

In an article of Beverly Hayes and Gordon Gray, it is said that Jane was Steve's secretary at his grandfather's publishing company. This seems a bit different than Steve's construction work, which I've seen mentioned elsewhere. I wonder if Steve took the job with Al Driscoll after marrying Jane.

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I'd forgotten saynotoursoap posted an episode of this. I'll have to go watch that again.

I have one more interview, somewhere, with Tom Holland. I will try to post it when I find it again. Weird that he went on to direct Child's Play...

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The Variety article said that GH was planning a 4 week story arc based around a black couple.She would be a schoolteacher who is assaulted by a student she flunked. They stated that theater actor Bobby Dean Hooks was in the running for the male role.I guess he was later known as Robert Hooks.

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