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Valiant Lady

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This CBS soap ran from October 12, 1953- August 16, 1957. The show had the same name as a radio soap which fan from 38-46 and 51-52, but their stories were different. The radio version focused on Joan Barrett's fight to keep her "brilliant but unstable husband" on "the pathway to success." The TV version was about Helen Emerson, and her family - husband Frank, 9 year old Kim, 19 year old Mickey. Mickey was in love with Bonnie, a married woman. Helen and Frank also had a daughter, 17 year old Diane, who eloped with a divorced man but waited to marry until Helen gave her blessing.

Helen was widowed in the first year, and struggled to cope, both with money and family problems. When Mickey stood up to his fiancee's controlling father, Helen finally gave her support to their union. Helen then began dating Gov. Lawrence Walker, marrying him on Valentine's Day, 1957.

Nancy Coleman was on the show for a year, but left because it took up too much of her time. Flora Campbell, star of TV's first soap, Faraway Hill, replaced her. James Kirkwood Jr. was a lead player for the entire run. His mother, silent film actress Lila Lee, tried out for the Helen Emerson role, but they told her she looked too young. Kirkwood went on to write Legends, as well as the iconic musical A Chorus Line, before passing away in 1989. One of his last works was a book on dealing with Mary Martin and Carol Channing during their run in the play Legends.

Valiant Lady was created by Allan Chase, produced by Leonard Blair and Carl Green, written by Charles Elwyn, and directed by Herb Kenwith, Ted Corday, and Ira Cirker.

The show aired from New York, 12-12:15 PM, EST.

(thanks to the Soap Opera Encyclopedia for a lot of this)

Edited by CarlD2

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Great stuff! I dug out Smith's soap history guide but unfortunately the entry is kept rather short unlike the others, so there's not much more to add but I'll post it anyways:

Premiered

October 12, 1953

last telecast

August 16, 1957

setting

???

created by

Allan Chase

network

CBS

production company

???

broadcast history

Mon-Fri

noon - 12:15pm

(10/12/53-8/15/57)

Basking in the glow of the ratings successes of its 3 soaps (Search for Tomorrow, Love of Life, and The Guiding Light) which aired in one 45 minute block during the lunch hour, CBS decided to round out the full hour with this series. Following the then popular convention of drawing television soaps from radio, VL was an adaptation of the popular radio soap of the same name (1938-1946; 1951-1952). However, the name was about the only thing the TV version had in common with the radio version. TV's Valiant Lady focused on an entirely new set of characters -- central heroine Helen Emerson (who was widowed shortly into the show's run just like SFT's Joanne) and her 3 children Mickey, Diane, and Kim. Not only did the series revolve around Helen's own personal and romantic problems, but it also focused on grown Mickey and Diane's problems, as well. Although not a huge hit like the 3 soaps that followed it on CBS's schedule, VL garnered respectable enough ratings to keep it on the air for almost 4 years. Valiant Lady was replaced by Hotel Cosmopolitan which was a "soap opera anthology" series (meaning that different stories focusing on different characters was presented in serialized form over the span of a week's episodes), which had become something of a programming fad in the late 1950s. Another interesting point to make was that VL was created by Allan Chase and one of the directors was Ted Corday. The two men would team up just over a decade later (with the help of legendary Irna Phillips) to create Days of our Lives.

Edited by soapfan770

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Mickey Emerson, of Valiant Lady. Not long ago, we were walking down the street and I heard a couple of girls gasp and say, "Why, there's Mickey.' One of them whispered, 'Isn't he good-looking!' And the other said, 'Isn't it wonderful to run into him like this!' No one paid any attention to me. I was the one who felt shy then."

"You needn't have," Jimmy said, "because you'll remember that, just then, Fay Emerson happened by - and nobody paid any more attention to me, either." And they both laughed at the memory.

People often come into night clubs where Jim and his partner, Lee Goodman, do their comedy act - places like the Ruban Bleu, the Bon Soir, and Cafe Society, and at the first opportunity they go up to Jim and tell him, "You know, there's a kid in a daytime television drama who looks so much like you it's unbelievable. You should watch him some day." This also amuses Jim and Muriel, because , of course, he is that kid - even though he's sometimes up until 3:30 earlier in the morning making the night-club rafters ring with laughter and applause.

Actually, then, there are three Jimmy Kirkwoods, or, perhaps more accurately, four! The night-club comedian,; the host to teenagers and spinner of popular platters on a radio program; the youthful Mickey who is trying to take his dead dad's place in the life of the valiant Emersons on television; and the real Jimmy Kirkwood, who is a combination of all the others. The real Jimmy is a rather quiet-acting, shy-seeming fellow, a lean six feet in height, with dark brown hair and rather dark blue eyes with the suspicion of a twinkle most of the time. A fellow who is a little star-struck himself, in spite of being a star, a little afraid to ask a girl for a date because he thought of her as 'way up there!

"I didn't ask, for a long time," Jimmy admitted. "Lee and I were working, and Muriel would come into the club with this escort one week and another one the next, and I would see her and be conscious of her all evening, but I was still a little shy of her. Then, when I was doing the role of Toby Smith in The Aldrich Family, on radio, some of us were invited to a party for one of the cast members of the stage hit, 'Wonderful Town.' I can't even remember now who the actor was, or anything about the occasion. I only remember that there as Muriel, at the party, and that I must have been feeling particularly pepped up after our show. Muriel had on a big picture hat. Her long black hair was caught up under it, with just a fringe of careless bangs across her forehead. Her eyes looked even bigger and darker and more beautiful than I remembered them...

"I suddenly walked up to her and bent over and kissed her! Just like that. Without a word of warning, to her or myself.

"She didn't slap my face, as I deserved, and she didn't say anything. She just looked startled, as well she might. Not to be routed again by my fears, I grasped the advantage. 'What are you doing for dinner tonight?' I demanded.

"She had come with a date, but somehow I managed it so that the three of us left together, rather early and perfectly amicably, in search of dinner. During the evening we 'lost' Muriel's date. He wasn't a steady beau, only good friend who had asked her to the party and didn't seem to mind getting lost."

Muriel says that the reason Jimmy kept up his interest was that he fell in love with her dog, a black miniature French poodle inappropriately named Too Much, and nicknamed TM. He's a friendly little fellow who drapes himself across Jimmy's ankles and looks up as if to comment, "Now you see how cozy this is?" Muriel insists that it was Jimmy's fondness for TM which drew him back again and again.

Jimmy says that the greatest bond between them, from the first meeting, was their ability to laugh together, to find the same things amusing, to discover they shared a sense of the ridiculous. In spite of the fact that Muriel has the darkly glowing face associated with the portrayal of dramatic emotions, with the portrayal for comedy and most of her dancing has been along comedy lines.

Yet their first dates didn't always run smoothly. Jimmy was working in a club, starting his job at 10:30 or 11 at night, when Muriel's work at the Ballet Theater was finishing. If she could manage to stay awake, she would wait around for him. Then, when he began to do the role in Valiant Lady, a noontime television show, he still had night-club commitments and would often go to his early morning rehearsals at the TV studio after only three hours sleep. "This made for a very cranky boy at times, and I don't see how Moo - the name I had begun to call Muriel - put up with me at all. When I had a free evening and we went out together, I could hardly keep my eyes open. This was great companionship for her! A lot of the time, I was learning my scripts and she had to sit around and cue me, instead of being out and having fun. My mother often came over and helped things along. She and Moo get along famously." (People who remember silent motion pictures knew Jimmy's mother as a beautiful little girl called Cuddles, and later as a grown-up, beautiful actress named Lila Lee, who married a tall, handsome idol named James Kirkwood - Jimmy's father.)

Trying to make up to Muriel for some of the things she was missing, Jim outdid himself on a Christmas present that first winter of their friendship. He knew she wanted a black fox muff, and that's what he got her. "I was overwhelmed," Muriel recalled, "and not at all sure he could have done it. I just never dreamed anyone would buy me anything so lovely." Her eyes filled up a little as she talked about that first present of Jim's. Last Christmas there was a pearl ring and matching earrings, something else she wanted very much.

Her first Christmas present to him was a watch. "I broke it," he said. Her second was a camera. "He lost it," she said. But there's a ring he hopes to keep forever. Muriel gave it to him last summer, when she was leaving to travel with an ice show as the assistant choreographer and Jimmy was going to stay in the East to do summer stock, and they would be separated for the first time. They were having dinner at Sardi's before she left, and Muriel was wearing the plain gold band she always wears on her little finger. "Jimmy had a habit of grasping my hand and twisting that ring, and when he put his hand over mine that evening, I said, 'Wait a minute, I want to show you something.' I dug into my handbag for a small box, opened it, and took out a similar ring. 'Try it on,' I said. Jim put it on his little finger, commented that it almost fit him, and started to hand it back, thinking it was the mate to my ring and I had decided to wear both. 'Yo're supposed to keep it,' I told him. 'Look inside.'

Jimmy took the ring, held it up to the light, and read, "To Jim, with love, from Moo-Moo." And the date. Then his eyes filled. The fact that in re-sizing the ring to his finger the jeweler rubbed off a bit of the "love" hasn't bothered them. It has nothing to do with the facts.

Muriel isn't a girl who likes much jewelry, and Jimmy dislikes seeing a girl hung with a lot of gew-gaws, so the pearls and the ring that is like his are the pieces she wears the most.

The first time they danced together, Jimmy was really scared, partly because Muriel is a professional dancer and partly because of the surroundings. It was the occasion of the Ballet Ball, a fashionable social and lovely annual party. Muriel had been invited, but there was no extra ticket for Jimmy. But she had called at the last moment and said she knew there were unused tickets available, if Jimmy could get there in time. Wouldn't he hurry and dress and come over?

His dress clothes had been hung aside because he wasn't working in a club at that time. And, when he went to take them out, everything was hopelessly out of press. It was too late to find a tailor and, while he was wondering what to do, his mother came in with a guest, a newspaper woman who was visiting her from Washington. "My mother volunteered right away to do a pressing job, but she was never very handy at such things and we both laughed at what the clothes might look like when she got through. Then this newspaper woman said, 'Give them to me,' grabbed the board and the iron, and did a bang-up professional job. What a good sport she was! I felt like Cinderella being sent off to the ball.

"Until I got there - and realized I was going to dance with Muriel for the first time. 'This is it,' I told myself. 'This is where you make an idiot of yourself. With all these trained professional dancers, and these society people who have been versed in this sort of thing from their childhood, you'll be the only awkward lout there.'"

"He wasn't," Muriel broke in. "He danced very well, so well I was amazed. No one had ever build up his confidence about dancing, that was all."

Someone has, since then - namely, Muriel - so much so that he has added dance steps to his night-club routines, and one of his proudest moments was when he read a recent review of a new club show he and Lee had done and it mentioned hi s dancing very favorably!

Justin and Muriel have never quarreled over dates or dancing or anything at all important, but they have had spats over small things. "Silly little things," according to Muriel. "We'll be talking and Jim may be telling me about something - and I will break in and say, 'Oh, Jim' - and he will stop and ask, 'What did you say that for?' Maybe I didn't say it for any reason that seems important enough to argue over, so I will say it wasn't for any particular reason - and why not go on and finish what he was saying? But he won't, because by now he's really curious about it, and maybe by now I won't even remember why I said it, and we'll start fussing at each other as if we were really angry. Then we see the funny side of it and start to laugh, and it's all over."

Jim isn't the bossy type, but Muriel is glad he "bossed" her about her hair when she wanted to cut it short. If she had, she would have faced a problem when she suddenly got the role of Lover George, the Angel, in the ballet called "The Small House of Uncle Thomas," a wonderful sequence in the stage hit, "The King and I." A wig just wouldn't have been satisfactory.

She was happy to get that role, but it's separating them - because, three weeks after she took it over, the show was scheduled to go on the road, all the way to the West Coast and back across the country.

So, for a while at least, Jimmy can't call her up as he used to and say, "Moo, I"m having company for dinner tomorrow night and you're invited. What shall we cook?" Knowing that she knows this means: "Please come over and tell me what to have - and cook it - because you know that, no matter how hard I try, I don't seem to be anywhere near as successful a cook as you are!"

By the time you read this, many miles may be separating them. Jimmy will be playing Mickey Emerson daily on Valiant Lady in a New York television studio, doing teen-age interviews and spinning records and small talk with Lee Goodman on Saturday afternoons over radio, and filling in with night-club engagements. Muriel will have been to the West Coast and the show will be coming back to Chicago - which isn't quite so far from New York as California is, but is far enough. Meanwhile, the long-distance telephone system will be getting richer every day. And, whenever "The King and I" is playing a town which Jimmy can reach by plane, between shows, you can count on his being there. Because he has to make up for all that time he lost when he thought he wasn't a big enough star in his own right to ask a lovely ballet dancer for a date!

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Thanks for adding the Smith writeup, soapfan. There was a very very good Soap Opera Weekly piece on this show in early 1993 (the first Weekly I ever read). I wish I had it.

Google Books has some of a biography on Kirkwood. They talk a little about a writer who hated Kirkwood or Mickey and planned, over Flora Campbell's objections, to send Mickey to the Amazon and have him killed offcamera. Then a new writer came in and liked Mickey and kept him around. This is one of the things that made Kirkwood decide to become a writer. So did his time with Tallulah Bankhead, who saw him as a great storyteller. When he first met her, to audition for her show, she cut off his attempts to talk about his credentials and instead just wanted to know all about Valiant Lady, as it was one of her "soapies."

Edited by CarlD2

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chores. Week nights, she usually has a script to learn for the next day's program. Ben cueing her when he has time. Whenever they can find a really free evening, they sandwich in theater or opera in New York, but this necessarily involves planning ahead, in a household where everybody is so busy and there are commuting schedules to be consulted.

In their own neighborhood, everybody takes Flo's job for granted, but once in a while someone will tell her that Ben has been bragging about his wife's talent - "although, husband-like, he never toots my horn much when I'm around!"

Flo was a stage actress, sharing an apartment with another young career girl, when she met Ben. Her roommate then mentioned an old beau, a Yale man who was "a marvelous musician," and one day she came home with Ben in tow. Flora recalls: "I thought, How Nice! She's seeing him again. But she went off to Florida, saying I should go dancing with Ben in her absence. We both love to dance, so that wasn't difficult to take. Before we knew it, we were going together and enjoying each other's company more than anyone else's, although we didn't marry until about three years later. My former apartment mate, still one of my best friends, met someone she fell deeply in love with and is now a wife and mother.

"It was understood, when Ben and I got married, that I had a career I wanted to continue. But I knew then that, if it ever interfered with my home life, I would drop it quickly. It never has. Fortunately, although I have taken time out to have two children, we have had no severe illnesses or other major crises, and neither Ben nor I have ever felt my working was harmful to our family life. Like other mothers who are away from home part-time, I make a special effort to be with the children during every free hour. I am back at the house by three each afternoon, when Creel gets up from her nap, and am home weekends. What's more, I am completely contented to stay at home evenings - to be with the children and to study my script after they are in bed. I feel I am eating my cake and having it, too - trite as this may sound - by combining such a satisfying family life with an artistic career.

For Flora Campbell, the dream began when she was a little girl, growing up in Oklahoma. She was born in the little town of Nowata, which her great-uncle helped to found. When she was ten, her family moved to Bartlesville, where she finished high school, later going on to Oklahoma City.

At seventeen, she persuaded her father to let her go to Chicago for a year, to study the violin at the famous Chicago Musical College. She went home again in the summer and, even though her mother was ill and in a hospital, she insisted that Flora continue her musical education and take a regular college course, in addition. So, the next year, Flora began to divide her time between academic studies at the University of Chicago and her musical studies. Until something happened to change her course.

"I had come to two conclusions, that first year when I was in Chicago alone," she says. "One was that I missed my twin sister, Dorothy." (There is another sister, Beth, three years older, and a younger brother, Jack.) "The older conclusion was that there were many student violinists at the College who were much more talented and much more promising than I.

"My twin wasn't musical, but she had been the one to go in for high school dramatics and she was keen on going ahead with a career. Mother sympathized with our ambitions and wanted us to be together, so the folks sent us both back to Chicago, that second ear. We shared an apartment with another aspiring actresses, and gradually I began to think that theirs was the more interesting life. I listened when they studied their roles at home, and I suppose it was inevitable that I should decide to become an actress, too. So I enrolled in the Goodman School of the Theater."

After a couple of months, however, discontent set in. Flo found that the one leading role she got would be the last for the year, each first-year student having a chance at just one during the season. When she confided her dissatisfaction to a friend her hurry to get ahead and be a Broadway star - the friend had just the right solution. She herself had been in a Broadway show and had loved tit and filled Flo's head with stories of New York and the theater, and now she produced a clipping from a New York newspaper to the effect tat Eva LeGallienne was holding auditions for a student group which would form a part of her Civic Repertory Theater. Out of fifteen hundred, Flora became one of the fifty to be chosen. "Only because no experience was required, only some promise," she says.

It was here she learned the fundamentals of acting, and such essential things as make-up and stage deportment. She had speech lessons and lessons in dancing. She played "walk-ons" and tiny parts, and she learned much about the traditions of the theater, the hard work demanded of any successful actress, the humility with which each small success must be accepted. Miss LeGallienne and her excellent repertory company inspired Flora with a deep love of the theater: "It was the greatest good luck for me. Stimulating. Wonderful. The ideal first year for any young actress."

Before the LeGallienne season started, Flo and Dorothy determined they would get some work in summer theater, so they made the rounds together. One of the places they aimed for was the Cape Playhouse, at Dennis on Cape Cod, but at first they were told that only experienced people could be used. They had to admit they had no real experience - marveling a little that their talent didn't stick out all over them and make such mundane qualifications unnecessary!

As they were leaving the casting office, the manager seemed to relent and suggested he would make an exception and let them come as "paying apprentices." A little haughtily, they said they expected to be paid, and swept out. But he came after them again. "You two seem so fresh out of Oklahoma, and yet so sure of yourselves, maybe we can use you, anyhow. You can come with the company, without paying." They grabbed at the chance.

It was a good summer. Flo worked unusually hard, and did so well that she was asked back the next summer, and the next and the next, as company ingenue. She played with some of the greatest names in the theater, Ethel Barrymore, Ruth Gordon, and Humphrey Bogart.

By this time, her twin had married and was living in New York. This helped a lot, during the winters when Flo was pounding pavements and jobs were few. When she needed a good home-cooked meal, she could have one at Dottie's.

"If you were really ambitious you got out and looked for a job, rain or shine, and sat in dingy outer offices for hours at a time lunching at drugstore counters on hot dogs and coffee." This is the way Flo sums up the next few winters, until finally she got a walk-on in "The Country Wife," and then her first real role in "Excursion," an artistic play which received fine notices but closed in three months. However, it did begin a period of fairly smooth sailing for Flo in Broadway plays, such as "Many Mansions" and "Angela is 22."

About midway in her career as a stage actress, she married Ben. And, when Tommy came along she took a year off to play the role o f mother and housewife, until he was old enough to be left in competent hands. She did a few plays after that - "Glamour Preferred," which was a flop, "The Land Is Bright," which certainly didn't have much of a run, and "Foxhole in the Parlor," with Montgomery Clift. Her last play was "The Curious Savage," after Creel was born, but by this time she had discovered a medium called radio and another called television - in fact, she had played in one very early adaption of "Jane Eyre" on TV, 'way back in 1940 and in one of the first daytime dramas on television around the year 1948, called The Far Away Hill.

By now her list of radio and television credits is long and distinguished - from the "nice women" roles in The Strange Romance of Evelyn Winters (radio) and the mother in A Date With Judy (TV) to fifteen appearances in Kraft television dramas, roles in The Web, Danger, Big Town, T-Men, Robert Montgomery Presents, and Studio One - and, before Valiant Lady, the starring role in a daytime drama called The Seeking Heart, in which she played Dr. Robin McKay.

When she was first asked to play the "Valiant Lady" herself, she had some misgivings. "She sounded so 'noble' that I was afraid she wouldn't be a very interesting person. I was quite wrong about her. Helen Emerson is a warmhearted, delightful human being, a woman I admire and like. A believable person with a fine sense of humor, who makes mistakes as all of us do, tries to correct them as all of us try, and usually comes out on top. I think the world is filled with other women - and, men, too - who are like, Helen, trying to do the best they can."

Sharing Helen Emerson's strong feeling about family ties, Flora Campbell finds her a sympathetic person to play. This feeling, fostered by having a family of her own, was bred in her during her Oklahoma childhood. Although her mother passed on some twenty years ago, she has never forgotten the brave woman who always had such great drive and ambition for her children. Flo says of her: "She went out to Oklahoma to teach school, and there she met my father. All her life she was interested in education. She was a Browning scholar, a bird lover who lectured on the subject in our home state and taught others to love them. Even her name was beautiful and unusual - Isis Justice Campbell."

Now Flo's father has retired to Coffeyville, Kansas, to be close to some of his family - Flo's Aunt Rebecca, her Aunt Frank (for Frances), her Uncle Al and her cousins Bob and Bill Hill - all of whom live either in Coffeyville or the nearby town of La Fontaine. They see Valiant Lady on television and tell her it's like getting a letter from her. "It keeps us close," she says.

This, again, is "eating her cake and having it, too." With Ben and Tommy and Creel by her side, with the rest of her family looking on as she plays that other lovely woman, Helen Emerson, Flora Campbell knows she's a lucky lady indeed.

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Flora Campbell seems like such a normal woman. I forget sometimes that soaps allows actors regular employment in order to spend time raising their families. Its a shame they are fading.

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I know. That's one of the things I will most most about soaps - getting to see these actors grow and change as the years go by, knowing their roles inside and out.

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Just thinking about soap titles and how something like Kitty Foyle was limiting in that ,if the show continued for years then Kitty would always have to be somewhat prominent.At least Valiant Lady could change cast and focus and new characters could become the 'Valiant Lady'.

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bewildered and shattered by this staggering blow, Helen realized that she faced the world alone tin her struggle to bring up her three children without their father, with little money, with nothing but the knowledge that somehow she would marshal the strength and faith necessary to cope with whatever the future might hold.

The heartbreak, the sensitivity, the emotion portrayed so dramatically that day by Nancy Coleman, who plays Helen Emerson, was poignant and real. For Nancy had only to relive again those dark moments when her own father died, to remember her mother's sorrow and courage. To remember, too, that somehow her mother, in spite of the fact that her world had crashed around her, had kept things going for seventeen-year-old Nancy and her sister, two years younger.

"My mother," says pretty red-haired Nancy, "was a valiant lady if there ever was one. There was never a time when her courage faltered, when she wasn't a tower of strength for my sister and me to lean on. So, in the part of Helen Emerson, I keep remembering how wise mother was - and still is, for that matter - how she was never too maternal nor too sisterly, but somehow managed to walk exactly the right line between the two."

Nancy, a charming, blue-eyed, slim-waisted woman of Irish descent, is married to Whitney Bolton, a newspaperman. She ha s nine-year-old twin daughters of her own and a stepson who is now twenty-three. So it easy for her to bring understanding and warm, heartfelt sympathy to Helen Emerson's children. When she bends tenderly to comfort nine-year-old Kim, played by Lydia Reed, it is as if she were giving solace to one of her own daughters who is exactly that age. When she seeks the right words with which to guide her impetuous, sports-loving son, Nancy has only to remember the problems and yearning of her stepson, whom she has known since he was thirteen.

Then, too, her manner of living in as domestic as that of Helen Emerson. For Whitney and Nancy live in a charming old-fashioned Victorian house in Sea Cliff, Long Island. The house is high on a hill overlooking the wide blue stretch of Long Island Sound, and Nancy loves it. The twins, Charla and Grania, love it, too. They find it far less confining than a city apartment. But commuting means a whirlwind schedule for dynamic Nancy, who fortunately possesses all the energy redheads are popularly supposed to have.

The idea of a star going up each morning at 5:15 and going to work via the Long Island Railroad is a little startling. But that is just what Nancy does. She gets to the CBS studio in New York by 7:00, starts rehearsing with other members of the Valiant Lady cast by 7:30 and keeps at it until about a half-hour before showtime, which is 12 noon.

The only bad feature of this schedule, so far as Nancy is concerned, is that sometimes she and Whitney do not see each other for days at a time. He is a drama critic for a New York newspaper and, when there is an opening night, he doesn't get home until 1:30 A.M. By this time, Nancy has been sound asleep for about four hours. It's lights out for her at 9:15 every night except weekends.

"I try to get home by 2:30 in the afternoon," says Nancy, "but occasionally business appointments prevent that. When I arrive home, I go directly to my room to study the script for the next day. I don't see or talk to anyone until 5:30, when I come down to spend some time with the girls before dinner. They get home from public school around 3:30," Nancy explains, "but they study or play with their friends until I come down. They are wonderfully understanding about this topsy-turvy life and adjust to it without any difficulty. But I suppose if you are born to an actress-mother and a newspaperman-father you are conditioned to the unusual from birth!"

Nancy and Whitney, on the nights he is not working, always have dinner with the twins. "Whitney is a wonderful father," his wife says. "Whenever I have had to be away because of my work, he spends all his free time with them. And the twins adore him, naturally."

Nancy is fortunate, too, in having Cora, a wonderful housekeeper who lives and works at the Boltons' five full days a week, but then takes off for the weekend. When she is on duty, Cora does everything from watching out for the twins to marketing, cooking and keeping the house shipshape.

But, on weekends, the family takes over, Whitney likes to cook. "He's wonderful with roasts," says Nancy. And, from Friday to Monday, the Boltons live like any other suburban Long Island family. The twins dust, help with bed-making and dish-washing, and Nancy and Whitney putter around the house. They have done almost everything in the house themselves. They like nothing better than to haunt the auctions or secondhand shops and find what Nancy gaily refers to as "a marvelous bargain." They pick up old furniture, rub it down and re-upholster it themselves. Actually, says Nancy, "Old furniture is much more satisfactory when you have children. It seems to have been built to weather their attacks on it."

Neither Nancy nor her husband is very good at gardening, so they have a man who comes once a week to tend the small vegetable and flower gardens.

All their energy and enthusiasm go into the house. And it is hard to believe that no interior decorator had a hand in the decor. For the color schemes are unusual enough to have sprung from the brain of the most expensive decorator in the country. The living room, for instance, has walls of soft plum and a ceiling of pale pink. Nancy's and Whitney's bedroom is in a green so dark as to look almost black, with dazzling white accents. And in the domain of the twins, who share a room, the predominant color if American-flag blue. The furniture is mostly built-in.

Nancy evolved these schemes herself and did battle with the bewildered painters in the manner of housewives everywhere. "The painters thought I was a bit touched," Nancy says, with a shake of her red curls, "but they did what I wanted."

The only major remodeling done to the house is the installation of a huge picture window which overlooks Hempstead Harbor. "But someday," says Nancy, "we are going to do over the attic into a suite for the twins."

Asked for an explanation of the twins' unusual names, Nancy explains that "Charla is an adaptation of my father's name, Charles, and Charlotte, which is my sister's name. Grania is the Gaelic word for Grace, which is my mother's name."

The little girls are identical twins and sometimes, even their mother has difficulty in telling them apart. A particularly homey episode, which illustrates just how much of an everyday life this petite actress leads, is the story she tells of hearing one of the twins "whoopsing," as she put it, in the bathroom late one night. Nancy went in to help and put the little girl to bed. A little later she heard her again. So once again she went in and put the child to bed. The next morning she asked Charla how she felt. "All right," said Charla. Then another little voice spoke up. "I feel all right, too," said Grania. Both little girls had been ill, but Nancy had thought it was the same one each time.

But there are differences in temperament and talent. "Grania, for instance, is the better dancer of the two," says Nancy, "and Charla is the better actress." Their pretty red-headed mother, who has spent most of her life acting, doesn't know whether or not they'll follow in her footsteps in the theater. "It's too early to tell what they want to do," she says sagely," and, besides, I don't believe in pushing things. There's plenty of time for the girls to make up their own minds."

Nancy Coleman herself is happy anywhere, so long as she is acting. Like most youngsters, she got the acting bug early. But, unlike the majority who get bitten, she never got over it. And it was her mother's courage and vision in pulling up stakes and moving - from the small city of Everett, Washington, to San Francisco - which enabled Nancy to get her first break in radio. For her mother never doubted Nancy's talent.

Nancy's father had been a newspaperman. He was managing editor of the local paper. Nancy and her sister grew up in Everett, went to grammar school there and then to high school, after which Nancy spent a couple of years at the University of Washington - where, as she explains it, "I acted, every chance I got, and read all the plays I could get hold of." Her sister had no interest in a career at all. "It's funny," Nancy laughs. "She worked in an advertising agency in San Francisco and was very good at it, but she just wanted to get married and have a home of her own. I used to tell her she wouldn't meet many beaux if she quit her job. But I was wrong. She got just what she wanted."

When the Colemans moved to San Francisco, Nancy took a job at a local department store, The Emporium. First she ran an elevator, then was promoted to the millinery department where, as she puts it, "they tried to make an assistant buyer out of me." One day she was riding in an elevator when a sorority sister, whom Nancy didn't know, saw her pin and struck up a conversation with her. Learning that Nancy really wanted to act, she offered to introduce her to the casting director at NBC. "I didn't think anything would come of it," says Nancy, "but it did. I was called for an audition which I couldn't make and, believe it or not, they called me again. This time I went, and got a part in Hawthorne House, a serial drama which was on one night a week. So I kept my daytime job - until the store decided my mind wasn't really on millinery and fired me."

After that first show, Nancy got some more radio parts and gathered some stage experience with the Federal Theatre. But always in her mind was the dream of New York and the Broadway stage. Everything she had done was leading up to the big moment when she would arrive in Manhattan. "My goal was to save $1000," she says seriously. "I finally made it in January, a time of year when, according to all the experts, nothing is happening on Broadway. But I was afraid if I waited I'd spend that money and my dream would never come true. So I came to New York in style. I took a first-class cabin on a ship through the Panama Canal, bought myself some wonderful new clothes and landed in New York with about $600. A friend of a friend of my mother's met me and took me to the Barbizon-Plaza Hotel, and there I was."

Nancy's luck held all the way through. She got a room at the hard-to-get-into Rehearsal Club, an inexpensive residence for young stage aspirants, which usually has a mile-long waiting list. And it wasn't too long before the pretty redhead got a part in the successful Gertrude Lawrence play, "Susan and God."

When the play ended its Broadway run, Nancy went with the road company - and the very first city she played was San Francisco, whence she had come just six months before. "I came back to New York after the road run" she says, "and went into radio, where I was in Young Dr. Malone, Death Valley Days, and a dozen other radio dramas." Then she was asked to read for the lead in a new play by the well-known playwright Phillip Barry, and got it. Her first starring role was in "LIberty Jones," a play the critics found interesting but the public found merely baffling. But it brought Nancy a Hollywood offer and off she went to Warner Brothers, where she stayed for five years.

It was at Warners' that she met her husband Whitney Bolton, who had just become publicity head of the studio. He was sitting at a table in the commissary, where all the stars eat their lunch, when Nancy and a writer friend of hers, Jerry Asher, came in to keep a date with Olivia de Havilland. They were late and Olivia, being a lady of temperament, had gotten tired of waiting and had left a symbol of her annoyance on their table. It was a gris-gris, a little figure made of wax and stuck full of pins. The gris-gris is a voodoo charm made by the Haitian Negroes whom they wish harm to their enemies. Of course, Olivia left it as a gag. But Nancy didn't know what it was.

"I was so dumb," she admits, "I had never heard of such a thing, so I blurted out at the top of my lungs that I didn't know what a gris-gris was. Well, the man at the next table called out and said, 'I'll tell you what it is.' He came over, and I was introduced to Whitney Bolton. In fact, Jerry Asher said, 'Here's Whitney Bolton, a real charm boy.'"

Nancy readily agreed with Jerry. She and Whitney were married the following September.

Their life together is happy because each understands and has respect for the other's work. When asked whether Whitney doesn't find her current schedule a little rugged, Nancy explains: "Whitney says that he knew what he was letting himself in for when he married an actress and, so long as I am working and happy, it's all right with him."

And Nancy is happy working. She likes TV because it gives her a chance to use what she calls "the tools of my trade." Says she, "Acting is a trade like any other, and if you don't keep working you lose your skill." SO that's why this attractive redhead keeps to a schedule that would make many a strong man quail.

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I don't know why I found this so shocking, but when I read Nancy Coleman had red hair I was surprised. I couldn't tell based on the picture and all the others I've seen of her are black and white.

Thanks, Carl. These have been fun to read.

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