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Ben Jerrod

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When I went to post this article, discovered the show did not have it's own thread.

So all things Ben Jerrod now have a home.


Tide Turns in Soaper Outlook

By Cecil Smith
Los Angeles Times
April 1, 1963

Three new soap operas take the air today (no, no, this is NOT an April Fool joke on the nation!), and I was wondering if there were any major changes in the old soaper. So I dropped by NBC in Burbank where one of the new serials, BEN JERROD, was in rehearsal.

It was a nostalgic visit because this was the studio where the noblest experiment in daytime television history once held forth, the distinguished MATINEE THEATER. Actually JERROD and companion soaper out of New York, THE DOCTORS, are replacing another NBC daytime experiment, THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW, and attempte to bring "Tonight" out in the daylight. It was a pretty noble try, too - an intelligent, articulate, stimulating hour that the housewives conscientously avoided.

Joe Hardy, who produces JERROD for the Ben Winsor organization, a prolific maker of daytime serials (LOVE OF THE LIFE. SECRET STORM) said he thought Griffin's hour was a splendid daytime show. I asked why it failed.

Joe shrugged. "I think the daytime viewer needs a hook," he said. "She won't stop her work to watch just a show - no matter how good - but she will pause if she's involved in a story to see what happens, how the plot unfolds. Griffin had no hook."

Continue reading...

Hardy says there have been enormous changes in soap opera - particularly in the writing. "Check the scripts of LOVE OF LIFE in 1951. There's a world of differnce in the ones we do today. We don't write down to the audience - I don't think you can anymore. And we deal with serious adult and controversial themes.

"For instance, when all that fuss was raised last year when THE DEFENDERS did its abortion story ("The Benefactor"), we were doing an abortion story on LOVE OF LIFE. We didn't have a complaint."

First Color Soap Opera

BEN JERROD is the first soap opera to be done in color. Another - and more shocking - innovation is that it has no organ music. It's musical bridges are handled (and quite effectively) by a guitar and percussion instruments. But a soap without that ever-lamenting organ! Times have changed.

The setting of BEN JERROD is a small New England town, to which Ben, a successful corporation lawyer, has returned because he wants to be closely involved with people, rather than faceless corporate bodies. He immediately gets involved in a murder - these soaps don't fool arond, boy!

Playing Ben is a handsome lad from the New York stage, Michael Ryan; Jeanne Baird is his girl Agnes, and the inevitable father figure, elderly Judge Abbott, is played by the splendid character actor Addison Richards.

Although Hardy says name actors, or stars, are not important in serials - the audience identifies with the character, not the actor - at least one well-known performer seems to turn up in every soaper. Fred Scollay, for example, is in THE DOCTORS, and John Beradino, the onetime ballplayer, is the central figure on ABC's new serial, GENERAL HOSPITAL.

Serial Appeal is Universal

The soap opera concept seems universal. In England, CORONATION STREET, a twice-a-week serial, is the top show on television - it is said that Queen Elizabeth is an avid fan. The Spanish station here, KMEX, does a daily serial produced in Mexico City. The difference is the Mexican stories end after eight or 10 weeks and a new story with a new cast begins.

"Actually, we do the same," said Hardy, "except that our central characters don't change. This murder story on JERROD will last about 10 weeks, then we'll pick up another story, a land fraud case. Then another, each one of a different kind of case."

The crews taping BEN JERROD are already deeply involved in the plot. They keep asking Hardy who the murderer is. But he won't tell.

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 The network obviously liked some of these performers.  Michael Ryan, after this show was cancelled,  appeared on Another World as John.  Two actresses from this show, Regina Gleason and Denise Alexander, were later on the network's Days of Our Lives.  Gerald Gordon later joined the cast of The Doctors.


I wonder if this serial was a production of NBC , Roy Winsor Productions, or American Home Products.   Was American Home Products its sponsor?  William Kendall Clark, who had written The Secret Storm, was the show's writer.


The innovation of music provided by instruments other than the organ was later used on The Secret Storm and Love of Life by Carey Gold.   However, I am recalling that an earlier serial had music provided by jazz guitarist Tony Mottola and a drummer.


This is probably known, but Mr. Hardy later produced General Hospital and Ryan's Hope.  He and director/writer/producer Gloria Monty (who had directed Love of Life early in her career) had worked together earlier on The Secret Storm.


Addison Richards (John Abbott) and director Fred Carney had worked together previously in "The Night of January Sixteenth" , an episode of Lux Video Theatre.

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Interestingly enough, Gerald Gordon appeared on all three soaps that debuted on April 1, 1963. He was in the original cast of Ben Jerrod and over a decade later went to ABC to play Dr. Mark Dante on GH. In between the two, of course, he found his greatest fame on TD as Dr. Nick Bellini.

Edited by amybrickwallace
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Some details of Episode 19


Ben Jerrod, Attorney at Law

NBC - TV 2.00 - 2.25 PM

Burbank California


Writer: William Kendall Clarke

Executive Producer: Roy Winsor

Producer: Joseph A. Hardy

Director: Fred Carney


Air Date : Thursday, April 25 1963

Tape Date: Thursday, April 11 1963



Judge Abbott

Agnes Abbott

Jim O'Hara

Adele Pike

Charley Bender



Abbott Parlor and Hall

Ben's Office

Adele's Flat



Phone Rings



A Roy Winsor Production

Jason Productions. Inc

1 East 57th St

NY 22, N.Y.

PL 1-11105

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Some more info...

Ben  an idealistic young lawyer, left his law practice in Chicago for Indian Hiils, Rhode Island (his home town) for a more meaningful way of life.

John P Abbott is a former judge with a languishing law practice.

Ben has complete faith in the judge, although puzzled as to why he resigned rather than defend himself against charges made against him.

Agnes is the judge's daughter and secretary. she's attracted to Ben, although understands he is waryt of romance due to a past unhappy affair.

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APRIL 1,1963-JUN 28,1963 NBC




Agnes __Abbott...Jeanne Baird    daughter and secretary of the  Judge

Judge John Abbott...Addison Richards retired judge

Charley Bender  ....  ???

Lt. Choates...Lyle Talbott   believes Janet is guilty of murders

Abel Collier    Lance Fuller

Janet Donelli...Regina Gleason  widow, accused of murder twice over, Ben's client

Vincent Donelli     ??????   murder victim

Coroner Engle...William Phipps 

Abel Forsythe... Don Collier    angered/questioned Tom    private investigator

Wesley Gibbs     ??????   cooperated with Ben

Winifred Gibbs       ????   acted foolishly toward Lil

Ben Jerrod...Michael Ryan   idealistic lawyer  took Janet's case

D.A. Dan   Joplin...John Napier 

Tom Miller      ?????     questioned by Abel

Lil' ____ Morrison...Martina Bartlett  Pete's widow

Peter Morrison...Peter Hansen    Druggist,   murdered

Jim O'Hara...Kenneth Scott   baits a trap, murder suspect; made an unusual decision in Ben's favor  

Adele Pike...Jo Helton    panics and makes a plan 

Sam Richardson... Gerald Gordon 

Emily Sanders...Denise Alexander

Dr. Withers     ?????     knew the Donelli's history, told Ben 

Hannah Zee     Isabel Randolph


Carrie    ?????     visited her aunt

Ingenue      Charlotte Stewart

Sailor      Josh White, Jr.   (musician)





Joan Connors      (pilot)

Paul Geary

Edited by slick jones
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Week of April 1:

Attorney Ben Jerrod returns to his home town, coincidental with an apparent murder, in the premiere.  Seeking a more meaningful way in life, Ben has left a successful law practice in Chicago to join his old friend and mentor, Judge John P. Abbott, in a small town law firm in Indian Hill, RI. 

Janet Donelli keeps a rendezvous.

Ben investigates death of businessman Vincent Donelli.

Vincent Donelli's death becomes a murder case.

Ben agrees to represent Janet, Donelli's wife, and warns her to expect the worst in the inquest. 

Janet denies any guilt in what has now become a murder case. 

Ben learns that gossip swirls about her social life, and that apparently she is trying to shield somebody.

Ben learns the personal history of Janet and her deceased husband from Dr. Withers, and hires an investigator to dig up information on the murder victim.

Janet reveals there is a secret man in her life.


Week of Apr. 8:

Police and the DA suspect Janet and the local druggist (Pete Morrison) having poisoned Janet's husband.

Janet has new information about her husband's death.

Ben believes the coroner is headline hunting.

Ben tells Judge Abbott that the truth is more important than a client's acquittal.

Janet tries to hide her most recent romance from Ben.

Janet and a local druggist (Pete Morrison) are suspected of having poisoned Janet's envelope.


Week of Apr. 15:

Ben learns about the "other men" in Janet's life. 

Lieutenant Choates arrests Janet on suspicion of murdering her husband.

Pete discovers he has a mysterious benefactor.

Ben probes a new angle in the Donelli case.

Ben believes someone intended to frame Janet.

The case against Janet is resolved.

Janet is released from jail.


Week of Apr. 22:

The mysterious death of druggist Pete Morrison ---the second death in the home of Ben's client, Janet Donatelli---casts new suspicion on the distraught woman.

The DA is confronted with a surprising volunteer witness in the Donelli case.

Lil Morrison, the wife of the slain druggist, declares that Janet will pay for his death.

Judge Abbott uncovers a new slant in the case.

Janet's double-talk infuriates Ben and infuriates her case.


Week of Apr. 29:

Janet seeks Ben's forgiveness.

Janet makes another costly mistake.

Lieutenant Choates is sure Janet is guilty.

The DA gets two new witnesses, both dangerous to Janet.


Week of May 6:

Ben and Agnes share a dramatic encounter.

More damaging facts about Janet develop.

Ben reprimands Janet.

The DA plans the prosecution.

A sympathetic witness for Janet appears.

Drugstore employees speak out against Janet.


Week of May 13:

Ben finds a new motive for the murder.

Winifred Gibbs acts foolishly toward Lil Morrison.

Ben receives some surprising news.

Carrie defies her aunt.

Tom Miller pays an unexpected visit to his home.

Ben's case suffers another setback.


Week of May 20:

Janet remembers writing a dangerous letter.

The Assistant DA makes a damaging admission.

Lil Morrison receives unexpected help.

Emily has a new plan.

An ingenious plan is set.

Janet receives a terrifying gift.


Week of May 27:

Ben encounters a fanatic.

Ben and Dan (Joplan/Joplin) wage a battle.


Week of June 3:

Abel Forsythe angers Tom Miller with embarrassing questions.

Jim O'Hara makes an unusual decision in favor of Ben.

Wesley Gibbs continues to cooperate with Ben.

Janet refuses to make a deal that could save her life.


Week of June 10:

Agnes tries to save Ben from danger.

O'Hara baits a trap for the killer.

Janet pleads vainly with Ben.

Adele Pike begins to panic.

A strange young man upsets the court.


Week of June 17:

Janet Donelli faces the jury.

Agnes is rebuffed when she seeks information.

O'Hara learns he is a murder suspect.

Adele Pike's plans backfire.

Ben springs a trap.


Week of June 24:

Abel makes a startling discovery.

Judge Abbott is enraged by a young man's rudeness.

Ben cross-examines brilliantly.

Agnes loses her temper for the second time.

Ben's strategy verges on collapse (last show of the series).


@slick jones First name of DA Joplin (sometimes listed as Joplan) was Dan.

I think there are a few other characters not previously listed:

Vincent Donelli (murder victim---not sure he was actually seen).

Dr. Withers

Winifred Gibbs

Tom Miller

Carrie (maybe the ingenue?)


Oops, looks like we were posting at the same time!

Edited by jam6242
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