Soap Operas - The first soap
opera on television was broadcast during the summer of 1946 on WRGB, a
General Electric Station in Schenectady, New York. Called WAR BRIDE, this
13-part series was the story of a returning GI and his new wife. Soon to
follow was the daytime drama FARAWAY HILL aired on the DuMont Network in
1946. This was the first network soap opera.
Other sources claimed A WOMAN
TO REMEMBER on the DuMont network (1947) was the first real television soap
broadcast from Dumont's New York studios located in Wanamaker's Department
And still other sources claim that THESE ARE MY CHILDREN by Irna
Phillips telecast (from Chicago) Monday through Friday from 5:00-5:15 P.M.
on NBC and THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS on CBS network (1950) were the first bona
fide network soaps.
"Soaps" first started on radio. The
programs were sponsored/owned by a soap manufacturer and featured products
geared towards the female listening audience who escaped the drudgery of
cooking, washboards and their intolerable family lives by listening to such
soap favorites as MA PERKINS, a radio serial program sponsored by Oxydol
soap powder and aired nationally. It's popularity lead other soap brands to
sponsor numerous new soap operas.
Some major sponsors of "Soaps" were
Proctor & Gamble, Borden, Lever Brothers, Colgate-Palmolive, Jergens,
General Mills, and General Foods.
The following is a list of other "Firsts"
in the world of soaps:
ALL MY CHILDREN/ABC/1970+ was the first daytime
serial geared specifically toward a college age viewing audience. Premiering
January 5, 1970, it expanded from 30 to 60 minutes in length on April 25,
1977. The series was created by Agnes Eckhardt Nixon. ALL MY CHILDREN &
GUIDING LIGHT headed for Caribbean remote locations in 1978, starting a
trend away from the claustrophobic studio sets to more exotic foreign
locales. Following suit AS THE WORLD TURNS (CBS) went to Greece, while ONE
LIFE TO LIVE (ABC) went to France.
On 1/7/75 ANOTHER WORLD/NBC/1964+ became
the first hour-long daytime serial. The series was expanded to 90-minutes
(5/79-8/80) and back to 60-minutes (8/80).
AS THE WORLD TURNS/CBS/1956+ was
the first one-half hour daytime serial. Expanded to one-hour on 12/1/75.
JERROD: ATTORNEY AT LAW/ABC/1963 was the first serial to be regularly
broadcast in color. Created by Ray Winsor.
Created by Dan Curtis, DARK
SHADOWS/ABC/1966-71 was the first daytime soap opera to present vampires,
werewolves, witches and black magic as storylines on a day-to-day basis.
prime-time series DYNASTY was the first soap opera to feature a former
president (Gerald Ford) and Secretary of State (Henry Kissinger) playing on
screen roles. Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger appeared in
cameos in a December, 1983 episode amidst the splendor of Denver's real-life
THE EDGE OF NIGHT/CBS/ABC/1956-84 was the first daytime
mystery melodrama, meant as a takeoff of the classic Perry Mason mysteries
with emphasis on crime/murder themes The series was canceled after 7200
THE GUIDING LIGHT was the only serial to have made a successful
transition from radio to television. It premiered on radio on January 25,
1937, broadcast from studios in Chicago and moved to television in 1952.
HOUSE ON HIGH STREET/NBC/1959-60 was one of the first soap operas to be
ROAD TO REALITY/ABC/1960-61 was ABC's first TV serial.
SOMERSET/NBC/1970-76 (originally called ANOTHER WORLD IN SOMERSET) was the
first soap-opera spin-off in television history spawned from the popular
serial ANOTHER WORLD.
THE PEYTON PLACE/ABC/1964-69 was TVs first successful
prime-time soap opera (514 episodes). It featured the personal lives and
sexual proclivities of the people in the small New England town of Peyton
Place (based on the 1956 novel "Peyton Place" and the 1960 sequel "Return to
Peyton Place" written by Grace Metalious.
RITUALS/SYN/1984-85 was the first
soap opera produced exclusively for local stations and syndicated
YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS /CBS/1973+ - Set in Genoa City, this soap
followed the lives of several young upper middle class families among them
the Brooks family. The serial expanded to one-hour on 2/4/80. This series
introduced young, physically attractive characters to the storylines.
Traditionally soaps to that time catered to the 35 or older crowd and had
just used younger actors as props to be seen at parties and pool sides. The
serial also introduced vivid bedroom scenes to daytime television showing
half-naked people (sheets precariously covering the naughty bits). This
provocative programming soon gave way to the "Soap position" in which a
woman lay across her partner's bare chest. The serial's popular theme song
"Nadia's Theme" composed by Barry DeVorzon and Perry Botkin, Jr. was also
used as performance music by Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci during the 1976
Olympics. Y&R was created by William J. Bell and his wife Lee Phillip Bell.
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