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Broadcast Firsts

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 Store.

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.

  • BEN 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.

  • The 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 Carousel Ball.

  • 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 episodes.

  • 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.

  • THE HOUSE ON HIGH STREET/NBC/1959-60 was one of the first soap operas to be videotaped.

  • 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 nationally.

  • 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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