That brings us to our big collection of Rare Soap Operas. Old Time Radio Catalog has scoured the collection to find the best Tear Jerkers from the era of Dish-Pan Romance. A lot of the profit that the Networks made during the Golden Age of Radio came from the Day Time Serials, and listening to them demonstrates that they are probably better entertainment than you would like to think they are. Here are some prime examples:
Bachelor’s Children, began on WGN-Chicago in 1935 and ran through 1946. When Dr. Bob was serving in the military his Sergeant had taken care of him through a difficult time. Later the Sergeant’s dying request is that Dr Bob become guardian of his two young daughters. Eventually Dr Bob falls in love with Ruth Ann, and his good friend Sam Ryder falls for twin sister, Janet. The show was originally sponsored by Old Dutch Cleanser, then on NBC by Colgate and eventually Wonder Bread.
David Harum (1936-1951) was a radio serial based on an 1898 novel by Edward Noyes Westcott. The novel inspired a movie starring Will Rogers in 1934 which lead to the radio program. Harum was a “horse trader” who developed some rather lose business ethics. Harum followed his own version of the Golden Rule: “Do unto the other feller the way he’d like to do to you, an’ do it fust.”
The Guiding Light was a well loved program created by “the Mother of the Radio Soap Opera”, Irna Phillips. Running for more than 70 years on Radio and Television, the program is easily the longest running drama in broadcast history. The series was originally inspired by the radio sermons of Preston Bradley, which brought Phillips spiritual comfort during a difficult time in her life. The Guiding Light referred to a lamp that the Rev John Rutledge left burning in his study as a signal that he was available to help members of his flock.
The Marriage ran from 1953 through 1954, and featured the talents of Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, the great Broadway actors who were married in real life. The show brought to life the marriage of the Marriots. Liz had been a buyer for a popular New York department store and now must come to grips with being a house wife, and Ben is an up and coming hotshot New York lawyer.
Portia Faces Life told the story of a lady lawyer in a small town that fights crime, injustice, and civic corruption. Along with crusading journalist Walter Manning, Portia Blake tries to find the criminals that murdered her husband. Eventually we find out that her beloved husband isn’t really dead! The series ran from April 1940 until June 1951. General Mills remained the sponsor for the entire run.
Rosemary was created by Elaine Carrington, who also penned Pepper Young’s Family. Rosemary Dawson works to support her mother and younger sister. In time she falls in love and marries journalist Bill Roberts. But Bill has amnesia from the war. Who knows what will come up from his past? Could there have been another wife and daughter?
Vicks’ Romantic Bachelor tried a slightly different approach to reaching the housewife. Rather than centering the show on a contrived drama, The Romantic Bachelor would woo the housewife songs and romance. The Bachelor would tell stories of the beautiful women that became the object of his affection, and manage to remind Mothers of the wonders of Vick’s Vapor-Rub.