1 9 5 4 – 1 9 6 2 (USA)
1830 x 15/25 minute episodes
“Our years are as the falling leaves. We live, we love, we dream, and then we go. But somehow, we keep hoping that our dreams come true on that brighter day.”
This long-running CBS daytime serial (read soap opera) revolved around Reverend Richard Dennis (Blair Davies, except for a brief time in 1954 when the role was played by William Smith) – who lived and worked in the small Midwestern town of New Hope – and his sprawling family, including his five children – notably aspiring actress daughter Althea (Jayne Heller) and alcoholic son Grayling (Hal Holbrook) – and his sister, Emily (Mona Bruns).
Many scenes showed Aunt Emily either leaving for the kitchen or bringing in something from the kitchen. But there was never a scene in the kitchen – because there wasn’t a kitchen set, which became a standing gag with Mona Bruns and other cast members.
Althea’s husband, Bruce, died in the Korean War, and she found herself going insane. After being ineffectually treated by Dr Blake Hamilton, her psychiatrist brother-in-law, she left to pursue an acting career in New York City. By the late 1950s, Grayling had taken centre stage, with his business and romantic life getting a thorough airing.
Several regular characters were written out of the show in July 1961 when production moved from New York to Hollywood.
The dropping of these characters, some with no explanation on air, led to audience erosion, which only increased when the series went from the afternoon to the late morning in early 1962 (typically, soap operas perform poorly before noon).
That year there was an influx of new characters and stories, including the introduction of Walter and Emily’s hapless brother Dennis and the return of Patsy following the death of her husband Dr Randy Hamilton.
In August, the show’s producers announced hiring the first black regular on a soap opera, an actor named Rex Ingram, but he had little to do as the series vanished a month later, ending its eight-year run.
Reverend Richard Dennis
Aunt Emily Potter
Mary Linn Beller
Althea Dennis Bigby
Sandra Talbot Dennis