1 9 5 0 – 1 9 5 2 (USA)
15 minute episodes
The First Hundred Years was the first television soap opera series from CBS. The daytime soap – sponsored by the giant consumer company Procter & Gamble – dealt with the lighter side of being married and starred Jimmy Lydon and Olive Stacey (pictured above) – and later Anne Sargent – as newlyweds Chris and Connie Thayer.
Attorney Chris and his new bride moved into a decrepit three-story Victorian mansion and the couple’s problems with their living quarters, their meddling in-laws (Robert Armstrong and Nana Bryant as Connie’s parents and Don Tobin and Valerie Cossart as Chris’s parents) who lived nearby, and the typical problems any newlyweds face gave credence to the show’s title, a reference to the old saying that “the first 100 years of marriage are the hardest.”
Also appearing regularly on the series was Nancy Malone as Connie’s kid sister, Margie.
For a 15-minute daily show, The First Hundred Years represented quite an undertaking for television. The cast rehearsed four hours a day for each episode on a special stage in New York City’s Liederkranz Hall, which contained a permanent house set.
Cameramen went to villas in Long Island and Westchester County to film authentic backgrounds which were used on the show.
But the show’s most notable achievement was the first commercial use of the Teleprompter, a machine which cues actors with their lines and which is now used routinely throughout the world.
The show performed well in its two years on the air, and in the spring of 1952, it ranked among the top 10 daily daytime series.
But Procter & Gamble felt that it was not drawing quite the audience the company desired, so they replaced it with another soap opera – The Guiding Light – which aired until 2009.
Connie Martin Thayer
Olive Stacey (1)
Anne Sargent (2)