1 9 5 3 – 1 9 5 4 (USA)
112 x 15 minute episodes
Elaine Carrington created several successful radio soap operas in the 1930s and 1940s, but this was her only TV series effort. The show was an adaptation of her radio series When a Girl Marries (1939-58), though listeners of the version which aired on ABC radio from 1951-58 would have had trouble identifying the connection, as the television show was quite dissimilar.
Carrington altered not only the title but also names and locations in the show, and none of the radio actors appeared in the TV version.
The main action took place at the Worthington House in Philadelphia’s wealthy Ardmore district, where 19-year-old Julie Fielding (Sally Brophy) lived with her mother (Nancy Sheridan) and younger teenage sister Jocelyn (Laura Weber).
Her father Sam (John Seymour) – who ran a one-man scientific research lab – had what one might consider an open marriage, having lived apart from his family in a hotel for 15 years.
Julie had doubts over her engagement to her high-society neighbour Harry Phillips (Howard Erskine) and asked her father how one knows if they are in love. “Just follow your heart,” he told her.
Coincidentally, during her engagement party, Julie met Peter Davis (Grant Richards), a man going for a job interview with her father as a research assistant. Acting on instinct, she announced that she would not marry Harry, which upset her iron-willed mother, who blamed her estranged husband for the situation and encouraged Harry to continue his wedding plans.
Peter eventually confessed his love for Julie but admitted that her upper-class lifestyle scared him. This did not dampen her passion for him, and so she took a job at the country club library to show she could be like “common folk,” while telling Harry that the engagement really was off and trying to convince her mother that Peter was honourable.
But Peter felt Julie’s move was a superficial one, and besides, he had other concerns on his hands. Gangster Nicki Destini tried to blackmail him into spying on Sam’s work with the threat of revealing that Peter had been fired from his last job under the suspicion of stealing drugs. This prompted Peter to leave town, but Julie caught up with him before he left and convinced him to stay.
The storyline then degenerated into a whirl of minor shady characters who threatened Peter into becoming a double agent or tried to seduce Julie, or both, all of which hastened the show’s demise.
Viewers preferred Strike It Rich over a plot which veered from young love to adventure, and Follow Your Heart joined The Bennetts as one of two soap operas NBC axed in early 1954 after a six-month run.
Samuel Tilden Fielding