1 9 5 1 – 1 9 5 5 (USA)
15 minute episodes
Airing live from Chicago, with outdoor scenes filmed in Woodstock, Illinois, and with Hugh Downs as the announcer, Hawkins Falls was NBC’s only serial of the 1950s to last more than two years until From These Roots, which debuted in 1958.
The show began as a 60-minute sitcom on NBC between June and October in 1950 with the subtitle “Population 6,200” before heading to a 15-minute Monday-to-friday daytime slot in 1951 with continuing characters but only occasional humour.
Actors Frank Dane, Hope Summers, Phil Lord, and Win Stracke were seen in both versions, although Dane played a different character in the nighttime show.
In the daytime series, bedridden Knap Drewer (Dane) and his wife Lona (Bernadine Flynn) adopted runaway Roy Bettert (Bruce Dane), stirring up much talk among local gossips including busybody Mrs Catherwood (Hope Summers).
Later developments included the standard soap opera storylines – divorces, murders, affairs, etc. – and the show lived up to its new subtitle, “A Television Novel.”
The Drewers mainly reacted to various subplots throughout the run, although Knap died when Frank Dane was judged too difficult to handle off the set, letting Lona wed Dr Corey (Michael Golda initially, and then Maurice Copeland).
Other characters included Toby Winfield (Tom Poston) and his wife April, who was expecting a baby; Laif Flagle (Win Stracke), the town bum; Millie Flagle (Ros Twohey), Laif’s one-time wife who received a marriage proposal from Sheriff Boylan (Doug Chandler) in 1954; Mitch Fredericks (Jim Bannon), a local reporter who fended off the advances of young Jenny Karns; and Dr Glen Bowdon, (Lee Henry) who became Dr Corey’s assistant.
Interestingly, Art Van Harvey, who played crusty soda-shop proprietor Calvin Sperry, had worked with castmate Bernadine Flynn earlier on the radio when they were the stars of Vic and Sade.
The emphasis in Hawkins Falls was on life in small-town USA, but by 1955 the show’s down-home scenes had fallen from favour and the show lost audience share to the family-based drama The Brighter Day by competitor CBS, prompting NBC to drop the series in July 1955.
Nonetheless, Hawkins Falls was one of the longest-running network shows from Chicago during the Windy City’s national programming heyday.
Lona Drewer Corey
Mrs Belinda Catherwood
Dr Floyd Corey
Michael Golda (1)
Maurice Copeland (2)
Roy Bettert Corey
Art Van Harvey
Dr Glen Bowden