1 9 5 8 – 1 9 6 3 (USA)
Set in fictional Denison, Maryland, this daytime serial from NBC – adapted from a popular long-running radio serial of the 1940s – focused on the father and (adopted) son team of doctors Jerry (the original “young” Dr Malone, played by William Prince) and his son David Malone (John Connell), who practised at Valley Hospital in Denison, Maryland.
Jerry’s wife, Tracy, was played by Virginia Dwyer and Augusta Dabney in succession.
David struggled to follow in his respected father’s footsteps with a successful career and marriage, but it was not easy.
During the show’s run, he found himself either in love with or loved by Dorothy Ferris (Liz Gardner and Florence Mitchell), Eve Dunbar (Loretta Leversee), and Gig Houseman (Diana Hyland), finally marrying the latter.
His parents disapproved of Gig, though, and if that was not enough heartache, he was put on trial for murder after the suspicious death of Gig’s mother, Lillian Houseman (Elizabeth Watts). David was eventually exonerated and managed to continue his career.
The show’s real star in terms of activity was Claire Bannister Steele (Lesley Woods), who rivalled Lisa on As the World Turns for overall chicanery on a soap opera at the time. She became Tracy’s stepmother-in-law when she wed Emory Bannister (Judson Laire) and devoted considerable effort to driving a wedge between Jerry and Tracy.
She also belittled Tracy’s sister and Emory’s other daughter, Faye (Lenka Peterson and Chase Crosley).
By 1960 Claire was cheating on Emory with Lionel Steele (Martin Blaine) and the pair intimidated Emory to the point at which he threatened Claire, and the devilish duo used his action to put him through a messy court trial.
After Emory died in January 1961, Claire and Lionel began an on/off relationship which lasted through to the end of the show’s run and included marriage, jealousy, deception, and other soap opera staples. It was hardly a surprise that Lionel’s daughter Lisha, witnessing her parents’ behaviour, felt she was living in a world of scheming adults.
Claire lost sight first in one eye due to thrombosis and then in the other (due to hysteria), but her vision returned.
Judged insane later that year, she returned to Denison in 1962 and stayed with Dee Dee (Elizabeth St Clair), the only woman patient enough to keep a relationship going with Dr Ted Powell (Peter Brandon), who tried to break up David’s romance with Dorothy, among other noble deeds.
But Claire never really mellowed and continued to cause trouble for her former daughters-in-law.
Dr Jerry Malone ran into a few roadblocks of his own. He faced a malpractice suit in October 1960 for his care of Pete, a chronically ill child. Helping his defence was Dr Eileen Seaton (Emily McLaughlin), who nursed an unrequited love for the doctor who had helped her survive a run-in the previous year with the evil Peter Brooks (Robert Lansing).
Other doctors were Stefan Koda (Michael H. Ingram), who wed Faye in February 1962 after a challenging courtship, and Matt
Steele (played by a succession of actors), who found himself a suspect in yet another extended trial in 1962-63.
This time it was for the death of wheelchairbound Larry Renfrew (Dick Van Patten) following surgery that was supposed to make him able to walk again.
Renfrew was wed to David Malone’s sister Jill, who had failed in a relationship earlier with Jody Baker (Stephen Bolster), and both she and Dr Steele had to rely on lawyer Harold Cranston (William Post Jr) to pull them out.
Young Dr Malone was notable for its use of actual medical crises and lighthearted humour, both of which were generally absent in late-50’s serials.
The series was finally laid to rest on 1 April 1963 – a victim of dwindling ratings – after almost 30 years on radio and television. NBC replaced the series with the long-running game show You Don’t Say.
Dr Jerry Malone
Dr David Malone
Virginia Dwyer (1)
Augusta Dabney (2)
Kathleen Widdoes (1)
Freda Holloway (2)
Sarah Hardy (3)
Claire Bannister Steele
Dr Matt Steele
Eddie Jones (1)
Franklyn Spodak (2)
Nicolas Coster (3)
Zina Bethune (1)
Michele Tuttle (2)
Susan Hallaran (3)
Patty McCormack (4)
Lenka Peterson (1)
Chase Crosley (2)
Dr Stefan Koda
Michael H. Ingram
Dr Ted Powell
Dr Eileen Seaton
Joyce Van Patten
Robert Drivas (1)
Nicholas Pryor (2)
William Post Jr
Gig Houseman Malone
Dick Van Patten
Deirdre “Dee Dee” Bannister
Elizabeth St Clair