Monday, June 29, 2009

SOAP FIRSTS

Often given credit as being the first TV soap opera, The First 100 Years was, in fact, the first ever daytime television show sponsored by Procter & Gamble, as well as being CBS-TV's first soap.

It went off the air 57 years ago this Saturday, on June 27, 1952, after an almost two year run.

Unlike the heavy drama that would characterize its replacement, Guiding Light, and most of the shows that came after, The First 100 Years was more light and comical in nature. It was a spin-off from an episode of a nighttime anthology series, Silver Theater, and the original production starred Jimmy Lyndon and William Frawley who, a few years later, would make his permanent television mark as Fred Mertz, the lovable Lucy's landlord!

The title referred to the popular claim that "the first 100 years of a marriage are the hardest," and followed the travails of a newly married couple, Chris and Connie Thayer, who moved into a collapsing Victorian mansion, and attempted to fix it up while fending off the good-natured interference of meddling in-laws.

The show ran 15 minutes a day, for which the cast rehearsed for four hours beforehand. A special set was built to represent the multi-story dwelling, but cameramen also visited quaint villas in Long Island and Westchester to shoot authentic, small town backgrounds.

The First 100 Years was also the first show to use a teleprompter.

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