Archive for the ‘Genre: Soaps’ Category

Remembering Jeanne Cooper

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

The Archive is sad to learn of the passing of actress Jeanne Cooper, who died this morning at the age of 84. Cooper was best known for playing “Katherine Chancellor” on the hit soap opera The Young and the Restless. She also had guest roles on The Twilight Zone, M Squad, and Perry Mason, and appeared opposite her son, Corbin Bernsen, on L.A. Law.

Below are some excerpts from her 2009 Archive interview:

On the set of her character’s house on The Young and the Restless:

My set, “Katherine Chancellor’s,” was the most expensive set ever built for daytime at that time. Which, in 1973, at $175,000 plus, was a lot of money because that was the budget for some shows. What it did was change all of the other shows and bring them out of the dark into a more updated presentation and it elevated daytime. That’s when they took on serious scripts and what have you. But we had sets. We had places, we had towns. People could identify. It was no longer, “My Girl Sunday,” Marion Lord, and old mining towns in West Virginia.

On whether she feels there’s a stigma associated with daytime television:

You’re not really looked down upon by, let’s say, prime time or motion pictures, because they’ve all been watching daytime. But you’re just not considered in their league.  And that is the sadness, for anyone who thinks like that. Because we have people that could get out there and probably outdo so many of them, more talented. Again, do you want to be an actress or do you want to be a movie star?  You have a chance to be an actress on daytime. I’ve proved that as the only media that allows you to get older. My character started 36 years ago. So there’s a big difference between me 36 years ago and today. I sort of helped say, “it’s okay to be over 50.” I helped, saying, “it’s okay to have a nip and a tuck here and there, if you need, what have you.” I’ve made it okay and strange enough, there’s a commercial that says, “I want to grow up to be an old woman.” I think back, then maybe the creators of women [characters] will be able to be older, allow the girls, after the cosmetic surgery and what have you, after the admission of age, come out and say, “hey, I’m not dead at 50. I’m just starting to live at 50.”

On having the first facelift on television in 1984 as “Katherine Chancellor:”

Well, I personally was going to have a facelift and I knew if I looked any better, “Katherine” was bound to have a few changes in her life.  So I talked to Bill Bell about, “can I have some time off, if I needed it?” – my vacation was coming up.  But if I needed another week, so he said, “well yeah, I’m sure.”  But he came down to the dressing room one day and he said, “Jeanne, how would you feel about if we sort of put ‘Katherine’ through this?” I said, well, “it’s a very good idea, since I’m going through it and I am ‘Katherine.’” … They filmed the surgery.  Most amazing thing. The next day I was to go to Dr. Glassman’s office to remove the bandages. He said, “if it’s too messy, if she bleeds a little bit too much, I want to be able to clean her up and we will rewrap it. I said, “I promise you, I won’t bleed.” So it was filmed.  And Jack Wellman, who was my doctor, was doing the voice, but you would see Harry Glassman’s hands doing all the work. We had 52% of the viewing audience of television that day; one of the highest ratings that CBS has ever had. Fifty-two percent of the people watching television were watching The Young and the Restless and this operation. It was so successful that it broke cosmetic surgery wide open.

On playing the mother of real-life son, Corbin Bernsen, on L.A. Law:

On winning a Daytime Emmy:

On how she’d like to be remembered:

Oh gosh, how would one like to be remembered?  I think possibly to be remembered, that… I made things possible. I made things happen. So that’s an impact on life. That I’ve impacted life somehow. Whether it’s better or worse is not for me or anyone else to say, I don’t think. But I think I’d like to be remembered as someone who loved doing what she did.

Watch Jeanne Cooper’s full Archive interview.

TV’s “Guiding Light” Turns 60!

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

On the small screen from June 30, 1952 to September 18, 2009, Guiding Light holds the record for longest-running drama in television history. In addition to its 57-year reign on television, The Guiding Light (as it was originally titled) ran from January of 1937-52 on radio. It was the only radio serial to successfully transition to television (The Brighter Day also made the move, but lasted only eight years.)

The show started out at only fifteen minutes long, expanded to thirty minutes in September 1968, and blossomed to a full hour on November 7, 1977. In 1978 it dropped “The” and officially became Guiding Light. Irna Phillips (Another World , Days of Our Lives) created the series, which centered around the Bauers, a German-American family living in the non-descript town of Springfield. William Bell was one of the original television writers on the soap opera, and describes writing for Irna:

Actress Kim Zimmer, who played “Reva Shayne” discusses the show’s title, original premise, and how the program strayed from that central idea over the years:

The show left the airwaves in 2009, leaving 72 years of love, heartbreak, and scandal in its wake. It traveled from NBC radio, to CBS radio, to CBS television, and won its way into the hearts of millions in the process. Had it still been on the air, Guiding Light would have celebrated 60 years on television today. But 57 years of consecutive TV storytelling is still pretty impressive. To date, no other drama has topped the show’s tenure on television.

Visit our Guiding Light show page for more on the popular soap opera.

- by Adrienne Faillace

Archive Interviewee Ruby Dee Gets Her Due

Friday, February 1st, 2008

Actress Ruby Dee won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for American Gangster and has received her very first Oscar nomination for the role as well. Dee’s acting career spans over sixty years. The Archive interviewed both Dee and her late husband (and frequent) co-star Ossie Davis.

Click here to access Ruby Dee’s entire four-part interview.

Interview description:
Ruby Dee talked about her start as an actress in feature films and on Broadway. She described the experience of being an African-American lead actress working in series television— a rare sight in the 1950s and 60s. She described her early work in television, such as her regular role in the 1955 soap opera This Is Nora Drake. She talked about her continued work in television in the 1960s on the anthology series Actor’s Choice, Camera Three, and Play of the Week, as well as the drama series The Nurses, East Side/West Side, and The Defenders. She talked about her regular roles on the series The Guiding Light (as “Martha Frazier”) and Peyton Place (as “Alma Miles”). She talked about her numerous roles in television movies and miniseries in the 1970s including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Roots: The Next Generations. She spoke of her collaborations with her husband of many years Ossie Davis, including their radio show With Ossie and Ruby (1981-82).

Shirley Jones joins "Days of Our Lives" — Archive Interview is Now Online

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Iconic actress Shirley Jones has joined the cast of daytime soap Days of our Lives. She’s playing Colleen Brady (complete with Irish brogue), the “supposedly dead” great-aunt of Sami Brady. According to published reports, she’ll be on the the show throughout February.

Ms. Jones was interviewed by the Archive of American Television on December 7, 2005. Click here to access Ms. Jones’ 5-part interview.

Shirley Jones Interview Description:
Actress Shirley Jones speaks about her early career, her discovery by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and her television debut on Playhouse 90, which lead to her casting in her Academy Award-winning role in “Elmer Gantry”. She discusses working on the film “The Music Man” and other features. She talks in depth about her first series role as Shirley Partridge on The Partridge Family and discusses working with her stepson and co-star, David Cassidy. She then talks about the many made-for-television movies she has made including: The Children of An Lac, There Were Times Dear and Hidden Places. She also discusses her work on The Drew Carey Show, where she played Drew’s love-interest for three episodes.

In honor of her return to series television (this is her first soap role), we’re including the entire 25-minute pilot episode of The Partridge Family, which premiered in September of 1970. As far as pilots go, it’s one of the best!

Actress Ruby Dee’s Interview is Now Online

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Actress Ruby Dee’s Archive of American Television interview is now online.

Interview Description:

In her 4-part (each 30-minute segment is posted separately) oral history interview, actress Ruby Dee describes her start in feature filmsand on Broadway. She describes the experience of being an African-American lead actress working in series television — a rarity in the 1950s and 60s. She discusses her early work in television, such as her regular role in the 1955 soap opera This Is Nora Drake. She talks about her continued work in television in the 1960s on the anthology series Actor’s Choice, Camera Three, and Play of the Week, as well as the drama series The Nurses, East Side/West Side, and The Defenders. She talks about her regular roles on the series The Guiding Light (as “Martha Frazier”) and Peyton Place (as “Alma Miles”)and her numerous roles in television movies and miniseries in the 1970s including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Roots: The Next Generations. She speaks of her collaborations with her husband of many years (and Archive interviewee) Ossie Davis, including their radio show With Ossie and Ruby (1981-82). The interview was conducted May 15, 2000 by Harold Dow.

Click here to access all four parts.

In part 3 of her interview (above), Ms. Dee discusses her involvement in the Civil Rights movement. (Please excuse the opening image — Google Video hasn’t found a way to choose a first frame.)

David Pressman’s Archive of American Television Interview Is Now Online!

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Director David Pressman was one of the key directors on the early anthology series Actors Studio which was the first dramatic series awarded the Peabody Award.

Actors Studio featured many of the young “method” actors who would come to prominence in later years including Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, and Julie Harris. Pressman himself appeared as an actor in the series very first production— Tennessee Williams’ “Portrait of a Madonna” starring Jessica Tandy and directed by Hume Cronyn.

Click here to access David Pressman’s entire 7-part interview.

Actors Studio switched networks from ABC to CBS in November 1949.
Here is a photograph of David Pressman in the control booth at CBS.

Interview Description:
David Pressman began the interview by recounting his arrival in the U.S. from Russia in 1922 and his early interest in acting. He talked about acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse in the 1930s and his entrance into WWII in the early 40s (as well as describing the feeling of returning home from the war, seeing the Statue of Liberty from a porthole on his ship). He talked about the Actor’s Studio that was created in 1947, which he described as a “gym” for actors. He spoke in great detail about the “live” prestige ABC television drama series Actors Studio that started shortly after the Studio itself opened and which featured many of the emerging talent at the time. Pressman talked about appearing as an actor in the very first production of Actors Studio and then becoming one of the series primary directors. He talked about the process by which the productions were staged and directed for television. He listed the writers, performers, and other talent who worked on the show and the series’ struggle for sponsorship. Pressman talked about the excitement of working in “live” television and talked about other anthology series he directed. He detailed his struggle to work as a director in television despite the shadow of the Hollywood Blacklist, and how he ultimately switched careers to teaching until the end of the blacklist, when he returned to television, notably as an Emmy Award-winning director of the daytime serial One Life to Live. The interview was conducted by Karen Herman on July 27, 2004.

"Guiding Light" Celebrates Its 70th Anniversary!

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

“The Guiding Light” debuted on NBC radio on January 25, 1937 and ran as a fifteen-minute program through 1956 (switching to CBS in 1947). In 1952, the daytime serial made its way to CBS television, where it has become the longest running program in broadcast history. The series was created by Irna Philips, dubbed the “Queen of the Soap Opera” (who was also responsible for television’s As the World Turns and Another World). She was a great influence on later daytime producer/creators (and Archive of American Television interviewees) Agnes Nixon (One Life to Live, All My Children) and William J. Bell (The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful).

In 2006, the Archive of American Television interviewed Guiding Light’s current executive producer Ellen Wheeler and star Kim Zimmer (“Reva Shayne”). Their interviews can be viewed at TV Academy headquarters in North Hollywood, CA and will later be available online.

In celebration of their 7oth Anniversary, Guiding Light has launched a tribute website, click here for the link.

What are your favorite memories of watching Guiding Light?

Lee Grant’s Archive of American Television Interview is Now Online!

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

Actress/Director Lee Grant’s interview is now posted on Google Video.

Click here to access all interview segments.

Interview Description:
In her seven-part (each 30-minute segement is posted separately) oral history interview, actress/director Lee Grant discusses her long and distinguished career in stage, television, and film. She describes her breakthrough role in the stage and film versions of Detective Story. She talks about her early television work in the anthology series The Play’s The Thing and Danger. She discusses her role as a regular on the daytime serial Search For Tomorrow. Ms. Grant describes in detail the Hollywood blacklist period which affected her and her husband of the time Arnold Manoff. She talks about her Emmy-winning role on the prime time serial Peyton Place and her work on the sitcom Fay, which followed her Oscar® win for the film Shampoo. She discusses her television directorial debut, for the special The Shape of Things and her work in front of and behind the camera for television movies and documentaries in the 1980s and 1990s. The interview was conducted on May 10, 2000 by Henry Colman.

Don Hastings’ Archive of American Television Interview Is Now Online

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

This is part two of Don Hastings’s six part interview, where he talks about Captain Video and his Video Rangers. Click here to watch the entire interview.

Don Hastings has played “Dr. Bob Hughes” on As the World Turns since 1960.

Interview Description:

Hastings begins by talking about his early years in theater and radio. He then talks about his television debut on the Du Mont network. He describes in great detail his regular role as the “the Ranger” on the popular Du Mont children’s television series Captain Video and his Video Rangers. He discusses his work in soap operas starting with The Edge of Night, where he played “Jack Lane” from 1956-60. He then chronicles his experiences on the series for which he is most associated, As the World Turns, where he has played the role of “Dr. Bob Hughes” continually since 1960. For ATWT, Hastings talks about the creative team behind the series and working with his long-time co-stars (and their character’s relationships), as well as his current shooting schedule and how he goes about learning his lines. He also compares the eras that the show has seen and talks about some of his favorite storylines.

Frances Reid’s Archive of American Television Interview now on Google Video!

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006

Check out the latest addition to the Archive of American Television’s interviews:

Soap legend FRANCES REID!

Interview details:

Frances Reid was interviewed for one-and-a-half hours in Los Angeles, CA. She talked about her early career working in live television, and her first experiences working on daytime dramas, on programs such as Portia Faces Life and As the World Turns. She described in detail her longtime role as matriarch Alice Horton on the daytime drama Days of Our Lives from its inception to the present day. She discussed her many co-stars throughout the years on the show, notably Macdonald Carey, who portrayed patriarch Tom Horton. Reid explained the production process on a daytime drama, and touched on some of the memorable storylines featured on the show throughout the years. Finally, she briefly described her involvement in the actors union AFTRA, and noted how important it is for her to continue working. The interview was conducted on August 13, 2003 by Jennifer Howard.