The Edge of Night (also known as Edge of Night) is a long-running American television mystery series/soap opera produced by Procter & Gamble. It debuted on CBS on April 2, 1956, and ran on that network until November 28, 1975; the series then moved to ABC, where it aired from December 1, 1975, until December 28, 1984. There were 7,420 episodes, with some 1,800 available for syndication.
The Edge of Night (the working title of the show was The Edge of Darkness) premiered on April 2, 1956 as one of the first two half-hour soaps on television—the other being As the World Turns (fifteen-minute-long shows had been the standard to that point). Both shows were aired on CBS and sponsored by Procter and Gamble.
The show was originally conceived as the daytime version of Perry Mason, which was popular in novel and radio formats at the time. Mason's creator Erle Stanley Gardner was to create and write the show, but a last-minute tiff between him and the CBS network caused Gardner to pull his support from the idea. CBS insisted that Mason be given a love interest to placate daytime soap opera audiences, but Gardner flatly refused to take Mason in that direction. Gardner would eventually patch up his differences with CBS and Perry Mason would debut in prime time in 1957.
It was in 1956, however, that a writer from the Perry Mason radio show, Irving Vendig, created a retooled idea for daytime—and The Edge of Night was born. "John Larkin, radio's best identified Perry Mason, was cast as the protagonist-star, initially as a detective, eventually as an attorney, in a thinly veiled copy of (Perry Mason)."
Unlike Perry Mason, which took place in Southern California, the daytime series was set in the fictional Midwestern city of Monticello. This setting was presumably modeled after Cincinnati, home base of sponsor Procter and Gamble, whose skyline served as the show's logo until 1980. A frequent backdrop for the show's early scenes was a restaurant called the Ho-Hi-Ho. The state capital, however, was known generically as "Capital City."
In later years, the jazzier Los Angeles skyline replaced that of Cincinnati; according to the website "The Edge of Night Homepage," the city of Monticello had grown from an average-sized city to the size of a major metropolitan area. The skyline was eventually eliminated in the final two years of the show, as was the word "The" in the title.
During most of the show's run, the show's fans were treated to an announcer enthusiastically and energetically announcing the show's title, "Theee Eeeeeeeedge...of Night!". Bob Dixon was the first announcer in 1956, followed by Herbert Duncan. The two voices most synonymous with the show, however, were those of Harry Kramer (1957-'72) and Hal Simms who announced the show until the series ended in 1984.
The Edge of Night played on more artistic levels than probably any other soap of its time. It was unique among daytime soap operas in that it focused on crime, rather than domestic and romantic matters. The police, district attorneys and medical examiners of fictional Monticello, USA, dealt with a steady onslaught of gangsters, drug dealers, blackmailers, cultists, international spies, corrupt politicians, psychopaths and murderous debutantes while coping with more usual soap opera problems such as courtship, marriage, divorce, child custody battles and amnesia. The show's particular focus on crime was recognized in 1980, when, in honor of its 25 years on the air, The Edge of Night was given a Special Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. It also must be stated that Edge had stronger and more believable male characters than most soaps, and included genuine humor in its scripts to balance the heaviness of the storylines
Finally, while most soaps centered on extended families or large hospitals that tended to be insular in their scope, Edge was probably the only daytime serial to truly capture the dynamics of a medium-sized city. Indeed, the city of Monticello—for all of its longtime friendships, age-old family vendettas, and insidiously cut-throat DAs and bad cops in the proverbial pockets of white-collar mobsters—was as vital a "character" as any human being depicted on the show.