The Great Radio Soap Operas


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About the Book

This reference work contains exhaustive histories of 31 of network radio’s most durable soap operas on the air between 1930 and 1960. The soap operas covered are Aunt Jenny’s Real Life Stories, Backstage Wife, Big Sister, The Brighter Day, David Harum, Front Page Farrell, The Guiding Light, Hilltop House, Just Plain Bill, Life Can Be Beautiful, The Light of the World, Lora Lawton, Lorenzo Jones, Ma Perkins, One Man’s Family, Our Gal Sunday, Pepper Young’s Family, Perry Mason, Portia Faces Life, The Right to Happiness, Road of Life, The Romance of Helen Trent, Rosemary, The Second Mrs. Burton, Stella Dallas, This Is Nora Drake, Today’s Children, Wendy Warren and the News, When a Girl Marries, Young Doctor Malone, and Young Widder Brown.
Included for each series are the drama’s theme and story line, an in-depth focus on the major characters, and a listing of producers, directors, writers, announcers, casts, sponsors, ratings, and broadcast dates, times and networks. Profiles of 158 actors, actresses, creators and others who figured prominently in a serial’s success are also provided.

About the Author(s)

Jim Cox, a leading radio historian, is an award-winning author of numerous books on the subject. A retired college professor, he lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Bibliographic Details

Jim Cox
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 341
Bibliographic Info: 18 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008 [1999]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3865-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0414-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements     ix
Preface     1

1 Aunt Jenny’s Real Life Stories (The Ultimate Conclusion)     7
2 Backstage Wife (The Perfectly Named Serial Heroine)     15
3 Big Sister (John’s Other Wife)     29
4 The Brighter Day (Falling Leaves)     37
5 David Harum (Bab-O’s Own Program)     44
6 Front Page Farrell (The Unforgettable Radio Drama)     52
7 The Guiding Light (The Longest Narrative Ever Told)     60
8 Hilltop House (To the Women of America)     71
9 Just Plain Bill (A Giant of the Air)     77
10 Life Can Be Beautiful (A Beam of Hope in a Dark World)     85
11 The Light of the World (An Eternal Beacon     94
12 Lora Lawton (Where So Few Dreams Come True)     98
13 Lorenzo Jones (More Smiles Than Tears)     105
14 Ma Perkins (Mother of the Air)     111
15 One Man’s Family (Bewildering Offspring)     133
16 Our Gal Sunday (Can This Girl…Find Happiness?)     145
17 Pepper Young’s Family (The House That Camay Built)     157
18 Perry Mason (Murder and Mayhem in the Afternoon)     170
19 Portia Faces Life (Courage, Spirit, Integrity)     179
20 The Right to Happiness (Ivory Soap’s Own Story)     185
21 Road of Life (The Duz Program)     193
22 The Romance of Helen Trent (The Goddess of Goodness)     201
23 Rosemary (This Is You)     213
24 The Second Mrs. Burton (Second Wife)     221
25 Stella Dallas (Nothin’ but Trouble)     229
26 This is Nora Drake (A Modern Story)     241
27 Today’s Children (A Bridge Over Troubled Waters)     250
28 Wendy Warren and the News (Reports from the Women’s World)     258
29 When a Girl Marries (Follow Your Heart)     268
30 Young Doctor Malone (A Page from a New Chapter)     277
31 Young Widder Brown (The Age-Old Conflict)     286

Epilogue     299
Appendix A: Soap Opera Firsts, Lasts and Mosts     301
Appendix B: Adult Weekday Radio Serials by Year of Debut     303
Chapter Notes     307
Annotated Bibliography     311
Index     317

Book Reviews & Awards

“one of the better references on a radio genre…for all collections”—Choice; “clear writing and in-depth research”—ARBA; “an immensely readable reference work…exhaustive histories of 31 of network radio’s most durable soap operas aired”—The Centerville-Bellbrook Times; “provides exhaustive documentation”—Classic Images; “wonderful…informative…most excellent…highly recommended reading!”—Chattanooga Airwaves; “covers the realm of 31 different and diverse radio serials spanning a time period of well over 30 years…highly recommend”—The Illustrated Press; “Cox brings the ‘washboard weepers’ back to life in this detailed history”—North American Radio Archives; “entertaining…fascinating details…the perfect gift”—Radio Recall.