Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fun Finds: 1970s Soap Opera Mags

How appropriate, considering how off-the-hook my life has been lately, that my first post back is about the world of soap operas. Now, I know that not everyone is a soap fan. I do not watch any daytime serials and haven't done so regularly since the late-1990s, though I would occasionally tune in to As the World Turns, especially as it drew to a close.

Still, I enjoy reading about (and occasionally viewing on the classic shows and the stars of the past. In still another of my used book store foraging jaunts, I came upon three vintage magazines, all from the same basic time frame (1974 and 1975), and at a buck apiece, they called my name! I can't begin to scan and post all the contents, but I do want to share some of the highlights, which I hope you will find interesting or amusing. (You may have to open these in a new tab or window in order to read the print or view the pictures properly.)

First up is Daytime TV from May, 1975. Of interest in the news section is a blurb about the upcoming birth of Susan Lucci's baby, who would grow up to be Liza Huber, a soap opera actress in her own right (on Passions from 1999 – 2008.) Astonishingly, Lucci's career was in high gear before, during and after her daughter's, thanks to a forty-one year run as Erica Kane (1970-2011) on All My Children.

There's a blurb about two prospective soaps. One is “Mary Hartman,” which saw life as Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, but was broadcast at night due to its content. The other was an adaptation of the 1968 film Rosemary's Baby. This one, surely meant to cash in on Dark Shadows' success, never came to fruition.

There's a picture of Another World star George Reinholt chewing on some pizza (more on him later!) and another of singer/hoofer Bobby Van from the Broadway musical Doctor Jazz. If this show doesn't seem familiar to you, it may be because it ran for only five performances before being closed!

Interestingly, Joan Copeland left this show while it was still in previews. (This is a page from one of those rare Playbills.) Reportedly, though it boasted eye-popping sets and costumes, it was unendurably long (with 45 songs listed in one version of it!) and rather boring. Slashing the number of songs by more than half wasn't enough to salvage it.

At the top right of the page above is a shot from a wedding on Somerset between Gloria Hoye and Michael Lipton. It mentions the bachelorhood of Lipton in the caption. Has anyone ever seen the 1969 episode of I Dream of Jeannie called “The Mad Home Wrecker?” In it, Lipton plays an outrageously flamboyant designer who is hired to redo Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden's living room. The result is a flaming (literally!) fiasco that Eden has to rescue from total disaster. Though the highly stereotypical role probably did no one gay any favors, it was still a rather early example (for TV anyway) of a clearly homosexual character.

This page, “You Can See Them in the Movies,” notes the transition of former daytime serial actors to the big screen. Ellen Burstyn, noted here as a candidate for a Best Actress Oscar for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, did indeed go on to win the statuette that year. Her costar Diane Ladd lost to Ingrid Bergman for Murder on the Orient Express. The article also mentions Elizabeth MacRae and her hope of a nomination for The Conversation, but I guess voters weren't ready to grant Lou Ann Poovie, the girlfriend of Gomer Pyle: USMC such an honor!

1970s disaster freak that I am, it was interesting to see all the hubbub in all three issues regarding Susan Flannery's appearance in The Towering Inferno. Her Golden Globe award-winning role (as Best Newcomer, despite being a professional actress for over a decade prior!) should have led to greater movie success, but did not. She did, however, work successfully on television again, primarily as the matriarch on The Bold and the Beautiful from 1987 to the present, winning four Emmys in the process.

There's a sizeable article on Kathryn Hays, who played Kim Hughes on As the World Turns for many years (thirty-two, and would have continued had the show not been cancelled.) She began as an independent career woman on the show (based in part on the series' head writer Irna Phillips' own life), seducing her sister's husband and becoming pregnant, but evolved into a sturdy (some felt saintly) matriarch and cornerstone of the show.

The article notes her rustic series The Road West as being in 1960, but it was actually 1966! Just goes to show that you can't always believe everything you read. Star Trek fans will remember Hays as the wordless empath Gem on a memorable 1968 installment of that series. For three years (1966 – 1969), Hays was the wife of Glenn Ford.

When this magazine was published, The Young and the Restless (long the top-rated soap even now) was but two years old. Some folks might be surprised to know that longtime Days of Our Lives actress Deidre Hall spent two years (1973 – 1975) on Y&R or that young Tom Selleck spent a year or so there, too (1974-1975.) Both of these performers were so little-known at this stage in their careers that their names are misspelled in the caption! Completing the trifecta of ineptitude, the writer has also identified Lanna Saunders as “Laura.” Saunders also went on to Days of Our Lives as Marie Horton, but was forced to leave when she developed Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that took her life in 2007 at age sixty-five.

Although I tend to have a built-in reverence for those stalwart patriarchal and matriarchal actors from the glory days of soaps, somehow the veteran fixture Macdonald Carey of Days of Our Lives was never a big favorite of mine. Carey spend almost three decades playing the head of the Horton family and was the voice behind that iconic opening phrase, “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”

I include pictures from this spread in order to please any fans of the show who might like to see them.
Frankly, I'm a bit more fond of his younger brother (the one in the dress uniform in the middle) than I am of him!
This page, featuring photos from a party for the show Love of Life (which ended in 1980), features Ray Wise (who would later play Laura Palmer's disturbed father on Twin Peaks) and Ron Harper (who costarred on the prime-time TV version of Planet of the Apes from 1974-1975.)

This spread below expounds on the revelation that Another World would be expanding to a one-hour format.
Soaps began airing on TV as fifteen-minute broadcasts (can you imagine?) until As the World Turns debuted as a thirty-minute one (along with Edge of Night.) Another World would retain the sixty-minute format for the rest of its run, even going to ninety-minutes in 1979 during the peak of its popularity, but that ended the following year. As the World Turns went to sixty-minutes as well, later in 1975.

Huge stars at the time Jacqueline Courtney and George Reinholt (Steve and Alice Frame) appeared on The Mike Douglas Show together to discuss the change. Lantern-jawed Reinholt (who might have made a good Batman had the part not been so closely adhered to Adam West) sang a song called “Just Let Me Look at You” to her.

This page, from one of the columnists of the magazine, shows a picture of Bill and Susan Seaforth Hayes of Days of Our Lives. Seaforth joined the show in 1968 and Hayes came on board in 1970. They married in real life in 1974 and have come and gone many times over the years. They still appear on the show as recently as this year. Also shown are Brenda Dickson and Donnelly Rhodes from The Young and the Restless. Fallout from the affair of these characters (Jill and Phillip) is still a story component on the show today, a scant thirty-five years later!! Then there's doughy Tony Dow of Leave it to Beaver, who as a teen seemed to promise that he'd grow into a beautful man, but fell somewhat short.

The 1974 serial How to Survive a Marriage was touted to be a topical, somewhat revolutionary style of soap opera (its ninety-minute premiere was the first to have ostensibly nude lovers under the sheets.) The regular thirty-minute series, though, failed to take hold and it was off the air in sixteen months. Ken Kercheval (later to enjoy a long success on Dallas) and Armand Assante (later to star in several big screen films) were among the cast.

The second magazine in the set is Daily TV Serials, with the date of June 1975 on it. This one is an annual, marking the second year in the publication's history.

Benevolent god that I am, I even scanned the key to the sketch of all the featured players on the cover so that you can tell if you guessed their identities correctly!
The Chit Chat section shown here has a picture of Peter Brown (an actor whose been profiled here) stating that he would never marry again after three divorces (he was under forty at the time!) In fact, he went on to marry twice more, once from 1986 to 1999 and again from 2008 to the present. There's also an amusing blurb about everyone's favorite soap world wacko Brenda “Welcome to My Home” Dickson.

At this time, THE daytime hunk was George Reinholt, who played Steve Frame on Another World. He was embarking on a singing career as well and found his way onto an album that paid tribute to composer Jerome Kern, Ben Bagley's Jerome Kern Revisited. I include this advertisement more for the low-cut shirt and hairy chest than for what scintilla of knowledge I possess about the vocal pipes of Mr. R.

This actor-on-actor interview is interesting because the two gentlemen involved (both popular veteran soap actors) were homosexual in real life, but vaguely “in” each other through the course of the article, sidestepping their disinterest in marriage by talking about casual female dates and using the terms “people” and “person” when describing love.

Not only do they share a laugh over a caftan, as shown here:
But as the interview progresses... is revealed that they are headed off to a Mardi Gras vacation together! They back peddle a bit and claim that they don't intend to spend much time together while there, but I'm skeptical.
In this section, the editor picks his favorite memories of the year. One of them is Jeanne Cooper's acting as she discovered her on-screen husband's infidelity. Cooper is still on The Young and the Restless in a key way today and is about to commemorate forty years in the role of Kay Chancellor!

By the way, the editor (named Jon-Michael Reed) writes with a melodramatic and flowery lilt that makes my musings here seem as if they were penned by Paul Bunyan! As the piece continues, we get to see a shot of Susan Lucci's old face (upper right)...

...and nods to cutie Gary Swanson, Wesley Eure and “newcomer” Dixie Carter!
The final page has a breathless tribute to the actress Julianna McCarthy, who played Liz Foster on The Young and the Restless. An original cast member (and the mother of Jill Foster until it was retconned - oh, how I loathe that word - that Jill was adopted), she left the show in 1983, but made sporadic appearances up until as recently as 2010 when the character was killed off.

A wedding tribute section shows what daytime TV brides were wearing in the mid-'70s.
This segment was sort of neat. General Hospital's Emily McLaughlin (Nurse Jessie Brewer and the real-life widow of that hunk ), arranged a luncheon for a gaggle of fellow West Coast soap opera actresses. Only six were ultimately able to attend, including Karen Lynn Gorney, Suzanne Rogers, Jeanne Cooper, Rachel Ames, Patty Weaver and Trish Stewart.

Here's a color shot of all the ladies gathered together:

There's a section in which the stars have sent in little notes of thanks for the way this magazine has handled them. In this first one, we get a sideways glimpse of why Kay Chancellor (Jeanne Cooper) still mourns her long-dead husband Phillip (played by Donnelly Rhodes) as well as a shot of Elizabeth Hubbard, one of my own all-time favorite actresses in daytime.

Here's a happy shot of some doctors and nurses of General Hospital:
Fans of vintage Another World should enjoy this color picture of the actors involved in the legendary love triangle of Alice, Steve and Rachel.
This color page has another picture of the aforementioned Gary Swanson, then of Somerset, but a longtime student of Lee Strasberg and eventually a significant member of The Actor's Studio. Swanson is still an actor in TV and movie projects. One Life to Live fans might like this shot of award-magnet Erika Slezak and her then TV-husband Lee Patterson.

Again, I point to the nearly unrecognizable face of Susan Lucci on this next page! I recall thinking that Nick Benedict (who played Phil, one of Lucci's many husbands) was sort of hunky as a young viewer. Of course, Knots Landing fans will also spot that show's James Houghton in the group wedding shot at the top of the page.

Check this page for an unrecognizable Dixie Carter! Also, buried amongst the rest of the cast at the bottom right, is a young Christopher Reeve in his pre-Superman days.
Striking a martial arts pose (and apparently the talons don't affect anything?) is then-Search for Tomorrow star Morgan Fairchild!
This final color page has a sad footnote in that the actor shown at the very bottom, George Welbes, died in real life at age forty from a cerebral hemorrhage. Welbes had been working on the soap How to Survive a Marriage, but is likely best known for his bare-all participation in the famous Broadway show “Oh! Calcutta!”

Look at this ad on the back cover for a magazine called TV Showpeople. Do you recognize all the stars represented in the collage?
The last of the three magazines is called Weekday TV and this one is dated August 1975.
The opening section has a picture of Y&R's Brenda Dickson practically bursting out of her rolled-neck knit top! Then, the big news of the day... Another World's George Reinholt is fired! This behind-the-scenes scenario rivaled the storylines of the soaps themselves and ultimately wound up as a healthy chunk of soap writer Harding Lemay's memoir Eight Years in Another World, published in 1981. Again, still more on this later.

This article on Y&R producer John Conboy shows an early photo of Miss Donna Mills. And check the '70s halter get-up on Jamie Lynn Bauer! Lastly, though we all know how much I love a pair of snug trousers on a man, conversely I am less excited by the same on a female. Miss Jeanne Cooper's slacks may very well have been the ones to coin the term “camel toe!”

Back with the aforementioned Val Dufour again, it seems impossible to believe that this man set the hearts of many female fans aflutter. (But he did. He often was found near the top of fan polls.) Shopping for blue-bells and hamming it up in the kitchen or shopping with his dog in his arms, he makes a curious “lady killer.”

Here's some more of James Houghton as I know he still has fans out there.
Then a bachelor, he eventually married and had two children.
After working as an actor on Knots Landing and The Colbys, he eventually returned to his roots and became a daytime soap writer himself and worked for years on Y&R and The Bold and the Beautiful!
This is part of a big article on Susan Flannery. It's interesting that the coiffed and painted-up publicity shot that she reportedly detested is my favorite photo of her in the spread!
The never-married Flannery was often escorted to events by costars or closeted gay actors. This sort of social shell game was as old as Hollywood itself or older and still goes on, sometimes on a grand, high-stakes level, even today.
Wildly popular in her role of Laura Horton on Days of Our Lives, she had trouble successfully translating that fame into prime-time TV and movies, but upon returning to daytime with The Bold and the Beautiful, she established herself as a powerhouse presence in that realm again.
Today (see below), Flannery is a rather burly, intimidating, shorn-haired lady; quite a contrast to the delicately feminine persona she put forth at this time. She does some deft sidestepping in this article (the only option open to her then, really!) though I can at least applaud her for not salivating over her “hot” male costars the way some men attempted (and still attempt) to do with regards to describing the ladies they worked with.
Mary Frann was appearing on Days of Our Lives at this time and would stay there until 1979. In 1982, she landed her most prominent role as the wife of Bob Newhart in his sitcom Newhart.
She discusses her dietary habits here and it was speculated that some of the strenuous dieting that she endured over the course of her life and career may have been a contributing factor in her premature death of a heart attack at only age fifty-five in 1998. It's unclear when her marriage to the man shown with her here ended.
I mentioned earlier in this post how I had a bit of a crush on Nick Benedict (Phil of All My Children.) Looking at this article, I begin to realize why...
Are you ready for these jeans?! Play ball indeed!

You have to love the '70s...
Now we take a peek at how some of the stars stay in shape. I can't say I approve of what yummy Charles Frank is wearing for his bike ride. He belongs in some spandex shorts and maybe some gloves (and nothing else!)
Susan, Susan, Susan.... I just don't know what to say about this hilarious pose and that ghastly swimsuit. By the way, Beau Kayzer, shown lifting weights, played Jeanne Cooper's son on Y&R and in her recent autobiography, she recalls their having a relationship together at one point. Score one for Jeanne!
Brenda Dickson is described hilariously that she “will never be model skinny” but swims and plays tennis to stay in shape. Not in that top! Then there's Susan Seaforth Hayes showing off her belly-dancing costume. And, lastly, the omnipresent George Reinholt and his hairy forearms using a resistance exerciser.
This last article reflects on his shocking firing from Another World (and features an awkward, but somehow still eye-catching picture of him in his low-cut, clingy sportswear.) At this point, we're going to finish up with the magazines and look at George a tad further.

Born in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 22nd, 1939, Reinholt was on Broadway before he turned thirty in the smash hit Cabaret, understudying Bert Convy as Cliff and later playing the role of Ernst. While still working in Cabaret, he appeared on the daytime serial The Secret Storm and then took the part of Steve Frame on Another World in 1968.

From the time his character was introduced to blonde, demure Alice Matthews (played by Jacqueline Courtney) during a wedding reception, the duo captivated viewers with their tormented love story, aided tremendously by the venomous villainy of Rachel Davis (played at the time by Robin Strasser.) Steve and Alice were wed in 1971, but the happiness was short-lived.
Steve had impregnated Rachel in a weak moment and after his and Alice's divorce in 1973, he and Rachel (now played by Victoria Wyndham) married to give the son a “stable” home. A mistake from the beginning, they proceeded to divorce and in 1974 Steve and Alice remarried once again.
They broke apart yet again, but were on the verge of finding true happiness when Reinholt was abruptly fired and his character Steve was killed in a helicopter crash. The show's producer Paul Rauch and the series' head writer Harding Lemay had been at loggerheads with Reinholt for quite a while over his attitude and behavior on the set. He was publically dismissive of the show's writing and was increasingly difficult to deal with during filming. He also perpetuated his bad boy image by posing semi-nude in a magazine, which sent Proctor & Gamble into a tizzy and violated his “morals clause.” (Someone PLEASE find this entire picture for me!)

Reinholt himself would later admit that his ego got the best of him during this time. Though he'd rid himself of his South Philly accent, he was still a combative personality with some strong opinions. Lemay also disliked the work of Courtney, pointing out her failure to memorize dialogue, which led to frequent bouts of looking down to read words tacked to her cuff or some other place. (This and most other shows were done live for many years before later turning to video tape.) Both she and Reinholt had strong objections to proposed new directions for their characters. Before long, she was also fired from the serial.

After he was let go from AW, Reinholt snagged a spot on One Life to Live and even secured a role for Courtney, who followed him to the show. They were playing different roles (Tony Lord and Pat Kendall), but found themselves in similar romantic entanglements and torment. Courtney stayed on OLTL until 1983 when she was dismissed (coincidentally right before Paul Rauch was to take over the helm of that soap!) Ms. Courtney died prematurely in 2010 of melanoma at only age sixty-four. For his part, Reinholt didn't last as long as she did on OLTL. He was fired from the show in 1977.

Though he had landed a supporting role in the highly obscure Dick Shawn comedy Looking Up (1977), his career was in crisis. Something of a rescue came when he was hired for the Broadway musical The Grand Tour, starring his old Cabaret costar Joel Grey, but the Jerry Herman opus (set in Paris right before German occupation) only ran for 61 performances.

Almost nothing was heard from Reinholt after this as he faced some tremendous personal problems. His mother fell ill and died, followed not long after by his father. The home he'd purchased for them with his once-great earnings was taken from him. He slid into a depression and battled an alcohol dependence. By the late-'80s, he was living a quiet, obscure life in a one-room apartment (a converted garage, actually) and unable to secure any acting jobs.

On the 25th anniversary broadcast of Another World in 1989, Reinholt made an appearance before Rachel as the ghost of Steve Frame (the role had been reactivated for a time by David Canary, but then killed off again for good.) He then won a part on the horror anthology series Monsters, working opposite Karen Valentine in an installment called, “The Young and the Headless,” a vague nod to his soap roots. There was also a reunion of sorts with Courtney in 1994 for the TV special 50 Years of Soaps: An All-Star Celebration.
By 1997, pushing sixty and still without significant income, he advertised himself in a local paper (back in Pennsylvania where he had returned) as an available escort for ladies who needed a date to parties, events and so on, but the media picked up on it and implied that he was attempting to be a gigolo. He appeared on The Sally Jesse Raphael Show to combat these rumors. In truth, there was little chance of him having pimped himself out to rich ladies for he had been a homosexual all his life, something that was hidden from all those adoring female fans who put him at the top of his profession.

Show business is chock full of so many rags to riches to rags stories and this is another sad one. In 1975, George Reinholt was a household name, worshipped by fans nationwide. Within a couple of years he was virtually invisible! Now seventy-three, we really don't know how he's doing, how he's made ends meet or what he's been up to. Still, the legacy of his corner in the Rachel-Steve-Alice triangle remains an indelible part of television history.
The days of the soap opera presented in these magazines is done and gone forever. The genre itself is on its last legs, with only a handful of programs left (though a couple of them do still retain a strong, loyal following.) The world of those early glory days (before rampant psychos, evil twins, back from the dead storylines, demonic possession and so on!) can be a fascinating one in spite of the quaintness.  I hope you liked the stories and pictures found in these magazines.