The Edge of Night
|The Edge of Night|
|Also known as||Edge of Night|
|Created by||Irving Vendig|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||7,420|
|Executive producer(s)||Erwin Nicholson|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original channel||CBS (1956–1975)
|Picture format||Black-and-white (1956–1967)
|Original run||April 2, 1956– December 28, 1984|
The Edge of Night (also known as Edge of Night or sometimes Edge or EON) is an American television mystery series/soap opera produced by Procter & Gamble. It debuted on CBS on April 2, 1956, and ran as a live broadcast 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. Prior to the debuts, fifteen-minute-long shows had been the standard. Both shows aired on CBS, sponsored by Procter and Gamble.
Mystery and Mason
The show was originally conceived as the daytime television 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 that a writer from the Perry Mason radio show, Irving Vendig, created a retooled idea for daytime television—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, whose adventures 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"; the state in which Monticello was located had never been identified.
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.
While most soaps centered on extended families or large hospitals that tended to be insular in their scope, The Edge of Night 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.
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 Edge...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 (1957–1972) 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 at the same time coping with more usual soap opera problems like 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 should be stated that The Edge of Night had more prominent male characters than most soaps, and included genuine humor in its scripts to balance the heaviness of the storylines.
Cast and characters
The show's central protagonist was Mike Karr, tireless crime-fighter, introduced as a cop finishing law school. This character evolved from the earlier Perry Mason character on radio. He then progressed to the District Attorney's office as an ADA, hung his own shingle as a defence attorney for several years, then became DA of Monticello. Karr was portrayed by three actors: John Larkin (radio's Perry Mason), Laurence Hugo, and Forrest Compton. Later main characters included socialite Geraldine Whitney Saxon (Lois Kibbee); Mike's wife, newspaper journalist Nancy Karr (played the longest by Ann Flood), who Mike married on April 22, 1963; Adam Drake (played by Donald May and his wife Nicole Travis Stewart Drake Cavanaugh (played by Maeve McGuire, Jayne Bentzen, and Lisa Sloan; and Nicole's third husband Dr. Miles Cavanaugh (played by Joel Crothers.
|John Larkin||Mike Karr||1956–1962|
|Laurence Hugo*||Mike Karr||1962–1970|
|Forrest Compton||Mike Karr||1971–1984|
|Ann Flood||Nancy Pollock Karr, Journalist/author||1962–1984|
|Teal Ames||Sara Lane Karr, Mike's first wife||1956–1961|
|Lois Kibbee*||Geraldine Weldon Whitney Saxon, Monticello's richest citizen||1970–1971, 1973–1984|
|Frances Fisher||Deborah 'Red' Saxon, Detective||1976–1981|
|Charles Flohe||John 'Preacher' Emerson||1982–1984|
|Larkin Malloy||Jefferson Brown||1980–1981|
|Larkin Malloy||Schuyler Whitney||1981–1984|
|Sharon Gabet||Raven Alexander Whitney||1977–1984|
|Dennis Parker*||Derek Mallory, Chief of police||1979–1984|
|David Froman*||Gunther/Bruno The Whitney's servant||1980–1981, 1982–1984|
|Joel Crothers*||Miles Cavanaugh, Dr.||1976–1984|
|Terry Davis||April Cavanaugh Scott, Dr.||1977–1981|
|Joe Lambie||Logan Swift, ADA||1977–1981|
|Tom Keena||Philip Seward||1979–1980|
|Jaques Roux||Dr. Calmette||1976|
|Dixie Carter*||Olivia Brandeis "Brandy" Henderson, Assistant District Attorney||1974–1976|
|Mildred Clinton*||Judge Sussman||1975–1976|
|Dorothy Lyman||Elly Jo Jameson||1972–1973|
|Tony Craig||Draper Scott, ADA||1975–1981|
|Donald May||Adam Drake Mike Karr's law partner||1967–1977|
|Jane Bentzen||Nicole Travis Stewart Drake Cavanaugh #2||1978–1981|
|Maeve McGuire||Nicole Travis Stewart Drake #1||1968–1974, 1975–1977|
|Ward Costello*||Jake Berman||1972–1973|
|Nicholos Pryor||Joel Gantry #2||1973|
|Larry Hagman*||Ed Gibson, detective||1961–1963|
|Irving Allen Lee*||Calvin Stoner, Detective||1977–1984|
|Mariann Aalda||Didi Bannister Stoner, attorney||1981–1984|
|Jerry Zaks||Louis Van Dine||1983–1984|
|Amanda Blake*||Julianna Stanhower, Dr.||1984|
|Frank Gorshin*||Smiley Wilson||1983|
|Lori Loughlin||Jody Travis #1||1980–1983|
|Leah Ayres||Valerie Bryson||1981–1983|
|Alfred Drake*||Dwight Endicott||1982|
|Kim Hunter*||Nola Madison (aka Martha Cory)||1979–1980|
|Margaret Colin||Paige Madison||1979|
|Denny Albee||Steve Guthrie, Det.||1976–1980|
|Farley Granger*||Trent Archer||1979–1980 2 ep.|
|Lee Godart||Eliot Dorn||1978–1980|
|Lew Resseguie||Sam Dwyer, Sgt||1980|
|Ann Williams*||Margo Huntington Dorn, television station manager||1978–1980|
|Lori Cardille||Winter Austin #1||1978–1979|
|Stephanie Braxton||Winter Austin #2||1979|
|Bruce Gray||Owen Madison||1979|
|Teri Keane||Martha Spears Marceau, police secretary||1964–1975|
|Mandel Kramer*||Bill Marceau, First Monticello police chief||1959–1979|
|Ted Tinling||Vic Lamont||1969–1975|
|Elizabeth Farley||Kay Lepage Reynolds Lamont||1973–1975|
|Paul Vincent*||Ashley Reynolds||1972–1973|
|Alan Feinstein||Dr. Jim Fields||1969–1975|
|George Petrie*||D.A. Peter Quinn||1963–1974|
|Bernard Barrow*||D.A. Ira Paulson||1974–1975|
|Judson Laire*||Judge Blackwell||1973|
|James Ray||Floyd Porter||1974|
|Mari Gorman||Taffy Simms||1974|
|Alberta Grant||Liz Hillyer Prentiss Fields||1966–1974|
|Patricia Cornwell||Tracy Dallas Micelli||1974–1977|
|Lou Criscuolo||Danny Micelli||1973–1977|
|Leslie Ray||Babs Werner Micelli||1974|
|Jay Gregory||Morlock Sevigny||1974–1975|
|John LaGiola||Johnny Dallas||1973-1977|
|Kathleen Cody||Laurie Ann Karr #3||(1966–1968)|
|Emily Prager||Laurie Ann Karr Lamont #4||(1968–1972)|
|Jeanne Ruskin||Laurie Ann Karr Lamont Dallas #5||1973-1975|
|Linda Cook*||Laurie Ann Karr Dallas #6||(1975–1977, 1984)|
|Lucy Martin||Tiffany Whitney Douglas||1970–1971, 1973–1976|
|Bruce Martin||Keith Whitney / Jonah Lockwood||1970-71|
|Johanna Leister||Phoebe Smith Jamison, Dr.||1972–1976|
|Heidi Vaughn||Phoebe Smith||1965–1967|
|John Driver||Kevin Jamison #2||1975–1978|
|Dick Shoberg||Kevin Jamison||1972–1975|
|Doug McKeon||Timmy Faraday||1975–1976|
|Bernie McInerney||Mark Faraday||1975|
|Niles McMaster||Clay Jordan, Dr.||1975–1977|
|Thom Christopher||Noel Douglas #1||1974|
|Dick Latessa||Noel Douglas #2||1974–1976|
|Michael Stroka*||Quentin Henderson, Dr.||1975–1976|
|Louise Shaffer||Serena Faraday/Josie||1975–1976|
|Sam Schacht||Paul Fairchild||1974–1975|
|Bennett Cooperman||Benny Hayes||1979|
|Denny Albee||Steve Guthrie, Det.||1976–1980|
|George Hall*||John/Ernie Tuttle #2||1976–1977|
|Robert Dryden||Oliver Barbour||1966|
|Kate Wilkinson*||Mrs. Perkins||1966|
|Stephen Elliott||Peter Dalton||....-1966|
|Edward Holmes||Willy Bryan||....-1966|
|Frances Chaney*||Jeanne Culpepper||50s-60s, 1967|
|Cathleen Cordell||Virginia Dalton||50s|
|Richard Janaver||Lloyd Conway||50s|
|Barbara Joyce||Jane Conway||50s|
|Phil Sterling*||Johnny The Hitman||1968|
|Phil Sterling||Vic Ratner||50s|
|House Jameson*||John H. Phillips||1957-1958|
|Jane White*||Lydia Holliday, RN||1968–1969|
|Lester Rawlins*||Orin Hillyer, wealthy Monticello citizen||1966–1968, 1972–1973|
|Irene Dailey*||Pamela Stewart||1969–1970|
|Alice Hirson||Stephanie Martin||1969–1970|
|Anne Revere*||Dorothy Stewart #1||1969–1970|
|John Cullum||David 'Giddy' Gideon||1966–1967|
|Scott Glenn||Calvin Brenner||1969|
|James Mitchell*||Lloyd Griffin||1964|
|Barbara Berjer*||Irene Eagon Wheeler||1964–1965|
|Richard Thomas||Ben Schultz Jr.||1961|
|Ernest Graves*||Walter Palmerlee #2, ADA||1958|
|William Post Jr.*||Walter Lepage||1974–1975|
|William Post Jr.*||Mr. Hull||1964|
|Bill Macy||Cab driver||1966|
|Mary K. Wells*||Louise Grimsley Capice #2||1961–1970|
|Ray McDonnell||Phillip Capice||1961–1969|
|Walter Greaza*||Winston Grimsley||1960s|
|Barry Newman||John Barnes||1964–1965|
|Fred J. Schollay*||Lobo Haynes, gangster||1972|
|Hugh Reilly*||Dr. Simon Jessup||1972–1973|
|Nancy Pinkerton*||Beth Moon Anderson Barnes||1963–1967|
|Fran Sharon||Elaine "Cookie" Pollock Thomas Chistopher||1962–1964, 1964–1972|
|June Carter||Elaine "Cookie" Pollock Thomas Chistopher||1964|
|John Gibson*||Joe Pollock #1||1962–1971|
|Kay Campbell*||Rose Pollock #3||1964–1969|
|Anthony Roberts||Lee Pollock #3||1964–1967|
|Keith Charles*||Rick Oliver||1966|
|Val Dufour*||Andre Lazar||1965–1966|
|Alan Manson*||Ken Emerson||1964–1968|
|Anthony Ponzini*||Tony Wyatt||1965–1966|
|Millette Alexander||Gail Armstrong||1958–1959|
|Millette Alexander||Laura Hillyer||1966-1967|
|Millette Alexander||Julie Jamison Hillyer||1967-1968|
|Holland Taylor||Denise Norwood||1977–1978|
|Sonia Petrovna||Martine Duval Crown||1980–1981|
|Marcia Cross||Liz Correll||1984|
|Julianne Moore||Carmen Engler||1984 (1 ep.)]|
For the show's duration, the stories either revolved around or touched upon Monticello lawyer (and former Monticello police officer) Mike Karr. As the show began, Mike Karr's relationship with Sara Lane (Teal Ames) reproduced the radio serial's Perry Mason/Della Street relationship. Adding a complication for Mike Karr, Sara's family was involved in organized crime. In the early years of the show, Sara's younger brother (Don Hastings) was drawn into the criminal world by corrupt uncle Harry Lane (Lauren Gilbert). Nevertheless, Mike and Sara eventually married. Their happiness was short-lived when Sara was written out of the show, killed as she saved the life of their daughter Laurie Ann, who ran into the street into the path of an automobile. By the 1960s, Laurie Ann was a teenager, supplying many plots for the show, and a young wife and mother by the 1970s.
Mike later married Nancy Pollock (Ann Flood), a journalist who helped in many of cases. Other important characters were Police Chief Bill Marceau (Mandel Kramer), who was one of Karr's best friends and shared a tremendous mutual respect, rare between a defense attorney and a chief of police (perhaps due to the fact that Mike had once been a police officer himself), Marceau's secretary (and later on wife) Martha (Teri Keane), fellow lawyer Adam Drake (Donald May), his client (and later on, his wife) television personality Nicole Travis (Maeve McGuire; Jayne Bentzen; Lisa Sloan), and wealthy socialite Geraldine Whitney (Lois Kibbee), whose fall down a flight of stairs (which put her into a coma for several months) provided one of the show's more memorable mysteries. Nancy had two siblings: Lee, who eventually married Geri McGrath, and Elaine nicknamed "Cookie."
Nicole Travis Drake has had a most interesting and bizarre history. An early storyline had her victimized by two different women who wanted her dead. She was then accused of murdering Susan Forbes (Bibi Besch). Adam Drake defended her and proved her innocence. He then broke away from Mike Karr's law firm as partner and opened his own law practice. He hired Nicole as his secretary and a romance began to blossom. When Nicole sensed his lack of interest in marriage she walked out and went to work for another lawyer Jake Berman (Ward Costello). She continued to date Adam until she told him if he didn't propose to her by New Year's Eve they were finished. She soon got another marriage proposal from her new boss Jake Berman, whose wife had died of an overdose. She didn't accept but moved to New York City with him when he was going to partner at an existing law firm. Adam then searched for Nicole in New York until he found her at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve and asked her "Will you marry me?" She ran into his arms, much to Jake Berman's jealousy. When Adam and Nicole returned to Monticello, so did Jake Berman determined to prevent them from every marrying. He plotted with ex-convict Johnny Dallas (John LaGioia) to frame Adam for attempted murder to prevent him from marrying Nicole. Johnny didn't show up but Jake was murdered by Joel Gantry (Nicholos Pryor) and Adam was arrested for the murder immediately following his and Nicole's wedding at the Karr residence. The day before the jury would find Adam guilty Joel Gantry was found by Kevin Jamison (Dick Shoberg) in San Francisco, who was really Edith Berman's son and convinced Jake had murdered his mother. Adam and Nicole were reunited and finally settled into married life. Sometime later, she was believed to have died in a boating accident in the Caribbean but was discovered alive 18 months later by Kevin Jamison (by this time played by John Driver) in Europe at the same time Adam proposed to Brandy Henderson (Dixie Carter). Adam and Nicole were eventually reunited once again and Brandy left town. But their marriage ended after Adam was murdered. In one of the foremost startling moments in this serial's history, the character of Nicole was replaced with a new actress and was subsequently de-aged a decade, a rarity for an adult character in the genre. Now younger and more vibrant, Nicole was suitable for a relationship with young doctor Miles Cavanaugh. Nicole was eventually killed off when her makeup powder was poisoned.
Another important relationship was that between Nancy and her younger sister Cookie, who was married first to Malcom Thomas and later to Ron Christopher, whose dealings with loan sharks affected Mike's good friends Louise and Philip Capice. In the show's later years, the Karrs' beautiful daughter Laurie Ann (Emily Prager), by now a young adult, was an important character. Her relationship with Jonah Lockwood, a sociopath, almost cost her her life, but he was revealed to be an alternate persona of Keith Whitney, scion of the wealthy Whitney family, nemesis of the Karrs and Marceau. Laurie subsequently married Mike Karr's law associate Vic Lamont (Ted Tinling) after he went to prison doing undercover work and his life was saved by inmate Johnny Dallas. Johnny was released from prison and became the owner of a restaurant The New Moon Cafe. Laurie (now played by Jeanne Ruskin) played the piano at the restaurant leading to her and Johnny falling in love. When Vic found out Laurie and Johnny were together in Chicago when he didn't show up to shoot and wound Jake Berman he walked out. Laurie and Johnny eventually married and Vic was murdered saving Johnny's life. Laurie (now played by Linda Cook) and Johnny had a baby they named John Victor. However, Laurie developed mental problems that led her to being placed in a mental institution and Johnny ran away.
One of the later major story arcs was about a train wreck and a prisoner, Draper Scott (Tony Craig), who had been unjustly convicted of murder, escaping from the train accident, much in the style of Richard Kimble of The Fugitive. Although in Draper's case, he also had amnesia, for quite a few months. There was also an interesting storyline in the mid-1970s involving a troubled woman (Nicole's cousin, Serena Faraday) who would change her personality to Josie as she donned a frizzy, black wig in perhaps a nod to One Life to Live's popular Victoria Lord/Niki Smith storyline. Another memorable character was Charlotte "Raven" Alexander Jamison Swift Whitney (Juanin Clay, then Sharon Gabet), a duplicitous coquette who became more stable and faithful in the latter years.
Whitney family matriarch, tough-as-nails Geraldine Whitney (Lois Kibbee) seemed to suffer the misfortune of losing most of those close to her to untimely deaths: her first husband, two sons, a beloved daughter-in-law, a nephew, and she herself was nearly killed, having been pushed down a flight of stairs in 1975 by her ne'er-do-well son-in-law. She became close to former daughter-in-law Raven Alexander, and Raven's ex-husband Logan Swift during later years (and became de-facto grandmother to Raven and Logan's son). However, when Logan was killed in 1984, Geraldine could hardly bear the grief to learn that, through a series of events, it had been she who accidentally shot him.
Near the end of the series' run came an unusual story wherein Mike and Nancy, after sleeping in twin beds for nearly their whole married life, decided to "go all out, and buy a double bed", thereby retiring their twin beds for good. It was one of the more unusual moments of the show.
Over the Edge
Uniquely among daytime dramas at the time, The Edge of Night finished its run with an ominous (and intentional) cliffhanger, revealing that an old enemy—Louis Van Dine, who had supposedly been sent to the state penitentiary—had returned to settle some scores, and none of the main protagonists were safe. In addition, police detective Chris Egan (Jennifer Taylor), spying a supposedly-deceased henchman of Van Dine, Donald Hext, follows Hext into a previously unknown Monticello street called "Wonderland Lane," and discovers Van Dine's sister, Alicia Van Dine (Chris Weatherhead), in a shop, where Alicia is viciously stabbed in the back by her brother, her dying words to Chris Egan, "...Off, off with her head...." Egan barely escapes from the shop after Van Dine and Hext attempt to capture her and runs out of Wonderland Lane, briefly falling by the post next to the street sign, a stuffed white rabbit propped against it.
The final scene of the series is of Chris Egan telling Mike Karr and others of her encounter with Louis Van Dine and Donald Hext, in addition to Alicia Van Dine's stabbing. The show's theme plays over the dialogue, masking Karr's words, but the audience is left to know that the story of Monticello continues onward, albeit off the air. The reason for the cliffhanger was that Procter & Gamble believed that they could find another network to take over production of The Edge of Night, or possibly continue the show in first-run syndication, but in 1984, there were no cable networks willing to take on such an expensive endeavor.
In 2010, actress Mariann Aalda, along with soap opera ghostwriter Alina Adams, attempted to continue the story (via blogging) of The Edge of Night by telling the story of Monticello 25 years later, with the explanation that The Edge of Night was actually television's very first reality television series. The blog entries ended abruptly in early 2011, with no explanation by either Aalda or Adams as to the status of the blog series.
Unlike most soap operas, which build a solid audience slowly over many years, The Edge of Night was an instant hit with daytime viewers; it amassed an audience of nine million in its first year, in some respects because the public did perceive it as a daytime Perry Mason, as the producers had intended. Through the 1960s, the show continued to flourish, consistently ranking as one of the top six rated soap operas, alongside the rest of CBS' daytime lineup. It peaked at #2 (behind As the World Turns) in the 1966–67 television season and came in at #2 between 1969 and 1971.
The Edge of Night's audience was once estimated to be more than 50% male, largely due to the show's crime format and its late start time of 4:30 PM (3:30 Central). In July 1963, the show was moved to the 3:30/2:30 time period (the 4:30/3:30 slot was given back to the affiliates), in which it dominated even over otherwise-hit programs like NBC's You Don't Say and ABC's Dark Shadows and One Life to Live. When the show moved to 2:30 PM (1:30 Central) on September 11, 1972 at Procter and Gamble's insistence, the show slid from a solid #2 in the Nielsen ratings to near-last; it has been hypothesized that the show's ratings dropped because many male viewers and teenagers were unable to make it home from work or school earlier in the afternoon to watch. (This would also not be the only time that Procter & Gamble's insistence on a certain timeslot for one of their soaps would cause a catastrophic drop in ratings, with the same problem plaguing the long-running Search for Tomorrow a decade later.)
By Summer 1975, CBS prepared to make its first-ever expansion of a serial to 60 minutes daily, in response to NBC's lengthening of both Another World and Days of our Lives some months earlier. Daytime executives chose the ratings-leading As the World Turns, which faced Days of our Lives directly at 1:30/12:30. Since CBS' affiliates usually aired newscasts in the 1:00/12:00 access slot, and also would preempt The Edge of Night if it returned to 4:30/3:30, CBS had no vacant timeslot into which to expand The Edge of Night, and had no choice but to cancel it.
The audience for The Edge of Night had eroded so much that it became CBS' lowest-rated afternoon program, with NBC's The Doctors easily defeating it in the Nielsens for some time. Because of this, CBS informed Procter & Gamble that it would have to let The Edge of Night go. Meanwhile, ABC successfully brought other networks' daytime cancellations into its schedule, namely Let's Make a Deal and The $10,000 Pyramid; it also was the only network at the time to have never had a Procter & Gamble program on its schedule. Thus, ABC was enthusiastic about bringing The Edge of Night onto its daytime lineup when Procter & Gamble approached it about doing so. However, officials informed the company that contractual obligations to other programs would not permit the network to admit The Edge of Night onto the lineup until December 1975.
This raised a serious problem because CBS wanted to expand As the World Turns when the fall season began in September, meaning that The Edge of Night would have had to leave the air for nearly three months. Had this happened, ABC would have probably rescinded its decision to acquire The Edge of Night due to near-certain loss of viewer interest caused by the interruption. In the end, Procter & Gamble negotiated with CBS to delay the expansion of As the World Turns until ABC had an available slot for The Edge of Night. On December 1, The Edge of Night moved to ABC, and on CBS, As the World Turns began occupying the 1:30-2:30 block with Guiding Light moving down one half-hour to The Edge of Night's old place.
The last CBS episode of The Edge of Night on November 28, 1975 ended with the discovery that Nicole Travis Drake was alive, after she had been presumed dead in an explosion eighteen months earlier while on a boating trip with her husband Adam Drake. ABC aired the show beginning on December 1, with a 90-minute premiere. This episode picked up where CBS had left off, with Geraldine Whitney still in a coma, after having been pushed down a flight of stairs in a murder attempt by her daughter-in-law Tiffany's second husband, Noel Douglas. Nicole, with the help of Geraldine's adopted "son", Kevin Jamison, remembered who she was after suffering from amnesia since the explosion. The final scene of that day's episode was an exciting climax in which Serena Faraday, in her "Josie" split-personality, shot her husband on the steps of the courthouse.
Initially, The Edge of Night showed promise when it changed networks. It was the first serial to change networks (the only other to do so would be the Procter & Gamble-packaged Search for Tomorrow which would move from CBS to NBC in 1982); it aired in a late afternoon time slot of 4/3 p.m. for ABC affiliates in the Eastern and Central time zones, and Noon for ABC affiliates in the Pacific time zone due to a different scheduling pattern for ABC's West Coast feed. At first, the show's overall ratings declined because fewer homes had access to it; many ABC affiliates had opted for local or syndicated programs at the 4/3 slot instead of the network feed for many years, and decided not to abandon the practice. As a result, in some markets, Edge would disappear altogether upon switching from CBS to ABC. In other markets, stations (either a local ABC affiliate or an independent station which picked the show up) tape-delayed the program for morning slots, airing on a delay ranging from one day to two weeks behind. Nevertheless, The Edge of Night was typically either first (or a close second) in its time slot in markets where the local ABC station cleared it at 4/3 p.m., due mainly to the weakness of competing programs on CBS and NBC. Also, the show's demographics were significantly better on ABC (the show got its youth and some of its male demographics back); thus, the network was actually able to charge higher advertising rates for it than several more popular series with higher audience ratings.
Despite never recovering the ground it lost from its CBS days, even sliding into the lowest third in the ratings by 1977, The Edge of Night's ratings improved slightly once the 1980s began. While the numbers were not as solid, The Edge of Night still pulled in ratings in the 5.0 range and improved its position on the ratings list, peaking at 11th in both 1981 and 1982. However, from 1982 on, ratings would fall even further as even more ABC affiliates dropped the show in favor of the aforementioned syndicated offerings. At the end of the 1981-82 television season, The Edge of Night pulled in a 5.0 rating. However, with the resulting pre-emptions, the show's rating dropped to a 3.8 in 1983. This caused Procter & Gamble to lose more money on the program with each passing year.
The series was also broadcast in Canada on CBC Television since the early 1970s, but after more than a decade, CBC opted in Fall 1982 to drop The Edge of Night from its daytime afternoon lineup, replacing it with another ABC soap, All My Children.
In May 1983, Procter & Gamble dismissed the show's headwriter, Henry Slesar, whose 15-year stint with the soap was at that time the longest in daytime serial history, and appointed a new headwriter, Lee Sheldon. Sheldon modified the show's plot with emphasis on younger characters and even some humor in an effort to help the ailing serial gain new fans. However, this did nothing to stop the ratings erosion as more and more ABC affiliates continued to drop the show.
By fall 1984, The Edge of Night aired on only 106 of ABC's 213 affiliate stations, while a further two dozen more affiliates planned to drop the series in the first quarter of 1985. Although ABC intended to continue The Edge of Night, even offering to move it to a mid-morning timeslot, Procter & Gamble could no longer afford to continue producing the show due to the constant loss of revenue from frequent pre-emptions. Thus, on October 26, 1984, ABC and Procter & Gamble made a joint announcement that The Edge of Night's December 28 broadcast would be its series finale. At this point, the show's ratings were less than half of what they had been at the beginning of the decade; it finished the 1984-85 television season last in the daytime ratings race with a 2.6 rating in only four months of episodes.
To date, The Edge of Night is the last ABC network program to have aired in the 4 p.m./3 c time slot; ABC returned the 4 p.m. hour to its affiliates after Edge finished its run. NBC returned the hour to its stations in 1979, while CBS, which was still programming the 4 p.m. timeslot with Body Language at the time, followed suit in September 1986 after cancelling Press Your Luck.
Most CBS episodes no longer exist. Despite the network ceasing its wiping practice of shows it owned in September 1972, Procter & Gamble still continued wiping tapes for several more years. Many monochrome and some color episodes were kinescoped (the color kinescopes survive in black-and-white). 45 episodes of the CBS era are known to exist, the best-known of which include the Christmas Day 1974 episode and a September 1975 episode depicting the attempted murder of Geraldine. Some fans also have the second episode of the series (April 3, 1956), which featured Don Hastings, John Larkin and Teal Ames. The first two years of the ABC run also followed this practice, which ceased in 1978 for ABC and all Procter & Gamble shows.
From August 5, 1985 to January 19, 1989, reruns aired in a daily late-night timeslot on cable's USA Network, transmitting episodes from June 1981 up to the series finale.
From August 2006 to January 2009, Procter & Gamble made several of its classic soap operas available, a few episodes at a time, through AOL Video Service, downloadable free of charge. AOL downloads of The Edge of Night commenced with episode #6051 from July 17, 1979.
Daytime Emmy Award wins
- 1985 "Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for a Drama Series"
- 1984 "Outstanding Achievement in Any Area of Creative Technical Crafts - Electronic Camerawork"
- 1979 "Outstanding Achievement in Technical Excellence"
- 1974 "Outstanding Drama Series Writing"
Primetime Emmy Award wins
See also↑Jump back a section
- Cox, Jim, Radio Crime Fighters, 2002, p. 201, McFarland, Jefferson, North Carolina, ISBN 0-7864-1390-5
- Lackmann, Ronald W. (2000). The encyclopedia of American radio: an A-Z guide to radio from Jack Benny to Howard Stern. Facts On File. ISBN 0-8160-4137-7.
- The Edge of Night Credits, At minute 1:09, viewed Feb.24, 2011.
- Edge of Night 50's Closing Credits, At minute 00:41, viewed Feb.24, 2011.
- Edge of Night 50's Closing Credits, At minute 00:44, viewed Feb.24, 2011.
- Edge of Night 50's Closing Credits, At minute 00:47, viewed Feb.24, 2011.
- Edge of Night 50's Closing Credits, At minute 00:55, viewed Feb.24, 2011.
- 'As World Turns' on CBS Will Expand to Hour Dec.1
- "AOL to Launch New Video Portal," WebWire.com, July 31, 2006.
- "PGP Classic Soap Channel," pgpclassicsoaps.com, January 1, 2009.
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- The Edge of Night at the Internet Movie Database
- EW.com: "Photo Gallery: 12 Soap Operas We've Loved, Lost": The Edge of Night
- The Someret Register