Search for Tomorrow

Search for Tomorrow is an American television soap opera. It began its run on CBS on September 3, 1951, and concluded on NBC, 35 years later, on December 26, 1986.[1]

Search for Tomorrow
Title card, 1982–86
GenreSoap opera
Created byRoy Winsor
StarringMary Stuart
Larry Haines
Narrated byDwight Weist
ComposerDick Hyman
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons35
No. of episodes9,130
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time15 minutes (1951–68)
30 minutes (1968–86)
Production companyProcter & Gamble Productions
Original networkCBS (1951–82)
NBC (1982–86)
Picture formatBlack-and-white (1951–67)
Color (1967–86)
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 3, 1951 (1951-09-03) –
December 26, 1986 (1986-12-26)

Set in the fictional town of Henderson in an unspecified state, the show focused primarily on the character of Joanne, known to the audience as "Jo." Actress Mary Stuart played Jo for the entire run.[2]

Broadcast history and production notesEdit

Search for Tomorrow was created by Roy Winsor and was first written by Agnes Nixon (then known professionally as Agnes Eckhardt) for the series' first 13 weeks and later by Irving Vendig.[3]

The program was one of several packaged from the 1950s through the 1980s by Procter & Gamble Productions, the broadcasting arm of the famed household products corporation. Procter & Gamble used the show, as well as the others, to advertise products like Joy dish washing liquid and Spic and Span household cleaner. As the show's ratings increased, other sponsors began buying commercial time.

Search for Tomorrow initially aired as a 15-minute serial from its debut in 1951 until 1968, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern/11:30 a.m. Central Time. The serial discontinued live broadcasts in favor of recorded telecasts in March 1967, began broadcasting in color on September 11, 1967, and expanded to a half-hour on September 9, 1968, keeping the 12:30/11:30 slot, while its old 15-minute partner The Guiding Light also expanded to 30 minutes and moved to the CBS afternoon lineup at 2:30/1:30.[4] At the time, Search for Tomorrow and The Guiding Light, which had shared the same half-hour for sixteen years, were the last two 15-minute daytime programs airing on television. Search for Tomorrow would remain the top-rated show at 12:30/11:30 well into the late 1970s, despite strong competition from shows like NBC's The Who, What, or Where Game and ABC's Split Second and Ryan's Hope.

On June 8, 1981, CBS moved Search from its historic 12:30 p.m./11:30 a.m. Central time slot, which it had held for 30 years, to the 2:30/1:30 p.m. time slot between As the World Turns and Guiding Light in order to accommodate the hit serial The Young and the Restless. Procter & Gamble, who owned Search for Tomorrow, urged CBS to return the show to its former slot. The relocation of Search for Tomorrow confused or angered many long-standing viewers habituated to seeing it earlier in the day. Another Procter & Gamble sister soap opera, The Edge Of Night, suffered the same problem six years earlier when Procter & Gamble had insisted the show be moved to the 2:30/1:30 p.m. time slot; it had previously dominated the other two networks in the ratings in the time 3:30/2:30 p.m. slot for almost a decade. The network refused, to move Search for Tomorrow back to its original 12:30/11:30 timeslot and when its contract with CBS expired, P&G sold the long running soap to NBC, airing its last episode on CBS on March 26, 1982, with the show's NBC premiere coming the following Monday, the 29th. CBS replaced Search for Tomorrow in its time slot that same day with Capitol. This would prove the beginning of the serial's terminal decline.

With the move to NBC, Search for Tomorrow now found itself going head-to-head with The Young and the Restless. Additionally, several NBC affiliates opted to run syndicated programming or newscasts in the 12:30/11:30 slot, a practice dating back to NBC's struggles in the 1970s. As a result, the show's ratings plummeted and never recovered. For most of the next four years, it was among the lowest-rated soaps on television, kept alive mainly by its hardcore and largely elderly fans. As such, the show was increasingly unappealing to advertisers other than P&G.

On August 4, 1983, both the master copy and the backup of an episode of Search for Tomorrow scheduled for that day were reported missing, and the cast was forced to do a live show for the first time since the transition to recorded broadcasts 16 years before.[5] It was the first live daytime serial since two other CBS soaps, As The World Turns and The Edge of Night, had discontinued the practice in 1975; to date, it is the last soap opera to do so.

In the fall of 1986, NBC announced that Search for Tomorrow would be canceled due to low ratings against both The Young and the Restless and the ABC soap opera 'Loving. The show aired its 9,130th and final episode on December 26, 1986, after 35 years on the air. At the time of its cancellation, it was the longest-running daytime television program in history, but has since been surpassed by other shows. The following Monday, the game show Wordplay took over the 12:30 p.m. Eastern time slot.


From 1987 until summer 1989, reruns aired on cable TV in late nights on the USA Network. The network aired episodes from the first three years (1982-1985) of the NBC run.

In 2006, P&G began making several of its soap operas available, a few episodes at a time, through America Online's AOL Video service, downloadable free of charge.[6] Reruns of Search for Tomorrow began with the October 5, 1984, episode and ceased with the January 13, 1986, episode after AOL discontinued the P&G Soaps Channel on December 31, 2008.[7]

Cast membersEdit

Actor Character Duration
John Aniston Martin Tourneur 1979–84
Rod Arrants Travis Sentell 1978–84
Matthew Ashford Cagney McLeary 1984–86
Kevin Bacon Todd Adamson 1979
Kathleen Beller Liza Walton 1972–74
Meg Bennett Liza Walton 1974–76
Marion Brash Eunice Wyatt 1957–61
Melanie Chartoff Nancy Craig 1976
Maree Cheatham Stephanie Wyatt 1974–84
Jill Clayburgh Grace Bolton 1969
Kevin Conroy Chase Kendall 1984–85
Michael Corbett Warren Carter 1982–85
Colleen Dion-Scotti Evie Stone 1985–86
Val Dufour John Wyatt 1972–79
Olympia Dukakis Barbara Moreno 1983
Morgan Fairchild Jennifer Pace 1973–77
Larry Flieschman Ringo Altman 1982–83
David Forsyth  Hogan McCleary 1983–86
David Gale Rusty Sentell, Sr. 1982–83
Jennifer Gatti Angela Moreno 1983
Cynthia Gibb  Susan Wyatt Carter 1981–83
Louan Gideon Liza Walton 1985–86
Marian Hailey Janet Collins 1971
Larry Haines Stu Bergman 1951–86
Page Hannah Adair McCleary 1984–85
Peter Haskell Lloyd Kendall 1983–85
John James Tom Bergman 1977
Jane Krakowski T.R. Kendall 1984–86
Audra Lindley  Sue Knowles 1962
Sherry Mathis Liza Walton 1978–85
Andrea McArdle Wendy Wilkins 1977
Marcia McCabe Sunny Adamson 1978-1986
Denise Nickerson Liza Walton 1971–72
Michael Nouri Steve Kaslow 1975–78
Will Patton Kentucky Bluebird 1984–85
Patsy Pease Cissie Mitchell Sentell 1978–84
Lisa Peluso Wendy Wilkins 1977–85
Melba Rae Marge Bergman 1951–71
Sandy Robinson Janet Collins 1956–61
Louise Shaffer Stephanie Wyatt 1984–86
Fran Sharon Janet Collins 1961–65
Ellen Spencer Janet Collins 1951–56
Mary Stuart Joanne Gardner 1951–86
Tom Sullivan Michael Kendall 1983
Millee Taggart Janet Collins 1971–82
Gary Tomlin Bruce Carson 1973–74
Douglass Watson Walter Haskins 1960s[a]
Billie Lou Watt Ellie Harper Bergman 1968–81
Ann Williams Eunice Wyatt 1966–76


Daytime Emmy Award winsEdit

Drama performer categoriesEdit

Category Recipient Role Year
Lead Actor Larry Haines
Val Dufour
Stu Bergman
John Wyatt
Supporting Actor Larry Haines Stu Bergman 1981[10]

Other categoriesEdit

  • 1986 "Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for a Drama Series"
  • 1978 "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Daytime Programming: Costume Designer" (Connie Wexler)

Other awardsEdit


  1. ^ Schemering, Christopher (1987). The Soap Opera Encyclopedia (2nd ed.). Ballantine Books. pp. 200–212. ISBN 0-345-35344-7.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Copeland, Mary Ann (1991). Soap Opera History. Publications International. pp. 214–223. ISBN 0-88176-933-9.
  4. ^ Hyatt, Wesley (1997). The Encyclopedia of Daytime Television. Watson-Guptill Publications. pp. 381–387. ISBN 978-0823083152. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "AOL to Launch New Video Portal,", July 31, 2006.
  7. ^ "PGP Classic Soap Channel,", January 1, 2009.
  8. ^ "Daytime Emmys – 1976". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  9. ^ "Daytime Emmys – 1977". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  10. ^ "Daytime Emmys – 1981". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-02-22.


  1. ^ There are conflicting sources on when Watson appeared on the soap opera; some say that he debuted in 1966, whilst others say 1967, and it is conflicted whether he last appeared in 1966, 1967 or 1968.

External linksEdit