Monday, March 9, 2009

Remembering Irna Phillips

March is Women’s History Month. That’s all the excuse I need to talk about the most influential female writer in the history of American broadcasting. (And I bet you never heard of her.)

Irna Phillips single-handedly created the soap opera, a story- telling format of enormous cultural and economic impact.

For Chicago radio station WGN, Phillips in 1930 created “Painted Dreams,” a daily 10-minute drama aimed at women. This is considered America’s first soap opera.

In 1937, Phillips created the NBC radio serial “The Guiding Light.” Today, an amazing 72 years later, “Guiding Light” is going strong on CBS. It is television’s longest-running daytime drama.

Irna Phillips also created “As the World Turns” and co-created “Days of Our Lives” and “Another World.” Her protégé Agnes Nixon created “All My Children” and “One Life to Live.”

Ms. Phillips also mentored William J. Bell, who went on to create “The Young and the Restless.”

That’s what I call influential.

I recently downloaded a free 1950 episode of “The Guiding Light” from the Old Time Radio website. To hear a 3½-minute excerpt on my Vox blog, click here.

7 comments:

Skeeter said...

Very cool info!

Kellybelle said...

Neat--I was named after a character on Another World.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Great post and info. That's why we check in.

lawegohard said...

"Oh Trudy, stop day dreaming and wake up to reality."

Great clip! This women seems to be passionately letting her homegirl know that her dude loves her.

Don't you just love the love triangle?

verb said...

I will have to tell my mother. Three generations of black women have listened/watched Guiding Light and As the World Turns. (Sadly, I broke the tradition.) In fact, as a child, I believed CBS was for black women and ABC was for white.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ That's funny, verb. My mom was big into the CBS soaps as well. I grew up with all that stuff.

(And even as a kid, I could recognize something was fresh about "The Young and the Restless" when it started.

(Matter of fact, I cast the actor Wings Hauser in a TV part a few years ago. He used to play Greg Foster... David Hasselhoff's brother... on Y&R.)

bklyn6 said...

(Matter of fact, I cast the actor Wings Hauser in a TV part a few years ago. He used to play Greg Foster... David Hasselhoff's brother... on Y&R.)

Gosh, this brings back memories. I totally remember Wings (he's got a son who's an actor, as well.) I watched Y&R as a kid. I actually remember the original Snapper (David Hasslehoff's role). He was played by William Grey Espy. Dang. Whatever happened to him?! He could've been "Knight Rider." :p

The name "Irna Phillips" didn't ring any bells but, her work sure does. Thanks for posting.

btw, when I look at her picture I'm reminded of Rachel Dratch.