How ‘Another World’ & ‘Days of Our Lives’ were the first hour-long soap operas

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When Another World and Days of Our Lives became the first hour-long soap operas

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

They’re in Another World for an hour now (1975)

By Tom Donnelly – The Journal News (White Plains, New York) January 26, 1975

NEW YORK — “Another World” has become network television’s first full-hour daily serial-drama.

Vintage Another World soap opera moving to 1 hour 1975
Another first for “Another World”! Today it becomes network TV’s first full-hour daily drama… as beautiful Rachel’s thirst for wealth leads her to a ruthless new man — and ignites an explosive clash of brother versus brother!

For the sizable audience devoted to the doings of the Matthews, Frame, and Randolph families of Bay City, this event outranks in importance a lot of things taking place in the real world, and it could have powerful reverberations in soap opera planning circles.

Executive producer Paul Rauch of NBC says: “If our show is a hit, you can count on seeing a big parade of one-hour daytime serials.”

When soap operas started switching from the 15-minute length to 30 minutes in 1956, the skeptics were highly vocal, Rauch recalls.

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A host of hour-long operas? What will be the effect on the American domestic front? There is a mass of evidence to indicate that college professors and truck drivers can be as addicted to “soaps” as any housewife.

All extant soap operas aren’t about to double in bulk, Rauch said. “You couldn’t do it with all of them, by any means. The head writer on ‘Another World’ — Harding Lemay –feels it has a richness that will enable him to expand it to an hour without any danger of attenuation. I can think of a few others that could stand the same treatment.”

Whereas spokespersons for CBS and ABC say those networks have no plans to enlarge any of their soaps in the immediate future, NBC seems to find the one-hour format irresistibly attractive.

NBC has also experimented with one-hour episodes of “Days of Our Lives” and “The Doctors.”

Soap Opera Digest magazine cover 1977 - Another World - Victoria Wyndham and Douglass Watson - Rachel and Mac

The status of the story on Another World

We watched scenes from “Another World” being played with props, costumes, and dialogue. What can I tell you?

Alice Frame, who can’t have children, is back from her rest cure, and is telling husband Steven and the folks at Bay City Hospital, where she works as a nurse, that from now on she wants to handle children’s cases exclusively.

The big social news is that Iris Carrington, who doesn’t want her hand-some aging father, Mackenzie Cory, to marry Rachel Frame, Steven’s tempestuous ex-wife, is giving a party and inviting everyone in town who hates Rachel, a sizable list.

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“It’s obvious,” says Rachel to Cory, “that she’s having this party to prove to you that I’m nobody you should be with!” Rachel’s mother, Ada, looks with disfavor on the Rachel Cory romance.

ADA: “Sometimes Rachel rushes into things and then she’s sorry afterward.”

RACHEL: “Mac knows about the mistakes I’ve made in the past.” ADA (to Cory): “I’m thinking about the mistakes she might make in the future.”

Vintage Another World soap opera

I went off in search of Jacqueline Courtney, who has been playing “Alice” since the show premiered in 1964.

Miss Courtney, a blonde with a rosy, very ingenue face and a disconcertingly deep and hearty laugh, said: “So I’m Alice. Alice is the heroine. She had a mental breakdown this past summer when her husband went to prison.

“She’s basically me. I still haven’t quite grown up yet. I’m 28. I’m very romantic and emotional, and haven’t much head for the business end of the business. I’ve been married for five years to a medical student. I have a little girl of 4.

“My own personal life at home is more of a soap opera than ‘Another World’ will ever be. I won’t tell you about it, because you wouldn’t believe it. I don’t believe it myself, and there I am — living it.”

Jacqueline Courtney vintage TV star
Jacqueline Courtney

Miss Courtney says she isn’t sure how she feels about the expanded one-hour form. “I remember when we went from live to tape and from black and white to color, both times we said, ‘This will never work.’

“And it is rough, doing these long jobs. But always before the nice normal, realistic little things we used to do in a scene — bits of business and nuances — were the first things to be cut out when we were doing a half-hour. Now we can keep them.”

Victoria Wyndham says Rachel Frame is technically the resident heavy, but in the actress’ opinion, Rachel is not “a baddie.”

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“I call her the catalyst. A catalyst has to be controversial. A lot of viewers probably do consider her a baddie, because, in contrast, the good people in these shows are so bland.

“I consider Rachel misunderstood, with a lot of misplaced affections and emotions she can’t handle. She has a greater range of emotions than most characters have.

“That’s why I’m fond of her — that’s why I’ve enjoyed playing her for three years. I’d hate to play Alice or any of those one-note people.”


NBC’s ‘Days of our Lives’ to become second hour-long soap (1975)

By Jay Sharbutt – Tampa Bay Times (Tampa, Florida) March 5, 1975

On January 6, NBC’s “Another World” soap opera went from a half-hour to an hour in length. Come April 21, the network’s “Days of Our Lives” will do the same thing. Why?

Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes of Days of our Lives - 1970s soap

“Because I think the hour form is the common form for daytime drama,” says Lin Bolen. NBC’s vice president for daytime programs. “it also allows us to do a better show creatively.”

Does this mean all NBC soapers eventually will each run an hour?

“There’s a good chance of this happening,” she said. adding that audience studies NBC ran after “Another World” added another 30 minutes showed the program had far higher ratings than before.

“We also found that the women felt it was a better program, that the stories move faster. that it’s more involved and that the scenes play better,” she said. “Which is true, because we now have 12-minute scenes in the show, as opposed to three- and four-minute scenes.”

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Vintage Days of our Lives - Bill and Laura - Edward Mallory Susan Oliver 1976

Game shows and soap operas

NBC now has five soap operas and six game shows on the air. But one half-hour soaper, “How to Survive a Marriage,” is being divorced from the network’s schedule to make room for the new “Days.”

Does NBC plan to drop a game show or two to make room for lengthening the remaining soap operas?

“Well, if we keep expanding, we’re going to have to do something, aren’t we?” Miss Bolen asked, somewhat mysteriously. “I’d rather not talk about dropping shows.”

She was asked when a third hour-long soap opera will be on NBC.

“It’s hard to say,” she said. “We have to break habit patterns. It’s a more difficult task to expand upwards instead of downwards, which we did in ‘Another World.'”

By this, she meant beginning the revamped version of the soap opera earlier than its current starting time. “Downwards” means the start time remains as is, with the extra half hour added on.

Stars of Days of our Lives TV show 1975

“When you have your audience, it’s much easier to hold them than it is to ask them to tune in a half-hour earlier,” she said. “So it may take us a cycle — 13 weeks — or two to know precisely how successful ‘Days’ is.”

A CBS spokesman says his network has discussed making “As the World Turns” into an hour-long soaper. But no decision has been made pending closer scrutiny of what success NBC will have with its pair of 60-minute sagas.

Miss Helen was asked about the possibility of starting an hour-long game show, just to give devotees of that form dual time.

“I don’t really think you could sustain the game drama for an hour,” she said. “But you never know.”

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