Monthly Archives: March 2007

The Proctor and Gamble Collection

Procter and Gamble, the company that virtually created the soap opera as a popular entertainment genre, gave 335 boxes (more than 400 linear feet) of scripts for television soap operas, production documentation, and commercial material to the Browne Library in 1990. The scripts date from as early as 1954 and include long, consecutive runs of programs such as The Edge of Night, Another World, Search for Tomorrow, and The Guiding Light. The donation also included shorter runs of television scripts from other daytime serials–For Richer, For Poorer, Young Doctor Malone, The Loretta Young Show, and the critically-acclaimed 1950 series, From These Roots.

Within the Procter and Gamble Collection, 109 boxes contain scripts for the daytime television series, Another World, from 1964 to 1979. These scripts are annotated with production notes and also include set blueprints, property lists, and scripts for Procter and Gamble product commercials. In 1975, Another World became the first soap opera to expand to the one-hour format, and after sweeping the 1975 Emmys, the program experimented with a 90-minute format in 1979. Another World returned to the one-hour format in 1980 and spawned the short-lived serial, Texas.

Originating on radio in 1936, The Guiding Light was the first such serial to succeed on television. Procter and Gamble produced television and radio versions with identical storylines from 1952 until 1956 in order to reach fans who did not have television sets. The creation of writer Irna Phillips (whose papers are held by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin), The Guiding Light holds the record as the longest-running daytime serial on television. The Guiding Light scripts in the Browne Library cover television broadcasts for the period 1954 to 1958; this segment also contains radio scripts from 1954 to 1956, when the program was written and produced for both television and radio.

Search for Tomorrow was the first successful serial created specifically for television: it was canceled in 1986 after a thirty-five-year run. The scripts in the Browne Library for this program cover 1957-1979 and include advertising and commercial scripts, as well as story synopses and daily breakdowns.

Scripts for The Edge of Night include original and revised air copies from 1957 to 1980. Complete commercial scripts, cast call lists, and other production documentation, as well as fan mail and fan club activities, photographs of the cast and artist releases for now-famous stars such as Bette Midler, Dixie Carter, Vincent Gardenia, John Travolta, and James Coco complement The Edge of Night holdings. The series, which premiered in 1956, was one of the first half-hour-long soap operas. Created by Perry Mason writer Irving Vendig, this soap opera emphasized crime and courtroom scenes in its earliest years. In 1975, The Edge of Night became the last soap to switch from live to videotaped broadcasts; it left television in 1984, after a twenty-eight-year run.

With financial assistance from the Procter and Gamble Company, microfilming of this extensive collection began in 1994. The scripts and related materials have been organized by series title and arranged chronologically to make them more accessible to researchers. Inquiries from scholars are welcome, and additional information can be provided on request.