Sam Hall (writer)

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Sam Hall (born Allison Samuel Hall, March 11, 1921[1]) is a screenwriter known for his work in daytime soap operas, particularly Dark Shadows (from 1967-1971) and One Life to Live (from 1978–84). He was married to actress Grayson Hall, an Academy Award nominee who appeared on both shows, as Dr. Julia Hoffman on Dark Shadows, and as Euphemia Ralston on One Life to Live.

Dark Shadows[edit]

Hall and his writing partner, Gordon Russell, were best known for their work on Dark Shadows[2] and One Life to Live. A trademark of theirs was introducing characters who would, under normal circumstances, be considered villains but tell the storyline in their point of view to gain more sympathy from the viewers. They worked with Dark Shadows from the time Barnabas Collins (played by Jonathan Frid) was introduced as a vampire, transforming him over the years into a rather more multi-layered anti-hero.[citation needed]

One Life to Live[edit]

After Dark Shadows wrapped, the two then took over One Life to Live for Agnes Nixon who began to focus more on her other soap All My Children. During its first few years, One Life to Live was a groundbreaking soap which addressed racial, ethnic, and class issue. But under Russell and Hall's watch, the show took on more haunting character studies tied in with the exit of previous established characters.

With the onscreen death of Nixon's original character Dave Siegel came the arrival of Dr. Dorian Cramer (then, Nancy Pinkerton), her sister Melinda (Pat Pearcy) and their housekepper Hattie (Clarice Blackburn). Dorian prescribed Dave's widow Eileen pills for depression which lead to an out of control addiction, and stole their daughter Julie's husband Dr. Mark Toland (a then unknown Tommy Lee Jones). Melinda befriends Meredith Lord Wolek before her death. She had a short crush on widower Dr. Larry Wolek. A nun named Jenny Wolek fell in love with Tim Siegel, Julie Siegel's twin brother (a then unknown Tom Berenger), and then married him on his deathbed after fall from a flight of stairs where he had an argument with her cousin Vinnie Wolek over causing her to stray from her religious beliefs. Russell and Hall would later write out the Riley supporting roles along with early characters Dr. Mark Toland and Cathy Craig later on in addition to creating the dysfunctional Vernon family which would be a feature of the show for over a decade.


In addition to their long-lasting work on Dark Shadows, their work on One Life to Live led to very memorable storylines with elements and characters which last on the latter show. A storyline which involved Dorian giving terminal patient Rachel Wilson (Nancy Barrett) a dosage of treatment going unmarked on her medical chart prompted her lover Mark Toland to give her a second more lethal dosage and Dr. Larry Wolek get framed for her mercy killing (ironically Rachel Wilson wanted him to end her life in the first place). When the truth was revealed, the board of directors at Llanview Hospital took a vote to decide whether or not to suspend her medical license with Victoria Lord casting the lone vote in Dorian's favor. Dorian believed Viki is responsible for her losing her medical license. To get even, Dorian became her ailing father Victor Lord's private physician, and withheld his medication during a heart attack and walking away, allegedly causing his death and starting the Viki/Dorian feud which has lasted almost 35 years.[citation needed]

Russell and Hall also wrote the infamous Karen Wolek (Judith Light) storyline. Dr. Larry Wolek's wife and cousin Karen turned to prostitution after boredom with being a simple housewife because of her need to be wanted, and in light of her pimp Marco Dane's alleged murder had to reveal she was a prostitute on the stand to clear Viki's name at trial. They also created the Buchanan family, introduced when Clint Buchanan came to town to take over The Banner for Viki's dying husband, Joe Riley. Clint brought to town his father, Asa Buchanan, and brother, Bo Buchanan, the genesis of the Buchanan family who have since became one of the most prominent ensembles on the show.

He is currently suing ABC for unpaid royalties after OLTL was revived briefly by Prospect Park online in 2013.


  1. ^ Jamison, R.J. (2006). Grayson Hall: A Hard Act to Follow. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse. p. 22. ISBN 0-595-40462-6. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  2. ^ Goudas, John (January 14, 1991). "The soap opera that became a cult is back". The Register-Guard. p. 7D. Retrieved April 16, 2011.