Search for Tomorrow

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Search for Tomorrow
Sft83.jpg
Series title card from December 23, 1981 to February 25, 1986
Genre Soap opera
Drama
Created by Roy Winsor
Narrated by Dwight Weist (announcer)
Composer(s) Dick Hyman
Tonya Pinkins
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 9,130
Production
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 15 minutes (1951–1968)
30 minutes (1968–1986)
Production company(s) Procter & Gamble Productions
Distributor Americana Entertainment (1951–1982)
Broadcast
Original channel CBS (1951–1982)
NBC (1982–1986)
Picture format Black-and-white (1951–1967)
Color (1967–1986)
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 3, 1951 (1951-09-03)  – December 26, 1986 (1986-12-26)

Search for Tomorrow is an American soap opera that aired on CBS from September 3, 1951 to March 26, 1982, and on NBC from March 29, 1982 to December 26, 1986. At the time of its final broadcast, it was the longest-running non-news program on television. This record would later be broken by Hallmark Hall of Fame, which premiered on Christmas Eve 1951 and still airs occasionally.

The show was created by Roy Winsor and was first written by Agnes Nixon (who was then known professionally as "Agnes Eckhardt") for thirteen weeks (although star Mary Stuart disputed this in her autobiography, Both Of Me, saying the cast made up the first few weeks of scripts because they were poorly written) and, later, by Irving Vendig.

Transition to tape[edit]

Search aired as a fifteen-minute serial from its debut in 1951 until 1968. The show's initial sponsor was Procter & Gamble, the makers of Joy dishwashing liquid and Spic and Span household cleaner. As the show's ratings increased, other sponsors began buying commercial time. Both "Joy" and "Spic and Span" continued to be the primary products Procter & Gamble advertised on the show, well into the 1960s.

The show switched from live broadcasts to recorded telecasts in March 1967, went to color on September 11, 1967, and expanded to a half-hour on September 9, 1968.[1] At the time, Search and its sister show Guiding Light, which had shared the same half-hour for sixteen years, were the last two fifteen-minute soap operas airing on television. (As a result of the expansion, Search gained the entire 12:30 pm ET timeslot, and an expanded Guiding Light moved to 2:30 pm.)

In 1983, both the master copy and the backup of a Search episode were lost, and on August 4, the cast was forced to do a live show for the first time since the transition sixteen years before. After the event, NBC was accused of lying about the tape being misplaced in hopes that the noise generated by the accident would create a ratings jump for the show. For some time, this situation had been said to mirror a similar one in the 1982 movie Tootsie.[citation needed]

Title sequences[edit]

Search for Tomorrow title card, first used in black-and-white from 1951-1967.

Throughout its entire thirty-five year run, Search's title sequence featured clouds floating through the sky. In fact, the sequence consisted entirely of that until 1981. The only noticeable change was the slightly altered "S" in "Search" starting in 1967, at the time of the show's color switch. In late 1981, the show began using a videotaped opening sequence with a shot of a seagull flying over the ocean, and a helicopter shot of the clouds in the midday sky. In the show's final months, the titles featured a montage of cast clips, bookended with sky shots and a redesign of the title to fit with the times.

The theme music for the early years sounded a little like "Beyond the Blue Horizon" to some, which would have seemed quite appropriate for this show given the sequence. After the show switched to color in 1967, a theme titled "Interchange" by Bill Meeder was used for the opening, and later on in 1974, a short-lived theme titled "Signature for Search for Tomorrow" by Ashley Miller (by then, it was still using in-studio organ accompaniment).

From October 7, 1974 to February 25, 1986, Search used a pop ballad theme: "We'll Search for Tomorrow" by Jon Silbermann, Jack Cortner, and John Barranco. Several arrangements were used during its 12-year run: aside from the original version, the credits also used a more orchestral version, a salsa/disco-flavored version, a lounge version, and a vocal version of this theme for closing credits.

1986 marked the debut of a new "techno-rock" theme for the show by Bill Chinnock, called "Somewhere in the Night". The version of this tune that played during the opening and end credits, however, was usually an instrumental version with a saxophone riff.

Announcements[edit]

For much of the show's run on CBS, the announcer was Dwight Weist, who years earlier had narrated several short subjects for MGM. The common structure of his announcements went like this:

  • Black and white years and possibly early color years: "Search for Tomorrow"...Brought to you by (sponsor). The closing, on credit days, ran the credits (as flash credits) then Weist would say: "Search for Tomorrow is brought to you by (sponsor)." In two surviving 1960s episodes available on video, a promo card for The Guiding Light was shown.

The following sequences were used in the 70's and possibly to the end of the series:

  • Title sequence: "This is Search for Tomorrow. This portion brought to you by (name and description of sponsor)".
  • Mid-program break #1: "This portion of Search for Tomorrow was brought to you by (name and description of sponsor). Our story will continue in just a moment."
  • Mid-program break #2: "And now, the second portion of Search for Tomorrow." On days when the second half was officially sponsored, the announcement continued, "...brought to you by (name and description of sponsor)."
  • Lead-in to next-to-last commercial break: "Our story will continue in just a moment!"
  • Closing sequence: "This portion of Search for Tomorrow has been brought to you by (name and description of sponsor)", or on non-sponsored days, either "Join us each weekday for Search for Tomorrow", or, if no time remained, "This has been Search for Tomorrow, this program was recorded." Before the title change in 1981, Weist would tell viewers to stay tuned for the next program, either As the World Turns, The Young and the Restless, or The Guiding Light. TGL had a title card shown, while Y&R did not. Credits at this time were flash style, though they may have used a crawl for the full cast and crew. After 1981, credits were done in a crawl. The final episode had screen shots of the cast, and the production credits were done flash style. Mary Stuart got top billing at the start of the credits throughout the show's run.

When Weist retired to found his own public relations/casting company, former rock disc jockey Alison Steele assumed the announcing duties with similar announcements as above. Her job carried over into the first few years of NBC's run until Hal Simms (former announcer for The Edge of Night) took over in 1985, after which Don Pardo (announcer for Saturday Night Live) assumed duties for the remainder of the series. Both Simms' and Pardo's announcements were limited.

Show history[edit]

1950s[edit]

The first episode of the show in 1951; Joanne with daughter Patti.
Joanne and Arthur Tate.

For the show's duration, Search was centered on a midwestern housewife named Joanne Gardner (played for the entire run by Mary Stuart) who lived in a fictional town called Henderson. In the earlier years, Joanne's friends and next-door neighbors, Stuart and Marge Bergman (played by Larry Haines and Melba Rae) received much screen time as they commiserated with Joanne, usually over a cup of coffee at the kitchen table. At the beginning of the series, Stu and Marge had a young daughter named Janet (originally played by Ellen Spencer).

Most of Joanne's dilemmas in the early years were due to her dead husband Keith Barron's overbearing parents – they (most especially her mother in-law, Irene) never liked her and were quite content with seizing Joanne and Keith's daughter Patti (played longest by Lynn Loring) from the widow.

After Keith (played by John Sylvester White) died in 1952, Joanne started managing a hotel, The Motor Haven Inn. Local thugs in town saw Joanne as soft because she was a woman, and they attempted to take over the business as a front for Mafia dealings. Joanne's friend Rose Peabody (Lee Grant, Constance Ford, and Nita Talbot), who was selling information to the Mafia, tried to poison a pot of soup that Joanne made, so her credibility would be tarnished. In the end, she could not go through with it and poured the soup down the drain. A man named Arthur Tate (Terry O'Sullivan) helped Joanne with financial backing for the Inn. Arthur's Aunt Cornelia gave him the inheritance money but insisted on meddling in his affairs as she hated Joanne. Eventually, Arthur and Jo fell in love and were married in 1955.

1960s[edit]

After setting a record for the highest-rated soap opera of all time in its sophomore season, the show was one of the highest-rated soaps in the 1950s, but began losing out to newer soaps as the decade drew to a close. When the show was in a ratings slump in 1960, Western-themed drama writers Frank and Doris Hursley were hired to write the show. Unfortunately, Search's new writers did nothing to help the ratings problem. In 1963, the show's ratings were still stagnant, and the duo decided to write out Joanne's baby (written into the storyline a few years previous while she was pregnant with son Jeffrey) by having him run in front of a speeding truck and die upon impact. Stuart was unhappy with the decision and, in the book All My Afternoons, Stuart was paraphrased as saying that she played the grief scenes with so much conviction that even the makeup lady could not bear to watch her to see if her makeup was right. In the end, the ratings didn't rise, and Stuart threatened to quit unless the Hursleys were fired. At once the duo left the show and subsequently created the serial General Hospital for ABC the same year.

As the show progressed, Joanne's sister Eunice returned to town and seduced Joanne's second husband, Arthur Tate. When a woman named Marian Rand came to town and sued Arthur for paternity, the stress surrounding this dilemma, coupled with personal troubles and the guilt of sleeping with Eunice caused him to have a fatal heart attack.

Joanne's daughter Patti grew into a teenager and became involved with drug-dealing gang members (incorporating a scathing viewpoint regarding America's counter-culture of the day). Joanne's friend Sam Reynolds (who was, ironically, Arthur's archenemy) proved his worth to Joanne by saving Patti when she was held at knifepoint. They were going to be married, but that event never came to pass. Actor Robert Mandan, who played Sam, did not renew his contract with the show.

1970s[edit]

In 1970, Joanne lost her eyesight, and Dr. Tony Vincente (Anthony George) helped her get it back. They fell in love and were married in 1972. In 1974, Mary-Ellis Bunim was appointed executive producer of Search for Tomorrow. As a result of Bunim wanting to take the show in a more youth-oriented direction, fewer stories involved Joanne. In 1975, Bunim was rumored to have the writers of Search for Tomorrow kill off Joanne (after the death of Tony), which ended up not happening after vocal dissent from Stuart in the press. While the ratings took a slight dip when the series focused on younger viewers, the impact was not as heavy as expected. Despite the show moving in a more youth-oriented direction, the character of Joanne embarked on a long-running story when she earned a foe in the ambitious schemer Stephanie Wilkins (Maree Cheatham).

In 1971, Stu and Marge's daughter Janet returned to the series and served as a peer to which Joanne's daughter Patti could relate. Early in 1972, Marge's sudden death was written into the storyline (actress Melba Rae had died late the year before). Stu later married Ellie Harper (Billie Lou Watt) and helped Jo run the Hartford House, a modern incarnation of her old property, the Motor Haven Inn.

Examples of the "younger" stories included the maniacal Jennifer Pace (played by Morgan Fairchild); Jennifer shot and killed Joanne's sister Eunice after a vision of Eunice's husband John Wyatt (Val Dufour), whom Jennifer was having an affair with, told her to do the murderous deed. Another popular story on the show was the budding romance between the characters of Steve and Liza Kaslo (Michael Nouri and Meg Bennett).

1980s[edit]

After Search for Tomorrow spent much of the 1970s near the top of the afternoon ratings (it consistently ranked #4 in soap ratings throughout most of that decade), CBS made the decision to move the show to 2:30 PM (Eastern Time) in 1981. The show had been airing at 12:30 pm on CBS since its first episode thirty years before. P&G considered expanding Search for Tomorrow, reducing As the World Turns to 45 minutes in length (as they had made the expansion to 60 minutes six years earlier), and eliminating the time that most local stations aired newscasts. The final decision was to expand neither show and to move Search to a later timeslot despite P&G's lack of enthusiasm for the switch.

Although Search continued to rank in the Top 10 at the time of its timeslot switch, its ratings dropped slightly in the 2:30 pm slot, which prompted Procter and Gamble to insist that CBS return the show to its original timeslot. However, CBS decided to cancel Search for Tomorrow in 1982, instead of renewing it. In spite of CBS' decision to take the show off of its schedule, Procter and Gamble wasn't willing to give up on the show yet due to the show still achieving modest but steady ratings nonetheless, and began seeking another home for it.

Switch to NBC (1982-1986)[edit]

CBS' final episode of Search for Tomorrow aired on March 26, 1982, and the show moved to NBC the following Monday, returning to the 12:30 timeslot it once held on CBS. However, as a result of the network and time slot switch, Search now found itself going up against the hit The Young and the Restless on CBS instead of being part of a lineup that included it. It also found itself beat regularly by the moderate but nonetheless higher rated Ryan's Hope on ABC as well. Furthermore, while the 12:30 pm slot was less prone to pre-emptions than the 12:00 pm slot would've been, some NBC affiliates televised other programs in the 12:30 slot. Thus, Search - upon moving to NBC - experienced a dramatic and irreversible ratings decline. When Search first moved to 2:30 in 1981, its ratings were at a 6.8, which was half a percentage point higher than they had been to end the previous season (it finished in 8th place that same season). The move to NBC resulted in the show becoming the second-lowest rated soap opera on television with a 3.4 rating. (A similar time slot switch plagued another former hit P&G produced serial, The Edge of Night, ten years earlier. Coincidentally, both shows were moved into the same 2:30 PM slot and both would end up leaving CBS for other networks; by this time ABC aired Edge in a late-afternoon slot.)

One scenario that never came to pass, as reported by TV Guide in June 1979, was Search moving to 3:30 pm (then used by daytime reruns of M*A*S*H); The Young and the Restless expanding to an hour in fall 1979 from 12:30-1:30; and As the World Turns and Guiding Light remaining at their 1:30 and 2:30 start times, respectively. These plans were ultimately scrapped, as Search stayed at 12:30, Y&R simply expanded its 1:00 time slot to 1:30 on East Coast stations, and ATWT and GL were bumped back thirty minutes each.

In an advertising campaign called "Follow the Search", the stars of the show wished for its loyal viewers to follow Search to NBC. However, CBS only allowed the advertisements if P&G refrained from disclosing the network to which the show was moving in their advertisements. This was agreed upon for The Edge of Night as well before it moved to ABC in 1975. At the end of the final CBS episode, veteran actors Mary Stuart and Larry Haines asked the audience to continue watching the show as it moved to "another network," and to locate the show and the network in their television listings.

Although Search had switched networks, it was still produced at the CBS Broadcast Center at 524 West 57th St. in Manhattan until December 1982. By late December 1982 or January 1983,NBC relocated the show's production to the Reeves/Teletape Studio on Broadway and West 81st St., the former home of Sesame Street (which had relocated to the former WNET-TV studios at 9th Ave and 55th St.). However, in March 1985, production of the show moved to the former Edge of Night studios, the EUE/Screen Gems Studios at 222 East 44th St., where it remained for the rest of its run.

Search's ratings on NBC remained only half as high as they had been on CBS, even in the 2:30 slot. By this time, few viewers had interest in Joanne's final marriage to Martin Tourneur (John Aniston), which had taken place while the series still called CBS home, or in the show's preposterous storylines, including - in one heroine's case - a six-months-premature childbirth. Search finished second to last in the ratings again at the end of its first full television season on NBC, finishing ahead of the struggling The Doctors and actually finishing in a tie with Texas, which failed to make it through the 1982-83 season.

By 1984, the show mainly focused on two new families: the Kendalls and the McClearys. The McCleary family was headed by Matt McCleary, his twin brother Malcolm McCleary (Patrick Tovatt), Kate McCleary (Jo Henderson, later Maeve McGuire), brothers Hogan McCleary (David Forsyth), Cagney McCleary (Matthew Ashford), Quinn McCleary (Jeffrey Meek), and sister Adair McCleary (Paige Hannah, later Susan Carey Lamn). The Kendall family was headed by Estelle Kendall (Domini Blythe), Lloyd Kendall (Peter Haskell, then by Joe Lambie, later Robert Reed), and Mike Kendall (Thomas Sullivan), brothers Alec Kendall (Robert Curtis Brown), Chase Kendall (Kevin Conroy, later Robert Wilson), Steven Kendall (Phillip Brown, Steve Lindquist), and sister Theresa Rebecca (T.R.) Kendall (Jane Krakowski).

In an interview for Guy MacMillin's The Videot, Mary Stuart complained: "They have created a new program and they're calling it Search for Tomorrow." Stuart also believed that she was being eased out by the character of Kate McCleary. Regardless of the writers' intentions, ratings continued to fall. At the end of the 1983-1984 television season, Search hit bottom and finished last in the ratings with a 3.2. It did climb out of the ratings cellar at the end of the following television season, but this was largely due to the continuing struggles of The Edge of Night (which ended on December 28, 1984 with a 2.6 rating). Thereafter, the show returned to the bottom of the ratings list, this time with an anemic 2.9 rating, for the 1985-1986 television season. Only after a memorable attempt to bring up the ratings did NBC cancel the show in 1986: A flood washed away the whole town of Henderson except for Joanne's residence and business.

On December 26, 1986, the final episode ended with senior characters Stu Bergman and Joanne Tourneur talking about the future. Stu asked Joanne what she was searching for, and she answered: "Tomorrow, and I can't wait." This segment was followed by a taped piece in which the cast thanked the show's viewers for their loyalty over the past 35 years, ending with a slightly-tearful Mary Stuart saying: "Thank you...thank you all. They were wonderful years," and saluting the audience goodbye. The show also ended with the song We'll Be Together Again as performed by Lou Rawls. (Love of Life also closed out its run with the same song, but used a version by Tony Bennett.)

The series was replaced by the Tom Kennedy game show Wordplay, which aired until September 4, 1987. As had been the case in two of the previous three television seasons, Search ended its 35-year run last in ratings, finishing its final year with a 2.5.

Location shooting[edit]

Like many other soap operas, Search featured segments of location shooting in the 1980s. In 1981 the show went to Hong Kong and Jamaica, the latter of which would showcase a romantic rendezvous between the characters of Garth Taper (David Gautreaux) and Kathy Phillips (then Nicolette Goulet). In 1982, prior to the switch to NBC, a storyline involving Travis Sentell took the show on location in St. Kitts. In 1984, the show involved ample location shooting to show the wilds of Henderson. In the final months of the show in 1986, the show's cast and crew went to Ireland to film a storyline with the McCleary brothers, who by that time occupied most of the storylines.

Main crew[edit]

The producers and writers included:

Ratings history[edit]

Search for Tomorrow was among the highest-rated soaps of the 1950s and 1960s. Although, by the early 1970s, the show experienced a brief ratings slump, it would gain renewed popularity during that decade and peak at 4th in the ratings, a spot it last reached in 1976. After 1976, the show's popularity began to slide, but it was still a solid top-ten soap opera.

In 1981, CBS wanted its newer serial, The Young and the Restless, to lead off the afternoon's drama lineup. This decision caused a shift in much of CBS' afternoon schedule. The Young and the Restless itself had previously been broadcast in the 1:00 pm ET time slot, but was now moved back to its previous Noon ET/11AM CT slot. However, stations in the Eastern time zone benefitted from a newly added second feed, which allowed said stations to air local news at noon and The Young and the Restless at 12:30pm ET. Search for Tomorrow was moved to 2:30 ET, which necessitated a move of As the World Turns back to its previous 1:30 ET time slot.

In spite of the timeslot switch, Search's 1981 ratings were actually half a point higher than they were at the end of the previous television season (6.8 vs. 6.3). However, despite the show's decent ratings at 2:30, Procter & Gamble feared that the show's ratings would drop further in said slot, and wanted the show back at 12:30 pm, a suggestion to which CBS paid no attention. In March 1982, when Search moved to NBC, Procter & Gamble did get back the show's old 12:30pm ET timeslot, and the network's once-popular but now low-rated soap opera, The Doctors, moved to Noon. Search left CBS with a 6.8 rating, ranking eighth in the daytime ratings. However, by the end of the 1982-83 season, Search ranked 14th in the ratings, only .1 ahead of where The Doctors would finish the year. In fact, the ratings of the show had dropped by half in its first nine months on NBC, falling from the 6.8 rating it achieved in its last year on CBS to a 3.4 by the end of the year.

At the time Search for Tomorrow entered the 12:30 slot on NBC, many of the network's affiliates had already preempted The Doctors, which previously aired at 12:30, and did so even further for noon newscasts when the latter moved to 12:00. This meant that Search for Tomorrow would no longer air in some markets when it left CBS for NBC. As a result of the network and time slot switches, Search would air opposite The Young and the Restless instead of being its lead-in program in markets that aired the show.

To complicate matters further, even in markets where syndicated programming aired on NBC affiliates in the 12:00 time slot instead of local newscasts, Search had no strong lead-in program on NBC like As the World Turns in its final months on CBS. Instead, NBC placed Search for Tomorrow in a 12:00 hour that led off with a revolving door of sitcom reruns and low-rated game shows such as Go, The New Battlestars, Betty White's Just Men!, and Bill Cullen's Hot Potato between March 29, 1982 and September 24, 1984. The only show to have shared the hour with Search at the time that was a steady hit was Super Password, which debuted in 1984. (As part of Search's move to NBC in March 1982, the network cancelled Super Password's predecessor, Password Plus, so The Doctors could move to its noon slot.)

Search's ratings continued to drop at a rate from which it never recovered. By the end of the 1982-83 season, the show finished with a 2.7 rating, tied with outgoing NBC soap opera Texas (which ended in 1982) for twelfth in the ratings. The show finished dead last in the daytime ratings each season afterward except for the 1984–1985 television season. The equally ratings-challenged veteran The Edge of Night finished behind it, in last place, during that season, which would turn out to be its final year on the air.

Finally, Search aired its last episode on December 26, 1986, which put an end to its then-record 35-year run on television with a 2.5 rating. Even after the show terminated its run, NBC continued to air network programming in the 12:00 hour until 1991, when it returned the hour to its affiliates. In January 1993, NBC briefly returned to airing network shows for a period of five months in the 12:00 hour.

Search was immediately succeeded by the Tom Kennedy-hosted game show Wordplay in the 12:30 pm timeslot. In September 1987, after Wordplay televised its last episode, NBC moved the hit game show Scrabble, which had been airing at 11:30 am since its 1984 premiere, into the slot. Scrabble kept the 12:30pm slot until March 24, 1989, the day Sale of the Century signed off; on that date, Scrabble was replaced by the soap opera Generations. The most recent NBC network program to have aired in Search's timeslot to date is Scattergories, a Dick Clark-hosted game show that premiered as part of NBC's takeover of the noon hour in 1993. Of the four NBC network shows that followed Search in its 12:30pm ET time slot, Scrabble was the only program that safely avoided cancellation in said slot, as it moved back to the mornings the day Generations premiered.

Scrabble and the serial Generations were the only network shows on NBC to last longer than a year at 12:30 since "Search" signed off. Generations left the air in January 1991 – two months shy of what would've been its second anniversary. The first run of Scrabble had ended in 1990.

Notable cast performers[edit]

Many well-known film and television actors appeared on Search during its 35-year run:

Reruns[edit]

From 1987 until summer 1989, reruns aired in late night on the USA Network. The network aired episodes from the first three years 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.[2] Reruns of Search for Tomorrow episodes began with the October 5, 1984 show and ceased with the January 13, 1986 episode after AOL discontinued the P&G Soaps Channel on December 31, 2008.[3]

Awards[edit]

Daytime Emmy Award wins[edit]

Drama performer categories[edit]

Category Recipient Role Year
Lead Actor Larry Haines
Val Dufour
Stu Bergman
John Wyatt
1976[4]
1977[5]
Supporting Actor Larry Haines Stu Bergman 1981[6]

Other categories[edit]

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

Other awards[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Soaps 1968
  2. ^ "AOL to Launch New Video Portal," WebWire.com, July 31, 2006.
  3. ^ "PGP Classic Soap Channel," pgpclassicsoaps.com, January 1, 2009.
  4. ^ "Daytime Emmys - 1976". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  5. ^ "Daytime Emmys - 1977". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  6. ^ "Daytime Emmys - 1981". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 

External links[edit]