The Brighter Day

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The Brighter Day
Created by Irna Phillips
Written by Sam Hall
Country of origin United States
Executive producer(s) Irna Phillips
Running time 25 minutes
Original channel NBC Radio (1948-1956)
CBS-TV (1954-1962)
Original release 1948 (Radio)/January 4, 1954 (1954-01-04) (TV) – September 28, 1962 (1962-09-28)

The Brighter Day is an American daytime soap opera which aired on CBS from January 4, 1954 to September 28, 1962. Originally created for NBC radio by Irna Phillips in 1948, the radio and television versions ran simultaneously from 1954-1956. Set in New Hope, Wisconsin, the series revolved around Reverend Richard Dennis and his four children, Althea, Patsy, Babby and Grayling.[1]

The Brighter Day was the first soap opera to air on network television with an explicitly religious theme. Another soap opera created by Phillips, The Guiding Light, initially had a religious theme as a radio show but dropped it by the time the series moved to television.


Three of the Dennis children, 1954. From left: Babby (Mary Linn Beller), Grayling (Hal Holbrook), and Patsy (Lois Nettleton).

The original radio version took place in the town of Three Rivers, but in late 1953 the Dennis family was forced to move to New Hope as a result of a flood washing out Three Rivers. Later in the run, the Dennis family moved to Columbus, established as a college town. There were five children in the radio version, but the oldest daughter, Liz (played from 1949-1954 by actress Margaret Draper), married and left the family as the show began on television. Also living with Reverend Dennis was his widowed sister, Emily Potter.

The Brighter Day had low Nielsen ratings for most of its run. For most of the 1950s, it was among the lower-rated soaps, and as the show entered the 1960s, it usually ranked last. In Summer 1961, production of the series moved from New York City to Los Angeles in an effort to save money and key characters were dropped abruptly from the storyline when their actors did not wish to relocate. In early 1962, the show moved from its traditional late-afternoon timeslot to late morning, and the ratings took even more of a dip.

In August 1962, the show made history by creating the first daytime television contract role for an African American. The actor, Rex Ingram, appeared as an ordained minister named Victor Graham beginning on September 17, but had no time to make much of an impact, as the show was cancelled two weeks later on September 28.[2]

The network announced that the show would be cancelled with less than two weeks before the final episode aired. In the final episode, actor Paul Langton addressed the viewers in character as Uncle Walter, wrapping up the storylines and explaining how the characters would resolve their problems. Langton ended the show with a final farewell: "The microphone can't pick up their voices and soon the picture will fade. If on occasion you think of us, we hope your memory will be a pleasant one."[3]

Among the actors who appeared on the series, the most famous alumni are Hal Holbrook (Grayling Dennis), Lois Nettleton (Patsy Dennis Hamilton), and Patty Duke (Ellen Williams Dennis).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Brighter Day (PDF). TV-Radio Mirror. August 1954. pp. 38–39. Retrieved 30 January 2012.  (PDF)
  2. ^,3421842
  3. ^ Copeland, Mary Ann (1991). Soap Opera History. Lincolnwood, Illinois: Publications International, Ltd. p. 48. ISBN 0-88176-933-9. 

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