Search for Tomorrow

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Search for Tomorrow
Title card, 1982–86
GenreSoap opera
Created byRoy Winsor
StarringMary Stuart
Larry Haines
Narrated byDwight Weist
ComposerDick Hyman
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons35
No. of episodes9,130
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time15 minutes (1951–68)
30 minutes (1968–86)
Production companyProcter & Gamble Productions
DistributorAmericana Entertainment (1951–82)
Original networkCBS (1951–82)
NBC (1982–86)
Picture formatBlack-and-white (1951–67)
Color (1967–86)
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 3, 1951 (1951-09-03) –
December 26, 1986 (1986-12-26)

Search for Tomorrow is an American television soap opera. It began its run on CBS on September 3, 1951, and concluded on NBC, 35 years later, on December 26, 1986.[1]

Set in the fictional town of Henderson in an unspecified state, the show focused primarily on the character of Joanne, known to the audience as "Jo." Actress Mary Stuart played Jo for the entire run.[2]

Broadcast history and production notes[edit]

Search for Tomorrow was created by Roy Winsor and was first written by Agnes Nixon (then known professionally as Agnes Eckhardt) for the series' first 13 weeks and later by Irving Vendig.[3]

The program was one of several packaged from the 1950s through the 1980s by Procter & Gamble Productions, the broadcasting arm of the famed household products corporation. Procter & Gamble used the show, as well as the others, to advertise products like Joy dishwashing liquid and Spic and Span household cleaner. As the show's ratings increased, other sponsors began buying commercial time.

Search for Tomorrow initially aired as a 15-minute serial from its debut in 1951 until 1968, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern/11:30 a.m. Central Time. The serial discontinued live broadcasts in favor of recorded telecasts in March 1967, began broadcasting in color on September 11, 1967, and expanded to a half-hour on September 9, 1968, keeping the 12:30/11:30 slot while its old 15-minute partner The Guiding Light also expanded to 30 minutes and moved to the CBS afternoon lineup at 2:30/1:30.[4] At the time, Search for Tomorrow and The Guiding Light, which had shared the same half-hour for sixteen years, were the last two 15-minute daytime programs airing on television. Search for Tomorrow would remain the top-rated show at 12:30/11:30 well into the late 1970s, despite strong competition from shows like NBC's The Who, What, or Where Game and ABC's Split Second and Ryan's Hope.

On June 8, 1981, CBS moved Search's from its historic 12:30 p.m./11:30 a.m. Central timeslot, one where it had been for 30 years, to the 2:30/1:30 p.m. timeslot between As the World Turns and Guiding Light in order to accommodate the hit serial The Young and the Restless. Procter & Gamble, who owned Search for Tomorrow, urged CBS to return the show to its former slot, as the relocation had confused or angered many long-standing viewers habituated to seeing it at 12:30/11:30. The network refused, and when its contract with CBS expired, P&G sold Search to NBC, airing its last episode on CBS on March 26, 1982, with the show's NBC premiere coming the following Monday, the 29th. CBS replaced Search for Tomorrow in its timeslot that same day with Capitol. This would prove the beginning of the serial's terminal decline.

With the move to NBC, Search now found itself going head-to-head with The Young and the Restless. Additionally, several NBC affiliates opted to run syndicated programming or newscasts in the 12:30/11:30 slot, a practice dating back to NBC's struggles in the 1970s. As a result, the show's ratings flatlined and never recovered; for most of the next four years, it was among the lowest-rated soaps on television, kept alive mainly by its hardcore fans, who were mostly elderly by this point. As such, the show was increasingly unappealing to advertisers other than P&G.

In 1983 (by which time the show had spent more than one full year on NBC), both the master copy and the backup of an episode of Search for Tomorrow scheduled for that day were reported missing, and on August 4, the cast was forced to do a live show for the first time since the transition to recorded broadcasts 16 years before.[5] This was the first live daytime serial since two CBS shows, As The World Turns" and "The Edge of Night, both discontinued the practice in 1975; to date it is the last one.

In the fall of 1986, NBC announced that Search for Tomorrow would be canceled due to low ratings against both The Young and the Restless and the ABC soap opera Loving, which premiered 1½ years after the show was moved to NBC. The show aired its 9,130th and final episode on December 26, 1986, after 35 years on the air. At the time of its cancellation, it was the longest-running daytime television program in history, but has since been surpassed by other shows. The following Monday after the show's final episode aired, the game show Wordplay took over the 12:30 p.m. Eastern timeslot.


From 1987 until summer 1989, reruns aired on cable TV in late nights on the USA Network. The network aired episodes from the first three years (1982-1985) 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.[6] Reruns of Search for Tomorrow began with the October 5, 1984, episode and ceased with the January 13, 1986, episode after AOL discontinued the P&G Soaps Channel on December 31, 2008.[7]


Daytime Emmy Award wins[edit]

Drama performer categories[edit]

Category Recipient Role Year
Lead Actor Larry Haines
Val Dufour
Stu Bergman
John Wyatt
Supporting Actor Larry Haines Stu Bergman 1981[10]

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]


  1. ^ Schemering, Christopher (1987). The Soap Opera Encyclopedia (2nd ed.). Ballantine Books. pp. 200–212. ISBN 0-345-35344-7.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Copeland, Mary Ann (1991). Soap Opera History. Publications International. pp. 214–223. ISBN 0-88176-933-9.
  4. ^ Hyatt, Wesley (1997). The Encyclopedia of Daytime Television. Watson-Guptill Publications. pp. 381–387. ISBN 978-0823083152. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "AOL to Launch New Video Portal,", July 31, 2006.
  7. ^ "PGP Classic Soap Channel,", January 1, 2009.
  8. ^ "Daytime Emmys – 1976". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  9. ^ "Daytime Emmys – 1977". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  10. ^ "Daytime Emmys – 1981". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-02-22.

External links[edit]