The Edge of Night was a CBS\ABC network mystery series\soap opera created by Irving Vendig which first aired on CBS from April 2, 1956 until November 28, 1975 when it moved to the ABC network where it aired from December 1, 1975 until December 28, 1984, airing for 28 seasons & 7,216 episodes.
For the duration of the series, the storylines either revolved around or touched upon Monticello lawyer (and former Monticello police officer) Mike Karr. As the show began, Mike Karr's relationship with Sara Lane (Teal Ames) reproduced the radio serial's Perry Mason/Della Street relationship. Adding a complication for Mike Karr, Sara's family was involved in organized crime.
In the show's early years, Sara's younger brother, Jack (Don Hastings), was drawn into the criminal world by corrupt uncle Harry Lane (Lauren Gilbert). Nevertheless, Mike and Sara eventually married, but their happiness was short-lived when Sara was written out of the show, killed as she saved the life of their daughter Laurie Ann, who ran into the street into the path of an automobile. By the 1960s, Laurie Ann was a teenager, supplying many plots for the show, and a young wife and mother by the 1970s.
Mike later married Nancy Pollock (Ann Flood), a journalist who helped in many of his cases.
Other important characters of the series were Police Chief Bill Marceau (Mandel Kramer), who was one of Karr's best friends and shared a tremendous mutual respect, rare between a defense attorney and a chief of police (perhaps because Mike had once been a police officer himself), Marceau's secretary (and later wife) Martha (Teri Keane), fellow attorney Adam Drake (Donald May), his client, then secretary (and later on, his wife) Nicole Travis (Maeve McGuire; Jayne Bentzen; Lisa Sloan), and wealthy socialite Geraldine Whitney (Lois Kibbee). Nancy had two siblings: Lee, who eventually married Geri McGrath, and Elaine (nicknamed "Cookie").
In an early storyline, Nicole Travis Drake was victimized by two different women, Stephanie Martin (Alice Hirson) and Pamela Stewart (Irene Dailey), who both wanted Nicole dead. Nicole was then accused of murdering Stephanie Martin. Adam Drake defended her and proved her innocence when he proved Pamela Stewart had murdered Stephanie. Adam then broke away from Mike Karr's law firm as partner and opened his own law practice. He hired Nicole as his secretary, and a romance blossomed.
When Nicole sensed his lack of interest in marriage, she went to work for another attorney, Jake Berman (Ward Costello). She continued to date Adam and told him if he did not propose to her by New Year's Eve, their relationship was finished. She soon got another marriage proposal from her new boss, widower Jake Berman. She did not accept, but moved to New York City with him when he was going to partner at an existing law firm.
Then, Adam searched for Nicole in New York until he found her at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve and proposed to her. When Adam and Nicole returned to Monticello, so did Jake, determined to prevent them from marrying. He plotted with exconvict Johnny Dallas (John LaGioia) to frame Adam for attempted murder. Johnny did not show up, but Jake was murdered by Joel Gantry (Paul Henry Itkin, Nicholas Pryor) and Adam was arrested for the murder immediately following Nicole and his wedding at the Karr residence.
The day before the jury would find Adam guilty, Joel Gantry was found by Kevin Jamison (Dick Shoberg) in San Francisco, who was really Edith Berman's son and convinced Jake had murdered his mother. Adam and Nicole reunited and settled into married life. Sometime later, she was believed to have died in a boating accident in the Caribbean, but was discovered alive 18 months later by Kevin Jamison (then played by John Driver) in France at the same time Adam proposed to Assistant District Attorney Brandy Henderson (Dixie Carter).
Adam and Nicole eventually reunited about six months after Nicole was discovered alive, and Brandy left town another six months later. Their marriage ended as Adam was murdered. The character of Nicole was replaced with a new actress and was subsequently reduced in age a decade, a rarity for an adult character in the genre. Now younger and more vibrant, Nicole was suitable for a relationship with young doctor Miles Cavanaugh. Nicole was eventually killed off when her makeup powder was poisoned.
Another important relationship was that between Nancy and her younger sister Cookie, who was married first to Malcom Thomas and later to Ron Christopher, whose dealings with loan sharks affected Mike's good friends Louise and Philip Capice.
In the show's later years, Mike's beautiful daughter, Laurie Ann (Emily Prager), by now a young adult, was an important character. Her relationship with Jonah Lockwood, a sociopath, almost cost her her life, but he was revealed to be an alternate persona of Keith Whitney, scion of the wealthy Whitney family, nemesis of the Karrs and Marceau. Laurie subsequently became engaged to marry Mike Karr's law associate Vic Lamont (Ted Tinling).
During this time Mike Karr was being stalked by a gangster Lobo Haynes (Fred J. Schollay) over a shipment of drugs which led to Vic being pleading guilty to murder and going to prison to conduct undercover work where he was almost stabbed to death in a prison shower but his life was saved by inmate Johnny Dallas.
Johnny was later released from prison and became the owner of a restaurant The New Moon Cafe. Laurie (now played by Jeanne Ruskin) played the piano at the restaurant leading to her and Johnny falling in love. When Vic found out Laurie and Johnny were together in Chicago when he didn't show up to shoot and wound Jake Berman, he left Laurie.
In a drunken stupor, Vic married client Kay Reynolds (Elizabeth Farley). Laurie and Johnny eventually married and Vic was murdered saving Johnny's life in a staged holdup at the New Moon Cafe when it was revealed that Johnny was doing undercover work. Laurie (now played by Linda Cook) and Johnny had a baby they named John Victor. However, Laurie developed mental problems that led her to being placed in a mental institution, and Johnny ran away.
Another major character introduced in the later years was Assistant District attorney Draper Scott (Tony Craig), who started out working alongside Brandy Henderson and tried to date her but she was still in love with Adam Drake.
Draper prosecuted Nicole's cousin Serena Faraday (Louise Shaffer) for the murder of her ex-husband Mark Faraday (Bernie McInery} but Adam defended her and proved it was her alternate personality "Josie" and she was sent to a mental institution. Draper left the D. A. office and joined forces with Mike Karr after Adam Drake was shot and killed. He eventually married April Cavanaugh (Terri Davis)sister of Dr. Miles Cavanaugh.
One of the later major story arcs was about a train wreck where Draper had been unjustly convicted of murder, escaping from the train accident. There was also a storyline in the mid-1970s involving a troubled woman (Nicole's cousin, Serena Faraday) who changed her personality to Josie as she donned a frizzy, black wig in perhaps a nod to One Life to Live's popular Victoria Lord/Niki Smith storyline.
Another notable character on the show was Charlotte "Raven" Alexander Jamison Swift Whitney (portrayed by Juanin Clay, then Sharon Gabet), a duplicitous coquette who became more stable and faithful in the latter years.
Whitney family matriarch, tough Geraldine Whitney (Lois Kibbee) suffered the misfortune of losing most of those close to her to untimely deaths: her first husband, two sons, a beloved daughter-in-law, a nephew, and she herself was nearly killed, having been pushed down a flight of stairs in 1975 by her ne'er-do-well son-in-law Noel Douglas (Dick Latessa).
She became close to Raven Alexander and Raven's ex-husband Logan Swift during later years (and became de facto grandmother to Raven and Logan's son). However, when Logan was killed in 1984, Geraldine could hardly bear the grief to learn that, through a series of events, she had accidentally shot him.
Near the end of the series' run came a rather unusual story wherein Mike and Nancy, after sleeping in twin beds for nearly their entire married life, decided to "go all out, and buy a double bed", thereby retiring their twin beds for good.
Uniquely among daytime dramas at the time, The Edge of Night finished its run with an ominous (and intentional) cliffhanger, revealing that an old enemy—Louis Van Dine, who had supposedly been sent to the state penitentiary—had returned to settle some scores, and none of the main protagonists were safe.
In addition, police detective Chris Egan (Jennifer Taylor) - spying a supposedly-deceased henchman of Van Dine, Donald Hext - followed Hext into a previously unknown Monticello street called "Wonderland Lane." There, she discovered Van Dine's sister, Alicia Van Dine (Chris Weatherhead), in a shop.
Alicia's brother viciously stabbed her in the back; her allegedly dying words to Chris Egan were, "...Off, off with her head...." Egan barely escaped from the shop after Van Dine and Hext attempted to capture her and ran out of Wonderland Lane, briefly falling by the post next to the street sign, a stuffed white rabbit propped against it.
The final scene of the series is of Chris Egan telling Mike Karr and others of her encounter with Louis Van Dine and Donald Hext, in addition to Alicia Van Dine's stabbing. The show's theme plays over the dialogue, masking Karr's words, but the audience is left to know that the story of Monticello continues onward, albeit off the air.
The reason for the cliffhanger was that Procter & Gamble believed that they could find another network to take over production of "The Edge of Night" or possibly continue the show in first-run syndication, but in 1984, there were no cable networks willing to take on such an expensive endeavor.
|Mike Karr|| 1956–1962|
|Teal Ames||Sara Lane Karr||1956–1961|
|Ann Flood||Nancy Pollock Karr||1962–1984|
|Nicole Travis Stewart Drake Cavanaugh||1968–74, 1975–1977; 1978–1981; 1981–1983|
|Lois Kibbee||Geraldine Weldon Whitney Saxon||1970–71, 1973–1984|
|Frances Fisher||Det. Deborah 'Red' Saxon||1976–81|
|Tony Craig||ADA Draper Scott||1975–81|
|Terry Davis||April Cavanaugh Scott||1977–81|
|Joel Crothers||Dr. Miles Cavanaugh||1977–84|
|Charlotte "Raven" Alexander Whitney|| 1976–77|
|Larkin Malloy|| Jefferson Brown|
|David Froman||Gunther Wagner/Bruno Wagner, the Whitneys' servant||1980–84|
|Dennis Parker||Derek Mallory, chief of police||1979–84|
|Jody Travis|| 1980–83|
|Mark Arnold||Gavin Wylie||1981–83|
|Charles Flohe||John 'Preacher' Emerson||1982–84|
|Dixie Carter||ADA Olivia Brandeis "Brandy" Henderson||1974–76|
|ADA Logan Swift|| 1977–81|
|Tom Keena||Philip Seward||1979–80|
|Jaques Roux||Dr. Calmette||1976|
|Mildred Clinton||Judge Sussman||1975–76|
|Dorothy Lyman||Elly Jo Jameson||1972–73|
|Donald May||Adam Drake, Mike Karr's law partner||1967–77|
|Ward Costello||Jake Berman||1972–73|
|Nicholas Pryor||Joel Gantry #2||1973|
|Larry Hagman||Det. Ed Gibson||1961–63|
|Irving Allen Lee||Det. Calvin Stoner||1977–84|
|Mariann Aalda||Didi Bannister Stoner||1981–84|
|Jerry Zaks||Louis Van Dine||1983–84|
|Amanda Blake||Dr. Julianna Stanhower||1984|
|Frank Gorshin||Smiley Wilson||1981–82|
|Leah Ayres||Valerie Bryson||1981–83|
|Alfred Drake||Dwight Endicott||1982|
|Kim Hunter||Nola Madison (aka Martha Cory)||1979–80|
|Margaret Colin||Paige Madison||1979|
|Denny Albee||Det. Steve Guthrie||1976–80|
|Farley Granger||Trent Archer||1979 (2 episodes)|
|Lee Godart||Eliot Dorn||1978–80|
|Lew Resseguie||Sgt. Sam Dwyer||1980|
|Ann Williams||Margo Huntington Dorn||1978–80|
|Lori Cardille||Winter Austin #1||1978–79|
|Stephanie Braxton||Winter Austin #2||1979|
|Bruce Gray||Owen Madison||1979–80|
|Teri Keane||Martha Spears Marceau||1964–75|
|Mandel Kramer||Chief Bill Marceau||1959–79|
|Ted Tinling||Vic Lamont||1969–75|
|Elizabeth Farley||Kay Lepage Reynolds Lamont||1973–75|
|Paul Vincent||Ashley Reynolds||1972–73|
|Alan Feinstein||Dr. Jim Fields||1969–75|
|George Petrie||District Attorney Peter Quinn||1963–74|
|Bernard Barrow||District Attorney Ira Paulson||1974–75|
|Judson Laire||Judge Blackwell||1973|
|James Ray|| Bart Fletcher|
|Mari Gorman||Taffy Simms||1973-74|
|Alberta Grant||Liz Hillyer Prentiss Fields||1966–74|
|Patricia Conwell||Tracy Dallas Micelli||1974–77|
|Lou Criscuolo||Danny Micelli||1973–77|
|Leslie Ray||Babs Werner Micelli||1974|
|Jay Gregory||Morlock Sevigny||1974–75|
|John LaGiola||Johnny Dallas||1973–77|
|Kathleen Cody||Laurie Ann Karr Lamont Dallas #3||1966–68|
|Emily Prager||Laurie Ann Karr Lamont Dallas #4||1968–72|
|Rosemary Rice||Mrs. Nick Bryce||1964|
|Jeanne Ruskin||Laurie Ann Karr Lamont Dallas #5||1973–75|
|Linda Cook||Laurie Ann Karr Lamont Dallas #6||1975–77, 1984|
|Lucy Martin||Tiffany Whitney Douglas||1970–71, 1973–76|
|Bruce Martin||Keith Whitney aka Jonah Lockwood||1970–71|
|Johanna Leister||Dr. Phoebe Smith Jamison #3||1972–76|
|Heidi Vaughn||Dr. Phoebe Smith Jamison #1||1965–67|
|Kevin Jamison|| 1972–75|
|Doug McKeon||Timmy Faraday||1975–76|
|Bernie McInerney||Mark Faraday||1975|
|Niles McMaster||Dr. Clay Jordan||1975–77|
|Noel Douglas|| 1974|
|Michael Stroka||Dr. Quentin Henderson||1975–76|
|Louise Shaffer||Serena Faraday/Josie||1975–76|
|Sam Schacht||Paul Fairchild||1974–75|
|Bennett Cooperman||Benny Hayes||1979–80|
|George Hall||Ernie Tuttle #2/John||1970–78|
|Robert Dryden||Oliver Barbour||1966|
|Kate Wilkinson||Mrs. Perkins||1966|
|Stephen Elliott||Peter Dalton||....-1966|
|Edward Holmes||Willy Bryan||....-1966|
|Frances Chaney||Jeanne Culpepper||1950s–1960s, 1967|
|Cathleen Cordell||Virginia Dalton||1950s|
|Richard Janaver||Lloyd Conway||1950s|
|Barbara Joyce||Jane Conway||1950s|
|Phil Sterling||Johnny The Hitman||1968|
|Phil Sterling||Vic Ratner||1950s|
|House Jameson||John H. Phillips||1957–58|
|Jane White||Lydia Holliday, R. N.||1968–69|
|Lester Rawlins||Orin Hillyer||1966–68, 1972–73|
|Irene Dailey||Pamela Stewart||1969–70|
|Alice Hirson||Stephanie Martin||1969–70|
|Anne Revere||Dorothy Stewart #1||1969–70|
|John Cullum||David 'Giddy' Gideon #2||1966–67|
|Scott Glenn||Calvin Brenner||1969|
|James Mitchell||Lloyd Griffin||1964|
|Barbara Berjer||Irene Eagon Wheeler||1964–65|
|Richard Thomas||Ben Schultz Jr.||1961|
|Ernest Graves||ADA Walter Palmerlee #2||1958|
|William Post Jr.|| Mr. Hull|
|Bill Macy||Cab driver||1966|
|Mary K. Wells||Louise Grimsley Capice #2||1961–70|
|Ray McDonnell||Phillip Capice||1961–69|
|Walter Greaza||Winston Grimsley||1956–71|
|Barry Newman||John Barnes||1964–65|
|Fred J. Schollay||Lobo Haynes||1972|
|Hugh Reilly||Dr. Simon Jessup||1972–73|
|Nancy Pinkerton||Beth Moon Anderson Barnes||1963–67|
|Elaine "Cookie" Pollock Thomas Christopher|| 1962–64, 1964–72|
|John Gibson||Joe Pollock #1||1962–71|
|Kay Campbell||Rose Pollock #3||1964–69|
|Anthony Roberts||Lee Pollock #3||1964–67|
|Keith Charles||Rick Oliver||1966|
|Val Dufour||Andre Lazar||1965–66|
|Alan Manson||Ken Emerson||1964–68|
|Antony Ponzini||Tony Wyatt||1965–66|
|Millette Alexander|| Gail Armstrong|
Julie Jamison Hillyer
|Holland Taylor||Denise Norwood, R. N.||1977–78, 1980|
|Sonia Petrovna||Martine Duval Crown||1980–81|
|Marcia Cross||Liz Correll||1984|
|Julianne Moore||Carmen Engler||1984 (1 episode)|
Unlike most soap operas (which build a solid audience slowly over many years), "The Edge of Night" was an instant hit with daytime viewers; it amassed an audience of nine million in its first year in some respects because the public perceived it as a daytime "Perry Mason" (just as the producers of "The Edge of Night" had intended).
Through the 1960s, the show continued to flourish; it consistently ranked as one of the top six rated soap operas, alongside the rest of CBS' daytime lineup. It peaked at #2 (behind "As the World Turns") in the 1966–67 television season and came in at #2 between 1969 and 1971.
At one point, the show's audience was estimated to be more than 50% male, largely due to the show's crime format and its late start time of 4:30 PM (3:30 Central).
In July 1963, "The Edge of Night" was moved to the 3:30/2:30 time period after CBS gave the 4:30/3:30 slot back to the affiliates. The show dominated the 3:30 slot even over otherwise-hit programs like NBC's "You Don't Say!" and ABC's "Dark Shadows" and "One Life to Live."
However, when the show moved to 2:30 PM (1:30 Central) on September 11, 1972, as per Procter and Gamble's insistence upon running all of its shows in a continuous daily marathon, it slid from a solid #2 in the Nielsen ratings to near-last; it has been hypothesized that the show suffered this sudden & drastic ratings plummet because many male viewers & teenagers were unable to make it home from work or school earlier in the afternoon to watch.
(This was not the only time that Procter & Gamble's insistence on a certain timeslot for one of their soaps caused a catastrophic drop in ratings; the same problem affected the long-running Search for Tomorrow a decade later.)
By the summer of 1975, CBS began considering expansions of two of the Procter & Gamble-owned soap operas "Search for Tomorrow" and "As the World Turns") to forty-five minutes daily, in response to NBC's expansion of full-hour expansions of "Another World" & "Days of Our Lives" some months earlier.
The network later changed its mind when it realized that to do so would force them to take the 30-minute station break slot at 1:00 p.m. Eastern that affiliates used to air other programming. CBS then decided to simply expand "As the World Turns" (which was still the top rated soap opera on television) to sixty minutes.
Since CBS decided against taking the 1:00 p.m. slot from the affiliates, and the network did not intend to move "As the World Turns" from its 1:30 p.m. slot, this made the low-rated "The Edge of Night" expendable and CBS told Procter & Gamble it would not be renewing the series.
The series was later picked up by ABC.
Daytime Emmy Award
- 1974:"Outstanding Drama Series Writing"
- 1979: "Outstanding Achievement in Technical Excellence"
- 1984: "Outstanding Achievement in Any Area of Creative Technical Crafts - Electronic Camerawork"
- 1985: "Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for a Drama Series"
Primetime Emmy Award
- 1973: "Outstanding Program Achievement in Daytime Drama" (Drama Series)