Sunday, August 12, 2018

Classic TV: Love of Life (1951)

In the golden age of television, soap operas started off as 15 minute programs, same as almost everything else. That way, the networks could load their afternoon lineups with as many soaps as possible.

Love of Life ran for 29 years (1951-80), starting at 15 minutes a day, then moving to a 25-30 minute format in 1958. Depending on where CBS placed it on the schedule from that point, it would be 25 minutes to accomodate a 5 minute newscast, or run for a full 30 minutes.

Best known today for helping launch the career of the late Christopher Reeve before he first played "Superman" 40 years ago, Love of Life was one of three CBS soaps to come from the pen of series creator Roy Winsor (Secret Storm & Search For Tomorrow are the others), and, for most of its run, was produced & sponsored by American Home Products, the original packagers of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pasta products, and its sister company, Boyle-Midway, makers of Aerowax and Black Flag bug sprays, among other items. Today, Chef Boy-Ar-Dee is part of ConAgra Foods.

I remember seeing Love of Life near the end of its run, in a 25 minute format right before lunch time. During the 70's, it was parodied as Love of Chair on the original Electric Company. Ken Roberts, the show's final announcer, also worked on the Love of Chair skits.

Right now, let's go to 1953, and a tale of a young runaway, Ben "Beanie" Harper, who would be played as an adult by Reeve for a few years in the 70's.

Rating: B.

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