Painted Dreams

Last updated
Painted Dreams
Genre Soap opera
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
Home station WGN
Starring Irna Phillips
Created by Irna Phillips
Written by Irna Phillips
Original release 1930 – 1943
Audio format Mono
Irna Phillips, creator of Painted Dreams Irna Phillips.jpg
Irna Phillips, creator of Painted Dreams

Painted Dreams is an American radio soap opera that was the first daytime radio soap opera program in the United States. It was broadcast from Chicago. It premiered October 20, 1930 [1] and last aired in July 1943.

A soap opera is an ongoing drama serial on television or radio, featuring the lives of many characters and their emotional relationships. The term soap opera originated from radio dramas being sponsored by soap manufacturers.


In 1930 radio station WGN asked Irna Phillips, who worked for them as an actress, to create a 15-minute daily show "about a family," to air during the day. Painted Dreams was the result.

WGN (AM) radio station in Chicago, Illinois

WGN, 720 kHz, is a commercial AM radio station in Chicago, Illinois, United States. The station is owned by Tribune Broadcasting and is one of several properties owned by the locally based Tribune Media. The station's studios are located on the 18th floor of 303 East Wacker Drive in the Chicago Loop, while its transmitter is located in Elk Grove Village. Since around 1990, WGN has maintained a news/talk format. WGN does not broadcast in HD.

Irna Phillips American actress and writer

Irna Phillips was an American scriptwriter, screenwriter, casting agent and actress. Known by several publications as the "Queen of the Soaps", she is best known for creating, producing and writing several of the first American daytime radio and television soap operas. As a result of creating some of the best known series in the genre, including Guiding Light, As the World Turns, and Another World, Phillips is credited with creating and innovating a daytime serial format with programming geared specifically toward women. She was also a mentor to several other pioneers of the daytime soap opera, including Agnes Nixon and William J. Bell.

Phillips wrote and acted in the show until 1932 when she asked WGN to sell the show to a national broadcaster. When they refused, Phillips sued, claiming the show was her property. The dispute was finally settled in 1938, and the show was acquired by CBS. Meanwhile, Phillips had left WGN in 1932, creating Today's Children for rival station WMAQ with virtually the same plot premises and characters.

CBS American broadcast television network

CBS is an American English language commercial broadcast television and radio network that is a flagship property of CBS Corporation. The company is headquartered at the CBS Building in New York City with major production facilities and operations in New York City and Los Angeles.

Today's Children was a name shared by two thematically related American radio soap operas created and written by Irna Phillips, the earliest of which was her first nationally networked series.

WMAQ (AM) former clear-channel radio station in Chicago

WMAQ was an AM radio station located in Chicago, Illinois, United States, and broadcast at 670 kHz with 50,000 watts. The station was in existence from 1922 to 2000, and was the oldest surviving broadcast outlet in Chicago. It was a class A clear channel station, and could be heard, particularly at night, over most of the eastern United States. WMAQ was owned in its later years by CBS Radio, but for much of its life it was owned by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), and later Westinghouse Broadcasting. The station's original owner was the Chicago Daily News newspaper, but its longest-running ownership was as an NBC Radio owned-and-operated station. Its transmitter was located in Bloomingdale, Illinois just off Army Trail Road, with a 238-meter (780-foot) tower where it remains today, with the callsign still on the exterior facade. The AM 670 transmitter is now in use by WMAQ's successor, All Sports Radio WSCR, and remains under the ownership of Entercom, which merged with CBS Radio in 2017.


Phillips' storyline followed the relationship of Irish-American widow Mother Moynihan and her unmarried daughter. Listeners in 1931 heard this dialogue in episode 25:

(Kitchen: Irene and Sue arguing. Mrs. Moynihan preparing breakfast.)
IRENE: I tell you, Sue, it won’t work. I’ve never worn that shade of orchid in all my life. I’d look like a perfect washout. Besides, that’s your very best special occasion dress. I wouldn’t think of taking it.
SUE: Don’t be silly. A wedding is a special occasion, isn’t it? And as long as I won’t need to wear it, you might just as well. If you’re a bridesmaid, you’ve got to look the part, kid.
IRENE: But I don’t look good in that color. I’d look faded or something.
SUE: Cracked ice! You can’t tell. You’ve never had it on. Gee, with gold slippers and a gold turban hat, you’d be a wow! Wouldn’t she, Mrs. Moynihan?
MRS.: Won't you be wearing it, Sue?
SUE: Why no; there's no reasons for my dressing up. I'm not in the wedding party. And I think that it would be just right for Irene, if there were a few tucks taken in around the waist. Anyway, it would save her from buying a dress.
IRENE: Well, who says I don't want to buy a dress? It's about time I was getting a new formal, anyhow. I haven't got a rag that's fit to be seen. [2]

Phillips occasionally played the lead of Mother Moynihan, as did Bess Flynn, who was a member of the show's writing team. Flynn, born August 18, 1899 in Tama, Iowa, went on to script three other soap operas: We, the Abbotts, Bachelor's Children and Martha Webster (originally titled Life Begins). In addition to doing the title role on Martha Webster, she also portrayed the annoying maid Tilda on The Gumps .

<i>Bachelors Children</i>

Bachelor's Children was a domestic daytime drama broadcast which originated on Chicago's WGN in 1935-36, continuing on CBS and NBC until September 27, 1946.

<i>The Gumps</i>

The Gumps is a comic strip about a middle-class family. It was created by Sidney Smith in 1917, launching a 42-year run in newspapers from February 12, 1917, until October 17, 1959.

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  1. Cox, Jim (2003). Frank and Anne Hummert's radio factory: the programs and personalities of broadcasting's most prolific producers. McFarland. ISBN   978-0786416318.
  2. Allen, Robert C. Speaking of Soap Operas. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1985. (Wisconsin Historical Society: Irna Phillips Collection.) ISBN   0-8078-4129-3