A 1935 Pillsbury premium
|Running time||15 minutes|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Announcer||Louis Roen (1933-37)|
|Created by||Irna Phillips|
|Written by||Irna Phillips, Virginia Cooke (dialogue, second series)|
|Directed by||Axel Gruenberg (1943-50)|
|Produced by||Carl Wester (1943-50)|
|Recording studio||Chicago, Illinois (1933-37, 1943-46), Hollywood, California (1946-50)|
|Original release||September 11, 1933 – June 2, 1950|
|No. of series||Two|
|Sponsored by||Pillsbury (1933-37), General Mills (1943-50)|
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.
Radio broadcasting in the United States has been used since the early 1920s to distribute news and entertainment to a national audience. It was the first electronic "mass medium" technology, and its introduction, along with the subsequent development of sound movies, ended the print monopoly of mass media. During radio's "Golden Age" it had a major cultural and financial impact on the country. However, the rise of television broadcasting in the 1950s relegated radio to a secondary status, as much of its programming and audience shifted to the new "sight joined with sound" service.
A soap opera is a radio or television serial dealing especially with domestic situations and frequently characterized by melodrama and sentimentality. The term soap opera originated from radio dramas being sponsored by soap manufacturers.
Irna Phillips was an American scriptwriter, screenwriter, casting agent and actress. Known by several publications as the "Queen of the Soaps", she created, produced, and wrote 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.
The original series, which debuted on September 11, 1933, revolved around the large Moran clan, headed by widow Mary "Mother" Moran, who was voiced by Phillips herself. Mother Moran had three adult children—Terry, Frances, and Eileen—whose troubles she dealt with using what promotional materials called "warm-hearted understanding and a common-sense philosophy."
The creation of the series was a direct result of Phillips' resignation from her pioneering WGN series Painted Dreams when the station refused to allow her to take the program to a network. As a result of the station's decision, she created Children for NBC-owned WMAQ as a thinly disguised version of the earlier series. Mother Moran was based on Mother Moynahan the mother-in-law of WGN station manager Harry Gilman, and Lucy Gilman's grandmother.The series ended on December 31, 1937, replaced in the new year by another Phillips creation, Woman in White .
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In 1937 a novel was published in book form by Pillsbury Flour Mills Company based on the radio program and given the same name ("Today's Children"). The copyright was held by the National Broadcasting Company. No author was cited in the book. The book was illustrated with line drawings depicting the action, as well as photographs of the leading characters in the show - identified by their character names only.
A 1935 Pillsbury advertising premium describes the characters as follows.
Six years following the end of the original series, Phillips created a new serial bearing the Today's Children title which began on December 13, 1943 over NBC, related to the original series only by its general dramatic themes and the setting of Chicago's Hester Street. The new serial followed the family of Mama and Papa Schultz, played Virginia Payne and Murray Forbes.
Virginia Payne was an American radio actress, best known for her 27-year role as the title character in the radio soap opera Ma Perkins. In 1939-1940, she played Mrs. Kerry Carter on the radio soap opera The Carters of Elm Street. She was in the soap opera Light of the World, 1940-1950, on CBS and NBC and on Lonely Women on NBC in 1942.
Originally, the series was one of three Phillips-created serials which made up the General Mills Hour, with characters and plots crossing over between Children, The Guiding Light , and Woman In White. Although Phillips was integral in plotting the revived series, the dialogue was written by Virginia Cooke. The second version of Today's Children ended on June 2, 1950.
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