On the Air: June 6, 1938-Jan. 6, 1956, NBC, 4:15 p.m. ET
Stella Dallas: Anne Elstner Laurel Dallas Grosvenor: Joy Hathaway, Vivian Smolen Dick Grosvenor: Jim Backus, Spencer Bentley, MacDonald Carey, Bert Cowlau, Michael Fitzmaurice, George Lambert, Carleton Young Mrs. Grosvenor: Jane Houston Minnie Grady: Grace Valentine (Mad) Ada Dexter: Helen Claire Stephen Dallas: Arthur Hughes, Neil Malley, Leo McCabe, Frederick Tozere
Announcers: Ford Bond, Howard Claney, Jack Costello, Frank Gallop, Roger Krupp, Jimmy Wallington
Theme: "How Can I Leave Thee?" (after first six weeks)
Epigraph: "We give you now -- Stella Dallas! -- a continuation on the air of the true-to-life story of mother love and sacrifice in which Stella Dallas saw her beloved daughter Laurel marry into wealth and society and, realizing the difference in their tastes and worlds, went out of Laurel's life. These episodes in the later life of Stella Dallas are based on the famous novel of that name by Olive Higgins Prouty and are written by Anne Hummert."
Synopsis: Its origins embedded in a popular turn-of-the-century novel, "Stella Dallas" was an NBC staple at 4:15 p.m. ET for 17 years. This story of "mother love" saw seamstress Stella, a divorcee lacking in proper dialect and social graces, temporarily sacrifice her relationship with her daughter, Laurel, when the girl married above her station. Reentering Laurel's life despite her lack of education, Stella proved her mettle in numerous ways: she stood firmly on precepts of righteousness, becoming the champion of many an underdog; she tracked and subdued evildoers of widely diverse sorts; and she exhibited an uncanny ability to suspect those with debauchery on their minds long before it became ovious to everyone else. In a long-running feud with Mrs. Grosvenor, Laurel's widowed mother-in-law, Stella became a thorn in the side of the grandame of Boston's elite. But Dick Grosvenor, Laurel's husband, who ardently admired his mother-in-law, was often caught in the cross fire between the two matriarchs. On this show, the audience never knew what mischief might require the attention of a lowly tailor to counteract the effect. Though the serial's action was grossly exaggerated, Stella became the dramatic heroine for millions of late-afternoon listeners who followed her relentless pursuits for decency at home and abroad.
Now it's your turn to reminisce...
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Probably Stella's most endearing and enduring quality was that she not only tolerated the scheming of imperious Louise Grosvenor from her home on Beacon Hill to break up Laurel's marriage but continued to altruistically extricate Laurel's mother-in-law from sticky situations of her own making. Stella's unconditional love for Lolly-baby and unswerving friendship for Dick Grosvenor, as well as involvement to save her loved ones and friends from the most lurid plots engendered by swindlers, adventurers, adventuresses kept the radio audience glued to NBC for years at 4:15 PM Eastern time. The daytime management of NBC should have been jailed for the decision to axe the beloved Hummert soap. (Their efforts contributed to the swift destruction of network radio as I knew it in the early '50's.) Much as I "love" the Barbara Stanwyck movie, it's Anne Elstner's voice I always "hear" in my mind's eye (??) whenever I remember Stella Dallas.
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