Backstage Wife

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Backstage Wife

Postby Lou » Tue Oct 25, 2005 12:25 pm

On the Air: Aug. 5, 1935-Mar. 27, 1936, MBS, 9:45 a.m. ET; Mar. 30-June 26, 1936, NBC Blue, 4:15 p.m.; 1936-38, NBC Blue, 11:15 a.m.; 1938-July 1, 1955, NBC, 4 p.m.; July 4, 1955-Jan. 2, 1959, CBS, 12:15 p.m.

Mary Noble: Vivian Fridell (1935-45), Claire Niesen (1945-59) ... Larry Noble: Ken Griffin (1935-45), James Meighan (1945-51), Guy Sorel (1951-59) ... Larry Noble, Jr.: Wilda Hinkel (child impersonator) ... Maude Marlowe: Henrietta Tedro, Ethel Wilson ... Tom Bryson: Frank Dane, Mandel Kramer, Charles Webster

Announcers: Edward Allen, Pierre Andre, Sandy Becker, Ford Bond, Bob Brown, Harry Clark, Stuart Dawson, Roger Krupp

Theme Song: "Stay as Sweet as You Are"; "The Rose of Tralee"

Epigraph: "Now, we present once again, Backstage Wife, the story of Mary Noble, a little Iowa girl who married one of America's most handsome actors, Larry Noble, matinee idol of a million other women -- the story of what it means to be the wife of a famous star."

Premise: One of the numerous success stories of the prolific serial creators Frank and Anne Hummert, Backstage Wife ultimately made the rounds of all four networks. The series embodied a Hummert motif: taking a fragile but persistent heroine of humble origin, wedding her into status, prosperity or both, then delivering her into contemptible situations in which she must fend off an endless procession of demented females hell-bent on capturing her mate for themselves -- at the risk of bodily injury to her. Mary Noble, an office clerk from the Midwest, married notoriety in Broadway matinee idol Larry Noble, "dream sweetheart of a million other women." For 23 years she fought bravely, defending her happiness against a perpetual parade of resolute damsels. And in the meantime, a melange of unbalanced men was just as committed to separating the Nobles for their own trysts with Mary. After two decades -- retaining a single NBC quarter-hour for 17 consecutive seasons -- that network gave Wife the boot. But because the drama sustained such a strong following, CBS extended its life an additional three years.

A personal confession: In my days of aspiring to become a network performer, I often thought how great it would be to capture either the role held by James Meighan or Ford Bond, both on this same drama in the late 1940s and early 1950s. They, and especially John Larkin (from his days as Perry Mason) became my idols -- and were legends to me. Did anyone else have similar experiences about radio personalities? Or did any of you ever have a desire to be in network radio?


Postby Guest » Tue Nov 01, 2005 6:27 pm

Ah, yes, in the mid and late 40's, there was no more glamorous occupation for a 15 year old kid than being a radio actor, especially on a network show, such as a soap opera. NYC or Chicago, Rockefeller Center or the Merchandise Mart, it was all glamour and an easy touch to a good income and an ennervating way of life. A Murray Forbes (Ma Perkins) was about as good as it got (or Charles Eggelston as Shuffel Shober). What a life ! Unfortunately, this lifestyle is gone forever. Radio now is a scam and a hack.

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Backstage Wife

Postby piqueroi » Fri Mar 23, 2007 6:56 pm

I've heard a long run of Backstage Wife from about 1950 involving Rupert Barlowe, his housekeeper/secretary Julia, that cad Oliver, etc, etc. Mary bravely clears Larry of a murder charge and is scarred by acid for her trouble, so Larry goes to Hollywood to make money in the movies. The sequence ends as he befriends an aspiring starlet and someone is attempting to kill him. What happens? Is there anyone out there who knows how the story develops, who was driving the car that tried to run Larry down, and what further nefarious deeds Rupert was committing to win Mary from Larry? (He showed his true colors when he only became interested in her again upon discovering her face could be restored to its original beauty!)

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Re: Backstage Wife

Postby piqueroi » Sun Jun 21, 2009 4:25 pm

While it's not a long run, only a single episode from the WWII years where Mary has ceased being a Backstage Wife but is acting on the Broadway stage while Larry is an officer. The pair have been invited to dinner by their next door neighbor at Rosehill and Mary is dismayed to discover he has an old portrait of the woman whom he loved in his youth -- the portrait is an exact duplicate of Mary! Would like to have heard more of that sequence.

There are several episodes from summer 1947 in which a profiteering acquaintance of Larry has tricked him into volunteering to perform summer stock in an off-Broadway tryout of a play written by an old friend of the Nobles who's enamoured of Mary, while not only pocketing large amounts of money from both Larry and his writer acquaintance, but also pocketing cash from the owner of the summer stock playhouse who thinks he's paying for larry to act as well as the privilege of putting on the play. Add to the mix socialite Regina, who wants to separate the Nobles so she can have Larry to herself.

The Hummerts certainly came up with good, intricate plots. It is strange their influence didn't continue on TV soaps. The few radio soaps they created which had TV tryouts were The Road of Life and Valient Lady. The most successful radio soap writer who transferred to TV was Irna Phillips of Guiding Light and As the World Turns fame, whose protege Agnes Nixon's soaps are still viewed today. I wonder if the Hummerts were ready to retire when the last of their shows left radio. After all, Backstage Wife and Helen Trent had very long runs.

I must be wrong about Road of Life as Irna Phillips had Dr. Jim Brent visiting the Right to Happiness and Guiding Light occasionally to give advice occasionally. TV soap fans should be happy Road of Life had a short lifeline on TV as Dr. Jim became Chris Hughes on As the World Turns for the rest of his acting career and the wonderful actress who played Sybil Overton had a long run on Guiding Light as Paul Fletcher's wife ... and we all know Santos Ortega RoL's Overton patriarch cast awside his wealth and status to become Grandpa Hughes on As the World Turns.

Valiant Lady was a Hummert creation which was updated and slightly modified for the TV version.

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Re: Backstage Wife

Postby livorno » Sun Feb 10, 2013 9:45 am

It's February 2013 and if anyone's interested, internet service OTR NOW dot com is playing the consecutive episodes of that long 1950 Backstage Wife run, an episode a day Monday through Friday, and if you're unfamiliar with Rupert Barlow's dastardly attitude as well as Cynthia's constant attempts to steal Larry from Mary, you'll love it! At approximately 4am and 4pm Eastern time they play 3 serials: Backstage Wife, Perry Mason, and Captain Midnight. If the Perry Mason situations remind you of TV's The Edge of Night, that may be because Edge creator Irving Vendig was the head writer of the Mason soap. Midnight was a children's show but evil Ivan Shark and his equally loving daughter Fury are a lot of fun, if you're interested in listening. (The Mason is from 1955.)

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