Daily Almanac for Friday, September 3, 2021; the 246th Day of the Year

On this date in 1951, Search for Tomorrow first aired on CBS TV. This is their logo in 1981 on NBC. By Stdjsb25, Fair use, https en.wikipedia.org


Search for Tomorrow is an American television soap opera. It began its run on CBS on September 3, 1951, and concluded on NBC, 35 years later, on December 26, 1986.

Set in the fictional town of Henderson in an unspecified state, the show focused primarily on the character of Joanne, known to the audience as “Jo.” Actress Mary Stuart played Jo for the entire run.

The lead actress on Search for Tomorrow was Mary Stuart as Joanne Gardner. This is her publicity photo from 1947. By Warner Bros. Studio, Public Domain, https commons.wikimedia.org

Broadcast history and production notes

Search for Tomorrow was created by Roy Winsor and was first written by Agnes Nixon (then known professionally as Agnes Eckhardt) for the series’ first 13 weeks and later by Irving Vendig.

The program was one of several packaged from the 1950s through the 1980s by Procter & Gamble Productions, the broadcasting arm of the famed household products corporation. Procter & Gamble used the show, as well as the others, to advertise products like Joy dish washing liquid and Spic and Span household cleaner. As the show’s ratings increased, other sponsors began buying commercial time.

Search for Tomorrow initially aired as a 15-minute serial from its debut in 1951 until 1968, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern/11:30 a.m. Central Time. The serial discontinued live broadcasts in favor of recorded telecasts in March 1967, began broadcasting in color on September 11, 1967, and expanded to a half-hour on September 9, 1968, keeping the 12:30/11:30 slot, while its old 15-minute partner The Guiding Light also expanded to 30 minutes and moved to the CBS afternoon lineup at 2:30/1:30. At the time, Search for Tomorrow and The Guiding Light, which had shared the same half-hour for sixteen years, were the last two 15-minute daytime programs airing on television. Search for Tomorrow would remain the top-rated show at 12:30/11:30 well into the late 1970s, despite strong competition from shows like NBC’s The Who, What, or Where Game and ABC’s Split Second and Ryan’s Hope.

On June 8, 1981, CBS moved Search from its historic 12:30 p.m./11:30 a.m. Central time slot, which it had held for 30 years, to the 2:30/1:30 p.m. time slot between As the World Turns and Guiding Light in order to accommodate the hit serial The Young and the RestlessProcter & Gamble, who owned Search for Tomorrow, urged CBS to return the show to its former slot. The relocation of Search for Tomorrow confused or angered many long-standing viewers habituated to seeing it earlier in the day. Another Procter & Gamble sister soap opera, The Edge Of Night, suffered the same problem six years earlier when Procter & Gamble had insisted the show be moved to the 2:30/1:30 p.m. time slot; it had previously dominated the other two networks in the ratings in the time 3:30/2:30 p.m. slot for almost a decade. The network refused, and when its contract with CBS expired, P&G sold Search to NBC, airing its last episode on CBS on March 26, 1982, with the show’s NBC premiere coming the following Monday, the 29th. CBS replaced Search for Tomorrow in its time slot that same day with Capitol. This would prove the beginning of the serial’s terminal decline.

With the move to NBC, Search now found itself going head-to-head with The Young and the Restless. Additionally, several NBC affiliates opted to run syndicated programming or newscasts in the 12:30/11:30 slot, a practice dating back to NBC’s struggles in the 1970s. As a result, the show’s ratings plummeted and never recovered. For most of the next four years, it was among the lowest-rated soaps on television, kept alive mainly by its hardcore and largely elderly fans. As such, the show was increasingly unappealing to advertisers other than P&G.

On August 4, 1983, both the master copy and the backup of an episode of Search for Tomorrow scheduled for that day were reported missing, and the cast was forced to do a live show for the first time since the transition to recorded broadcasts 16 years before.[5] It was the first live daytime serial since two other CBS soaps, As The World Turns and The Edge of Night, had discontinued the practice in 1975; to date, it is the last soap opera to do so.

In the fall of 1986, NBC announced that Search for Tomorrow would be canceled due to low ratings against both The Young and the Restless and the ABC soap opera Loving. The show aired its 9,130th and final episode on December 26, 1986, after 35 years on the air. At the time of its cancellation, it was the longest-running daytime television program in history, but has since been surpassed by other shows. The following Monday, the game show Wordplay took over the 12:30 p.m. Eastern time slot.




















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