Soap Wars: “Days of Our Lives” takes on “General Hospital”

And now for something completely different!  Two beloved soap operas go head to head to determine who will emerge as the champion of the stacks!  Be sure to tell us which daytime drama packs a punch for you!

“Days of Our Lives”

Claim to Fame:  One of the longest-running television programs of all time, Days of Our Lives has been airing since November 8th, 1965—there are 48(!) seasons in all.  The series has won two Emmy awards for Best Daytime Drama, and numerous actors and actresses have won individual awards.  In the 1970s, critics applauded the show for incorporating controversial story elements, such as artificial insemination and interracial marriage, long before other network television shows approached these topics.  More recently, Days of Our Lives has followed other daytime dramas into new territory, however.

An overview of the fan mail that "Days of Our Lives" received during most of December, 1976.  Box 2, William Bell papers, #9843.  UW American Heritage Center.

An overview of the fan mail that “Days of Our Lives” received during most of December, 1976. Box 2, William Bell papers, #9843. UW American Heritage Center.

Special Skills: Uncanny ability to recover from: amnesia, demonic possession, love triangles, and kidnapping.  Provocative storylines.  Longevity.

An early script summary from "Days of Our Lives," Box 3, William Bell papers, #9483. UW American Heritage Center.

An early script summary from “Days of Our Lives,” Box 3, William Bell papers, #9483. UW American Heritage Center.

Collection Connection: The AHC holds the papers of William J. Bell, head writer for Days from 1966-1975—you’ll find scripts from the show in his papers!

“General Hospital”

Claim to Fame:  On air since April 1, 1963, General Hospital is the longest-running soap opera and it celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.  The series has celebrated 11 Daytime Drama Emmy wins, as well as individual awards for its actors and actresses.

First page of the very first "General Hospital" script; this episode premiered on April 1, 1963.  Box 1, Frank and Doris Hursley papers, #2937.  UW American Heritage Center.

First page of the very first “General Hospital” script; this episode premiered on April 1, 1963. Box 1, Frank and Doris Hursley papers, #2937. UW American Heritage Center.

Special Skills: Guest star power (Roseanne Barr, James Franco), fan base includes high-profile celebrities (Princess Diana was a fan, as is Kelly Ripa and Mario Batali), family drama, social activism on such issues as HIV/AIDS advocacy, and the highest-ever ratings for a single episode—1981’s Luke and Laura wedding episode.

Collection Connection: The AHC holds the papers of Jerry Dobson, who wrote for GH from 1973-1975 and his collection contains 33 boxes of General Hospital scripts!  We also hold the papers of Frank and Doris Hursley, who first created General Hospital.

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