March 18, 2015

What's in a name?

True story: I've mentioned the soap opera The Brighter Day several times in the past.  I don't know why; maybe it's because the title isn't that familiar compared to many of the other soaps of the era.  And it's a 15-minute soap, a carryover from the the days of radio, where The Brighter Day began in 1948.  At any rate, here's a clip from a May 1955 episode.

The reason I mention this is because I have a somewhat oblique personal connection to this soap.  (I don't often write about personal things, but I thought this one was too good to pass up.)  One of the show's regular characters is an attorney named Mitchell Dru, played by actor Geoffrey Lumb, and his was the first character to cross over from one soap to another; after The Brighter Day went off the air, the character (and the actor) appeared first on As the World Turns, and then Another World and Somerset, all owned by the same company, Proctor & Gamble.  After all, every good soap has to have an attorney present for one of its sensational murder trials, right?

Anyway, my point.  I was born in early May 1960, while The Brighter Day was still on the air.  My mother had wanted to give me, for a middle name, the last name of some family relation, cousins or something (I don't remember now), but she wasn't quite sure how to spell the name, nor could she find anyone who was, and because the birth certificate needed to be completed, she chose another middle name: Drew.*  

*It's a nice enough name, but I always felt kind of bad that it wasn't the name she'd originally wanted, and I've never used it much.

Granted it's spelled differently, but many of her friends teased her that she'd named me after the character Mitchell Dru.  She said she'd not even been aware of it; she must not have watched The Brighter Day, but she did watch Another World later on, which is when she related the story to me, and I got to see my "namesake" in action.  I've remembered this story all these years, but it wasn't until I ran across this clip yesterday, quite by accident, that I discovered the connection to The Brighter Day.  Ah, the things you learn here - TV as a family tree! 


  1. Mary had a little lamb
    The doctors were alarmed
    But they nearly died of fright
    When Old MacDonald had a farm ...

    Funny you should bring this up.
    Years later (early '70s), on another P&G serial, The Edge Of Night, this same situation arose:
    the lawyer summing up his case, and taking the whole show to do it.
    This was when EON's head writer was the great Henry Slesar, who was also writing another P&G story, Somerset, as well as occasional primetime shows, and stories for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and whatever else came to hand.
    Slesar didn't do all this alone; on EON, he had an associate writer, who did some of the day-to-day scripting - a former actor named Jim Lipton (yes, that James Lipton).

    Slesar and Lipton were putting together that week's teleplays, and noticed that one day would consist mainly of lawyer Adam Drake's summation in the current murder trial, with a few secondary scenes of other characters.
    So, Slesar decided to make Drake's summation the whole, live, half-hour show - one speech by one actor, Donald May.
    They weren't giving out daytime Emmys back then, but this episode got so much notice that the NY TV Academy started looking into it.

    Here's a footnote:
    I remember seeing this episode of Edge when it first aired.
    I was between jobs (okay, unemployed), so I was able to watch regularly; I was following the story.
    It was good, all right - so good that I didn't notice that the whole show was one speech by one actor.
    I was too caught up in the story to see the "stunt".
    And that means that Henry Slesar was doing his job exactly right.

    1. Wonder if that episode of Edge is available on YouTube - I know not many are. Guess I'll have to check. Great story! And great poem at the beginning!


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