All My ChildrenAll My Children is a popular American soap opera broadcast Monday through Friday on the ABC TV network.
All My Children premiered on January 5, 1970, and was created by Agnes Nixon. Nixon had priorly created the soap One Life to Live, but All My Children was her brainchild. She set the show in Pine Valley, Pennsylvania, a small suburb of Philadelphia. The '70s and '80s are called the "golden age" of the show by many fans and soap historians alike.
The action took place around several families, including the Martins, the Tylers, the Brents, and the Kanes. One stand-out character was Susan Lucci's Erica Kane, destined to break up the romance of classmates Tara Martin (Karen Lynn Gorney) and Phil Brent (Richard Hatch) so she could have Phil all to herself.
Throughout the early 1970s, All My Children's various storylines included Phil missing in action in Vietnam, Erica's striving modeling career, the quadrangle of Nick Davis (Larry Keith), Kitty Shea (Francesca James), Paul Martin (William Mooney), and Ann Tyler (Judith Barcroft), the triangle of Mona Kane (Frances Heflin), Phoebe Tyler (Ruth Warrick) and Charles Tyler (Hugh Franklin), and the murder mystery surrounding the death of Jason Maxwell (John Devlin), Erica Kane's 'mistress.' Jason was thought to had been shot Jeff Martin (Charles Frank), Erica's husband, but the truth came out that Mona Kane shot him in self-defense. Numerous weddings occurred, including the marriages of Erica Kane and Jeff Martin, Tara Martin and Chuck Tyler (Jack Stauffer), and Joe Martin (Ray MacDonnell) and Ruth Brent (Mary Fickett).
The mid-late '70s saw the arrivals of popular characters such as Brooke English (Julia Barr), Erica's newest nemesis; Myrtle Fargate (Eileen Herlie), a wise ex-carnie; Palmer Courtlandt (James Mitchell), a savvy businessman; and Billy Clyde Tuggle (Matthew Cowles), a shady pimp. Storylines dealt with Joe and Ruth Martin struggling against Ray Gardner (Gil Rogers) to adopt young Tad Gardner (Matthew Anton) after his would-be parents Mary Kennicott (Susan Blanchard) and Jeff Martin were shot and left town, respectively. Another arc had both Erica and Brooke competing for Tom Cudahy (Richard Shoberg)'s affections. Phoebe Tyler met Langley Wallingford (Louis Edmonds), an ex-con man-turned-archaeologist, and they hit it off.
The early 1980s was a golden period for the show. Interesting younger characters, such as Jenny Gardner and Greg Nelson (Kim Delaney, Laurence Lau), Liza Colby (Marcy Walker), Jesse Hubbard (Darnell Williams), Angie Baxter (Debbi Morgan) and a now-grown-up Tad Martin (Michael E. Knight), who was now legally Ruth and Joe's son. The storyline involving Liza plotting to win Greg back after he left her for Jenny was a huge fan favorite, as was the Jenny/Greg supercouple. Jenny and Tad's birthmother Opal (Dorothy Lyman) was also added to the canvas. Powerful businessman Adam Chandler (David Canary) became a frontburner character as he and Erica began a stormy marriage. Another popular couple was the pairing of Cliff and Nina (Peter Bergman and Taylor Miller). While the two loved each other deep down, they went through four marriages and as many divorces throughout the 1980s.
The show's de facto icon was, and has always been, a scrapbook with the title emblazoned on it. Nowadays, the scrapbook is red, but from 1970 to 1989, the opening titles remained unchanged; the scrapbook at that time was yellow.
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