Heartbreaking Anniversary of a Classic Soap’s Death: ‘We Certainly All Anticipated Cancellation’
Courtesy of the Everett Collection (4)
Thirty-four years after Search for Tomorrow was put down, we look back at the network-hopping daytime drama.
On November 4, 1986, NBC — and specifically, Brian Frons, the exec who decades later at ABC also did in All My Children and One Life to Live — stuck a fork in Search for Tomorrow, the 35-year-old soap opera that it had only stolen away from CBS four years earlier. In its timeslot, the exec put a game show called Wordplay, which lasted less than a year.
Brilliant, right? That sorta genius is sorta what Frons is known for in daytime television. Remember The Chew and The Revolution, which replaced All My Children and One Life to Live? Yeah, we didn’t think so.
Back in ’86, Search for Tomorrow executive producer David Lawrence had attempted to remix the show, focusing more or romance and less on melodrama. Still, he told the Associated Press, “we certainly all anticipated cancellation at some point in the near future.
“When I got the assignment seven months ago,” he added, “I was told the show was living on borrowed time. But surprise or not, it’s never terribly pleasant” to be around when the axe falls.
Especially when it falls on a daytime drama as beloved as was Search for Tomorrow, which was created by Roy Winsor, once written by All My Children and One Life to Live creator Agnes Nixon and a springboard to fame for actors such as Don Knotts (yes, before The Andy Griffith Show), Olympia Dukakis (aka our favorite of the big-screen Steel Magnolias), Kevin Kline (the Oscar-winning star of A Fish Called Wanda) and future 30 Rock diva Jane Krakowski.
According to We Love Soaps, Frons said at the time of Search for Tomorrow’s demise that it “came to us from CBS after 31 years, but the audience didn’t come with it. We, therefore, had to treat the show as a new one, not one with a long history.”
You coulda gone ahead and said it, dude. You were gonna treat the show like [bleep]. Nonetheless, we still have fond — crazy fond, some might say — memories of Search for Tomorrow and the careers it launched. Were you to be in the mood for a stroll down memory lane, the below photo gallery might be — make that, would be — just the thing for you.