Search for Tomorrow is a soap opera which started airing on Monday, September 3, 1951 on CBS. The show was moved from CBS, its original broadcaster, on Friday, March 26, 1982, with NBC picking it up on the following Monday, March 29, 1982. It continued on NBC until the final episode was aired on Friday, December 26, 1986.
Search aired as a fifteen-minute serial from its debut in 1951 until 1968. The show's first sponsors were "Joy dishwashing liquid" and "Spic and Span" household cleaner. As the show's ratings increased, more sponsors began buying commercial time. Both "Joy" and "Spic and Span" continued to be the primary sponsors of the show well into the 1960s.
The show switched direct and connect from live emanations to tape and went to color in March of 1967. It became a half-hour on September 9, 1968.
In 1983, both the master copy and the backup of a Search episode were lost, and on August 4, the cast was forced to do a live show for the first time since the transition sixteen years before. After the event, NBC was accused of lying about the tape being misplaced in hopes that the noise generated by the accident would create a ratings jump for the show. It was thought that this situation mirrored a similar one in the 1982 movie Tootsie.
Throughout its entire thirty-five year run, Search's opening titles featured of a shot of clouds floating through the sky. In fact, they consisted entirely of that until 1981. The only noticeable change was the slightly altered "S" in "Search" upon switching to color (note the first two title cards). In 1981 they switched to a glitzy new videotaped opening sequence beginning with a shot of a seagull flying over the ocean, followed by a helicopter shot of the clouds in the midday sky (see the third title card). In the show's final months, the titles featured a montage of cast clips, bookended with sky shots.
The theme music for the early years sounded a little like "Beyond the Blue Horizon" to some, which would have seemed quite appropriate for this show given the opening visuals. Upon switching to color, a theme titled "Interchange" by Bill Meeder was used for the opening, and later on in 1974, a short-lived theme titled "Signature for Search for Tomorrow" by Ashley Miller (by then, it was still using in-studio organ accompaniment).
From November 1974 to February 1986, Search used a pop ballad theme: "We'll Search for Tomorrow" by Jon Silbermann, Jack Cortner, and John Barranco. This followed a trend initiated by The Young and the Restless for using pop ballads for soap theme tunes. Several arrangements were used during its 12-year run: the original version, a more orchestral version, a Latin disco-flavored version, and a vocal version for closing credits.
The final months' title sequence was accompanied by a new "techno-rock" theme by Billy Chinnock called "Somewhere in the Night".
The following sequences were used in the 70's and possibly to the end of the series:
When Weist retired to found his own public relations/casting company, former rock disc jockey Alison Steele assumed the announcing duties with similar announcements as above. Her job carried over into the first few years of NBC's run until Hal Simms (former announcer for The Edge of Night) took over for the remainder of the series, though Simms' announcements were limited. Don Pardo did a one-off duty for the NBC show that aired live.
Most of Joanne's dilemmas, in the early years, were due to her dead husband Keith Barron's overbearing parents – they (most especially her mother in-law, Irene,) never liked her and were quite content with seizing Joanne and Keith's daughter Patti (played longest by Lynn Loring) from the widow.
After Keith (played by John Sylvester White) died in 1952, Joanne started managing a hotel, The Motor Haven Inn. Local thugs in town saw Joanne as soft because she was a woman, and they attempted to take over the business as a front for Mafia dealings. Joanne's friend Rose Peabody (Lee Grant, Constance Ford, and Nita Talbot), who was selling information to the Mafia, tried to poison a pot of soup that Joanne made, so her credibility would be tarnished. In the end, the scheme did not work and it was Rose who perished. A man named Arthur Tate (Terry O'Sullivan) helped Joanne with financial backing for the Inn. Arthur's Aunt Cornelia gave him the inheritance money but insisted on meddling in his affairs as she hated Joanne. Eventually, Arthur and Jo fell in love and were married.
The show was one of the highest-rated soaps in the 1950s, but Search was losing out to newer soaps as the decade drew to a close. When the show was in a ratings slump in 1960, Western-themed drama writers Frank and Doris Hursley were hired to write the show. In 1963, with the ratings staying stagnant, the duo decided to write out Joanne's baby (written into the storyline a few years previous while she was pregnant with son Jeffrey) by having him run in front of a speeding truck and die upon impact. Miss Stuart was unhappy with the decision and, in the book All My Afternoons, Stuart was paraphrased as saying that she played the grief scenes with so much conviction that even the makeup lady could not bear to watch her to see if her makeup was right. In the end, the ratings did not rise, and Stuart threatened to quit the show unless the Hursleys were fired. The duo left the show and created the serial General Hospital for ABC the same year.
As the show progressed, Joanne's sister Eunice returned to town and seduced Joanne's second husband, Arthur Tate. When a woman named Marian Rand came to town and sued Arthur for paternity, the stress surrounding this dilemma, coupled with personal troubles and the guilt of sleeping with Eunice caused him to have a fatal heart attack.
Joanne's daughter Patti grew into a teenager and got involved with drug-dealing gang members (incorporating a scathing viewpoint regarding America's counter-culture of the day). Joanne's friend Sam Reynolds (who was, ironically, Arthur's archenemy) proved his worth to Joanne by saving Patti when she was held at knifepoint. They were going to be married, but alas, it was not to be. Actor Robert Mandan, who played Sam, did not renew his contract with the show.
In 1971, Stu and Marge's daughter Janet returned to the series and served as a peer to which Joanne's daughter Patti can relate. Early in 1972, Marge's sudden death was written into the storyline (actress Melba Rae had died late the year before). Stu later married Ellie Harper (Billie Lou Watt) and helped Jo run the Hartford House, a modern incarnation of her old property, the Motor Haven Inn.
Examples of the "younger" stories included the maniacal Jennifer Pace (played by Morgan Fairchild); Jennifer shot and killed Joanne's sister Eunice after a vision of Eunice's husband John Wyatt (Val Dufour), whom Jennifer was having an affair with, told her to do the murderous deed. Another popular story on the show was the budding romance between the characters of Steve and Liza Kaslo (Michael Nouri and Meg Bennett).
The show was doing fine in the afternoon ratings (the show consistently ranked #4 in the soap ratings throughout most of the 1970s) until the decision was made to move the show to 2:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) in 1981 (the show had aired at 12:30 p.m. since its first episode thirty years before). Procter and Gamble considered expanding Search for Tomorrow and reducing As the World Turns to 45 minutes in length (as they had made the expansion to 60 minutes six years earlier) and eliminating the time that most local stations aired newscasts. The final decision was to not expand these two shows and to move Search for Tomorrow to a later timeslot. The show still had many fans, but the ratings weren't near the level they had once been. As the ratings continued to tank, CBS finally cancelled and decided not to renew Search for Tomorrow in early 1982, but Procter and Gamble was not willing to give up on the show yet. The final episode aired on CBS on March 26, 1982, with the show moving to NBC three days later.
Although the soap switched networks, it was still produced at the CBS Broadcast Center at 524 West 57th St. in Manhattan until August, 1982. By September of that year, NBC relocated the production to the Reeves/Teletape Studio on Broadway and West 81st St., the former home of Sesame Street (which themselves had relocated to Kaufman-Astoria Studios at 9th Ave and 55th St.). It remained there until March 1985, when they moved to the former Edge of Night studios, the EUE/Screen Gems Studios at 222 East 44th St, where it remained until its final episode in December, 1986.
In an advertising campaign called "Follow the Search", the stars of the show wished for its loyal viewers to follow Search for Tomorrow to NBC. However, CBS only allowed the advertisements if Procter & Gamble did not name the network to which the show was moving in their advertisements (something CBS also decreed when The Edge of Night moved to ABC in 1975). At the end of the final CBS episode, veteran actors Mary Stuart and Larry Haines told the audience to start watching the show as it moved to "another network", and asked the viewers to locate them in their television listings.
The ratings stayed 50% lower than they had been on CBS, even in the 2:30 slot. By this time, Joanne's final marriage to Martin Tourneur (John Aniston) did not interest many viewers, and the show was chastised for preposterous storylines: in one heroine's case, she gave birth to a baby just three months after conception.
By 1984, the show mainly focused on two new families: the Kendalls and the McClearys. The McCleary family was headed by Malcolm Mccleary (Patrick Tovatt), Kate McCleary (Jo Henderson, later by Maeve McGuire), brothers Hogan McCleary (David Forsyth), Cagney McCleary (Matthew Ashford), Quinn McCleary (Jeffrey Meek), and sister Adair McCleary (Paige Hannah, later by Susan Carey Lamn). The Kendall family was headed by Estelle Kendall (Domini Blythe), Lloyd Kendall (Peter Haskell, then by Joe Lambie, later by Robert Reed), & Mike Kendall (Thomas Sullivan), brothers Alec Kendall (Robert Curtis Brown), Chase Kendall (Kevin Conroy, later by Robert Wilson), Steven Kendall (Phillip Brown, later by Steven Lindquist), and sister Theresa Rebecca (T.R.) Kendall (Jane Krakowski). In a newspaper interview during this period (The Videot), Mary Stuart complained, "They have created a new program and they're calling it 'Search for Tomorrow.'" She said she believed she was being eased out by the Kate McCleary character.
The show was canceled in 1986, but only after a memorable attempt to bring up the ratings: The whole town of Henderson was washed away in a flood. In a display of reverence, the only buildings that were left standing after the flood were Joanne's residence and business.
On December 26, 1986, the final episode ended with senior characters Stu Bergman and Joanne Tourneur talking about the future. Stu asked Joanne what she was searching for, and she answered, "Tomorrow, and I can't wait." This was followed by a taped piece in which the cast thanked the show's viewers for their loyalty over the past 35 years, ending with a slightly tearful Mary Stuart saying "Thank you... Thank you all. Have a wonderful year," and saluting the audience goodbye. The show also ended with the song We'll Be Together Again by Lou Rawls (Love of Life also closed out its run with the same song, but used a version by Tony Bennett).
Like many other soap operas, Search for Tomorrow featured segments of location shooting in the 1980s. In 1981 the show went to Hong Kong, and later that year, to Jamaica, to showcase a romantic rendezvous between the characters of Garth and Kathy. In 1982 prior to the switch to NBC, a storyline involving Travis Sentell took the show on location in St. Kitts. In 1984 the show did a lot of location shooting to show the wilds of Henderson. In the final months of the show in 1986, they went to Ireland to film a storyline with the McCleary brothers, who by that time occupied most of the storylines.
In 1981, CBS wanted its newer serial The Young and the Restless to lead off the afternoon soap lineup and moved Search For Tomorrow to 2:30 p.m. ET time between As the World Turns and Guiding Light. The show still got decent ratings, but Procter and Gamble who owned the show wanted the show back at 12:30 p.m. In March 1982, P&G moved the show to NBC at 12:30 (bumping the low rated soap The Doctors to Noon) with disastrous ratings results. When Search left CBS, the show was pulling in a 6.8 rating, which was good enough for eighth in daytime. By the end of the year, Search was fourteenth in the ratings, just .1 ahead of where The Doctors would finish the year.
Part of the reason for the slip was that many NBC affiliates already pre-empted The Doctors that had been airing at 12:30, and continued to do so when Search moved into the slot-- meaning, in some instances, Search would disappear altogether from some markets when it left CBS for NBC.
Search's ratings continued to drop as the show went on. The following season the show finished with a 2.7 rating, tied with outgoing NBC soap Texas for twelfth in the ratings. In three out of its remaining four seasons, the show would finish dead last in the ratings, the only exception coming in 1984-85 when the equally ratings-challenged veteran The Edge of Night finished behind it in what would turn out to be its final season on ABC.
Search finally was cancelled halfway through the 1986-87 season, finishing with a 2.5 rating. Its last episode aired on December 28, 1986, putting an end to its then-record 35 year run on television. NBC would not give the 12:30 slot, or the 12:00 hour for that matter, back to the local affiliates until 1989, and would also take back the hour for five months in 1993. In that time, Wordplay, Scrabble, Generations, and Scattergories all aired in the same slot Search had, and all three were eventually cancelled due to low ratings. Generations proved to be the most successful of the post-Search slot holders, airing for two years.
Capitol, the show that replaced Search for Tomorrow on CBS, aired its last episode on March 20, 1987, lasting only a few months longer than Search for Tomorrow's run on NBC.
In 2006, Procter & Gamble began making several of its soap operas available, a few episodes at a time, through America Online's AOL Video service, downloadable free of charge. Reruns of Search for Tomorrow episodes began with the October 5, 1984 show.
AOL is now airing episodes from December,1985 that have not been seen in the US since their original run.