The year was 1977. The year’s top song was Rod Stewart’s "Tonight’s the Night," the original "Star Wars" movie (that’s the one with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford) was the top movie, and in September of 1977, the television show "Soap" premiered.
As the show’s intro says, it’s the story of two sisters--the well-off Jessica Tate and the not-so-well-off Mary Campbell, and both of their wacky families.
Among the characters we meet in the show’s premiere episode are Danny Dallas, Mary’s son, who works for the Mob; Burt Campbell, Mary’s impotent second husband (and, as we learn in the first episode, the killer of Mary’s first husband.). At the Tate house, there’s the shell-shocked grandfather, known as Major, who still thinks he’s in the war. There’s also Jessica’s adulterous husband, Chester.
The show launched the careers of several of the actors and actresses on it. Among them: Katherine Helmond, who played the sweet and slightly daffy Jessica Tate, went on to star with Tony Danza and Judith Light in "Who’s the Boss." Richard Mulligan, who played Bert Campbell, went on to star in "Empty Nest" with Kristy McNichol and Dinah Man off (who also starred briefly in "Soap"). And, of course, there’s Billy Crystal, who played TV’s first gay character on "Soap," Jodie Dallas. Crystal went on to "Saturday Night Live" and such movie hits as "Throw Momma From the Train," "When Harry Met Sally" and "City Slickers." And Robert Guillame, who played the Tate’s butler, Benson, eventually got his own spin-off, titled, you guessed it, "Benson."
I found all three seasons of "Soap" on DVD (now if I could only find my mind …), so throughout this blog, I’ll be touching on some of my favorite moments in the series.
But, I’d like to hear who your favorite characters were on the show, and why. And tell us about your favorite "Soap" moments.