For die hard fans of TV soap operas especially Days of Our Lives will be transfixed by the behind the scenes tale by Ken Corday–one of the true icons on Daytime Television. I was drawn into the story from the start and found the entire book engrossing and very well written. This is a man with passion and talent. Someone we can all learn from and aspire to be like. Excellent book.
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When you mention the term soap opera three serials instantly come to mind: “As The World Turns” (the #1 soap for twenty years from 1958-1978), “General Hospital” (who can forget Luke and Laura), and this serial “Days of Our Lives”, the most cherished daytime drama by fans and the subject of this book. Ken Corday has written a very informative essay on his family’s legacy. He is the son of co-creator Ted Corday, who along with Irna Phiilips, and a man by the name of Alan Chase, created “Days of Our lives” back in 1965 for NBC, a network who didn’t have any hit serials on its struggling daytime schedule. Ken discusses how his father created the series, only to discover weeks into the show’s broadcast that he was dying. At this point Ted Corday got a hold of legendary serial writer William J. Bell, told him of his illness, and how he (Ted) wanted William to save the show from cancellation. It was under the writing regime of Bill Bell that “Days of Our Lives” received its greatest popularity as the serial hit #1 in the late fall of 1971. Eventually after Ted died his wife Betty took over as executive producer, then in 1979 Ken Corday was handed the executive reigns as his mother began getting sick also. In this book Ken talks about his reluctance to take over “Days”, but knew in his heart he had to as the show belonged to his family. Corday discusses how hard it is to produce a soap opera, and most informative are his pages in which he discusess the problems that are plaguing serials today, with dwindling audiences and slashed budgets. If you want info on today’s soap opera industry this is the book to purchase as anyone will tell you serials are dying and every producer, writer, and actor are doing their best to keep the genre alive. This book doesn’t go into the story detail of “Days of Our Lives”, but goes behind-the-scenes into this 45 year old daytime institution. If anyone can make “Days” and serials have a comeback it is Ken Corday, for soap opera is in his blood.
If you are looking for a book that exposes the behind the scenes high jinks of the cast and crew, stop reading this review and DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK!
This book is really less an expose related to the long running soap opera and more a personal memoir of a family who had a dream and a go-for-broke spirit that took them from a stable life in the NYC area to Los Angeles and the world of daytime drama.
Ken Corday does an interesting job of telling how his jewish dad(Ted Corday) fell in love with a spirited irish catholic gal and married, pursued a successful career in radio and tv, moved west with the intention of launching a new daytime program (with his wife and two sons in tow), died before the program’s inception, and to this day is known (with his wife) as being the creators of one of television’s longest airing franchises. In the process, Corday gives his reader access to his family and the difficulties they encountered along the way. After Ted Corday’s death, his wife assumes the reins of the family ‘business’ and struggles with bouts of depression and alcoholism while soldiering on with her late husband’s (and her) dream. The family copes with an unstable oldest son/brother who after many unfortunate years commits suicide. Ken, who is poised for a career in music, is pulled into the family business by his mother and pure necessity and eventually becomes not only the head of the family, jack of all trades in regard to DAYS OF OUR LIVES, and the program’s executive producer. Wearing many hats, Ken keeps the family dream alive and thriving while dealing with the economic realities of current times.
While at times this story might become a soap opera, Corday does a good job telling his tale with as little glitz as possible. While there is some drama here, in the end it still comes down to family and the ties that bind people to one another.
This was an interesting story and definitely worth a look/see.