(left to right) unidentified woman, Leonard Valenta and Betty Killner Davis
Last Year's Nest, Chapter 8
WPTZ, Channel 3, Philadelphia
March 30, 1942
This is a publicity photo of a 1942 live broadcast aired over WPTZ, Channel 3 in Philadelphia when the station was owned by Philco. It's of the nation's first soap opera, which was aired on WPTZ and called "Last Year's Nest." That program was the first soap opera serial on commercial television.
Keep in mind that WPTZ started broadcasting as a commercial TV station in 1941. The series was also aired over NBC-TV, which at that time had only a handful of affiliates. In fact, it was the first program to have a recurring story line.
It was a daytime program and premiered on Monday, January 26, 1942. This series was reported to have six episodes. However, there were at least nine programs (probably more). How do we know? We have the original title graphics. The last one says "Chapter 9."
Leonard Valenta, an actor for W3XE/WPTZ and the director for the TV soap, "The Guiding Light," said in a 1982 interview:
I was a freshman at Temple University in '41 and I was looking around for an assignment and who wanted a "freshie" in their show, the Templayers. But I did read that bulletin board avidly and one day I saw a sign that said, "anyone who's interested in television doing acting in it for nothing - they did say for nothing - please go to C and Tioga Streets and contact Mr. Ernest Walling at W3XE" that was the Philco station at that time, and I think, the call letters were W3XE.
I think as for as acting is concerned, it was a learning process. I saw this at that time as a marvelous potential. I thought, this is going to be a new industry. It's gonna go far and what a wonderful way for an actor to get a screen test and that's how narrow my little television mind was at that time, but it was all exciting.
I'm very proud of Philadelphia. I'm very proud having been with WPTZ. The cameramen. The technicians. The scenic designers. Because there were a lot of highly skilled techno-people with love in their hearts and they put on beautiful things and what I would see later on in New York, where I am now, brand new ideas, brand new shows. I thought that's old hat in Philadelphia. We did it first and we did it just as, we may have done it better.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Betty Killner Davis
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