Fifteen years ago this month daytime lost a treasure in Douglas Marland. Marland is regarded among the absolute best of the genre's writer-if not the best.
In the 1970's Marland began penning scripts under the legendary Another World scribe Harding "Pete" Lemay, whose brazen stories kept AW at Number One in Nielsen households for most of the 70's.
Then in 1977 ABC made the decision to pair Marland in the role of headwriter with one Gloria Monty serving as executive producer. The pair had the Herculean task of resurrecting ABC's ratings stagnant General Hospital in six months, or the show would be cancelled.
As Monty got busy changing the look and feel of GH (and basically all of daytime as her work would be copied by just about all the other soaps on air at the time), Marland began electrifying the scripts. He zeroed in on fresh-faced young marrieds Laura and Scotty Baldwin (Genie Francis and Kin Shriner) and created Jackie Zeman's signature role, scheming nurse Bobbie Spencer, to come between the couple. Bobbie planned to use her bad boy brother Luke Spencer (Tony Geary) to drive a wedge between Scotty and Laura and the rest we al know ended in soap opera history, no, make that pop culture history.
And while being instrumental in the early success of Luke and Laura's romance definitely was one of Marland's claims to fame, it wasn't by far his only success at GH. The storytelling genius also gave us the wealthy, cantankerous Quartermaine clan.
Dashing Dr. Alan Quartermaine (Stuart Damon) was introduced to woo and/or tame Dr. Gail Baldwin's adopted daughter Dr. Monica Bard Webber (Leslie Charleson). Since the character's introduction, Monica had been caught in a tempestuous love triangle between brothers Rick and Jeff Webber and at the time of Alan's introduction she still carried a torch for Rick, but the Quartermaine billions proved enticing enough to Monica. Other early Q's introduced during Marland's regime were Alan's parents-billionaire Edward (David Lewis) , socialite Lila (Anna Lee) and his scheming sister Tracy (Jane Elliot).
Not wanting to relocate from New York to LA where GH was filmed, Marland opted to take the headwriter's job at Guiding Light in 1979. There he created what would become one of the show's most wildly popular heroines, Nola Reardon (Lisa Brown). In 1982 Marland created a groundbreaking, but short-lived soap for cable TV station Showtime called A New Day In Eden . Touted the first "nude soap". A New Day in Eden starred Dark Shadows actress Lara Parker and GH's Jane Elliot and boasted Susan Flannery (Bold and Beautiful's Stephanie) as a director. After the show was cancelled, Marland teamed up with fellow soap legend Agnes Nixon to co-create Loving for ABC.
1985 saw Marland return to As the World Turns, the same show he had acted on briefly at the beginning of his career. This time it was as the show's headwriter where he remained until his death in 1993. During Marland's successful stint at ATWT he created the Snyder family, re-established the Hughes as the show's core family and created Holden and Lily's love story. Douglas Marland died on March 6, 1993. Click here to read Marland's classic essay on soap opera writing, entitled "How Not To Wreck A Soap".