One Man’s Family Lasted 27 Years on Radio

One Man’s Family was the longest-running radio soap in American history, broadcast from 1932 to 1959. It depicted the lives of San Francisco stockbroker Henry Barbour, his wife Fanny and their children Paul, Haze, Clifford, Claudia and Jack.

Creator Carlton E. Morse helmed the series for the entirety of its 3,256-episode run. The soap was enduringly popular despite being completely grounded in reality, as described in Tune In magazine a decade after its debut:

Out of the half a hundred who have played various parts, most of the original cast still remain through the perpetual saga: Some of them began as script schoolchildren and were written into adulthood, others who started as juveniles are now playing romantic leads. When a member of the cast is drafted, dies, or gets married, so it is written into the script and even though he returns no more, his memory is kept alive through references. Becoming a part of One Man’s Family is almost a practical guarantee of a lifetime job, and pleasant security.

The mystery of its appeal is still a mystery. Its theme is nothing more complicated than the daily happenings of an average American home. Its institutional family attempts to intercept certain phases of ordinary happenings, philosophies, weaves in wars, floods and calamities to give it a timeliness, but it always remains the closely knit story of a family of 12. There is little or no conflict. On some shows, nothing actually happens.

The show made it to television but didn’t have the same success. General Foods offered to sponsor a new version as a daytime soap on NBC in 1965 but the network decided to start Days of Our Lives instead.

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