Hilltop House (1937-1957)
(1937 - 1941)
Cast: Bess Johnson, Carlton Young, Spencer Bentley, Alfred Swenson, Irene Hubbard, Jimmy Donnelly, Jan Miller, Grace Matthews, Phil Sterling
Hilltop House was an early soap
opera which premiered in 1937, sponsored by Palmolive dish soap
. Radio personality Bess Johnson had gathered such a significant following of radio listeners that she starred in Hilltop House as a character with the same name as herself. The story of Hilltop House centers on an orphanage in the small fictional town of Glendale. Bess Johnson is a dedicated caseworker and manager of the orphanage.
Hilltop House is split into two separate storylines consisting of two separate shows. Hilltop House first ran from 1937 to 1941. In 1941, although Hilltop House was still receiving good ratings, Palmolive attempted to dramatically decrease the budget. Hilltop House's producer, Ed Wolfe, refused to allow this to happen and pulled the show
entirely and took star Bess Johnson over to NBC where they started a new show called The Story of Bess Johnson. In this new program Bess Johnson still played a character named after herself, but for this series she had left Hilltop House and become the superintendent of a new boarding school.
In 1948 CBS revived the Hilltop House show, this time with a new heroine, Julie Erickson, as the manager of Hilltop House. This second incarnation ran from 1948 to 1957 switching networks from CBS to NBC in 1956.