These Are My Children

These Are My Children is an American television soap opera which ran on NBC from January 31, 1949, to March 4, 1949.[1] The show was broadcast live from WNBQ[2] in Chicago, Illinois, airing 15 minutes a day, five days a week, at 5:00 p.m. EST. It is widely credited as the first soap opera broadcast on television.[3][4] It may be more accurately described as the first daytime drama or the first soap opera strip, as it was preceded by DuMont series Faraway Hill in 1946 and Highway to the Stars in 1947, both of which are described as soap operas but aired later in the evenings and broadcast only once a week; Guiding Light had also been in production for 12 years by the time These Are My Children debuted, but only as a radio series - its TV version wouldn't debut until 1952.

Created by Irna Phillips and directed by Norman Felton, the show was based in large part on Phillips' early radio soaps Today's Children and Painted Dreams. Children centered on an Irish widow, Mrs. Henehan and her struggles to run a boarding house as well as help her three children and new daughter-in-law Jean. Critics were not impressed; Television World ended their review with: "There is no place on television for this type of program, a blank screen is preferable."

In addition to critical opinions, the immediate factor in NBC's cancellation of These Are My Children was the decision by AT&T Corporation to end use of its coaxial cable for weekday eastbound distribution of programs originating in Chicago. Simultaneously executives of NBC "had found fault with the program" while they wanted to have more shows originate in New York rather than in Chicago or on the West Coast.[5]

Phillips later created many popular daytime dramas, and Felton produced primetime soaps Dr. Kildare and Executive Suite.


  • Alma Platts ... (Mrs. Henehan),[1]
  • Jane Brooksmith ... (Patricia Henehan),[1]
  • Martha McClain ... (Penny Henehan),[1]
  • George Kluge ... (John Henehan),[1]
  • Joan Arlt ... (Jean Henehan),[1]
  • Margaret Heneghan ... (Aunt Kitty Henehan),[1]
  • Eloise Kummer ... (Kay Carter),[1]
  • Mignon Schreiber ... (Mrs. Berkovitch)


  1. McNeil, Alex (1996). Total Television (4th ed.). New York, New York: Penguin Books USA, Inc. p. 829. ISBN 0-14-02-4916-8.
  2. "WBNQ Kicking Off Four Chi Tele Shows" (PDF). Billboard. January 22, 1949. p. 12. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  3. "Soap Comes to TV". Pathfinder News Magazine. February 9, 1949. p. 51. Archived from the original on 7 March 2019. Retrieved 7 March 2019 via
  4. "On This Day: First TV Soap Opera Debuts". Finding Dulcinea. 31 January 2011. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  5. "Chi Dimout as TV Origination Center". Billboard. March 12, 1949. p. 17. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
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