The Romance of Helen Trent was one of the most
beloved of all the old time radio shows, and its loyal fans faithfully
followed, year after year, the unending triumphs and heartbreaks
of their glamorous star-crossed friend, Hollywood dress
designer Helen Trent. Like a good friend, Helen was there
for them, sharing her innermost secrets in heartbreaking
fifteen-minute slices, for nearly three decades. The grand
romance finally ended after over 7, 200 episodes in 1960.
In fact, Helen outlived most of network radio!
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Virginia Clark ('Helen'-center),
and David Gothard (left), from the
The Romance of Helen Trent.
The man on the right was unidentified. Produced by the classic radio production team of Frank
and Anne Hummert, They did other classic soaps, such as
Ma Perkins and Just Plain Bill, as well as detective dramas
like Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons. In the mid-1930s,
the Hummerts had prolific writer Bob Andrews crafting
Helen Trent, Just Plain Bill, Skippy and Judy and Jane
and more each week - more than 35 installments!
The Romance of Helen Trent was a bastion of soap opera formula. First and foremost was the obvious theme of god
and bad, joy and calamity, conscience and impulse. Melodrama
is what the critics call it. Fans call it real life, if
perhaps a little dramatic. But so listenable! Virginia
Clark and then Julie Stevens played Helen for many years
each. An honor role of radio actors played villains and
friends alike, though sometimes it seemed they were both
at the same time! Helen was schemed after by Hollywood
moguls, directors, attorneys, oilmen, millionaire ranchers,
world travelers, even a mad hypnotist!
But Gil Whitney was her abiding love for over 18 episodic
years. Gil Whitney, a "brilliant and prominent attorney,"
became at one point a secret government agent. Then he
was paralyzed in a train wreck. Finally, he married not
Helen but her nemesis, worldly writer Margo Brooks. Over
the years, three actors including Marvin Miller played
Of course, the plots never let an uncertain emotion go
unnoticed. Even death was a part of the show. In fact,
the show ended with Helen waiting for the momentary return
of her beloved on a balcony that suddenly collapses with
a sickening crash! Silence. Then we hear Gil's plaintive
voice, calling "Helen, it's Gil… Helen!"
For more soap opera and human drama, see One
Man's Family, Family
Doctor, Doctor Christian, The Doctors' Wife, and Green Valley Line.
Of course, there are many, many family radio comedy shows,
such as The Life of Riley,
Father Knows Best,
My Favorite Husband,
Phil Harris and Alice
Faye Show, The Adventures
of Ozzie and Harriet, The
Great Gildersleeve, The
Goldbergs, and Life
This collection is in the extensive Hummert Radio Factory Collection. Called the parents of soap opera, Anne and Frank Hummert also created Betty and Bob, Front Page Farrell, Mr. Keen Tracer of Lost Persons, Ma Perkins, Just Plain Bill, Mary Noble Backstage Wife, Young Widder Brown, Mr. Chameleon, Stella Dallas, Manhattan Merry Go Round, Lora Lawton, The American Melody Hour, Hearthstone of the Death Squad, Lorenzo Jones, Nona From Nowhere, Our Gal Sunday, Inspector Thorne, Romance of Helen Trent, and more.