Carlton E. Morse

Carlton E. Morse
NBC

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Carlton E. Morse
Radio: North side of the 6400 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Producer | Writer
Born June 4, 1901 in Jennings, LA
Died May 24, 1993 in Sacramento, CA

Carlton E. Morse, a prolific pioneering radio writer, created "One Man's Family," which was heard Sunday nights on NBC for 27 years and became the longest running serial in radio history.

The showpiece series of Morse's career, which ran from 1932 to 1959, chronicled the story of San Francisco stockbroker Henry Barbour, his wife, Hazel, their children, Paul, Hazel, Claudia, Cliff and Jack, and about 100 assorted characters through 3,256 episodes. The fictional family lived in the very real Sea Cliff neighborhood overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.

Although the series was considered the wellspring of the modern radio and television soap opera, Morse was outraged by the designation of his show as a "soap."

"I punched a guy right in the nose for saying that," he angrily told The Times in 1987. "I never wrote a soap opera in my life. I wrote radio dramas."

The shy, gentle Morse rarely got riled about much, but he was adamant about that.

"For soap operas, they think of a plot and then drop people in to tell the plot. In my shows, first came the characters. Their relationships to each other is what made the plot," he said.

On radio, Morse was a one-man band — producing, writing, directing and casting his shows — and he liked it that way. The series was attempted on television in prime time from 1949 to 1952 and daytime from 1954 to 1955. It had a different cast, was produced in New York, and had lots of bosses.

"The TV version was a flop," Morse said decades later. "And we made one picture [feature film], but it was never released.

"I didn't like New York. I came back to Hollywood," he told The Times. "I'm a loner. I couldn't bear writing a show and having a director, producer and light man . . . 10 different people. By the time you got through, it wasn't your show at all. I got spoiled doing radio."

He did a lot of radio. His second most popular series, "I Love a Mystery," ran 15 minutes five nights a week from 1939 to 1952.

He also did 43 other radio serials, including "The Woman in My House," "His Honor, the Barber," "Family Skeleton," "Adventures by Morse," "China Town Squad," "Pigskin Romances," and "Killed in Action."

In his mid-80s, he founded a publishing company, Seven Stones Press, and turned out six novels, including "Killer at the Wheel," "A Lavish of Sin" and "Stuff the Lady's Hatbox."

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