Without a doubt The Edge of Night was the best soap ever! Creator Irving Vendig (who also wrote Search for Tomorrow in its early years) was no stranger to creating suspenseful narrative. The original Mike Karr had portrayed the radio Perry Mason (also written by Vendig) for years. Because "Edge" aired on CBS at 4:30 it also had a heavy male audience. Suspense, murderous plots served with a light sauce of romance kept the show #1 in daytime for years. A nation mourned when Mike's wife Sara (Teal Ames) died. The CBS switchboard was so overwhelmed by phone calls that the next day, Mike (John Larkin) appeared at the end of the show with his "deceased" spouse where they both said she was alive and well and pursuing a movie career. This is not suburban legend, I was in college then and watched the show daily (along with many others) in the studio union.
John Larkin left the show but a new character Lt. Ed Gibson (played by Mary Martin's son Larry Hagman) and several other characters became the focus of the drama ... all friends and acquaintances of the Karr family. And Vendig's penchant for plotting became more fertile. Who can forget the great sequence where Ray MaDonall (now playing Dr. Joe on All My Children) as Phil Capice was duplicitly befriended by Casey Reno who had been hired by Scofield Kilbourne to frame Phil as a drug dealer because Kilbourne hated Phil's father-in-law Winston Grimsley who had him sent to prison for embezzlement years before? When Reno was exposed because Ed Gibson's blind sister recognized the voice of Reno's assistant Sam Haven who had blinded her in a murderous attack because she discovered her after-school job was actually running fixes for addicts instead of delivering books, Kilbourne hired an out-of-town hit man to kill Reno and then had plastic surgery performed on the killer so he looked like Phil Capice, arranged an accident for Phil so he could be kidnapped and the faux-Phil substituted ... the horror for Phil's wife Louise when she discovered she was living with an imposter ... Kilbourne murdering faux-Phil, framing Louise for the slaying and torturing her when she went on trial with phone calls telling her to keep her mouth shut and allowing the real Phil to briefly talk so she'd know he was alive but wouldn't be if she told the truth! Dudes, I'm not kidding, it's all true! Mike Karr returned now portrayed by Laurence Hugo (who'd been a rotten playboy on Search for Tomorrow earlier) to save the day.
Ironically at that point in Edge storyline NBC had cancelled what might actually have been the best soap ever for family-oriented drama and suspense From These Roots in which Ann Flood had been the series star. P&G, sponsors of From These Roots, knew they had a winning actress and put her on Edge of Night as Nancy Pollack, independent female reporter who was destined to become widower Mike Karr's romantic interest and future wife.
Up to the mid-60's on Edge you always knew who the killers and evil-doers were. Vendig left the show as head writer and several were tried before Edge acquired the most brilliant writer ever, Edgar-award winner Henry Slesar who not only brought in fascinating characters and families but was an absolute genius at creating murder mysteries which would take 6 months to a year tgo unravel.
Producer Erwin Nicholson and writer Henry Slesar brought us complex mysteries and off-the-wall characters who'll never be forgotten. The politically active Whitney family, the Hilliar family ... and who had been on the show since the Vendig days, the Marceaus - all utilized in terrific plots which kept the audience glued to the screen during airtime. The last super plotter, Raven Alexander who worked her way through most of the males on the show before marrying Sky Whitney.
P&G made an egregious error in dumping Slesar and taking on a new head writer in an attempt to capture a younger audience. Edge had declined in ratings as CBS kept moving it earlier, first 3:30 and finally 2:30, then wanted the time slot because As the World Turns was going to expand from half and hour to a full hour. ABC offered to pick up the show and air it at 4:00 which would have been ideal. Except many local ABC affiliates preferred to air syndicated shows at that time which was more lucrative for them. So many Edge fans found the show time-delayed a day for a 10:00 a.m. airing. Then some affiliates determined delaying the show was too much trouble and dropped it from their schedule. Alas, the show reached its conclusion over two decades ago. But those of us who loved it during that magnificent 28-year run will always consider it the best ever!