Hawkins Falls was the first successful television soap opera: its sponsor was Unilever's blue detergent, Surf. The program began as a one hour comedy-drama on June 17, 1950 and ran in prime time on the NBC network until October 12, 1950. It moved to a fifteen minute daytime slot on April 2, 1951 and ran until July 1. 1955, making it NBC's longest running soap opera until The Doctors exceeded it in 1967. Hawkins Falls was unusual for the network because it originated from Chicago. Its first announcer was Hugh Downs.
The Drewer family lived in the town of Hawkins Falls. Lorna Drewer was played by Bernadine Flynn, while her husband was played by Frank Dane. After the first year, according to Hugh Downs, Dane came to feel that as the lead actor he was indispensable to the show. He demanded more money and fewer hours. In a move that set the model for countless future encounters between imprudent stars and their management, Dane walked off the set and refused to return until his demands were met. The producer and writer saw their chance to accommodate Dane's desire for less work and crafted a script that sent Mr. Drewer on a plane flight that was lost over the sea. Actor Jim Bannon was happy to join the cast as Lorna's new romantic interest.