The Edge of Night (the working title of the show was The Edge of Darkness) premiered on April 2, 1956 as one of the first two half-hour soaps on television— the other being As the World Turns. Prior to the debuts, fifteen-minute-long shows had been the standard. Both shows aired on CBS, sponsored by Procter and Gamble.
Mystery and Mason
The show was originally conceived as the daytime television version of Perry Mason, which was popular in novel and radio formats at the time. Mason’s creator Erle Stanley Gardner was to create and write the show, but a last-minute tiff between him and the CBS network caused Gardner to pull his support from the idea. CBS insisted that Mason be given a love interest to placate daytime soap opera audiences, but Gardner flatly refused to take Mason in that direction. Gardner would eventually patch up his differences with CBS and Perry Mason would debut in prime time in 1957.
It was in 1956 that a writer from the Perry Mason radio show, Irving Vendig, created a retooled idea for daytime television—and The Edge of Night was born. “John Larkin, radio’s best identified Perry Mason, was cast as the protagonist-star, initially as a detective, eventually as an attorney, in a thinly veiled copy of Perry Mason.”