Santa Barbara celebrates its 200th show !

 By R.J. Johnson and Ginger Myers, Soap Opera Digest, 1985

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Mystery and suspense lurked in every corner recently on the set of NBC's Santa Barbara. Memorandums marked "Confidential" were secretly passed out to the cast and production staff. People met in small groups and whispered last minute instructions. Other employees kept asking, "Is she here yet ?" Was there going to be a strike ? A walkout ? A protest ? No. It was all part of an intricate plot to throw a surprise party on the day of Santa Barbara's 200th show. And the guest to be surprised was co-creator and executive producer Bridget Dobson.

Earlier in the week, assistant casting director Eileen Kerrigan had written a very clever poem. This poem told the story of all the ups and downs of the cast, crew and staff had endured since the premiere of the show, as the following sample verses will show :

Today is show 200 - Let's toast and celebrate
To the Dobsons - Summer '85 is going to be great
To Santa Barbara, cast and crew that we all adore
Let's pause and reflect on those dreaded days - the Summer of '84.
We were tired and hungry and burned-out
Some of us barely alive
Then it hit us, "Get it together, folks,
Or in two days we go live !"
We weathered that first crisis
But before we could catch our breath
The battle cry sounded from NBC -
"Remember it's ratings or death."

Now came the time to put these words into action. The actors and staff quickly gathered in front of the cameras. Each person was assigned several lines to read. On cue, Lane Davies (Mason Capwell) read the first lines of the poem. Bridget smiled as the other actors and staff members individually performed for her. Afterwards, the anniversary cake was sliced and the champagne uncorked. But there was just enough time for a small bite and a fast sip - it was late in the day, and time for everyone to get back to work. The party atmosphere quickly dissolved into reality : show 200 still had to be taped.

Just before Bridget left, she summed up the feelings of everyone associated with Santa Barbara. "It's been both hard and exhilarating. I didn't know if I'd survive. Now, it's exciting. The show is getting good !"

Click on the photos to enlarge them
Jerome and Bridget Dobson, Marcy Walker (Eden Capwell Castillo), A Martinez (Cruz Castillo) and Bridget Dobson