Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Douglas Marland (born Marland Messner, May 5, 1935 - March 6, 1993) was a writer of American soap operas, most known for his tenure as head writer for As the World Turns, which he held from 1985 until his death in 1993.
He first started writing scripts for soap operas in the 1970s, as a helper to Harding Lemay on Another World. In 1979, he started head-writing Guiding Light. Marland's work at "Guiding Light" met with critical acclaim, but he resigned when Jane Elliot was fired. Elliot's character, Carrie Todd Marler (the wife of Jerry Ver Dorn 's character) was diagnosed with multiple personalities, and Marland had barely delved into her psychosis when Elliot's contract was abruptly terminated in 1982. He teamed up with fellow soap writer Agnes Nixon to create Loving, which he wrote for the show's first few months in 1983. He was hired to write As the World Turns two years later.
After the show took a direction toward new blood in the early 1980s, Marland placed the Hughes family back into core status. He also wrote a new farm-dwelling family, the Snyders, into the storyline and added new direction to the wealthy Lucinda Walsh (Elizabeth Hubbard), which translated into a large secret involving the new Snyder family and Lucinda's adopted daughter Lily (Martha Byrne). The new Snyder family was based largely on Douglas Marland's own experiences growing up; his birth name was Marland Snyder and he grew up on a farm in West Sand Lake, NY. Marland once remarked that the character on the canvas that he felt closest to was the eldest Snyder, Seth, who had been made to share responsibility in raising the children following patriarch Harvey Snyder's death. This event was key to the formation of the Snyder family dynamic, in that Marland was allowed to write a strong and independent yet maternal figure in matriarch Emma Snyder (Kathleen Widdoes ).
Marland was responsible for adding the first gay male character on an American soap opera to his story during his tenure on As the World Turns, Hank Elliot. Although the story played out for only a year, in retrospect, the soap became a pioneer for others who wished to put gay male characters on their respective shows (until then, a lesbian had been seen on serials but not a gay man.) Marland originally planned for Hank to reveal that he was HIV+, but Marland feared this would cause America to turn its back on Hank. Instead, Marland gave Hank an HIV+ lover.
With the new storytelling and back-to-basics format, the ratings moved up to near the level they were in the 1970s. Marland wrote the show until his sudden death from a botched abdominal surgery procedure in 1993.
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