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Joanne Gardner

Joanne Gardner

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Joanne Gardner was the main character on the long-running soap opera
Soap opera
A soap opera, sometimes called "soap" for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble,...

 Search for Tomorrow
Search for Tomorrow
Search for Tomorrow is an American soap opera which premiered on September 3, 1951 on CBS. The show was moved from CBS to NBC on March 29, 1982. It continued on NBC until the final episode aired on December 26, 1986, a run of thirty-five years. At the time of its final broadcast it was the...

. For 35 years, the role was played by actress Mary Stuart
Mary Stuart (actress)
Mary Stuart was an American actress and singer/songwriter.She was born as Mary Stuart Houchins in Miami, Florida and grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she graduated from Tulsa Central High School and attended the University of Tulsa before embarking on her professional career...

. She was referenced by many characters and by soap periodicals as simply Jo, especially in later years when it became difficult to assign her a definite last name.

Joanne was married four times, making her full legal name Joanne Gardner Barron Tate Vincente Tourneur. She was to marry Sam Reynolds in 1970, but he died while on business in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, leaving Joanne heartbroken.

Style


A "salt of the earth" kind of heroine, Stuart's character was the understanding best friend who would love to (and usually did) commiserate with other characters about their sorrows over coffee. Usually counseling best friends Stu
Stu Bergman
Stu Bergman was a fictional character in the now-cancelled American soap opera, Search for Tomorrow. The part was played for almost all of the show's 35 years by the late Larry Haines.- Jo's best friend :...

 and Marge Bergman
Marge Bergman
Marge Bergman was a character in the now-cancelled American soap opera Search for Tomorrow. She was played by actress Melba Rae until her death in 1971....

, her role shifted in the 1970s to counseling younger women on the program, when the actress who played Marge died, and Stu was given his own story.

Even when truly dismayed by actions (such as sister Eunice sleeping with her husband, or her daughter willfully marrying into a family who wanted to alienate her from her mother), she usually forgave offenders who showed true remorse. She got a reputation on the series for being "simple-minded" by forgiving and forgetting, as other characters (Irene Barron in the early days, Aunt Cornelia Simmons, Patti's in-law Andrea Whiting, and Stephanie Wilkins
Stephanie Wilkins
Stephanie Wilkins Collins Pace Wyatt was a fictional character on the long-running American Soap Opera Search for Tomorrow. She was played from 1974 to 1984 by actress Maree Cheatham and from 1984 to 1986 by actress and writer Louise Shaffer....

 later) saw her to be weak and attempted to prey upon her. In true soap opera
Soap opera
A soap opera, sometimes called "soap" for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble,...

 fashion, however, it was Joanne's rivals who ate crow.

Background


Joanne was raised in the city of Henderson somewhere in the U.S. Midwest. Her parents were Frank Gardner, an accountant and Helen Gardner, who was a housewife. Helen died of heart disease in the mid-1950s. Joanne has at least one sibling, a sister named Eunice, who came to town and slept with Joanne's second husband Arthur Tate. However, Eunice reformed, apologized to Joanne, and became part of the family again.

Joanne attended Wilson Grammar School, Henderson High School and attended Henderson College (later Henderson University) for two years before marrying Keith Barron.

History


Joanne was whisked away from her college studies by wealthy Keith Barron, who married her and bought her a house in the town of Henderson. Shortly after, she gave birth to a daughter named Patricia (nicknamed Patti).

Keith's meddling mother Irene tried very hard to turn him away from Joanne, as Irene believed that Joanne wasn't nearly good enough for her son. Keith's sister was wise to Irene's controlling ways and tried to warn him, but to no avail. He died of injuries from a car accident in 1952, leaving Joanne a widow. Irene, sensing opportunity, fought for custody of young Patti, arguing that Joanne was simply unable to provide for her daughter. Joanne proved her wrong by buying and running the Motor Haven Inn. In an attempt to tarnish Joanne's reputation, Irene hired people to sabotage Joanne's inn. At the same time, Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 thugs tried to take over control of the Inn, as they didn't believe a woman could be strong enough to run a business on her own. Both attempts failed, and Irene left town.

A local businessman, Arthur Tate (Terry O'Sullivan
Terry O'Sullivan
Terry O'Sullivan was an American actor, best known for his role on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow as "Arthur Tate" ....

), was interested in financing the inn when Joanne experienced difficulties. Arthur and Joanne fell in love and were married. Patti, now in her early teens, was legally adopted by Arthur shortly after he married Joanne. In order to get enough money, Arthur persuaded his Aunt Cornelia to give him part of his inheritance. She agreed, if only to meddle in their affairs because like Irene, Cornelia hated Joanne and the stock she came from. Eventually, Aunt Cornelia died and Arthur earned all of his inheritance.

Arthur was not a strong man, but he loved Joanne. First, he became an alcoholic. Then, in 1962, a woman came to town suing him for paternity (it was really not his child). In 1963, Arthur and Joanne's son, Duncan Eric Tate, ran in front of a car and was killed, causing mental anguish
Mental breakdown
Mental breakdown is a non-medical term used to describe an acute, time-limited phase of a specific disorder that presents primarily with features of depression or anxiety.-Definition:...

 for the both of them. Finally, Joanne's sister Eunice
Eunice Gardner Wyatt
Eunice Wyatt was a fictitious character on the long-running American Soap Opera Search for Tomorrow. The role was first played by Marion Brash and then by Ann Williams until the character's death in 1976...

 came to town and slept with him. The stress surrounding the possibility that he could shatter his marriage and his relationship with his daughter caused him to die of a heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

 in February 1966.

To keep herself busy after Arthur's death, Joanne took a job as the librarian at Henderson Hospital. A suitor came calling later in the year in the form of Sam Reynolds (Robert Mandan
Robert Mandan
Robert Mandan is an American actor, most famous for his portrayals of playwright David Allen on the NBC serial From These Roots from 1958–1961, businessman Sam Reynolds on the serial Search for Tomorrow from 1965 to 1970, and his subsequent satire of the genre playing Chester Tate on the sitcom...

), who was Arthur's rival. To prove his worth to Joanne, he saved her daughter Patti when she was held at knifepoint (A nurse, Patti had access to drugs which the gang members wanted). Sam and Joanne started 1967 with major decisions. Sam offered to sell the Motor Haven Inn for her, while Joanne cut off her excess hair, which she had grown while married to Arthur. It was a soap event when Joanne took off her kerchief
Kerchief
A kerchief is a triangular or square piece of cloth tied around the head or around the neck for protective or decorative purposes...

 to show a modern hairstyle—one of her gifts to Sam.

While very devoted to one another, both Sam and Joanne were over the age of 40, and wished to take things slowly. It was in 1969 when Sam proposed to Jo, with a wedding planned for 1970. However, Sam went on a trip to Africa and was presumed dead, leaving Joanne devastated. He would later return to town, but they could not rekindle their old feelings.

Later that year, Joanne lost her eyesight in a car accident, and neurosurgeon Dr. Tony Vincente saved her life. She regained her vision and fell in love with her doctor, whom she married in 1972. The actor who played Tony, Anthony George
Anthony George
Anthony George was an American actor mostly seen on television. He is best known for roles of Don Corley in Checkmate, Burke Devlin and Jeremiah Collins on Dark Shadows, and Dr. Will Vernon on One Life to Live....

, did not like how his character developed, and was written out in June 1975, as Tony died of a heart attack in Jo's arms. At the age of 50, Joanne had endured the death of four significant other
Significant other
Significant other is colloquially used as a gender-blind term for a person's partner in an intimate relationship without disclosing or presuming anything about marital status, relationship status, or sexual orientation, as it is vague enough to avoid offense by using a term that an individual...

s. Another devastating blow to Joanne came in 1976 when her sister Eunice, who had long since given up her scheming ways and reformed, was fatally shot by her husband's mistress. After Eunice's death, she adopted her niece, Suzi Martin
Suzi Martin
Susan Wyatt Carter and familiarly known as Suzi, was a fictional character in the now-defunct American soap opera, Search for Tomorrow. She was played by Amy Arutt, in episodes in '75-'76, as a child then by Cynthia Gibb, who was most identified in the role and later by Terri Eoff and Elizabeth...

.

In 1976, Joanne teamed up with her best friend Stu Bergman
Stu Bergman
Stu Bergman was a fictional character in the now-cancelled American soap opera, Search for Tomorrow. The part was played for almost all of the show's 35 years by the late Larry Haines.- Jo's best friend :...

 and bought the Hartford House, turning it into an upscale bed and breakfast
Bed and breakfast
A bed and breakfast is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and breakfast, but usually does not offer other meals. Since the 1980s, the meaning of the term has also extended to include accommodations that are also known as "self-catering" establishments...

. She would run this business until the inn was destroyed in an explosion in 1982. After Hartford House, Jo became a Hostess for a tavern along the Henderson River, called, "The Riverboat" - which Stu, Jenny (Linda Gibboney
Linda Gibboney
Linda Gibboney is an American actress, best known for her roles on soap operas and serials. These roles included "Sybil Thorne, R. N." on All My Children and "Jenny Deacon' on Search for Tomorrow...

) and Wendy ran. It too was destroyed when Travis (Rod Arrants) met his demise against Warren (Michael Corbett
Michael Corbett
Michael Corbett may refer to:*Michael Corbett , former ice hockey player in the National Hockey League*Mike Corbett , fictional character from Power Rangers*Michael Corbett , Chief Justice of South Africa...

) and Ringo Altman (Larry Fleischman).

Starting in the mid-1970s, Joanne was showcased less on the program. She became rivals with Stephanie Wilkins
Stephanie Wilkins
Stephanie Wilkins Collins Pace Wyatt was a fictional character on the long-running American Soap Opera Search for Tomorrow. She was played from 1974 to 1984 by actress Maree Cheatham and from 1984 to 1986 by actress and writer Louise Shaffer....

, who had an affair with her third husband, Tony, and later married John Wyatt, her former brother-in-law, out of spite. Joanne's final stories involved her romance with Martin Tourneur (John Aniston
John Aniston
John Anthony Aniston is a Greek-American actor and the father of actress Jennifer Aniston. He is best known for his role as Victor Kiriakis on the NBC daytime drama Days of our Lives, which he originated in July 1985 and has played continually since then.-Early life:Aniston was born Yannis...

), whom she married in 1980. They were later divorced, which was considered a scandal because it was Joanne's first divorce. Mary Stuart confessed that because she had divorced him because of his infidelity, she laughingly considered herself the "world's oldest ingenue
Ingenue (stock character)
See also Disingenuous, which is not quite the antonym that it may seem!The ingénue is a stock character in literature, film, and a role type in the theatre; generally a girl or a young woman who is endearingly innocent and wholesome. Ingenue may also refer to a new young actress or one typecast in...

".

In early 1985, Jo's granddaughter Sarah Whitting (Michelle Joyner) came to town to pursue a music career as a folk singer. Sarah was hiding out inside an abandoned building in Henderson. One day it caught fire and Wendy and Quinn saved her life. When Sarah recovered after the fire, she told Jo that she left Seattle because there were problems with Patti and Len, her parents. Sarah also helped Jo and Stu turn the abandoned building that caught fire into another upscale bed and breakfast called Caldwell House, which was also operated by a scheming man named Melvin Hibbard (Ralph Byers).

In October 1985, Jo received a letter from one of her ex-husbands, Martin Tourneur. The letter explained how he was in trouble. So Jo flew down from Henderson to San Marcos, to search for Martin. Someone was hurting him, but he ran away from a local hospital, before Jo could find out anything about Martin, his current whereabouts and why he was in this mess with the island. Jo then was boarding a plane to go back to Henderson, but was held captive by some people that were after Martin, who wanted to know where Martin is. She wasn't harmed and the two men let Jo go and they burned the letter that Martin gave to Jo. She then returned to Henderson to tell Liza Walton Sentell all about the accident that he was in that was described in the letter, it was also revealed by Jo that Martin's life was in danger, something that had to do about the past, including something that had to do with Lloyd Kendall's ex-wife, Estelle Kendall. Later when Jo returned to The Caldwell House, she received a telegram from Martin. In this letter Martin tells her that he is no longer in San Marcos but he is somewhere safe, he also tells Jo that he still has feelings for her and that he still loves her. While Jo seeks information through Hogan McCleary, Adair McCleary and Chase Kendall go to San Marcos in search for Martin but Adair and Chase find Estelle Kendall - T.R.'s, Alex, Steve, and Chase's Mother also Lloyd's Wife, that supposedly died years ago but actually didn't. Eventually, Estelle learned about what had happened to Martin through Adair and Chase. After hearing about recent events in San Marcos, through the Henderson Herald newspaper, Jo becomes concerned along with Hogan about Bragg (Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Mortensen
Viggo Peter Mortensen, Jr. is a Danish-American actor, poet, musician, photographer and painter. He made his film debut in Peter Weir's 1985 thriller Witness, and subsequently appeared in many notable films of the 1990s, including The Indian Runner , Carlito's Way , Crimson Tide , Daylight , The...

), the man who was hired by Hogan McCleary to investigate Martin and his connections to San Marcos.

In November 1985, Jo was devastated when her granddaughter Sarah Whitting was murdered by her business partner for The Caldwell House, Melvin Hibbard, who at the time was plotting to destroy Joanne and her Bed and Breakfast. With Sarah dead, Melvin kidnapped Jo for revenge and so that he could kill her too and then ruin The Caldwell House. After her ordeal with Sarah's death and her kidnapping situation, Jo went to confront Estelle Kendall (Domini Blythe
Domini Blythe
Domini Blythe was a British-born Canadian actress. Her numerous stage and television credits included Search for Tomorrow and Mount Royal....

) about her connections to Martin, the island of San Marcos and Rivera (Lloyd Battista); afterwards Jo blamed Estelle for all that she had done to Martin during their love affair. While still sad over the death of Sarah - Jo, Stu, Cagney, Suzi, Bela & Wendy all believe that Melvin Hibbard didn't kill Sarah but they all think that someone else murdered her, leaving the residents of Henderson to believe that there is a serial killer on the loose.

On Christmas Day in 1985, her daughter Patti came back to town after not being in Henderson for eight years. She came back to town to help her mother Jo and because she divorced her husband Len, who was still living in Seattle with his mother. That happened right after Sarah made her way to Henderson. Patti also came back to bring closure to the murder of her daughter, Sarah.

In February 1986, a major flood caused much destruction for the town of Henderson & Jo Almost died until she was found and rescued by Hogan (David Forsyth
David Forsyth
David Forsyth may refer to:*David Forsyth *David Forsyth *David Forsyth , American computer scientist*David Forsyth , late Canadian soccer executive, see Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame...

) & Patty (Jacqueline Schultz). Like many others, Jo survived the flood and helped everybody get back on their feet again after the flood was over. The Caldwell House survived from the flood but many residents had died or were missing and buildings were destroyed. Robert Olsen (Nicholas Hormann) gives an offer to Jo after he resigns his position at the Liberty House. Jo decides not to have the Caldwell House anymore, and then decides to start a new bed-and-breakfast (though she only had the Caldwell House for 11 months), called "Liberty House". Jo sold the Caldwell House to someone else and became the owner of Liberty House, after the flood.

In October/November 1986, Jo was devastated when her niece Suzi McCleary (Eunice's Daughter) was killed by a unstable woman Ella Hobbs (Ann Flood
Ann Flood
Ann Flood is an American actress.She is most known for her work as journalist/author Nancy Pollock Karr on the soap opera The Edge of Night, a role she played from 1962 to 1984...

), who wanted revenge from the McCleary family after a payroll robbery that Ella was involved in with her lover Judge Jeremiah Henderson (William Prince
William Prince (actor)
William LeRoy Prince was an American actor who appeared in numerous soap operas and made dozens of guest appearances on primetime series as well as playing villains in movies like The Gauntlet and Spontaneous Combustion.-Biography:Prince was born in Nichols, New York, the son of Myrtle , a nurse...

) years earlier with Suzi's Husband's Father Malcolm McCleary (Patrick Tovatt
Patrick Tovatt
Patrick Tovatt is an American actor. He is perhaps best known for his roles on several soap operas, including Zane Lindquist on Another World ; Matt McCleary on Search for Tomorrow ; and Cal Stricklyn on As the World Turns...

). It turned out the Malcolm was alive and fled to Ireland and that his twin brother was the one that was killed in the payroll robbery, not him. While The McCleary's were about to reunite with the patriarch of the family... Ella was about to kill Jo, when she was held hostage in the elevator saft at Liberty House. But Stu, Evie, Cagney, Jerry & Jeremiah all rescued Jo and it was Ella who fell to her death.

On December 26, 1986 (the final episode Of Search For Tomorrow), Jo watched as she witnessed Patti marrying Hogan Mccleary. Later in the evening Stu Bergman asked Jo "What is it Jo, what is it you're searching for"; she replies "Tomorrow, and I can't wait!", then they both hug as they look back on thirty-five years of friendship.

Sources

    • Baldwin, Faith, Search for Tomorrow, Popular Library, 1966.
    • LaGuardia, Robert, From Ma Perkins To Mary Hartman: The Illustrated History of Soap Operas, New York: Ballantine Books, 1977.
    • LaGuardia, Robert, Soap World, New York: Arbor House, 1983.
    • LaGuardia, Robert, The Wonderful World of TV Soap Opera, New York: Ballantine Books, 1974, revised 1977.