I’ve recently been doing posts about some of my favorite Springfield couples. I started out looking for my previous descriptions of couples and I was a little surprised to find I HAD NOT done one about Kelly and Morgan. I guess it’s because a mention them in passing so much that I thought that I had described them in depth. So I am now correcting that error. Kelly Nelson and Morgan Richards were my very first couple on a soap. I’ve described before that my grandmother watched me during the day. She had the living room set up with my crib in the middle of the room so I could see out the picture window in one direction, or through the doorway in the opposite direction and partially into the kitchen, or at the TV. It was an unbreakable rule that the TV would remain on (my grandmother never could stand a silent house) and that it be tuned to CBS all day. Other channels were allowed during primetime, but only CBS Daytime was allowed. My baby self was first introduced to Springfield on a daily basis starting a few months after Papa Bauer’s funeral and I actually have a pretty good early memory so some of those scenes are probably lodged in my mind somewhere, but I first consciously remember two storylines Nola trying to break up Kelly and Morgan and Hope and Alan on the Island who I’ve already posted about.
I don’t really remember starting to like and root for Kelly and Morgan, by my first conscious memory I was already totally engaged. Kelly was a handsome doctor and godson of Ed Bauer. Morgan was an innocent young girl with red hair and a shy smile. Their longing looks across a room showed me how much they wanted and deserved to be together. Kelly and Morgan were MY couple and longed for them to get together with all the fervor my little childish heart could muster. I struggled right along with them through their own problems and through Nola Reardon’s manipulations.
I have an incredibly clear memory of one particular storyline. Kelly and Morgan hadn’t yet declared themselves a couple, but had given each other Christmas presents. Nola had somehow (I really don’t remember how) managed to intercept them both. Then there was a White Elephant Gift Party that they were both invited to. A White Elephant is a term now kind of out of favor, but it’s slang for a gift you don’t particular like or have any idea what use you could get out if, much as if you were presented with a real white elephant. The idea for this party was that each party guest was supposed to pick out the present they liked least that they got for Christmas and they’d put them in a big box and everybody would pick out a different present than the one they brought to take home. Nola put both gifts in the box so each Kelly and Morgan thought the other one not only thought their gift was the worst, but that knowing the other one would be at the party that they publicly put it in the box of presents. OH how I HATED Nola right then. It was one of the first times I wanted to be able to dive through the television screen and make everything right.
On the brighter side, Laurel Falls was Morgan and Kelly’s special spot. I first fell in love with the place through them, though strangely Laurel Falls came to look very different over the years, I never forgot their connection to it and longed to see Laurel Falls again, even if my Kelly and Morgan were gone. Also, I’ll reinforce just how good their longing looks were. While because of later events I can’t really see Kelly and Morgan as a great soap couple in most respects, I don’t think anybody has ever touched them in the longing looks across a crowded room department. You just will have to take my word at how good they were at those.
I was soooo happy when FINALLY all of Nola’s duplicity came out and Kelly and Morgan declared their love for each other. They got married, at Laurel Falls of course, and things seemed to finally all be right with my childhood world, even Nola was growing up and moving on with Quint. Just then Josh happened.
This was so long ago that Reva hadn’t even come to Springfield yet and looking at his backstory as it now stands, his loss of Reva would be one of the reasons he would say he was like that then, mostly about sex and business and out to get people in love. He was an arrogant jerk who wasn’t used to being turned down by women. Now I would have taken any breakup of Kelly and Morgan hard, especially because I was only about six, but this wasn’t your normal 3rd person breakup that any soap fan has to accept as a fact of life. Josh deliberately targeted Morgan. He seduced her sexually, he encouraged her to take on a spoiled brat persona, and promised to make her a supermodel and convinced her that all her family and friends were doing was holding her back. Now I admit there must have been a weakness in Morgan already or all this wouldn’t have worked, but he didn’t have to lead her on in so many fronts and so many ways. He drug it along, encouraging her to destroy her marriage with Kelly and any other relationship she had that wasn’t with him. Finally, he was the sole person she had in her life and then one day he announced he was done with her and then he told her the truth. She didn’t have what it took to be a model and he never intended to help her career, the whole thing was set up to get her to sleep with her until he was done with her. Then he laughed at her. HE LAUGHED! Anytime he and Reva have any problem, I remember that laugh and I think, “Good. You deserve what you get.” Morgan had utterly destroyed every other aspect of her life to be with Josh and now he was done with her he dumped her too. Josh’s influence has so destroyed her character that he took her to a point that even I, their most devoted champion, couldn’t hope that Kelly and Morgan would reconcile, not only just right then, but ever. Kelly deserved better and the girl with the beautiful red hair and shy smile was gone forever. Morgan was completely devastated by Josh’s treatment and her realization of what she had done and become. There was no hope for anything for her in Springfield ever again and she left town. Kelly left town soon afterward (leaving me with forever a warm feeling for his portrayer John Wesley Shipp who I loved so much I even watched his version of The Flash). Josh had not only broken up the couple, he had decimated it and poured salt in the earth so you couldn’t even hope anything would grow again. I was devastated and I hated Josh with all the passion my then child’s heart could muster and frankly if I think about it or even just look at Josh for too long, it’s all right there again just like it just happened.
Part of the reason I started to do these posts was to talk about why I like certain soap couples and to help point out the patterns. However, Kelly and Morgan don’t really fit with most of the other couples I’m talking about. I really don’t remember how I was drawn to them in the first place, they were just always in my heart from my earliest memory. The one way they do match my pattern is that I think in every couple you have to really like one of the people at least one person in the couple and want them to be happy and truly be convinced that they want to be with the other person. Kelly and Morgan certainly did that. However, normally I like couples with a strong woman, Morgan wasn’t that. Normally I like couples that treat each other as equals and are better selves together than apart, I can’t say that about Kelly and Morgan either or Josh’s stunt would never have worked. I actually spent quite a bit of time thinking about why I liked them and I was finally reminded of a research study I read once that said part of why preschoolers liked Sesame Street was that they identified with the Muppets. The basic Muppet design is very close to what a young child’s drawings of themselves look like. Sameness is in the eye of the beholder and at the time I think I saw Morgan as a lot like me. I don’t still think that and there are a lot stronger woman in Springfield that I identify with more, but as a young child, I saw Morgan as young, innocent, kind, and nice, a lot like me. I wanted her to be happy and get what she wanted. She quite clearly wanted Kelly. Although there was a lot of depth put in the performances, especially in terms of Kelly and Nola, the outlines of the story were very plain and one a young girl who watched The Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday night would recognize, the young girl princess, her handsome prince, and a villainess who was out to do evil. Clearly you were supposed to cheer for Kelly and Morgan and boo Nola. In fairly short order, by my second soap couple Hope and Alan, I grew to like complexity and depth in a couple, but I think as a very young child it was simpleness and innocence of the story that drew me and so many others in (they were a very popular couple) and made us love Kelly and Morgan.
I like to think to think in an alternative universe they stayed married and built a house, somewhere near Laurel Falls and Kelly has had a great medical career and they have kids and still pal around with their friends Katie and Hilary (who didn’t die in this world). Life in Springfield moved on without them and to better, stronger couples, but Kelly and Morgan will always have a special place in my heart for being my first.
Read more about Dr. Kelly Nelson here:
Read more about Morgan Richards here (If you only read one, read Morgan’s it has more detail and is much clearer about Josh’s role in the breakup):
Robansuefarm is the handle of one of Manny and Guiding Light‘s biggest fans following in her family’s footsteps of Guiding Light fandom since 1939. This blog is an effort to make it easy to find Guiding Light and especially Manny online. Check back here for her blog, find fanfic previews and fake WSPR newscasts on her YouTube, find podcasts that look back to old shows and audios of her fanfics on Blog Talk Radio, and finally follow her on Twitter and Facebook.