In 1956, a novel, written by a then-unknown author named Grace Metalious, was published by Fawcett Books. Written under the working title THE TREE AND THE BLOSSOM, Fawcett changed the title and released the novel as PEYTON PLACE.
By the time the dust had all cleared, PEYTON PLACE had sold twenty million hardcover copies and twelve million more in paperback. It remained on the New York Times Best-Seller List for 55 weeks.
Naturally, a movie would have to follow. And in February, 1958, the Twentieth Century Fox film hit the movie screens. To say it was a smash would be an understatement.
It's initial Rowan County engagement, at the CAPITOL THEATRE, ran for twelve days. Very few films ran that long in a town the size of Salisbury during the 1950s.
The movie, just as the novel, was condemned by many churches worldwide as being totally immoral. It's probably fair to say that many of those who spoke against it on Sunday went to see it on Monday, then went back to see it again on Thursday.
Today, PEYTON PLACE seems as tame as TOY STORY. The film revitalized the career of Lana Turner and made a star of Hope Lange.
Then in 1964, PEYTON PLACE became a prime-time television series on ABC, enjoying equal success, running as many as three episodes each week. By the time the series was canceled in 1969, 514 episodes had been produced. The series made superstars of Mia Farrow and Ryan O'Neal.
The movie PEYTON PLACE played Rowan County theatres eleven different engagements:
February 25 - March 8, 1958 - CAPITOL THEATRE
June 8 - 13, 1958 - SALISBURY DRIVE-IN THEATRE
August 17 - 18, 1958 - 601 DRIVE-IN THEATRE
October 12 - 14, 1958 - ROCKWELL THEATRE
April 17 - 18, 1959 - SALISBURY DRIVE-IN THEATRE
April 17 - 20, 1960 - JOE'S DRIVE-IN THEATRE
April 29 - 30, 1960 - SALISBURY DRIVE-IN THEATRE
November 8 - 9, 1962 - SALISBURY DRIVE-IN THEATRE
March 24 - 26, 1965 - SALISBURY DRIVE-IN THEATRE
April 30 - May 1, 1965 - SALISBURY DRIVE-IN THEATRE
July 11 - 13, 1965 - SALISBURY DRIVE-IN THEATRE
As for the woman who started it all - - suffering from cirrhosis of the liver from years of heavy drinking, Grace Metalious died February 25, 1964 at the age of 39. Sounds as if she lived in her own little PEYTON PLACE.