Judge Parker is still featured in many a newspaper comic strip section, but readers might be forgiven for wondering why it still has that name. The Judge has been largely supplanted by cocksure attorney Sam Driver and his beautiful girl friend/now wife Abbey Spencer. This is the story of how Judge Parker got his start in the comics and managed to lose his rather prestigious slot along the way. It is also the story of loyal stay at home heroines, two possibly gay villains, and a feisty Latina named Gloria Sanchez.
Judge Parker and His Family
Judge Parker first appeared in newspaper on November 24th, 1952. Well drawn by Dan Heilman, the comic strip was part of a move towards realistically rendered story strips that featured more drama than adventure. The trend had started way back in the early forties, when the melodramatic Apple Mary strip morphed into the Mary Worth feature known today.
Nicholas Dallis, a successful psychiatrist, had launched a medical comic strip, Rex Morgan, just a few years earlier. He was ready to try his hand at another. Dallis chose to explore the legal profession and the courts in his new strip in contrast to the world of doctors and diseases in his first one. And while Rex Morgan was relatively young and single, Dallis decided to make Alan Parker, his new hero, somewhat older and a widower with two teen-aged children.
In its early years, the comic strip could just as easily have been called Judge Parker’s Family. Ann Parker, the judge’s headstrong 19-year old daughter was very prone to poor choices in her boy friends. More often than not they turned out to be conmen or dangerous criminals.
Randy Parker, 16, was a far more engaging character. Earnest, good-humored, and impulsive, Randy was increasingly involved in romances of his own. Or at least drawn into the web of older women with ill intent. But Randy was at his best when making clever observations about the romantic foibles of his father and sister. He was wiser than his years in observing the foibles of others but rather foolish in navigating his own affairs.
Stories often rotated between having the Judge, Anne or Randy being the focus of any new story. There was almost always a criminal element, though. One of the most gripping and well written narratives was the court proceedings against the mentally unstable man who had abducted Anne. It explored interesting legal aspects of the case, all the while Dallis injured that the characters the reader loved all had an emotional investment in its outcome.
Introducing Jeep Carson, Bumps and Wellington Marks
Nicholas Dallis seems to have made something of a misstep (in my humble opinion, anyway) with the introduction of a trio of cute pre-teens. It was the fifties, after all, and someone may have suggested the Judge’s family was skewing a little old when most families in the post-War baby boom had younger kids. Whatever the reason, only two years into the strip, Dallis introduced a neighbor girl who had a pre-teen crush on the Judge.
Jeep Carson was a precocious tomboy whose best friend was a somewhat less precocious “everyboy” named Bumps. Not long after their debut, Dallis even established something of a pre-teen triangle with the appearance of Bumps’ brainy cousin, Wellington Marks. Several stories between 1954 and 1957 revolved around these characters. Bumps and Wellington would largely disappear from the narrative. Jeep, though, would serve a most important role in Judge Parker’s life. More on that shortly.
Two Notably Fey Villains
Nicholas Dallis was generally very progressive in his choice of storylines, often trying to shed light on relevant social issues such as alcoholism and mental illness. But a child of his times, Dallis never shed a sympathetic light on homosexuality. To be fair, to do so would surely have led to a massive cancellation of newspapers subscribing to the strip. This happened decades later to a smaller degree in Lynn Johnston’s For Better or Worse when she introduced a gay character. Given that people of every age can read the comic strips, the funnies pages remain one of the most conservative mediums for telling a story.
Hinting at a perverse element in a villain, if done with subtlety, however, was fair game. Dallis introduced two villains in the first decade of Judge Parker stories who I would suggest were intended to suggest the effeminacy often associated with homosexuality in the popular mind.
With the first of the fey Judge Parker villains, Dallis telegraphed his unconventional gender expression with his name, Mr. Lavendare. Lavender was a marker of androgyny in popular culture—halfway between the blue of boys and the pink of girls. If you think I might be reading too much into his name consider that his overweight narcotics smuggler possessed a whole raft of affectations. Lavendare wears a cumber-bun, is constantly fanning himself with an Asian fan, and eats “opera cream” chocolates. In 1959, that was about as explicit as you could get on the newspaper comics page.
Three years later, Dallis crafts a more daring character named Mr. Hugo. (Neither character is given a first name.) Mr. Hugo is the brains behind a scheme to push bogus, if harmless revitalization pills through the health club of his business partner, the handsome and fit Stan Jasper. Dallis trots out a whole ‘nother set of androgynous markers this time around. Hugo is overweight and wears a floral vest over his shirt which often sports a fresh white carnation. He is often seen holding and petting his white Persian cat when he isn’t swirling a glass of alcohol of one kind or another.
When Jasper dares to defy Hugo’s will, the plump conman brutally disparages the fitness instructor.
“I can find a thousand muscle boys like you… at a dime a dozen! And talking about dimes, you didn’t have two to rub together when I picked you up off the beach.”
Muscle beaches on the West Coast were a common cruising spot for male homosexuals and the often straight men who serviced them for a price during the fifties and sixties. I doubt these story details were coincidental, yet subtle enough to escape the attention of readers unaware of such matters.
But back to the story. Enraged by the insults, Jasper begins to strangle Hugo until he snaps out of it. But Hugo won’t forgive or forget and kills Jasper with a blow to the head. Mr Hugo does Mr. Lavendare one better, fulfilling the stereotype of the homicidally deadly effeminate man.
These two stories were the only Judge Parker stories to tread on this territory and I don’t want to suggest these themes were central to Dallis’ writing. But in an era where homosexuality was rarely even hinted at, I felt these stories were worth highlighting as examples of how such themes were treated.
How Judge Parker Met His Second Wife
By 1966, Nicholis Dallis clearly feels there is a need to shake up the status quo of the strip in a way he didn’t with Rex Morgan and Apartment 3-G. Perhaps the number of newspapers paying for the strip was going down. Or perhaps Dallis was growing tired of the characters. In any case, that November, Dallis tells the story of the unexpected death of little Jeep’s parents. Katherine Cory, Jeep’s aunt, writes Judge Parker with the news and states that Jeep wants to see Parker.
Katherine is 35 when she meets Alan. She is a career woman of unspecified type and a widow who lost her husband in the service two years previously. Katherine loves Jeep and hopes to become her permanent guardian. Katherine and Alan bond over an ensuing custody battle over Jeep with the girl’s paternal uncle, Tom Carson. The Judge proposes to Katherine in March 1967, but Katherine delays accepting to give the Judge time to reconsider in less emotionally charged circumstances. The two marry on February 11, 1968. She will never work outside the home again.
Enter Sam Driver and Abbey Spencer
Whether easing Judge Parker out of the spotlight of his own comic strip was always what Dallis’ had in mind, by 1968 the process was underway. Writer Allan Saunders had done something of the same thing with the Steve Roper comic strip, introducing the younger and more dynamic Mike Nomad to share hero duties with Nomad before ultimately taking over. But what happened in the Judge Parker comic strip was quicker.
On February 13th the Parkers are driving off to their honeymoon. On February 14th, we meet Sam Driver for the first time. Just out of the Army, Driver is starting his new job at the Legal Aid Society. Gloria Sanchez, an unspecified worker there, shows Sam the ropes. It turns out that Sam is the son of an old friend of Judge Parker.
Driver and Judge Parker share the stage for roughly a year and a half. Randy Parker brings home his new girl friend (a pathological liar, of course) who promptly tries to romance both Randy and Sam. In the first half of 1969, Sam is confidante to Katherine who suspects the Judge of an affair even as she is being romanced by the sinister Luke Largo. But as soon as that case is wrapped up, Gloria tells Sam that wealthy heiress Abbey Spencer wants to get a hold of him. Sam and Abbey’s chemistry is immediate and the comic strip is never quite the same again. Abbey’s wealth opens up a whole new territory for Dallis to delve into. Not only does the Judge rarely take center stage thereafter, Driver’s Legal Aid job is soon forgotten.
Judge Parker was only featured as a character in two storylines in the seventies. One featured the return of a grown-up Jeep Carson. One suspects readers had written in wondering whatever happened to her. (No one seemed to care about Anne and Randy!) Jeep was very much in love with a fellow who had gotten himself involved with some very bad men. Dallis delivered a storyline that could have just as easily have been told about Anne.
In the other story, Dallis also revisits old territory and has Katherine have reason to suspect that the Judge might have been flirting with an affair with his secretary. It all turned out to be a scheme of a jealous admirer of said secretary who wanted the Judge to fire her. By the 1980s, the Judge could disappear from the narrative for a couple years at a time and was only prominently featured twice between 1974 and 1993.
The Treatment of Women in Judge Parker
At some point I may try to make a broader analysis of Nicholas Dallis’ treatment of women in all three of his strips. Collectively, Rex Morgan, Judge Parker, and Apartment 3-G loom very large in the world of story strips between 1950 and 1990. Rex Morgan’s nurse, June Gale was even more long-suffering than Abbey Spencer in terms of putting up with far more than they should have to from their male “romantic interests.” The more assertive of the “girls” in Apartment 3-G, Margo McGee was also the most ill-tempered and foolish. Lu Ann of Apartment 3-G was sweet and naive, in some ways like Abbey in Judge Parker. Abbey, at least, was capable of a smart retort. The wisest and most insightful of the women in Dallis’ strips, Tommie Tompkins and Gloria Sanchez, were the least lucky in love.
As for the Judge Parker comic strip, his wife Katherine has largely been involved in domestic and romantic storylines, with no apparent career or interests of her own despite not having minor children to raise after Jeep reaches maturity. Ann Parker, Judge Parker’s daughter, ostensibly pursues a nurse’s degree, but is never shown using that knowledge. Ann is primarily shown demonstrating repeated poor judgment in her choice of men to romance. Little wonder she disappears in 1968, never to be seen again.
Gloria Sanchez, Sam Driver’s secretary, is the most promising of Dallis’ female characters and has a promising introduction. She is attractive and intelligent, capable of putting the often “charmingly” arrogant Driver in his place. A key employee of the branch office of the Legal Aid Society in a poorer, ethnic section of town, Gloria is a Latina who fought her way out of the “ghetto” to earn a college degree, then returned to help others like her at Legal Aid. “I thought it would help some of my people to know that they can escape the ghetto, if they don’t lose hope, and are willing to work hard.”
There is more than a little of the author’s White male perspective showing in the portrayal, but for the late sixties, the character was still groundbreaking. Unfortunately, Gloria’s aspirations to help her community fade from the narrative and she increasingly falls in the smart-talking sidekick role.
The women who populated soap opera comic strips written by men represent fertile territory for a study of men’s attitudes toward women in the first decades of women’s liberation. Clearly some powerful literary archetypes were at play.
A “Family” for Sam Driver and Abbey Spencer
With Nicholas Dallis’ retirement in 1991 (and not long after, his death), his longtime assistant Woody Wilson took over the writing of the strip. During Dallis’ reign, there were no reoccurring characters other than Allan and Kathering Parker, Gloria Sanchez, and Abbey’s maid, Marie. Wilson wisely saw the need for some new characters for Sam and Abbey to interact with.
Cory Duncan, and his troubled son Mark, moved onto Spencer Farms to tend the grounds and horses. Orphaned Neddy and Sophie Barton were taken under Abbey’s wings and essentially adopted. But their wealthy and manipulative aunt, Rachel Cabot returned repeatedly to cause trouble. Neddy and Mark Duncan began a long and troubled romance. Trudi and Keith St. James were old friends of Abbey’s from California who became her business partners. Stories regained some of their earlier vitality, though the social consciousness of Dallis largely disappeared. Unfortunately, Harold LeDoux’s artwork—very nicely rendered when he took over drawing the strip in 1965—gradually went down hill, though remaining serviceable until his retirement in 2006.
Paving the Way for a Second Judge Parker
The other major change in storytelling was that Woody Wilson reintroduced Randy Parker to the comic strip. Unseen since 1968, he returned in 1993 with a law degree and not long after became Sam Driver’s partner.
Sam Driver and Abbey finally married on New Years Eve 1999, leaving Randy to carry the romantic intrigue of the comic strip, along with Neddy of course. Randy got engaged to Mimi Doubleday, but newsflash, she was involved with a cult. April Bower seemed a far better choice, then again Randy began to increasingly wonder if she might be a spy. Her true occupation, however, was not revealed until a new artist took over who could portray her with all the sexiness any spy worth their stripe deserves.
Another reoccurring character, Horace Riley, was an eccentric client of Randy Parker’s. In 2005, Riley suggested that Randy run for his father’s spot on the bench as word as gotten out that Alan Parker would be retiring “soon.” This long-running subplot doesn’t pay off until Randy finally takes his retiring father’s spot on the bench in 2009.
Throughout this period, Sam and Randy rotated as the primary focus of the comic strip. With 2009, readers might have assumed with a more youthful and dynamic Judge Parker now on the job, the focus might have turned even more to Randy. But little was made of Randy’s new judicial duties.
The original Judge Parker returns on a fairly regular basis when Woody Wilson introduces a 2008 story that Alan Parker has become a novelist of espionage novels. His first novel, The Chambers Affair, was popular enough to be considered for development as a motion picture. Alan Parker is now portrayed as something of a curmudgeon, nurtured by his optimistic and incredibly patient wife Katherine.
Upending Perfect Lives
With Woody Wilson’s retirement as only the second writer of Judge Parker in 2016, some dramatic changes were made in the narrative, the repercussions of which are still being felt. One complaint readers had made in the Wilson era was that the characters of the comic strip all seemed to live charmed lives of unrecognized privilege. The new writer, Francesco Marciuliano, set out to change all that and as quickly as possible. Neddy’s fashion business is literally swallowed up by a giant sinkhole. Sophie is kidnapped and missing for months. Randy’s secret agent wife April disappears for even longer, pregnant no less. Under the stress of Sophie’s disappearance, Sam and Abbey grow ever more distant from each other. While things are looking up as 2017 draws to a close, the sense that Sam, Abbey and their kin live perfect lives has been successfully shattered. The treatment of women will be interesting to follow, as the most proactive female character, super spy April Bowers Parker has been disempowered, now in prison on trumped up espionage charges.
Judge Parker Timeline
Nicholas Dallis—Parker Family Era
1952 Ann Parker, the Judge’s daughter, gets dangerously involved in one his cases.
1953 Randy Parker returns from boarding school. Paula Slade runs an adoption scam.
1954 Jeep shows up at the Judge’s doorstep. Marla Doren and Bumps move into town.
1955 Brilliant young Wellington Marks visits, charming Jeep and annoying Bumps.
1956 The insanity trial of Stanley Weckler, who held Ann hostage, unfolds.
1957 Wellington Marks starts high school. Bob McDuff tries to keep Ann’s interest.
1958 Actress Doria Moray pursues the Judge, who later exposes Mayor Plunkett.
1959 Enter fey narcotics smuggler, Mr. Lavendare, followed by boxer Johnny Dove.
1960 Jeep is afraid of housekeeper Nadja who tries to destroy Dori Carson’s marriage.
1961 Wellington and Jeep thwart a gang. Ann returns from Europe engaged to Pepe.
1962 Enter the fey and homocidal Mr. Hugo. Sandra Deere tries to snag the Judge.
1963 Sandra Deere returns, entangled with gangster Max Sparrow.
1964 Keno, a gambling kingpin, eludes justice.
1965 Mr. B and henchman Swish, then Maxine Deverow’s female cons vex Sam.
1966 Jeep’s parents die. She’s adopted by aunt Katherine Cory, who wins Alan’s heart.
1967 “Financial consultant” Preston Palmer secretly romances both Ann and Katherine.
Nicholas Dallis—Early Sam Driver and Abbey Spencer Era
1968 Katherine and Alan marry. Enter Sam Driver. Sheila Pace woos Randy and Sam.
1969 Luke Largo tries to seduce Katherine. Sam Driver meets heiress Abbey Spencer.
1970 Dangerous black widow, Camille Winters, matches wits with Alan and Sam.
1971 Jeep returns from boarding school in love. Johnny Kane killes Abbey’s maid.
1972 One of Abbey’s dearest friends, Lynn Burdan, has partial amnesia.
1973 Betsy Fremont, a former love of Sam’s, schemes her way back into his life.
1974 Karl Wakeman schemes. Abbey hires former mental patient Justin Beck.
1975 Abbey’s young cousin Willson falls for Donna Laval, exceptional belly dancer.
1976 Aging acting legend, Shelby Shore, is infatuated with Abbey and alcohol.
1977 Alan’s secretary Carla Dane is crooked. Abbey considers adopting Lili Benson.
1978 Georgia Kingston, the estate of her dead husband in question, seeks Sam’s help.
1979 Orphaned Patty Modesto falls in love with painter Ben Castle.
1980 Conwoman Jeannie Kelso and her “brother” hide out at Spencer Farms.
1981 Maggi Benson’s addicted to narcotics, Linda May Greer, teen actress, to alcohol.
1982 D.B. Clark, a cigar-smoking female attorney, shares office space with Sam.
1983 An only partially reformed Jeannie Kelso returns and arouses Gloria’s suspicions.
1984 Craig Lewis, single father, loses everything to his gambling addiction.
1985 Katherine suspects the Judge of an affair with Wendy Savern, his new secretary.
1986 Top exec Heather Warner wants a divorce and a new romance with Sam.
1987 Abbey is romanced by handsome Homer Baroot, secretly a cocaine smuggler.
1988 Abbey’s cousin, itinerant painter David Delacourt, visits Spencer Farms.
1989 Palmer Court III, an old friend of Sam’s, scams Abbey, who he hopes to marry.
1990 Stockbroker Blaine Billings is suspected of murdering his wife, but did he do it?
Woody Wilson era
1991 Horse trainer Cory Duncan and troubled son Mark start work at Spencer Farms.
1992 Abbey invests in Trudi St. James. Abbey shelters Neddy and Sophie Barton.
1993 Abbey clashes with Rachel Cabot. Randy Parker returns as Sam’s law partner.
1994 At Spencer Farms, Neddy falls for Mark Duncan.
1995 Randy’s wealthy client, Horace Riley, is caught up in a UFO cult.
1996 Keith St. James romances Abbey, Trudi disapproves.
1997 Theresa Delgado tries to assassinate Katherine Parker. Sam stops her.
1998 Horace is an triangle with his young wife and old flame, Rachel Cabot.
1999 Sam proposes to Abbey in January. The girls plan their New Years Eve wedding.
2000 Sam and Abbey honeymoon, Neddy visits Mark, and the Judge is kidnapped.
2001 Gloria’s wealthy older sister Alexis makes the scene.
2002 Child genius Rowland Sharon attempts to romance Neddy her senior year.
2003 Randy represents a man who held him hostage. Theresa Delgado returns.
2004 Randy Parker meets April Bower. St. James sibs return as does Rachel Cabot.
2005 Gloria’s in jail in Mexico.Horace mentors Randy, who is falling for April.
2006 Horace backs Randy’s campaign for his father’s soon to be open judgeship.
2007 Cedric Hart is Aunt Rachel’s hunky butler. Enter war hero, Steve Shannon.
2008 Alan Parker asks Sam to represent his first novel, The Chambers Affair.
2009 Alan Parker retires and Randy’s sworn in as a judge. Enter Rocky and Godiva.
2010 Neddy falls in and out of love with shoe designer, Julian Edgemont.
2011 Sophie clashes with Honey Ballenger over guitarist Derek Wilcox.
2012 Avery Blackstone plans to film the movie adaptation of Alan’s novel.
2013 The elder Parkers join Randy and April on a cruise ship headed to their wedding.
2014 Randy and April marry in Mexico. Rocky and Godiva partner with Neddy.
2015 Neddy falls for Hank Tolling while pursuing her fashion manufacturing dream.
2016 Sophie disappears after a car crash. April, too. Rocky and Godiva exit.
2017 A troubled Sophie returns. Abbey has an evil sister, Senna. April tells a tale.
Judge Parker’s Family and Friends
Alan B. Parker. The original Judge Parker, a fit widower in his middle forties, as the narrative begins. Years before the ongoing narrative begins, Alan Parker’s wife Mary died, leaving the judge a widower with two children, Ann in nursing school and Randy, in high school. In 1962, Judge Parker declares himself to be in good shape, standing 6 foot, one inch and weighing in at a trim 180 pounds. But he can’t touch his own toes. When Alan marries Katherine Cory in 1969, he is gradually seen less and less in the narrative. When Sam Driver and Abbey Spencer become a couple, Alan and Katherine Parker frequently enjoy dinners together, but after 1974 are less often seen. By the 1980s, Judge Parker is rarely even mentioned in the narrative. Judge Parker declares his attention to retire after being held hostage in 2000-01 but doesn’t actually do so until 2009. Alan Parker summons Sam Driver in June 2008 to ask him to represent him in negotiating an advance on a crime novel he’s written, The Chambers Affair. The book is ultimately published to significant success and, by 2012, Driver is called upon to assist in making arrangements for its development into a movie. In retirement, Alan Parker is increasingly a curmudgeon and expresses cynicism about marriage despite an attractive and attentive younger wife. In 2017, Katherine Parker moves out of the Parker household, angry at how Alan keeps things from her. 11/52-9/69, 1/70-2/70, 9/70-3/71, 9/71-2/72, 5/72-8/72, 11/72, 3/73-11/73, 2/74-4/74, 6/74-7/74, 1/76, 2/77-4/77, 3/82-4/82, 1/87-2/87, 3/85-9/85, 6/92, 5/93, 7/93, 11/93-12/93, 5/97-9/97, (referenced 1/99), 12/99-1/00, 8/00-1/01, 4/06, 6/06-7/06, 11/06, 6/08-7/08, 2/09-3/09, 12/12-4/14, 9/16-1/17, 6/17-10/17.
Ann Parker. The Judge’s daughter who often is engaged in ill-advised romances. She graduated with a nursing degree but is rarely shown utilizing it. In 1952, she is involved in a problematic romance with a young man with criminal connections. In 1953, she serves as the student nurse to a belligerent millionaire named August Krindler. Beginning in December 1954 she is stalked by a psychopathic young man named Stanley Weckler. In 1961, Ann returns from Europe engaged to a man named Pepe who turns out to be a jewel thief. In 1965, she is in love with Harry Ames, a man one year older than her father! She blithely states that age is irrelevant until her father becomes infatuated with Ames’ daughter. In 1967 Ann is torn between the attentions of a penniless, two-timing playboy named Preston Palmer and a struggling young attorney named Dave Williams. Palmer turns out to be a con man and Katherine advises Ann that Dave Williams is a man that truly loves her. Ann is seen only briefly at her father’s wedding to Katherine Cory and is never seen thereafter. 11/52-2/53, 6/53-12/53, 12/54-1/55, 12/55-4/56, 5/57-7/57, 12/57-4/58, 10/60-1/61, 10/61-2/62, 1/65-4/65, 3/67-8/67, 2/68.
Lila Benson. Also called Lila Trimble in a later narrative. The Parker’s cook and housemother, Mrs. Benson is particularly charmed by teen-aged schmoozer Randy. 8/54 and sparodically thereafter, 12/66-3/67.
Margaret Trimble. Judge Parker’s loyal and gray-haired secretary. No mention is made of her being a relative of the Parkers’ cook.
Randy Parker. Alan Parker’s son and ultimately a judge himself. As a young man, Randy is portrayed as a light-hearted youth. He can be over protective of his older sister, due to her poor choice in men, though he is more than capable of making impetuous choices all his own. Something of a schmoozer and charmer even as a teen, Randy is prone to wax philosophical about women to the amusement of his father.In 1953, he becomes entangled with a young club dancer named Kathy Valentine after returning from boarding school. He is charmed by the appearance on their doorstep of young Jeep Carson, who harbors a crush on him for some time after. Late in 1954, he and his sister become concerned that their father may be racing into romance with Marla Doren. In 1955, he is concerned over a friend named Larry Sinclair’s increasing obsession with pinball machine related gambling. In 1956, Randy is ready to elope with Cindy Brooks, whose mother has set up the romance to seek revenge on Judge Parker. Randy returns from his first year in college in the summer of 1959 over confident and increasingly a would be ladies’ man. As a college student, Alan describes his son as being a lot like his late wife, having “the same enthusiasm and good nature.” Lila Trimble, the family cook and housemother loves the young man but can’t be swayed by Randy’s charming ways, affectionately telling him that he has a “real gift for malarkey.” In 1961, Randy provides bemused commentary regarding his family’s attractive new neighbor, the twenty-something “wildcat” Rita Ramsey, who actively pursues his father. In 1962, Bonnie Heath, his father’s temporary secretary, convinces Randy that he needs to undertake a body building regime when she is able to do more push-ups than he can. As such he becomes entangled in the schemes of the conman, Mr. Hugo. In 1966, Randy becomes a devotee of Casandra Canabar. Randy disappears from the narrative shortly after his father’s marriage to Katherine Cory in 1968. He does return from his third year of college that summer with girl friend Sheila Pace along. Sheila turns out to be a pathological liar who attempts to romance Randy and Sam Driver simultaneously. Randy ultimately graduates from college, and attends law school like his father, though none of this is portrayed contemporaneously. Randy is not seen in the narrative from 1969 until 1993, when he introduces his parents to Mimi Doubleday, his new fiancée. He has also just obtained his license to practice law as an attorney. Sam considers offering him a partnership in 1994 but doesn’t when Randy gets a job offer from a prestigious firm in Atlanta. Later that same year, Sam does offer Randy a partnership and he accepts. In 1995, Randy represents eccentric Horace Riley, who will be an important figure in his life. When Randy is having a home built for himself in 1996, a body is discovered buried in the lot and a mystery unfolds. In 1999, Randy is best man at Sam Driver’s wedding to Abbey Spencer. In 2000 and into 2001, Randy moves heaven and earth to find and rescue his father, who’s been kidnapped by “The General.” In 2003, Randy is held hostage by Harry Horning, an older man with a legimate grievance against lawyers. After obtaining his freedom, Randy chooses to represent him! In October 2005, Randy is persuaded by Horace Riley to pursue a judgeship in an upcoming elections. The story of his election campaign is told sporadically during the Fall of 2006 and 2007. Giving up his business partnership with Sam Driver after his election victory, Randy is sworn in by his father during Alan’s retirement party in February, 2009. (Time moves increasingly slowly within the Judge Parker narrative). He presides over his first case that April. Randy proposes to April Bower in April of 2013 and after an extended cruise, Randy meets April’s father and the two are married in the jungles of Mexico in April of 2014. In 2016, Randy announces that April is pregnant and soon afterwards learns she has disappeared during what was to her final mission. After months of not knowing her fate, in 2017 Randy finally gets to meet and raise his daughter, even as April is falsely imprisoned for crimes she did not commit. 6/53-9/53, 8/54-7/55, 12/55-1/56, 9/56-1/57, 5/57-7/57, 11/57-4/58, 5/59-7/59, 12/59-1/60, 4/60, 7/61- 7/62, 6/63-11/63, 3/65-4/65, 5/66-9/66, 12/66-2/67, 2/68, 5/68-10/68, 10/30/93-4/94, 10/94-1/95, 5/9/95-12/95, 4/96-10/96, 11/97-6/98, 1/99-2/99, 12/99-1/00, 8/00-2/01 4/04-5/04, 1/05, 9/05-5/06, 8/06-10/06, 2/09-3/09, 1/10, 3/10, 8/10-10/10, 8/11-5/12, 11/12-6/14, 9/15-10/15, 1/16, 7/16, 6/17-10/17.
Penelope “Jeep” Carson. Jeep is the precocious daughter of Martha Carson. She innocently and often declares that she wants to marry Judge Parker. Jeep is the mischievious buddy of “Bumps” Doren. The arrival of brainy Wellington Marks in 1955 creates a juvenile romantic triangle of sorts. Jeep is absent from the narrative from 1957 to 1960 due to her father working in South America. Back in the States in 1960, Jeep is in the third grade, living with her mother, who has separated from her father. Sinister housekeeper Nadja pushes her down a flight of stars. Fully recovered, Jeep and Wellington undo the schemes of a criminal gang in 1961. When her parents die in a car crash in 1966, Jeep is due to inherit a quarter million dollars. This prompts a custody battle between her maternal aunt, Katherine Cory, whom she loves and trusts, and her paternal uncle, Tom Carson, whom she has never liked. She readily accepts her aunt’s romance with Judge Parker and is excited that the Judge will now officially be her father. Her innocent romantic ambitions are shifted to Randy Parker. Jeep is not seen or referenced for several years after Alan Parker and Katherine’s wedding. In 1971, she comes home from boarding school from Switzerhad, at the age of 17 in love with a handsome skiing star named Eric Stedman. It emerges that Eric has been blackmailed into becoming part of a smuggling operation. He cooperates with authorities and Judge Parker reassures Jeep that Sam Driver will do his best to represent him. Jeep’s first is given as Joan in this final appearance in the narrative. 8/54-3/55, 7/55-12/55, 4/56-7/56, 10/56, 1/57, 4/60-7/60, 12/60-3/61, 11/62, 5/63-6/63, 11/66-3/67, 12/67, 2/68, 9/22/71-2/12/72.
Dori/Martha Carson. Mother of Penelope, aunt to Sandra Deere, and sister to Katherine Cory Parker. An aspiring theatre actress, she and Ralph, her scientist husband, are on the verge of divorce when “Jeep” is injured by a hit-and-run driver and they recommit to their marriage. Dori is separated from her husband in 1960, a state of affairs engineered by her sinister housekeeper, Nadja. “Martha” reappears in the narrative in 1962 with the arrival of her scheming niece, Sandra Deere. Thereafter, she and her husband move out of town with Jeep. Later, in 1966, Martha and Ralph are reported to have been killed in a car crash. 8/54-11/54, 4/60-7/60, 10/62-11/62, 5/63-6/63, 10/63-11/63, (ref. 11/66-12/66).
Marla Doren. An old friend of Mary Parker’s before her marriage to the Judge, Marla is unaware of her death when she decides to return to the United States after 15 years abroad. A widow herself, Marla’s late husband was a foreign correspondent. Marla arrives with her son, Bumps, and begins work as a school teacher, briefly teaching Randy who is concerned over a possible romance with his father. Marla and Alan’s supposed romance never catches fire and she is quickly relegated to appearances as Bumps’ mother and not much else. 11/54-2/55, 7/55-11/55.
Peter “Bumps” Doren. Marla Doren’s son who quickly becomes Jeep Carson’s constant companion. Despite being pre-adolescent, the two banter like potential girl friend and boy friend. Bumps is definitely a boy’s boy and so feels some rivalry with his bookish cousin, Wellington Marks. In 1960, we learn that Bumps has moved out of town with his mother. 12/54-3/55, 7/55-12/55, 4/56-7/56, 10/56, 1/57, 6/63.
Wellington Marks. A ten year old boy genius, the son of Jim and Ruth Marks, the nephew of Marla Doren (his mother’s sister), and the cousin of Bumps Doren. When he first arrives in town for a visit, he is doing an informal study of comic books and their possible corrosive influence on youth and soon is on a television quiz show along with Bumps. Jeep admires his intellect and appears to have a crush on him, though later is revealed that for his part, Wellington has a crush on Ann Parker, 14 years his senior. In 1957, Wellington has been placed in high school, despite being much younger than his peers and he is bullied. Wellington appears one more time in 1961, reunited with Jeep. One of his inventions has garnered the interest of a pair of crooks. 7/55-12/55, 1/57-5/57, 1/61-3/61.
Katherine Cory Parker. Katherine is the sister of Martha Carson, and assumes the care of Jeep with the death of the nine year-old girl’s parents. She writes Judge Parker with the news and states that Jeep wants to see Parker. Katherine is 35 when she meets Alan and is a career woman of unspecified type and a widow who lost her husband in the service two years previously. Katherine and Alan bond over an ensuing custody battle over Jeep with the girl’s paternal uncle, Tom Carson. The Judge proposes to Katherine in March 1967, but Katherine delays accepting to give the Judge time to reconsider in less emotionally charged circumstances. The two marry on February 11, 1968. Katherine is only sporadically seen after 1969, as the adventures of Sam Driver largely take over the narrative. In 1973, Betsy Fremont stays with the Parkers. In 1985, Katherine is led to falsely believe that Alan is having an affair with his secretary, Wendy Savern. In 1993 Katherine is happy to welcome her stepson Randy back into town, recently graduated from law school. In 1997, hitwoman Theresa Delgado attempts to kill her. In 2000 she congratulates Sam and Abbey on their marriage. In 2006, she helps Randy on his campaign to be elected judge in Alan’s place. With 2011, Katherine is once again featured on a fairly regular basis. She is now portrayed as mildly eccentric and optimistic in contrast to her increasingly curmudgeonly husband. In 2017, she and Alan separate over Alan not keeping her in the loop with matters regarding Randy’s wife and child, as well as Alan working out his issues with her in an early draft of his next novel. 11/11/66-7/69, 1/70, 10/70, 12/70, 5/71, 9/71-11/71, 2/72, 5/72-8/72, 11/72, 3/73-8/73, 6/74-7/74, 2/77-3/77, 4/82, 3/85-9/85, 1/87-2/87, 6/92, 7/93, 11/93-1/94, 5/97-9/97, (referenced 1/99), 1/00, 8/00-10/00, 1/01, 7/06-8/06, 2/09, 6/11-7/11, 12/12-6/14, 9/17-10/17.
David Williams. Handsome blond-haired attorney just starting out on his practice. He is romantically interested in Ann Parker and is willing to work pro bono on cases he believes in. In narrative terms, he seems to have been a prototype for Sam Driver. 3/67-8/67, 11/67-1/68.
Sam Driver. An attorney who often does legal legwork on cases with which Alan Parker become involved. Confident and sometimes cocky, Driver is somewhat domesticated by his romance and later marriage to Abbey Spencer and his co-parenting of her adoptive daughters. As his business grew, Driver takes on on Parker’s adult son and fellow attorney, Randy Parker in 1993. When Randy wins an election to become a judge himself, Driver takes on a new partner in 2007, Steve Shannon. 2/14/68-10/17+
Gloria Sanchez. Sam’s attractive, long-time Latina secretary who is a key employee of the branch office of the Legal Aid Society in a poorer, ethnic section of town. Gloria fought her way out of the “ghetto” to earn a college degree, then returned to help her others in need at Legal Aid. “I thought it would help some of my people to know that they can escape the ghetto, if they don’t lose hope, and are willing to work hard.” Gloria is occasionally featured in problematic romances of her own, beginning in 1968-69 with gambler Grif Gordan. Sam and Gloria have a friendly, sparring relationship. Sam calls Gloria “Sanchez” and Gloria feels free to make snarky comments to her boss about the many attractive women who seem to cross his path. She becomes a good friend of Abbey and often speaks up for her interests and the interests of their relationship. Gloria’s colorful sister, Alexis, appears in the narrative in 2001 to stir up trouble. Their background is now described as one of privilege, growing up as the daughters of a Panamanian general and attending American schools, learning four languages in the process. In 2005, in the longest extended narrative centering on Sam’s legal secretary, Gloria is arrested on trumped up illegal firearm possession. At the end of a long and tangled plot (1/17/05-9/14/05), which also features a priest friend of hers named David Hope, it emerges that a jailhouse officer named Ricardo framed her so he could spend more time with her. In 2008, Gloria gradually falls in love with Driver’s new law partner, Steve Shannon, whom she has plans to marry in 2016. She encourages Sam to establish an office at Spencer Farms, arguing he now has few clients other than Alan Parker. In doing so, however, she will continue to work with her husband-to-be but disappears from the narrative. 2/15/68-11/13, 8/14, 9/15, 2/16-3/16.
Abbey Spencer. Wealthy and strong-willed resident of Spencer Farms, a beautiful ranch the Spencer family has overseen for generations. Abbey raises Arabian horses there. Abbey’s father was an old friend of Alan Parker’s, but the Judge hadn’t seen her since she was a teenager until she begins seeing Sam Driver. She involves Sam Driver in a case at a time when she is using the estate as a residence for homeless artists. Abbey has a big heart and is frequently seen helping those in need. Sam and Abbey engage in a long dating relationship, and the two often have dinner with Alan and Katherine Parker. Abbey is understandably annoyed at the many times Sam neglects her, often due to his involvement with a beautiful female client. In 1993, Abbey becomes the guardian of two girls, Neddy and Sophie Barton, who had been squatting on the grounds of her ranch. In 1999, Sam finally proposes to her and the two are married on New Years Eve that same year. Abbey’s oldest friend is Trudi St. James. In 2017, Abbey learns she has a demented half-sister Senna who kidnaps Sophie. 8/6/69-pr.
Marie. Abbey Spencer has had two maid’s named Marie, both with dark hair. Her first maid, Marie Arnold was killed by Johnny Kane in 1971. A new maid, also named Marie, was first seen in the narrative in 1977. This new Marie is freckled and a little plump. She has been an occasional part of the narrative ever since. This Marie begins being a featured character from time to time after 1987. By 2016, Marie has a steady boy friend with the unlikely name of Roy Rogers. After Sophie returns from her kidnapping ordeal in 2017, it is only Marie, returning from a vacation, who is able to breakthrough to her. Marie Arnold 4/71-7/71. New Marie 6/77-present.
Slade Roberts. In Sam Driver’s estimation, “the greatest quarterback in professional football. Piling up a huge gambling debt, Slade is subject to being pressured to fix a football game by gangster August Poole. 8/28/73-2/15/74.
Justin Beck. Handsome young man who seeks an engineering position at Spencer Farms without a single reference. Justin admits he’s just been released from a mental hospital after two years. Despite Sam’s misgivings, Abbey has a good feeling about Beck and hires him anyway. Evasive about his past, which also includes a failed marriage, the other Spencer Farms employees begin to harass him, making up stories about him, and expressing fears about working with him. In the end, their lies are exposed and Abbey and Sam promise to help Justin find a job with an engineering firm more appropriate to this talents. 6/14/74-9/21/74.
Willson Spencer. Abbey’s 17-year old cousin is brilliant and fearless, making significant money successfully investing in stocks. Willson also defies the shady and dangerous owner of the Platinum Pussycat Lounge, where he becomes infatuated with beautiful belly dancer Donna Laval. By the end of a dangerous adventure, Donna narrowly misses being declared the world’s greatest belly dancer by the “Secret Twelve” and Justin proposes marriage to Donna. Abbey insists he tell his mother. 4/1/15-9/19/75.
Shelby Shore. An elderly legend of the stage, Shore becomes infatuated with Abbey when she arranges his appearance for a fundraisr and soon has died his hair to appear younger. Unfortunately, Shore also has a problem with alcohol. 1/76-5/76.
Lili Benson. A highly intelligent 15-year old, Abbey Spencer takes her in when she has nowhere else to go and considers adopting her. Unfortunately, Lili is being used by a crooked boy friend named Rusty Dowell who involves her in a scheme to rob Spencer Farms. Lili is ultimately sent off to juvenile detention, heartbroken over her betrayal of Abbey whom she loves and respects. 11/77-3/78.
Georgia Kingston. A particularly beautiful old friend of Sam’s, Georgia is due to interit a fortune when her 70-year old husband, Julian Kingston, dies. A twisted plot is gradually uncovered, but not before Georgia is falsely suspected of murdering her own ex-husband and being insane. Georgia also tries to woo Sam from Abbey but ultimately realizes she can’t win his heart. 3/19/78-10/1/78.
D. B. Clark. The whipsmart attorney daughter of Judge Parker’s law school roommate. D. B. smokes cigarillos, knows karate, and is very compassionate. For example, after disarming a bank robber, she decides to represent him. Judge Parker introduces D.B. to Sam Driver, hoping they will become law partners, but the two are only interested in sharing office space. While representing crime boss, Dennis “the Squirrel” Passmore, D.B. meets and falls in love with his handsome, non-criminal son, Tony. After the elder Passmore’s death, Tony proposes to D.B., who appears ready to give up her career for marriage. 3/28/82-12/3/82.
Craig Lewis. A single father of two, Davey and Chuck, addicted to gambling. The boys stay with Craig’s sister, Aunt Beth. He ultimately comes to terms with his addiction and vows to be a better father to his sons. 8/84-3/85.
Helen Warner. Highly successful cosmetics business woman who hires Sam to represent her in her divorce from Hank, her alcoholic husband. Adding to Helen’s distress is Kim, her 16-year old daughter’s marijuana use. Helen falls for Sam until a crisis prompts her to decide to reconcile with her husband. 4/24/86-12/1/86.
Laura and Jeff Grace. Laura and Jeff are old friends of Abbey’s. The narrative highlights Jeff’s denial and then minimization of Laura’s drinking problem. Laura, for her part, is skilled at hiding her drinking even as she promises to do better. A car accident when Laura’s been drinking isn’t enough for Jeff to come to his senses. Laura suffering from D.T.’s finally brings him around. On 1/1/88, Abbey and Sam speak to the reader directly, warning them of the dangers of driving while drunk. 8/7/87-1/27/88.
David Delacourt. Another of Abbey’s cousins, a financially struggling though talented painter comes to visit Abbey after the death of his father. David is 32 and Abbey at this time is said to be 26. Abbey’s wealthy next door neighbor, Susan Adams—47—wants to further David’s career. She soon falls for him but fears he could never love her given the age difference. Subsequently, David learns he has inherited a huge sum of money from father—a inveterate gambler who had finally hit it big without David’s knowledge. He finally feels confident enough to declare his love for Susan and the two are engaged. 1/27/88-7/27/88.
Cory Duncan. Mark’s father who first enlists Sam’s service to help his son who’s been arrested Cory used to be a horse trainer but gave it up when his first wife and Mark’s mother died in a car accident. Cory has a youthful second wife named Viki who disappears from the narrative after 1991. Sam ends up giving Cory Abbey’s number as she’s looking for a skilled horse handler. Thereafter, Cory is mostly shown helping Abbey’s female guests on horseback or updating Neddy on his son’s romantic foibles. A good-looking man in his forties, the closest Cory gets to romance is a brief 2016 flirtation with Godiva Danube. Perhaps he’s still married to Viki. 2/14/91-7/30/91, 12/92-3/93, scattered appearances thereafter, 12/05, 3/13, 10/14-11/14, 1/15, 5/15, 8/15, 3/16.
Mark Duncan. Sam Driver serves as Mark’s attorney when Mark gets arrested for breaking and entering. A rebellious teen, Mark nonetheless needs help breaking away from a gang known as the Hatchets. In 1992, Mark befriends Neddy Barton and her sister Sophie who are squatting on Spencer Farms, where Mark has moved to with his ranch hand father. An innocent romance develops between Mark and Neddy. Added complications to their relationship occur in 1997 when Mark is accepted to Harvard and in 1999 when Mark enrolls in Harvard’s law school. Neddy has a happy visit with him in 2000 and fends off a romantic rival named Helen “Spike” Pointer. But in 2003 Mark comes home from law school to break up with her. In 2005, Neddy learns from Mark’s father that his son has married. In 2010, Mark returns to tell Neddy that he is divorced and has treated her badly, but Neddy, planning to return to Paris, suggests they’ve learned that long distance romances don’t work. By 2015, Mark has a degree in maritime law and comes back to town to renew their relationship and ultimately proposes to Neddy. He doesn’t respond well when she says she isn’t ready to marry. Mark promptly accepts a job offer in Hong Kong. 2/10/91-7/30/91, 12/92-5/93, 8/93-10/93, 4/94-3/95, 5/97-6/97, 8/99, 1/00-8/00, 4/03-5/03, (referenced 9/03, 12/05-1/06), 6/10-9/10, (referenced 3/13), 10/14-1/15, 6/15-7/15.
Trudi St. James. Abbey’s oldest friend who lives outside of San Francisco and owns a winery with her brother, Keith. In financial trouble, Abbey becomes the St. James’ business partner. It falls on Sam to tell Abbey in 1992 that while they may be good friends, they are poor business people. Trudi is attractive with brown hair and glasses. She often finds herself in trouble, and has poor taste in men. Trudi once tried to kiss Sam despite her friendship with Abbey. In 2004, Abbey, Sam and her brother Keith all try to discourage her ill-fated romance with bigamist, Maurice Xavier Faron. In 2007, Trudi and her brother return one last time before disappearing from the narrative. 12/91-6/7/92, 11/29/95-4/7/96, 4/18/04-11/14, 1/05, 6/07-11/07.
Keith St. James. Trudi’s overly protective, sometimes short-tempered and often ill advised brother. Trudi and Keith must stave off the efforts of J. B. Baron to take over the winery in 1992. Keith shows a romantic interest in Abbey at that time, openly declaring his affection in 1996. In 2004, he tries to short-circuit his sister’s ill-advised romance with Maurice Xavier Faron. He no longer tries to romance Abbey. Keith wears his medium length hair tied behind in a ponytail. He is portrayed as less handsome as the years go by, slender with a somewhat thin face. 1/92-6/92, 1/96-4/96, 5/04-10/14, 6/07-11/07.
Ezra Barton. Kindly grandfather of Neddy and Sophie, who takes care of the girls after the death of their father and then their mother. Ezra is forced to sell their house to pay for Sophie’s medical bills. Thereafter, the three are homeless and squat on Abbey Spencer’s property until they are discovered. Ezra agrees to have his family stay at the Spencer guest house only if he and the girls work for their room and board. Ezra dies of a heart attack while working at the farm. 11/92-3/93.
Neddy Barton Spencer. Neddy, her sister Sophie and her grandfather were all squatting on Abbey Spencer’s ranch. She was only 14 when she first meets Abbey and initially resents Abbey’s attempts to better shape her future. It soon emerges that Neddy and Sophie are actually wealthy in their own right, having trust funds that were hidden from them by their often manipulative aunt, Rachel Cabot. Neddy has had two significant romances, one with Mark Duncan, the son of one of Abbey’s ranch hands, and later Bob Willard, the doorman at Rachel Cabot’s exclusive club. A talented artist, Neddy travels to Paris to attend art school in 2007 while living with her aunt. She returns home two years later with an aspiring designer in tow. Neddy returns to Paris, coming home again in 2013 with a pediatrician friend named Thalia Clearing, to whom she has loaned a great deal of money. 11/92-5/07, 4/10-10/10, 3/13-pr..
Sophie Barton Spencer. Younger sister of Neddy, Sophie initially walks with a crutch due to injury that bankrupted her grandfather, Ezra. She is only nine when adopted by Abbey after Ezra’s death. Sophie emerges as a highly intelligent child prodigy, with insights far beyond her years. As she grows older, Sophie often champions social causes, but also tries out to become a cheerleader in 2009. 11/92-8/16, 12/16-6/17.
Harmony “Mimi” Doubleday. Engaged to be married to Randy Parker when she first enters the narrative, Randy brings her to his parents for help with her family. Mimi is the daughter of E. Tanner Doubleday, the recently deceased founder of Eon, a multi-million dollar Scientology like cult. Mimi’s brother, Helmuth, orders her return to Eon, via whatever means necessary. Unseen for years, Mimi breaks up with Randy when he refuses to join Eon as a condition for their marriage. 10/30/93-4/94, 12/94, 6/95, 4/98, (ref. 8/00), 9/05-10/05, 2/06, 5/06-6/06, (ref. 4/09, 7/09).
Horace Riley. Wealthy farmer and owner of Riley Amalgamated, Horace T. Riley first came into Randy Parker’s orbit when he seeks his help against his nephew, who is trying to prove him incompetent and have him committed. It doesn’t help he is involved in a UFO abductee cult headed up by the mysterious Seth. Horace comes out of the encounter unscathed, unless you count him getting to married to one of the cult devotees, Alpha. But two years later finds Horace seeking a divorce because the far younger Alpha wants children. It turns out that Horace is an old flame of Rachel Cabot. Rachel’s hopes of rekindling their romance are dashed when he gets back together with Alpha. On the plump side, balding with a bushy mustache, Riley also is a power player in politics. In 2005, Horace encourages Randy to run for Alan’s judge seat in when his father retires. When Randy does decide to run a year later, Horace is disappointed when the younger Parker doesn’t ask him to run his campaign but helps him behind the scenes nonetheless. 5/9/95-10/95, 11/20/97-6/98, 9/05-10/05, 8/06-10/06.
Lt. James Yelich. Police lieutenant who is often called in to arrest individuals Sam Driver has been investigating or to head a violent police intervention when necessary. In late 2011 he suspects April Bower of being involved in a murder and finds a large numbr of guns in her home. Yelich is handsome with prematurely gray hair and appears to be in his forties. 9/95, 5/96-10/96, 8/01,7/02-11/02, 6/03, 10/03, 11/03-3/04, 7/09, 10/09, 12/09-2/10, 8/11, 12/11-1/12. 3/12, 3/13, 7/13, 5/17, others.
Lorenzo “Longshot” Bowman. Sam’s old college buddy who excelled at basketball shows up at Spencer Farms and trouble related to an unresolved gambling debt follows. 7/2/97-11/97.
Cal Reynolds. Old fraternity buddy of Alan’s, now a special operative complete with black eyepatch who works for the Attorney General’s office. Cal enlists Judge Parker’s aid in stemming the tide of human trafficking, which led to the judge getting kidnapped by “the General.” 9/00-1/01.
Alexis Sanchez. Gloria’s glamorous older sister who is drawn to wealthy men, most recently a suave Argentine businessman named Sergio Francesco who has gotten in trouble with dangerous men. Gloria and Alexis’ childhood is now portrayed as one of privilege, growing up as the daughters of a Panamanian general who attended American schools, learning four languages in the process. 10/1/01-3/02, 11/02.
Rowland Sharon. Youthful and short genius who attempts unsuccessfully to romance Neddy. Decides in the end that fellow child genius Sophie might be more his speed. 5/02-8/02, 11/02-5/03.
April Bower. Originally working as a temporary assistant at Driver and Parker’s law office, April remains there until 2006, postponing her plans to accept a job at the CIA for several weeks. April is woefully over qualified for the role at the office, being fluent in four languages and having completed a Master’s thesis on the economics of the European Union. During this time, April falls in love with Randy Parker, fresh off his breakup with Mimi Doubleday. April leaves Sam and Randy’s practice to become a linguist with the CIA. April returns in 2009, supposedly having quit the CIA. Beginning in 2012, however, it becomes clear that April is actually a government operative. Despite these absences, April maintains a strong romantic interest in the elusive Randy Parker and the pair ultimately become engaged in April of 2012. Dangerous missions abroad continue to separate the couple and postpone their nuptials. Randy, his parents, and April travel to the jungles of Mexico by cruise ship to join April’s father—Abbot Bower—to get married. April admits to Randy that she is a spy in July 2013. The two are finally married in Mexico in April 2014. In 2016, Randy announces that April is pregnant and soon afterwards announces she has disappeared during what was to beher final mission. In 2017, April returns in the custody of the CIA, revealing that they have a daughter Charlotte who not long after is delivered to Randy’s car. 4/04-5/04, 1/05, 9/05-5/06, 2/09-3/09, 7/09, 1/10, (ref. 3/10), 8/10-10/10, 10/11-4/12, 3/13-6/14, (April’s disappearance referenced 6/16-7/16), 12/16, 7/17-10/17+.
Bob Willard. Handsome and good-humored doorman at the country club on Cabot Island. Neddy falls in love with him despite her Aunt Rachel’s objections. Bob’s father was an alcoholic who committed suicide after Rachel cut him out of their highly successful real estate business. Bob’s mother is understandably concerned when she learns her son is dating Rachel Cabot’s niece but is won over by Neddy’s good nature. Neddy is going to forgo her plans to attend art school in Paris to stay with Bob, but Sam convinces the young man to persuade Neddy to follow her dreams instead. 7/04-12/04, 11/05-4/06.
Raju. Brilliant if homely young man from India whom Sophie hired to upgrade her homework. She is surprised when he shows up to visit at Spencer Farms. When last seen, Raju is managing the diets of collegiate wrestlers. 6/06-11/06.
Cedric Hart. Muscular and physically adept, Cedric is a handsome, bespectacled 30-something butler from Canada who temporarily works for elderly Parisian resident Rachel Cabot and therefore assists her guests, Abbey and Neddy Spencer. For a time, Cedric’s beautiful wife Angela stalks Neddy, who she fears will seduce her husband. Cedric always works for very wealthy clients and there appears to be far more to his story than appears on the surface. 1/07-5/07.
Steve Shannon. Decorated war hero and attorney who lost both his legs in Afghanistan but is able to walk with prosthetics. Shannon works hard to support his elderly, wheelchair bound mother. Shannon is also quickly drawn to Sam’s sympathetic secretary, Gloria Sanchez, and she to him. As Driver puts it, “Handsome, talented, accomplished, war hero, single…, what’s not to like?” The couple are due to be married in 2016, when Steve strikes off on his own as Rocky Ledge’s legal eagle. 12/07-11/08, (referenced 12/10), 2/12-5/12, 9/13-11/13, 9/15-10/15, 2/16-3/16.
Rocky Ledge. Philandering country western star who nonetheless is passionately in love with his movie star wife, Godiva Danube. Rocky is referenced, but not seen in 5/12 noting his seeking representation for a book he has written regarding his life with Godiva. He becomes a partner in Neddy’s new fashion business at Godiva’s behest. 5/09-2/10, 8/14-9/14, 12/14-6/15, 9/15-10/15, 5/16, 9/16.
Godiva Danube. Rocky’s beautiful movie star wife, who has adopted 12 children from around the world. Godiva is feisty and capable of emotional blackmail, but always forgives Rocky’s apparent philandering. She enthusiastically joins Neddy in her new fashion business in 2014 and pressures Rocky into largely financing it. 5/09-2/10, 10/14-5/15, 8/15-9/15, 3/16-5/16, 9/16-10/16.
Julian “Jules” Edgemont. Young shoe designer with whom Neddy falls in love in Paris and out of love once they return to the States. Sam assists him with legal issues related to establishing a business. 4/10-10/10.
Constance Darling. Intern turned publisher representative from Cheatam Publishing. Also serves as a helpmate to Alan Parker’s literary efforts. 2/11-8/11, 6/13.
Derek Wilcox. Handsome and highly intelligent high school musician who Sophie has a bad crush on. Unfortunately he has a girl friend, a snooty and aggressive bad girl named Honey Ballenger. Sophie seeks out guitar lessons from Derek and promises him a very expensive electric guitar when they are finished. In 2016, Derek, Sophie, Honey and two other friends are all involved in a bad accident in which Honey and the other boys were drinking. (Referenced 3/11-4/11), 9/11-11/11, 4/12, others, 7/16-8/16, 2/17-3/17.
Avery Blackstone. Hollywood big wig whom Sam approaches about helming the movie adaptation of Alan Parker’s first novel. Blackstone has an attractive dark-haired daughter named Peaches. 5/12-11/12.
Abbott Bower. AKA Norton Dumont, AKA Falcon, April’s bald, round glasses wearing, cigar smoking former gun runner father. He is also is dying from exposure to uranium on one of his cases for the CIA. Abbott operates out of a heavily fortified compound in the jungles of Mexico. The Gardia Brothers use April’s trip to see him and get married to track his location. When Alan Parker invites him to come back to the states, he arranges for documents that declare Abbott Bower is dead and adopts a new identity as Norton Dumont. During this time he becomes a consultant to Alan Parker, giving him espionage details for his next novel. When his daughter April goes missing, “Norton” calls on old contacts and learns the CIA suspects April of treason. He enlists Alan’s help in commiting an unspecified illegal act. 2/13/14-6/14, 12/15-1/16, 9/16-1/17, 8/17-8/17.
Hank Tolling. Hank is a brown-haired design engineer hired by Rocky Ledge to help build Neddy’s clothing factory. All agree he is a “hunk of a man.” Hank and Ned, both being strong-willed, frequently clash but ultimately fall in love. But, in 2016, when Hank decides to follow a spectacular career opportunity to Alaska, sparks of a different kind fly. All that changes when a sinkhole literally sinks her clothing factory, and Sophie is kidnapped. Needing to get away from the cloud overhanging her family, Neddy flees with Hank to Alaska. Hank accompanies Neddy back to Spencer Farms when a troubled Sophie returns. Early in 2017 Hank must return to his new job in Alaska without Neddy. In October that same year Neddy breaks things off with him, fearing she has lost any identity other than as his girl friend. 5/15-2/17, 10/17.
Judge Parker and Sam Driver’s Notable Adversaries
Betsy Fremont. Beautiful career woman sought after to helm a television talk show, Betsy is also an old flame of Sam Driver. When she returns to town to settle her father’s estate, it is soon clear that she is determined to marry Sam and actively finds ways of undermining his relationship with Abby Spencer. It ultimately is revealed that she’s been married three times in the last five years, described by one of her exes as having a “conniving, hedonistic personality.” Watch out! 3/73-8/27/73.
Caesar. Sinister and mostly behind the scenes mastermind behind a scheme to control the world’s water supply. 7/07-10/07.
Camille Winters. A dangerous black widow, Camille Winters has married an old friend of Judge Parker’s, Carl Winters. But Carl is seriously ill, barely conscious, cared for by a muscular and handsome aid named Rus. When Camille shows interest in Sam, he becomes suspicious and learns that Rus has been giving Carl Winters deadly medication. When Camille tries to throw Rus under the bus, Rus tells the police to investigate the death of Camille’s last husband. 1/70-4/70.
Carla Dane. Judge Parker’s attractive new blonde secretary is actually a conwoman who uses her position to gain sensitive information that her criminal associate Charles Kasper is able to exploit. Their schemes are uncovered when they attempt an unsuccessful jewel heist. 2/77-6/77.
Casandra Canabar. Dark-haired beauty who heads a misguided peace movement, “Brothers for Peace” at bucolic Peace Acres. He obtained her fortune after marrying a far older man, Hugo Canabar, who left her his fortune after his death. Casandra charms many a male acolyte, called brothers, including a youthful and still naïve Randy Parker. One of them, insanely jealous of her, kills an associate named Otto who wondered if she was incapable of love and almost kills Randy. Shaken, Casandra disbands her peace movement, calling it a “mistake.” 5/66-9/66.
Dennis “the Squirrel” Passmore. “The father of organized crime in the state,” per Sam Driver, Passmore seeks the legal services of D.B. Clark. Passmore, who always wears dark sun glasses, is very short and slight of build. He has receding gray hair and protruding front teeth, hence his nickname that no one dares say to his face. While generally demanding, Passmore is taken by D. B. Clark’s assertiveness and seeks her legal representation when his men get in trouble. He even shows her the orchids that he raises. Passmore has a handsome son, Tony, who is uninterested in his criminal enterprises and a huge, good-hearted henchman named Charley. Passmore dies of a massive heart attack, leaving his criminal empire up for grabs. 5/82-9/82.
Dixie Julep. Former exotic dancer with severe anger management problems. With the help of Driver’s investigations, it emerges that Dixie murdered her lover, Dewey Cheatham, coincidentally the intended publisher of Alan Parker’s novel. 9/08-1/09.
Flaco and Franco Gardia. Twin brothers in their forties, the Gardias are “Roma gypsies and arms dealers” who worked for the Romanian government. They decide to trail April Bower to her gun runner father in Mexico. The Gardias believe that Abbott Bower stole a fortune in diamonds from them. Complicating matters is that Flaco Gardia believes April killed his wife, Li Hia, not knowing that Abbott arranged for his capture and imprisonment in a Mexican prison. The Gardias reach a bargain with the Bowers for half the diamonds and the release of Flaco’s wife. 10/13-11/13, 2/14-6/14.
The General. Former army Major General of Special Operations, Gordon Blair is the mastermind behind a human trafficking operation. In order to insure its continuing success he has Alan Parker kidnapped before he is able to otherwise new measures against Ashton Global Corporation (AGC0, the shell company behind his operation. Nonetheless, the General is just a cog in a wider multi-national criminal business cartel. 8/00-1/01.
Helmuth Doubleday. Head of Eon, who is willing to resort to kidnapping his own sister, Mimi, to keep her from leaving or threatening the cult-like self-improvement empire. Helmuth himself is under the negative influence of his paramour and administrative aid, Dellas, who is actually siphoning millions off the company without Helmuth’s knowledge. 11/93-3/94.
Homer Baroot. Pretending to want to provide a home for “disadvantaged kids to love and pursue an education,” Baroot seeks to buy Spencer Farms from Abbey. Abbey, disillusioned with Sam’s unwillingness to commit, considers selling so she live abroad. In actuality, Baroot thinks the highly wooded Spencer Farms would be the perfect front for his cocaine smuggling business. In the meantime, he proposes to Abbey, but Sam reveals to her his criminal enterprises. 12/2/86-8/7/87.
Honey Ballenger. Sophie’s “arch enemy,” a mean girl cheerleader who attempts to steal Derek Wilcox away from her. Later in 2016, on a road trip with Derek’s band, Honey throws a liquor bottle at Sophie but accidentally hits Derek instead, leading to a near fatal accident. Only Honey escapes the kidnapping that Senna Lwiston enflicts on the others, but she is deeply sobered by the experience. Her hothead father, a disgraced cop named Sean Ballenger (3/17-5/17) inadvertently lures Sam Driver into a death trap set by Senna. (Referenced 3/25/11-4/11), 10/11-11/11, x/xx-x/xx, 7/16-11/16, 1/17.
Jeannie Kelso. Jeannie Kelso and her “twin brother” Tim seek work at Spencer Farms, but her twin is actually Tim Rushland, and the two are hiding cash from an armored car heist. Jeannie ultimately elude capture in 1981 by leaving Tim in the dust as she escapes in their getaway car. Jeannie returns in 1982, apparently reformed and with Tim serving time. Jeannie seeks to win Sam Driver’s heart, all the while managing the singing career of Country Boy Lukas, and sidestep Tim’s schemes to get released from prison. Sam’s secretary Gloria sees what she’s up to, but Sam is blind to her maneuvers. Jeannie ends up confessing to Abbey that Sam loves Abbey, not her, before leaving town once again. 9/80-3/81, 12/82-6/83.
Johnny Kane. The guitar playing nephew of Abby Spencer’s recently departed childhood governess, Johnny at 28 is aimless but seemingly charming, having earned Abby’s good feelings for having taken good care of “Aunt Martha.” It emerges that Kane embezzeled $200,000 from his aunt and kill Abbey’s maid, Marie, to keep that quiet. 3/71-9/71.
Keno. Gambling kingpin who enables socialite Patti Leeds to build up a huge debt in hopes of gaining a foothold in high society. He has her boyfriend, golf instructor Gary Jaye, savagely beaten when he begins to suspect his scheme. Keno is a rar e villain who escapes justice, skipping bail after his arrest. 6/64-10/64.
Luke Largo. Largo served in the war with Alan Parker and later blamed Parker for breaking up his marriage. He returns, apparently having forgiven his old friend but actually tries to break up his marriage. He arranges to have a woman make recurring calls to Katherine accusing the Judge of adultery. The epitome of smooth, with a neatly trimmed mustache, Largo is capable of genuine violence and dies in a car accident fleeing authorities. 3/69-7/69.
Maurice Xavier Faron. International jetsetter who romances Trudi St. James, hoping to make her his third wife to access her fortune. Faron dabbles in Arabian horses, an interst he shares with Abbey, but whose purchase he uses for money laundering to cover up his dealings with European heroin cartel. 6/04-12/04.
Max Sparrow. Slick if short New York gangster who has considerable success charming the ladies, despite an obvious lack of breeding. He charms Sandra Deare into assisting him in various schemes, ultimately escaping consequences when Sandra refusal to testify against him results in a jury finding him not guilty on an attempted murder charge. 6/63-12/63.
Maxine Deverow, Deborah Smith and Amy. Unique three woman con artist team, Maxine and Deborah are beautiful young women, while Amy is an older con woman who poses as Deborah’s mother. In this instance, they attempt to con a young man’s mother to pay for their silence regarding an assault on Deborah that never happened. 12/65-5/66.
Mr. B. Narcotics crime boss. A behind the scenes figure in his first appearance in the narrative, Mr. B is revealed to be Henry Balsom, an owner of a department store and a “outstanding citizen” who moved into town ten years ago. This according to Judge Parker himself, when Sam Driver asks. In private, though, the rather short Balsom is prone to malicious eye rolls and sinister expressions. He has utilized younger men as agents in the past, in 1966, the curiously nicknamed Swish, and in 1967, the often clueless but handsome Frankie Apollo. 12/65, 9/67-2/68.
Mr. Hugo. Fey con artist who is the brains behind Stan Jasper’s Health Club, which pushes his harmless revitalization pills. Hugo is overweight and wears a floral vest over his shirt and sports a fresh white carnation. He is often seen holding and petting his white Persian cat when he isn’t swirling a glass of alcohol of one kind or another. Jasper, his partner in the scam, is handsome and fit, and holds the world’s record for the most push-ups. But when Hugo suggests replacing Jasper’s image on his pill bottles with Judge Parker’s new secretary, Bonnie Heath, Jasper gets resentful. Hugo snaps at Jasper, telling him, “I can find a thousand muscle boys like you… at a dime a dozen! And talking about dimes, you didn’t have two to rub together when I picked you up off the beach.” Enraged, Jasper attempts to strangle Hugo until he snaps out of it. But Hugo won’t forgive or forget and kills Jasper with a blow to the head. Hugo later threatens to kill Bonnie when she figures out that he murdered Jasper. Luckily Judge Parker has checked out his record, learning he has two priors for assault and battery. 2/62-6/62.
Mr. Lavendare. Overweight narcotics smuggler who has many an affectation. He wears a cumberbun, a string tie, is constantly fanning himself with an Asian fan, and eats “opera cream” chocolates. He has freckles and favors Asian pieces of art. His gang consists of a short Latio man named Pablo and his muscle, a large rather stupid fellow named Curly. 7/29/59-11/30/59.
Palmer Court III. Returns to visit Abbey, who he knew when he was 12 and she was 4. Palmer’s father committed suicide and his mother died not long after. As both of Abbey’s parents died in an auto accident, the two share an orphan status and happy memories of Spencer Farms. Palmer wants to start a tennis school located on Spencer Farms and brings in an accomplice, Kiki Muldoon, to bring the plan into fruition. Palmer hopes to marry Abbey, but Marie’s suspicions about Palmer and Kiki as well as Kiki’s jealousy help undo their scheme. Palmer disappears not long after, declaring, “I always know when to leave a place before I’m thrown out.” 10/89-5/90.
Paul Planchard. A handsome professional hypnotist with a slender face and dark, fathomless eyes. Planchard uses his extraordinary powers to control the will of young woman to his financial advantage, making his first mistake in trying to marry one of Ann Parker’s best friends. When the Judge exposes him and he is arrested by the police, Planchard begins to babble about how he “will place the world under my power” and laughs manically, revealing that he not just a criminal, but insane as well. 9/60-1/61.
Preston Palmer. Handsome, if two-timing romantic interest of Ann Parker. A “financial consultant”, Pres soon shifts his focus on Katherine Cory, when he learns of her oversight of Jeep’s quarter million trust fund. For a time, he successfully creates deceptive narratives to drive a wedge between the Parkers and Katherine. Ann rightfully declares that Preston is incapable of loving any woman when Dave Williams helps her realize his deceptions. 4/67-8/67.
Rachel Cabot. The extremely wealthy and elderly aunt of Neddy and Sophie, the older sister to their mother, Victoria, whom they barely remember. Rachel lives in a mansion with her subservient son, “Biff,” and his hard-drinking but attractive trophy wife, Allison. Rachel often attempts to control her nieces and wrest them away from Abbey. Rachel lives on Cabot Island, near Puget Sound, and dominates affairs in the upper class community nestled there. In 2004, she interferes with Neddy’s romance with Bob Willard, the son of a former business partner who she likely cheated. In 2007, she shows a softer side in hosting Abby and Neddy in Paris, but nonetheless pretends to have cancer for sympathy when she is actually suffering from dementia. During this visit she also reveals a 28-year long affair with her chauffeur and butler, Groves. 5/93-10/93, 12/97-6/98, 5/04-1/05, 9/05, 12/06-2/07, 5/07, referenced only 2/13.
Reggie and Celeste Black. Randy Parker’s unscrupulous political opponent for the judgeship. His campaign is ultimately undone by his vicious, alcoholic wife. 8/06-12/06.
“Rusty” Duncan. Went to law school with Sam and the two were apparently involved. Since Mary “Red” O’Riley as Sam knew her and “Rusty” as she is known now has become unscrupulous. Attorney for Caesar, Rusty butts head with Sam Driver over a scheme to buy to a winery which, unknown to its owners, siblings Keith and Trudi St. James, rest on top of a vast water table. Rusty is drawn to Driver and kisses him to seal the business deal drafted in his client’s favor. 7/07-11/07.
Sandra Deare. A scheming would-be actress and trouble-making niece of Martha Carson, Sandra blows into town deciding to model as a break. She toys with a department store executive but sets her sights on marrying Judge Parker who sees through her various schemes. Sandra returns not long after, infatuated with a New York gangster named Max Sparrow. Her machinations allow Sparrow to escape an attempted murder charge but she ultimately can’t avoid the consequences of her involvement in a fur heist. 9/62-1/63, 5/63-12/63.
Senna Lewiston. Abbey’s half-sister, the result of an affair between Abbey’s father and Senna’s mother, is revealed as the kidnapper behind Sophie’s disappearance. She escapes capture after she rigs an explosion intended to kill Sam and Honey Ballenger’s father. Senna shares Abbey’s red hair and shapely figure, but she has a hardened expression and is extremely volatile. A childhood accident or illness left her with a pronounced limp and she must walk with a cane even though she is only in her forties. As a juvenile, Senna was arrested for shoplifting and vandalism, but not a single presence of the legal record after the age of 16. Her unnamed sister (an thus Abbey’s half-sister as well) assists her in her scheme, but when she concludes Senna is crazy, Senna shoots and kills her. 10/15/16-11/16, 1/17-4/17, (referenced 5/17-6/17).
Seth. Founder of the United Planets, a bogus advocacy group for supposed alien abductees. Seth serves as the “debriefer,” retrieving lost memories of the abductions through hypnosis. Randy Parker infiltrates the organization in his efforts to prove that Horace Riley is not mentally incompetent. 6/95-9/95.
Sheila Pace. Attractive college girl friend of Randy Parker who has a decided wild streak. While kissing another guy who wonders what she sees in Parker, Sheila declares, “I like squares! It’s fun rounding them out!” A pathological liar, Sheila tries to simultaneously romance Randy and Sam Driver. Once caught, Sheila decides to quit school and disappears. 6/68-10/68.
Stanley Weckler. Young man who stalks Ann Parker for weeks with the initial plan to have her fall in love with and marry him, all in order to have revenge on Judge Parker who sentenced him to several years in prison. When Ann is only frightened and turned off by his advances, he ends up holding her hostage in her own home, and later Judge Parker as well. When Ann’s boy friend gets suspicious, the police intervene, one of the officers fatally shot in the process. Once arrested, Weckler advises his attorney to pursue an insanity defense as Judge Parker called him insane during the hostage crisis. While he is ultimately found guilty, the jury advises that there be no death penality. The trial, which plays out over three months of the narrative, serves as an interesting exploration of the pros and cons of the insanity defense. 12/55-4/56.
Swish. Stylishly dressed drug pusher who works for the sinister crime boss, Mr. B. Other than his name, there is nothing in his behavior to suggest he is a homosexual. 9/65-12/65.
Theresa Delgado. AKA Detective Melanie Chavez and Mary Cortez, a deadly hitwoman wanted by Interpol. When Judge Parker is apparently targeted for assassination, Delgado poses as a detective who “investigates” her only hit attempt. Ultimately her disguise is discovered by Sam Driver, including her true target, Katherine Parker. Abducting Driver, for whom she has fallen for, she reveals her true identity and affection, before jumping off a bridge to her apparent death. But Delgado resurfaces when she is hired to kill Randy Parker. Driver once again intervenes, this time to save his friend. Once again declaring her love for Sam, she never repents and escapes at the end of her failed mission, hoping to escape the wrath of the man who hired her. 6/18/97-11/97, 10/03-4/04.
Tom and Gwen Carson. An opportunistic couple who see dollar signs with the death of Tom’s brother, the father of the now orphaned Jeep Carson. Tom and Gwen seek control of the $250,000 that has been left to Jeep by her parents. Tom’s alcoholism is ultimately his undoing of his custody scheme, showing up drunk at Jeep’s hospital and getting into a serious car crash while drunk. 11/66-2/67.
Writers and Artists
Nicholas P. Dallis (w) 11/52-11/91
Woody Wilson (w) 12/91-8/16
Francesco Marciuliano (w) 8/16-pr.
Dan Heilman (a) 11/52-x/65
Harold LeDoux (a) x/65-5/06
Eduardo Barreto (a) 5/06-2/10
Mike Manley (a) 3/10-pr.