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Creator of the radio soap opera

Anne Hummert, widely credited with creating the radio soap opera and spinning out many of the spell-binding classics of the 1930s and '40s, has died at age 91.

Mrs. Hummert, a multimillionaire who had maintained a vigorous life almost to the end, died at her Fifth Avenue apartment on July 5.

Stella Dallas, Helen Trent, Ma Perkins and Lorenzo Jones became household names. Virtually every woman in America knew that Mary Noble was the Backstage Wife and were familiar with every detail of the anguished but inspiring lives of John's Other Wife and Young Widow Brown.

All of these plus more than a dozen others were the creations of Mrs. Hummert, a diminutive woman from Baltimore, and the man she had kept at bay for seven years after taking a job as his assistant at a Chicago advertising agency.

By the time she met E. Frank Hummert in 1927, the former Anne Schumacher had lived something of a soap opera herself.

A brilliant student who graduated magna cum laude from Goucher College at the age of 20 in 1925, she begun her career as a college correspondent for the Sun, then worked as a Sun reporter before going to Paris in 1926.

She became a reporter for the precursor of the International Herald Tribune her first day in the city, but within a year she had married and divorced a fellow reporter, John Ashenhurst, and was back in the United States with an infant son.

Settling in Chicago, she failed to get a newspaper job but accepted a position as an assistant to Hummert, a former St. Louis newspaperman who had become a renowned copywriter and a partner in the Chicago agency Blackett, Sample & Hummert.

By the time they married in 1934 and began what friends recall as one of the great love matches, which lasted until Hummert's death in 1966, the couple had virtually created commercial daytime radio.

Their enterprise produced several evening musical programs, like Waltz Time, and mysteries, including the haunting Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons.