In Los Angeles, CA in 1962, cynical attorney George Hayes was asked by his pal, the rich entrepreneur and art galleries owner, Alex Bowden to pay off his former wife, Doris Crandall, to get her to leave town. The alcoholic Doris had recently relocated to Los Angeles, with her and Alex's son, Carter, and Alex was having trouble not straying in his new marriage to the younger Robin Lang Holden. When Doris wouldn't accept George’s money, George ended up being mesmerized by Doris and ended up dating her. In the meantime, Alex hired artist and criminal Joe Turino to also woo Doris. While Doris was very appreciative of Joe's art work, Joe was encouraging Doris to deject Alex from her life.
Soon after, Mike Bauer returned to town from a construction job in Venezuela and began working for George as a law clerk. Also working for George was a captivating young brunette named Julie Conrad. Julie Conrad had been rejected by Joe Turino in favor for Doris and was now working as George's secretary. Having escaped bickering parents who dominated and overprotected her, Julie was like a lioness out of her cage and the handsome, up-and-coming Mike Bauer was her next prey. However, Mike hadn't given up on his ex-wife, Robin, who was currently married to none other than Alex Bowden.
Meanwhile, Paul Fletcher had to contend with the arrival of his half-sister, Jane Fletcher. A catty, neurotic and bitter young woman, Jane was suffering from the aftereffects of a disastrous romance she had had during her nurses' training in Boston. She soon became Julie Conrad's friend and roommate and observed firsthand Julie's shameless pursuit of Mike. Meanwhile, George warned Alex to steer clear of Doris because he himself had feelings for her and had even proposed. At this point, Joe Turino decided to give Doris a gun for protection (but secretly hoped that Doris would use it to kill Joe's rivals, Alex and George).
The stage was now set for a jarring chain of events that had a ripple effect on the Bauers, the Fletchers and everyone else in their circle. In her determination to save Paul Fletcher’s clinic, Doris convinced Alex to invest in the facility. Paul’s wife, Anne, was livid at this development and served Paul with an ultimatum: the clinic or their marriage. She prevailed upon Robin to change Alex's mind about the loan, insidiously implying that the business deal was evidence of a renewed bond between Alex and Doris. Anne and Robin lashed into Doris so brutally that Doris went on a prolonged alcoholic bender. When she finally resurfaced back at the clinic, Doris had the gun and threatened suicide. In an effort to retrieve the gun, Paul grappled with Doris. The gun went off and the bullet hit Anne. Anne died on the operating table! Full of self-recrimination, Paul impulsively confessed to killing his wife. His chances of acquittal looked dismal because Doris had blocked out the tragic event, and Henry Benedict was snidely feeding the prosecution's case against his son-in-law. Luckily, George mounted a brilliant criminal defense with Mike Bauer's eager assistance. Feeling guilty over their indirect roles in Anne's death, Alex and Robin agreed to a divorce and dedicated themselves to clearing Paul's name. Robin went to work at the clinic while Alex scoured the neighborhood bars until he found a bartender who remembered Doris' alcoholic bender on the night of the tragedy. Doris's memory finally returned, and she testified that Anne's shooting was accidental.
By this time it was 1963, and Mike also felt free -- for the moment that is. Mike pressured Julie into having casual sex, even though he knew she wanted to hold out for marriage. Mike's world now revolved around the law, working for George by day and studying by night, and Julie was merely a pleasant distraction. So when Julie insisted that they become engaged, Mike cavalierly dropped her. Not long afterward, Julie informed Mike that she was pregnant with his child! In hopes of keeping this development a secret, Mike coldly told Julie that he would support her financially until the baby was born, but he fully expected her to give up the child for adoption. Julie might have gone along with his plan had it not been for Jane. Cynical about men in general, Jane wanted everyone to know that Mike was callous and insensitive in his treatment of her friend. Jane told Paul about Julie's pregnancy, and then blabbed to Bert Bauer that she was going to be a grandmother! Shocked, Bert told Mike in no uncertain terms that her grandchild was not to be given up for adoption! Recognizing that George was now a father figure to her son, Bert secured George's alliance in pressuring Mike to do the "honorable thing" and marry Julie. They were wed by a justice of the peace, and Mike did not admit to his blushing bride that he was marrying her under duress. After giving birth to a baby girl whom she named Hope, Julie resumed her job as George’s secretary, while Mike worked slavishly to complete the law education which George had generously financed.
Meanwhile, Paul had fallen in love with Robin and had to contend with Jane poisoning Paul’s son, Johnny, against Robin. Buckling under the child's pressure, Robin called off her engagement to Paul and went to New York. George eventually tracked her down and innocently left her address with Jane while Paul went to fetch his lady love. Salivating at this golden opportunity to wreak more havoc, Jane called Robin and tipped her off that Paul was on his way, adding that she thought she did the right thing by leaving him. Robin eluded Paul, but he caught up with her and they married secretly in New York. Meanwhile, George received a letter from Robin's New York roommate informing him of Jane's phone call. Never one to mince words, George let Jane have it with both barrels and told her to get a life! Paul and Robin returned home, in 1965, and told no one about their marriage except for Meta and Bruce Banning and George. Although Bruce and George at first disagreed, Meta's opinion won out and they decided not to tell Paul about Jane's damaging phone call to Robin in New York. The newlyweds led separate lives for a while until Robin accompanied Paul to a medical convention.
When Jane called Paul's hotel to tell him that Johnny was having problems at school, the desk clerk told her that Paul was with "Mrs. Fletcher." Devastated, Jane told Johnny that his daddy had lied to them and Johnny ran away. When he turned up later at the Children's Zoo, the boy not only rejected Paul and Robin, but added his aunt Jane to the list. Johnny stayed briefly with his grandparents in San Francisco and returned home to Paul at Helene's firm insistence. Determined to salvage both his marriage and his relationship with his son, Paul angrily ordered Jane out of his home and his life! This was too much for Jane to bear. She wandered around the city, blabbing incoherently until the police picked her up. AT this point, George stepped in and tried to help her, advising her to make the most of her nurturing tendencies and return to nursing. One night, during a heated argument, Jane bolted out onto a dark street. George followed, only to be struck by a car. He underwent a craniotomy and awoke with retrograde amnesia, calling out for his former fiancée, Mary. Racked with guilt, Jane volunteered to be George's special nurse, and she soon realized that she was falling in love. She feared their growing bond would be shattered if George remembered their old antagonism. Gradually, George's memory returned with the help of a specialist, who suggested he play the piano, a pastime he had enjoyed in his youth.
Eventually, in 1966, after George Hayes and the Fletchers relocated to the Midwestern city of Springfield, George put his stormy encounters with Jane aside, and asked her to marry him. When Jane gave birth to a little girl, Amy, their life seemed complete. Seeing how Jane had transformed herself, Paul and Robin found it in their hearts to forgive her as well. When Mike relocated to Springfield from Bay City (after a failed romance) and began living again with the rest of the Bauers (who had also relocated to Springfield) -- George helped his protégé set up his own law practice in Springfield and had Jane help take care of Mike's young daughter, Hope.