Hard Working Perfectionist
TV Dawn to Dusk Magazine, June 1978
Article Provided By Wanda
Helen Gallagher, star of the Emmy-award winning Ryan's Hope, has always been a perfectionist. Helen has wanted to exell at acting throughout her life. As a little girl going to parochial school, she wanted to sing and dance so badly that she had a chronic case of asthma which didn't go away until she began working. After recently winning her first daytime Emmy, she exclaimed, "Something in an audience frees me unbelievably!"
In some ways, Helen fears serious dramatic acting, but her perfectionism always comes before fear. She says, "I find acting quite painful. I don't really want to strip away my innermost feelings. I don't want to be pained on stage - I want to have a good time. But if I decide to do something, I somehow always manage to get it down - whatever it is, to understand the inner working of it. I don't mean to sound pompous, but I can't give myself permission to do things badly."
Her perfectionism has led to the Tony Award for best supporting actress in a musical - Pal Joey in 1951, and again in 1971 for the best actress in a revival of No No Nanette. She has also earned many regional and summerstock awards, and most recently the Emmy for the part of Maeve in Ryan's Hope.
Helen is only a perfectionist as far as her work goes. She is willing to let it be submerged in her social life. Separated from her husband Frank Wise for 20 years, she has no desire for a divorce. "What for?" she asks, "I don't expect to marry again. My life is not built around a social structure. It's built around my work. Work is the most important thing for me."
If she has to be perfect at one thing and means to direct all her energies towards it, we all can thank our lucky stars that she has chosen to be as perfect as possible at a craft we can all enjoy.
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