Ron Hale: A Sweetheart of a Villain
Afternoon TV Magazine, May 1979
Article Provided By Wanda
Ron has made the character of Dr. Roger Colerdige live and breathe- no one-dimensional villain for him! He has made us
enjoy and understand Roger as perhaps no other actor could. But Ron himself goes one step better--he's the nice side, the
fun side, the absolutely lovable side of Roger, without the bad! What more could a girl want?
"When I came to New York fourteen years ago, I had a five year plan. I said, 'okay, I'll give myself five years to become a
successful actor.' I'm now on my third five-year plan!" Ron Hale, Roger Coleridge of ABC's Ryan's Hope, has certainly
fulfilled the goal he set for himself fourteen years ago. As he sat in his dressing room at the studio, dressed in a long, blue and white striped terrycloth robe, Ron viewed the changes in his life since those early days of struggle.
"When I started out in this business, there was no security. There still isn't. The security I found in the beginning was the security in knowing that, yes, I did have talent; but I didn't know if I had talent on the scale of professionals in New York. I had to find that out. I also had to find out if I was made of whatever it takes to stick it out."
Ron learned early on that indeed he did have the stamina to stick to his goal and succeed. Upon reflection, he credits this spirit of determination with getting him where he is now. "It takes a lot of guts," he explained. "It requires an ability to be constantly rejected and yet not take it personally. I was rejected for my first one hundred and fifty auditions--150--before somebody gave me a chance."
Is the struggle worth it? It is difficult to imagine being rejected 10 times in a row. But, as Ron says, "it's worth it. It has to be worth it. Otherwise you'd blow your brains out or you'd quit and go to work for a used car lot or somewhere else. You can make a better living doing other things, that's for sure. But's it's like a fever; once you've done it, and acted well, it's the greatest high in the world. To walk off a stage after having done something very powerful is a once-in-a-lifetime thrill for most people. Once you get bitten, you become as crazy as everybody else in the business. How can you give it up? What else is there, really?"
The 'what else' for Ron is quite a bit. He's been married for just over seven years, and he, his wife, and her three children, who are now their children, all live in an old house set in the middle of fifty-five acres of farmland in Dutchess County, north of New York City. The kids--a daughter 16 and two boys, 14 and 13, were raised in the city but now, as Ron put it, "they run wild in the country, they are very sports-minded and particularly love to ski."
What must it be like to have a famous television actor for a father? For Ron's kids, it seems to be no big deal. As he explains it, "my kids are very, very mature. They've been self-sufficient for years. That's the way their mother raised them--to take care of themselves. They've been around me and the business for a long time. They've seen me in many things. They've been with me out-of-town; they've seen me in rehearsals; they've seen every side of acting, and they are very unimpressed by it. It's Ron's job. It's what he does for a living. They never talk about it with their firends, with other kids. It would be very easy for them to make new friends by going around saying 'oh my Dad's Roger Colerdige on Ryan's Hope'; it would be a very simple thing for a young person to do to get attention. I've seen other kids do it. But my kids play it down; it's not impressive to them."
"In fact, the move upstate was a whole new change for them. They had been living in one area, on Staten Island, for a long
time; then we made this tremendous leap from a city environment---hanging out on corners and things like that---to something entirely different. They had to trust in themselves. They had to trust they could make new friends on their own, on the basis of who they are as people. I got such a kick out of it when they first started making friends, asking if so-and-so
could come home after school or spend the night at the house--especially with my daughter. She'd bring a new friend home to spend the evening and the girl would walk in and say 'Oh, my God, is that your father?!' But, again, to all those friends of my daughter now, I'm just Ron. They're over that thing, and that's really important to me."
For the entire Hale family, the house in the country is the first real home they've ever had. When Ron was growing up, he and his family moved all over the nation. His father was in the carpet business, which meant they'd be in one state for two years, in another state for another couple of years, and so forth. As Ron says; "I enjoyed it, but you never knew where you were going to live next. That's why this house is so important to me. I guess it means security."
Living so far from the studio puts added demands on Ron's time, but the advantages to country living more than compensates for the inconvenience of commuting more than an hour each way.
"I realized it would be a longer drive for me, but I'm on the road usually by five a.m. and I get to see the stars and I count the deer coming down in the morning. I have my coffee and listen to the radio; it gives me a chance to wake up and breathe."
"Going home is the same way. When I leave the studio, if I'm upset because of something I did or did not do well, the farther north I get, the farther away from the studio and away from all the people.....I can't believe the difference. I get higher into the mountains; I start seeing more and more trees; all the time I drive down the dirt road to the driveway; I've gone through a decompression chamber."
Ron's wife, Dood, has worked all her life, too, except for the past three years. She now devotes al her energies to her children and the joys of running an active household. Each fall she spends several dyas doing nothing but pickling tomatoes
and cucumbers from the garden. Last fall they ended up with hundreds of green tomatoes because of an early frost. As Ron
explained the situation: "our kitchen looked like something out of a movie--me slicing green tomatoes and putting them through a grinder. Within a three-day period, we put up something like 200 jars of varying sizes of pickles and pickled
tomatoes, and three or four different kinds of relish. That's such a kick, it's heaven."
"Dood has a full time job, taking care of all that. But what's nice is she can also do absolutely nothing for a day; she can just sit out front and look at the trees, read, take a walk down by the lake, anything. It's really incredible. We could not have done it without Ryan's Hope. It put us in a position where we could finally have something that most people are able to afford at a much earlier age."
Until he landed the role on the soap, Ron was like any other actor living hand-to-mouth, from job to job. And like most other itinerant actors, he was considered a bad credit risk by most banks and charge card companies. With the steady employment on Ryan's Hope, however, his credit rating has become A#1, and, boy, is he enjoying it! When I last talked to him, he was all excited about outfitting the automobile he bought a few months ago - a Chevy Blazer.
"Can you believe it?" he asks. "At 33 1/2 years of age, for the first time I was able to go out and buy a new car. Up until
Ryan's Hope, I had absolutely no credit. I'm just now getting my first credit cards, after all these years. It's a kick; it's incredible. I have been driving a '68 Pontiac for the past four years. It barely ran. I never knew when it was going to start in the morning. But with this new Blazer--I wax it every day; it's four-wheel drive and is really super. Right now I'm getting my fog lamps and everything set up--you know, all that neat stuff. It's such a thrill!"
Ron has been on Ryan's Hope since 1975; his contract is not up for renewal until 1980. So what happens then? Will he continue with the soap, or does he have his eyes set on other projects, other areas of show business? "Five years doing the
same character on the same soap is pretty draining; plus, I think you've probably tapped every resource you possibly can to
make the character new and alive and exciting. I have no idea what's going to happen after the contract runs out. I don't
know if I'll be here or not. That depends on what my decisions are at that point. I don't forsee myself being here still. I don't know if I could. I think I would be doing Ryan's Hope an injustice at that point, because then it would really become a job. So, who knows? I don't know what' I'll be doing. We might be back to living hand-to-mouth again."
The question came to mind: has success changed Ron Hale? Could success change him? Probably not. From all accounts, Ron is one of the most considerate and unaffected actors on the soap scene today. Most people who know him say he's always been that way, and Ron admits he has changed very little over the years. As he said, "people move into their own worlds; but it doesn't mean they basically change. Their situations may change, but they don't. Being married and having responsibility for others besides myself has changed my lifestyle considerably over more than seven years of marriage. But it hasn't changed me, just my values and priorities are different. I'm still Ron, still the same guy. I still love to sit down in a bar with four or five of my buddies and watch a football game and drink beer all day. The only difference is now it's at my house with a refrigerator filled with beer and the people around me are whoever can come up for the weekend. Those funamental things don't change. No matter how old you get, you're still fulfilling the same fantasies."
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