Dinner With a Star
Soap Opera Digest, March 1976
Article Provided By Wanda
Interviews are conducted in many places - on the set, in dressing rooms, between takes, in the home - but when Ron Hale suggested we meet at his favorite New York restaurant, Coriander - I readily agreed.
Ryan's Hope - has its villain - Roger Coleridge - but waiting to greet me the night of our interview, was a smiling, dimpled, curly haired man, who could charm an audience, just by stepping on stage.
As he talked, I learned about the man whose interests are as wide as his experiences are varied. He's lived and worked in many cities across the country. Although he has no favorite, he knows that Hollywood is not for him - too artificial. And that's the key to Ron's philosophy and personality - realism. "You have to be a person before you can be an actor," declares Ron - and admits he makes the separation between Ron, the actor and Ron, the man.
Ron's been on Ryan's Hope since it started and he got the part, because as he tells it "Shirley Rich, who is, I think, one of the finest Casting Directors in the business - Shirley and I have known each other for eight, nine years, but hadn't seen one another in about four and a half years. She called my agent one day and said, 'Is Ron in town? I'd like to see him.' I went up to Shirley's office and did a reading for her. She liked it and told the producers and the creators that I might be right for the part. I read for Claire Labine and Paul Mayer (the creators). It was a lovely story. Shirley, as a Casting Director, is the kind of person who never forgets an actor. It had been so long since I'd seen her but she remembered and thought of me for this role."
"And what were you doing just before Ryan's Hope?"
"I did the film, All The President's Men, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. In fact, all of this happened within a week's time, my getting Ryan's Hope and the movie. I did the movie first; I was on the film for two and a half weeks, and had a tremendous time doing it. I played Frank Sturgis, one of the Watergate burglars, really enjoyed it, mainly from the standpoint of - it wasn't a large part - in the film, per se, but having the chance to play one of the five men who broke into Watergate and caused probably one of the greatest scandals this country has ever had - was very exciting and working with Redford and getting to talk to him and getting to know him, on a more personal level was great. Redford produced this film with his own company."
Most actors have a chance to act in all media, stage, film, television - and it's always interesting to find out which they prefer. Ron says, "my first love is the stage. Films are most difficult but acting in soaps is not only time consuming but you have a more grueling schedule, you get 15-20 pages a night to study for the next day. Start by 6:00 A.M. and do a thirty minute show five days a week. In a situation comedy, they have four days to rehearse, tape it twice before an audience and then they can select the best one. Soaps have an eight hour period to do a thirty minute show. And do it right. Movie actors would find it difficult to do soaps - you just don't have two chances."
When I asked Ron if his wife is an actress, he said, "no, actors and actresses have sensitive egos and they must have someone to bolster them - when, like other men, their day has gone badly. Only with an actor, it's more than that. And you need a sympathetic listener. Being an actor isn't all there is - you have to be a human being first. That's why I love the people on Ryan's Hope so much. They're all theatre people and they're rich, full human beings. When you sit around, between rehearsals and takes, you want to relax. You want to talk about subjects other than acting. I'm interested in many things - sports in particular. You know, I was a Golden Glover - amateur boxer - and got a lot of help and encouragement from Tony Zale. Still like to follow the spectator sports."
Ron was on Search For Tomorrow for a short time and Love Is A Many Splendored Thing before it went off. "And is there a Ron Hale Fan Club?" I wanted to know. With a twinkle in his eyes, Ron said, "no, they don't have fan clubs for villains."
In between talking, we ate the delicious food prepared by Ron's friend, co-owner of Coriander, Joel Levy, who he had met in 1965 at the Academy of Dramatic Arts. They worked together at all sorts of jobs, including cooking in restaurants and tending bars. But now, Ron is happy in his home Ryan's Hope.
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