Where Are They Now?
Soap Opera Digest, May 29, 2001
Although Ilene Kristen was one of four actresses to play Delia on RYAN'S HOPE (Robyn Millan, Randall Edwards and Robin Mattson were the others), she is best remembered as the outspoken troublemaker. But according to Kristen, who also portrayed ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Georgina (1982), LOVING's Norma (1990-91) and ANOTHER WORLD's Madeline (1995), she never aspired to take on the role.
"It was a great job," Kristen nods of the part she played from 1975-78, 1982-83 and 1986-89. "But it was never the job I wanted. I had envisioned doing something that made people laugh; my goal was to be the next Lucy [Ball]. But I ended up doing that on RYAN'S HOPE anyway."
Now, 12 years after RH's cancellation, Delia's finest moments can be seen once again, this time on the cable channel SoapNet. But Kristen has mixed emotions about that. "When you put that much effort into something, you should be paid for it," she laments. "We worked very hard on those shows and we're basically making $2 a show. So, I'm glad that it's on; I think it's good. I just feel like cable, in general, isn't taking care of its actors."
More substantial paychecks come from appearances on shows like LAW & ORDER, THIRD WATCH and THE SOPRANOS, a job in which Kristen once again got to express her feisty side. "I worked with Lorraine Bracco [Dr. Melfi]," she recalls. "Her character goes into a restaurant, gets drunk and starts a fight with me. She ends up throwing a napkin at me and I call her a bitch. It was a great scene."
The actress also recently produced her own great scenes in the yet-to-be released feature film Everything's George, about the late George Burns. "I don't know if it will ever see the light of day," she says of the venture. "Acting is easy compared to [producing]."
More fun for Kristen is songwriting, which she often does with her beau of two years, whom she declines to name. ("He's a well-known musician," she explains. "He keeps a low profile.") In fact, one of her songs, "In a Heartbeat," is the title track on jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb's new album.
In her free time, Kristen maintains friendships with a slew of RH alumni. She talks to Nancy Addison (ex-Jillian) daily, and stays in touch with Ron Hale (ex-Roger; Mike, GENERAL HOSPITAL), Helen Gallagher (ex-Maeve), Lois Robbins (ex-Concetta), John Gabriel (ex-Seneca), Malachy McCourt (ex-Kevin) and Christopher Durham (ex-Dakota), with whom she recently co-starred in the theatrical production Save Me. "We're a tight group," Kristen smiles.
And a return to daytime would never be out of the question, especially if it meant the chance to work with RH's former executive producer and head writer, Claire Labine, most recently head scribe at GUIDING LIGHT. "Two of the greatest things about RYAN'S HOPE were the extraordinary producers, Claire Labine and Paul Mayer," Kristen enthuses. "I would love to work with Claire again. We could have a blast."
"Nobody understood Delia like Roger
[Ron Hale] did," says Kristen.
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