Ilene Kristen Has a Real-Life Secret Romance
TV Dawn to Dusk Magazine, June 1978
by Stephen Schaefer
Article Provided By Wanda
Ilene Kristen, the blonde and bewitching Delia of the ABC-TV daytime serial, Ryan's Hope, sits cuddled in a chair by the fireplace. Although the fire is authentic, the burning logs are not. A gas jet keeps the flame burning. However, the flame burning in her heart for her love is well-hidden. She refuses to discuss her fiery love today, but enthusiastically touches on almost everything else.
"We've been doing the voice-overs for several days now, " she explains, referring to a short film (30 minutes) she's been integrally involved with for the past couple of months, called After The War. If you consider it unlikely that the dizzy Delia of daytime television is an inquisitive and demanding producer by night, then you don't know Ilene.
Pensive would hardly ever be the word to describe the beauteous whirlwind. For Ilene, who has been working professionally since she was 14 - an even dozen years now, the word has always been: Go! Studying as a dancer, Ilene made her television debut dancing, hoofed her way up through the chorus to a Broadway debut in the original cast of Grease and for the past two years has been winning fans and attention acting the part of the wacky Delia. But the dance for Ilene goes on - if no longer in a literal way, then figuratively as she dances from one project to another - giving all her love and attention to each. Her friends wonder how she does it. Could it be that Ilene's pushing herself too much?
"I haven't been really sick in a long time," Ilene says proudly, knocking on wood. "I try to take care of myself but it's not easy doing the weekly series, the short film and the off-Broadway work." Not easy is an understatement. Ilene's co-directing a workshop production of a "white version of the Broadway poetry-and-song success, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Not Enuf. The show is called Street Venus and in addition to her directing chores, Ilene's one of the three women in the presentation. She's happy about being cast as the dumb starlet in an Off-Broadway production of a new play by Nick Kazan, son of the famed director/writer Eliz Kazan.
She's still hoping to find a new home for her Jean Renoir cinema - the offbeat and excellent theater she's backed for the showing of rare and independent films in New York City. "Landlord troubles" are the way she describes the need to vacate her Sheridan Square premises.
On Ryan's Hope, she's signed for another year with the commitment by ABC to showcase her talents in an approved made-for-TV film. "They offered me a pilot but pilots may never be shown," she reasons. "I feel I have something to offer on night-time television that as far as I'm concerned nobody else is filling." Fighting to get concessions from the network isn't easy so it's not only a measure of Ilene's bargaining ability but the affirmation by the network of her potential that they've agreed to give her a film.
As to Delia, "I'm blind right now, but it's not real. Ilene squints her eyes and looks straight ahead. "It's difficult concentrating for these scenes. Delia's trying to prevent her husband from discovering she miscarried before they were married." Does she feel Delia's crazy? "No, not crazy; she just has a way of dealing with everything that makes for more trouble than solutions."
Asked whether she feels starring in a soap opera has given her a "soap opera life," Ilene laughs and shakes her head. "Not really. My life's crazy, but not all coffee cups and tears."
Ilene's enthusiasm shows again when she talks of her experiences out in California where she went for a vacation. Los Angeles for the Brooklyn-born, Manhattan-raised trouper is a very different place than the East coast. Films, she concedes, are her big ambition.
Still single, Ilene's great love right now remains a forbidden subject. About romance, she offers that love isn't always what we think it is when we're kids. Other than that observation, she's close-mouthed about her secret romance.
A phone call interrupts and Ilene jumps and answers the phone. It's bad news concerning a basement fire in her parents' building. Both her parnets are living in Florida, but their Manhattan brownstone, which is a scant few blocks from Ilene's apartment is under her supervision.
Getting ready to head to the editing room for more work on her film - the deadline for submission of the film for consideration is near. Ilene seems not so much the perpetual motion machine as a lovely lady with the ability to channel her energy meaningfully into her life's interests.
"I'm interested in taking chances," she has said. "I enjoy everything that I'm into."
And you realize that for Ilene, the joy precludes ever running herself into the ground, or a sickbed. The actress knows what she loves and knows herself. Together, it's an unbeatable combination.
Her hidden love must be some special kind of guy to hold this vital woman's attention. Whoever he is, we congratulate him on his lady-friend - the bewitching Ilene.
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