Is He the Alan Alda of the Soaps?
Daytime TV Magazine, July 1983
by Jason Bonderoff
Article Provided By Wanda
Newcomer Geoffrey Pierson doesn't commute from the psychiatrist's couch to divorce court...is that any way to make a name for himself?
"Being an actor is a very fickle, uncertain--at times, brutal--business. It's not the kind of work that lends itself easily to marriage and raising a family....how do Kate and I manage to do it and survive? I guess it's just my character and her character. Obviously, I love my wife and children very much. But what it really boils down to is this: we just want to keep on being together more than we want anything else."
No, Alan Alda didn't make that statement; Geoffrey Pierson, the brand-new Frank Ryan on Ryan's Hope, did. Geoffrey - a Chicago boy with sandy-haired, Irish looks - may not resemble Alan Alda in the least, but there are parallels nonetheless. Geoffrey graduated from New York's Fordham University (the M*A*S*H star's alma mater) and then followed closely in Alan's footsteps by marrying his college sweetheart, having three children, and trying to squeeze in theatrical auditions when he wasn't busy diapering wet bottoms.
Family life is something he's had a great deal of experience with. Geoffrey - the second child and eldest son - grew up in a family of seven kids. "I think I always harbored, in the back of my mind, the idea of being an actor, but I never dared mention it", he says. "I was raised in the kind of environment where it wasn't done. I did one play in the eight grade, but in high school I went out for the swimming team, not the drama club."
At Fordham, Geoffrey, happily majored in philosophy (with his dad's approval) and avoided business and science courses. "In my junior year, I started taking acting classes in Manhattan just to see if I was any good at it," he recalls.
He was definitely good at it, but Geoff soon had other things on his mind. In his senior year, he married Kate, a fellow classmate. After graduation, he made a few quick tries at conquering the N.Y. theater world. When nothing clicked, he considered going to law school, then finally moved back to Chicago with Kate (and their newborn daughter, Nora) where he worked in his father's steel business for four-and-a-half years.
By the time he was 27, Geoff was a father twice over (Nora had a little sister Elizabeth), but felt stymied career-wise, he admits "so in my spare time I started doing dinner theater. The plays weren't very good but the audiences laughed uproariously, anyway." After 18 months on the local circuit, Geoffrey felt ready for something meatier. When he was accepted at the prestigious Yale Drama School, he and Kate packed up the girls and moved to New Haven, Connecticut. He stayed there three years, during which time his son Roy was born.
Geoffrey graduated from Yale in May, 1980 and almost immediately landed on Broadway in Tricks of the Trade, starring George C. Scott and Trish van Devere. Unfortunately, the show closed in one night. "But it didn't exactly come as a shock," laughs Geoffrey. "We'd opened in Los Angeles first where the reviews were not kind; in Washington they were even worse; so the writing was on the wall before we ever got to New York. But I was grateful for the chance to work with George C. Scott, who's one of my idols. In that sense, I wasn't disappointed. He's an absolutely delightful man."
Geoffrey next understudied David Selby in a show called I Won't Dance, which also lasted one performance. Thankfully, his soap roles have proven more durable. After playing Lt. Donovan on Texas for nine months, he's now Frank Ryan, one of the pivotal characters on Ryan's Hope.
"The minute I read the script, I knew this part was for me," says Geoffrey. "I told Kate, "I know this guy - I'm Frank Ryan." Since I'm Catholic and half Irish, there was an immediate bond. And I was always the kid my brothers and sisters depended on, just like Frank. I understand he's even supposed to be a graduate of Fordham. Now how's that for coincidence?" he says with the kind of winning smile that's sure to give him instant soap appeal.
And you thought only Alan Alda proved that nice guys finish first.
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