Louise Shaffer Picks Ten Scenes
and Storylines That Set Ryan's
Hope Apart From Other Soaps
The Soap Opera Book of Lists, 1996
by Gerald J. Waggett
Article Provided By Carol
Louise Shaffer has had the opportunity to view Ryan's Hope from two different perspectives. From 1977-1984, she played Rae Woodard, a role for which she was named 1983's Outstanding Supporting Actress. A few years after leaving the show, she returned as one of its writers. She has also written two murder mystery novels: All My Suspects, which takes place on the set of a daytime soap, and Talked to Death.
1. Frank Ryan's first political campaign was very fresh, very young. The whole family and community were involved. It's what you like to dream American politics and the immigrant experience are like.
2. A hospital strike took place very early on in the series. The show presented both sides extremely fairly.
3. The Mary Ryan/Jack Fenelli romance was a wonderful story. He was kind of the untamable, undomesticated guy, and she managed to tame and domesticate him.
4. The St. Patrick's Day shows were very special. They were very New York, and very ethnic, very Irish. A favorite of those shows was one in which all the guys got down on their knees and serenaded Mary with the song, "It was Mary, it was Mary, what a grand old name."
5. Maeve and Jill had a wonderful relationship when Jill was in love with Frank and Frank was married to Delia. There were some wonderful scenes with the two women, Maeve and Jill. One in particular comes to mind. Maeve, who was obviously very religious, said to Jill, "It's easier to find a lover than it is a friend."
6. Nell Carter did a brief turn as the leader of a tenants' strike in her building. It was a minor story about this wonderful, feisty woman who was running her tenants' union. It was one of those nuggets of New York realism that Ryan's Hope used to do that I never saw another soap do back then.
7. Toward the end of the series, Keith Charles came on the show as Roger's valet. It was Jeeves cubed. It was one of the best character turns I've ever seen in daytime because it wasn't too much. It wasn't over the top. It wasn't fake British. Ron [Hale, who played Roger,] and Keith played it beautifully together.
8. There was a wonderful love scene between Jill and Seneca in which she had a cold and he brought her breakfast in bed. It was such an unromantic setup - her nose was running, there was Kleenex all over the place - but it turned into this wonderful, giggly romantic scene. Back then when they did romantic scenes, the woman had her mascara on, and if she was in bed, she was wearing a sexy nightgown. But thsi was a woman with a cold wearing her flannels.
9. I'd never seen anybody deal with the stock market on daytime before Delia. Somehow, she'd get a feeling and she'd play it. For quite a while, she was winning. There was flaky Delia doping the commodities market and making one killing after another. It was funny, and it was charming. Of all the characters on any show that you would think would be able to play the stock market, Delia?
10. On the last show that was ever going to happen for Ryan's Hope, Maeve was sitting in the bar, and of course, she had to sing 'Danny Boy' one last time. Helen figured she wasn't going to be able to get through it. Sure enough, her eyes started to fill up about halfway through. So she turned to all of us as Maeve and said, "Sing with me." So everybody tried to sing along, helping Helen get through it. There were all these great voices singing this really emotional song that meant the show to many of us.
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