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Ryan's Hope
Soaps, The History Part One, 1984
Afternoon TV Magazine
Dynasty Media Publishing Corp.
by Siobhan Devlin
Article Provided By Wanda


Ryan's Hope's award-winning creators,
Claire Labine and Paul Avila Mayer

Ryan's Hope was created - and written and produced - by Claire Labine and Paul Avila Mayer, who had worked together on CBS's Love of Life. The show, which premiered on July 7, 1975, was unique in many respects: its upbeat tone, as reflected in the title; its emphasis on family values; its setting in Manhattan's Upper West side, as opposed to a generic soap opera town; and its central family, Irish-American working-class bar owners.

The original cast included:

Helen Gallagher.....................Maeve Ryan
Bernard Barrow.....................Johnny Ryan
Malcolm Groome...................Dr. Patrick Ryan
Michael Hawkins....................Frank Ryan
Kate Mulgrew........................Mary Ryan
Nancy Addison.......................Jillian Coleridge
Ron Hale................................Dr. Roger Coeridge
Faith Catlin.............................Dr. Faith Colerdige
Frank Latimore.......................Dr. Ed Coleridge
Justin Deas..............................Bucky Carter
Michael Levin..........................Jack Fenelli
Earl Hindman...........................Bob Reid
Ilene Kristin.............................Delia Reid Ryan
John Gabriel............................Dr. Seneca Beaulac
Diana Van Der Vlis..................Nell Beaulac


Ryan's Bar in its heyday, on the most
important day of the year - St. Patrick's. Maeve
(Helen Gallagher) and Johnny (Bernard
Barrow) do a little Irish step dancing.

Ryan's Hope began with the members of its close-knit family gathered around the deathbed of Frank, the eldest son, who had fallen (or was he pushed?) down a flight of stairs. Each Ryan brought his or her own memories to the hospital room: Maeve and Johhnny seeing their fair-haired son; Delia, her husband and the father of her son; Jillian Coleridge, her lover; Mary, the brother she'd worshipped since childhood, the rising politician and man of the people. As the viewers came to know the man whose deathbed they too were gathered around, they pleaded with the network to let Frank live, and so Frank was saved, and much of the first-year storyline had to be scrapped.


A family conference; l-r: Frank (Andrew
Robinson), Maeve (Helen Gallagher),
Johnny (Bernard Barrow), and Mary
(Kate Mulgrew). Robinson, the second
Frank Ryan, made a splash (literally) in the
movies as the psychotic killer in Dirty Harry.

After his recovery, Frank's romantic and professional problems provided front-burner stories for quite some time. Delia (who proved to be the one who pushed Frank to his near demise) refused to give him his freedom to be with Jill, but she found herself pressured into an affair with Roger Coleridge, a neurosurgeon at Riverside Hospital with a penchant for blackmail (as if medicine doesn't pay enough).  Jill married Seneca Beaulac, whom she defended in a murder trial after the mercy-killing of his critically ill wife. (She thought Seneca to be the father of her son Edmond, who turned out to be Frank's child). Frank fell in love with Rae Woodward, the powerful, ambitious owner of a publishing empire, whose influence helped
him win a seat in the Senate. Rae flexed her political muscle on Frank's behalf to a point he never dreamed of - she made secret, illegal deals in order to promote Frank for a vice-presidential nomination. Meanwhile, the Beaulacs' marriage hit the rocks as a result of Seneca's controlling nature, and baby Edmond's death. Drawn together by the tragic loss of their son, Jill and Frank (who had learned of Edmond's true parentage) reunited. Rae Woodard responded to her broken engagement by revealing the deals she had made, forcing the Senator to resign in disgrace. Frank and Jill became engaged, but their relationship proceeded on its roller-coast path with her affair with a dying rock star, his engagement to Jillian's sister, Faith, his absence of nearly two years, and upon his return, his obsession with another woman bent upon ruining his political career. It was not until Frank's near death (as a result of a vendetta which began almost forty years ago in Ireland) that he and Jillian finally married. True to their history, though, it's been a stormy marriage filled with quarrels - and possibly doomed by Frank's attraction to Jill's newfound half-sister, Maggie Shelby.


Frank Number Three, Daniel Hugh Kelly,
with his campaign manager and best friend,
Bob Reid (played by Earl Hindman)


On the campaign trail once more, this
time with Jill as the candidate (after
Frank's bid for Congress was shot
down by scandal). The newest Frank
Ryan (left, Geoffrey Pierson) with
Jill, Bob, and police bodyguard
Bill Hyde (David Sederholm).

Of all his brothers and sisters, Frank was closest to Mary, and she worshipped the ground that he walked on. So when she met the cynical reporter Jack Fenelli, who was trying to uncover something unsavory about her brother (who then lay in his hospital bed), her attraction to him caused her some inner turmoil, as well as much family conflict. Jack was a sullen orphan who had come to believe that loving someone resulted in their dying or leaving, so he resisted returning Mary's affection. Eventually, though, she gave him love and a home and  huge, loving Irish family, and eventually a child - although he had to be dragged screaming every step of the way. Then, on the day of her sister Siobhan's marriage to Joe Novak, Mary was
murdered as she investigated Joe's mobster uncle Tiso Novotny. Viewers mourned her death as if she had been family, and - an uncommon occurrence on soaps - Jack grieved for his wife for several years before finding another woman he wanted to marry. Even then, it was not until Jack had several conversations with the spirit of his departed wife that he - and viewers - could accept the idea of carrying on with a new woman at his side.

Jack and MaryMary

Despite her frequent conflicts with Mary, Siobhan became very close to Jack Fenelli. Always a rebel and something of an outsider among the Ryan clan, Siobhan understood Jack's resistance to the overwhelming Ryan family warmth. Resenting Mary's position as Maeve's favorite, Siobhan made her own mark within the family, pursuing causes which, at best, appalled her strict Catholic parents (volunteering her time to a planned parenthood clinic, for example). At worse, her crusades brought danger to those around her. Her marriage to Joe Novak followed the pattern, involving the Ryans in mob wars and shootouts. Mary's death resulted from her discovery of Tiso Novotny's drug operation. Jack killed Tiso in defense of himself and Siobhan, but Joe took the blame and disappeared, presumably killed by the mob. He has reentered Siobhan's life twice since then, endangering her both through his criminal activities and through his efforts to disentangle himself from the underworld. He finally was allowed to leave under the condition that he marry the beautiful heiress Jacqueline Dubujak, but his love for Siobhan brought him back to her arms, if only briefly - resulting in the birth of their first child. Siobhan's joy is tempered by the tragic loss of Joe, who is once again presumed dead, but we've heard that one before....


Siobhan (Sarah Felder) and friend Finn
MacCool. The youngest of the Ryans,
Siobhan was the rebel of the family.
She has mellowed in recent years,
following in the footsteps of her
grandfather and her brother Frank by
becoming a New York police officer.

Patrick is the youngest Ryan son, and no less prone to trouble than Frank. He followed in his brother's footsteps by marrying Delia, and between the rigors of his internship at Riverside and his wife's demands on his time, he wound up with a drug problem. He later fell in love with his childhood friend Faith Coleridge, whose husband, an Irishman who married her for immigration purposes, was trying to kill her. Once her husband's behavior was found to be the result of a treatable brain tumor, Faith decided to stay with him, and Pat turned to Nancy Feldman. Their romance was a rocky one, with tension caused by both families - one devoutly Catholic, the other Orthodox Jewish. Patrick left New York to follow Nancy to the Southwest, and though their union didn't work out, it was nearly two years before he returned. After a troubled love affair with the emotionally disturbed Amanda Kirkland, Pat found himself once again in a comfortable, loving relationship with the now-widowed Faith. But he lost her again, this time to the Mayo Clinic.

Delia is the one character outside the Ryans whose life is most bound up with theirs. As a child tagging along with her brother Bob and his best friend Frank, Dee came to know a sense of family that she lacked in her own life. She never outgrew her childish dependency on the Ryans, especially Maeve, even after she had a child of her own. She would do anything to get and keep the approval of the Ryan's, including lies, manipulation, and marriage to any Ryan she could get her hands on (ie: Frank and Patrick, as well as a near-miss with the Ryan's cousin Barry). Dee met her match in Roger Coleridge, who loved her exactly as she was; it proved not to be enough, since he wasn't a Ryan. The marriage broke up when she was blackmailed into an affair with her stockbroker. The desolate Delia began pouring her heart and soul into the Crystal Palace, a fabulous restaurant in Central Park - which she ran in partnership with Tiso Novotny and Joe Novak, and which she later lost to the ruthless Hollis Kirkland III. The most bizarre episode in a truly eventful life, however, was Delia's friendship with Prince Albert, a gorilla who lived in the Central Park Zoo. A plotline envisioned by Claire Labine as half King Kong and half Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, it is recalled by almost everyone who had even heard of Ryan's Hope - especially the story's climax, in which Prince Albert abducted Dee and dropped her off the Park's Belvedere Castle.


Delia (Randall Edwards) goes for her third
Ryan husband, Johnny's cousin Barry
(Richard Backus). The romance ended
when Delia learned her fiance played even
faster and loose with the truth than she did.


Roger Coleridge (Ron Hale) has had his
ups and downs as a character. When the
show started, he was a devious blackmailer.
He evolved into a more sympathetic character
over the years of his marriage to Delia, and
wound up the hero of a plot which often leaned
toward romantic comedy, his romance with
Elizabeth Jane Ryan. Once their engagement
broke off, he turned back to his old ways with
a vengeance - he is now an alcoholic would-be
rapist terrorizing Jill's half-sister, Maggie.

Labine and Mayer sold Ryan's Hope to ABC in late 1980, and the tone of the show began to change. Emphasis shifted from the strong center of the Ryan family to the incredibly wealthy Rae Woodard; her illegitimate daughter Kim Harris (who later married Seneca Beaulac); and eventually Kim's father Hollis Kirkland and his legitimate family. The ratings fell, even as the Emmys and Writers Guild Awards piled up. Labine and Mayer were fired. Mary Ryan Munisteri, who had been with the show almost since its very beginning, was made headwriter, thus preserving the integrity of the characters, even if the storylines concentrated less on the show's original values. The front-burner stories dealt with a power struggle between Kim and her father's wife, Catsy; a dark secret Amanda Kirkland had blocked out of her conscious mind for nearly ten years; police officer Siobhan's infiltration of the lair of a psychopathic mobster who killed prostitutes; a fight over the air rights to Delia's Crystal Palace, which led to its destruction.


Thanksgiving preparations in the
Coleridge kitchen; l-r Jill Coleridge (Nancy
Addison), Mitch Bronski (James Sloyan),
Faith Coleridge (Karen Morris-Gowdy),
and Roger Coleridge (Ron Hale).

ABC's new approach failed to boost the ratings, however, and Claire Labine and Paul Mayer were rehired to revitalize Ryan's Hope in January, 1983. The show's new look as an old look. The family once more rallied around a critically ill clan member, this time Patrick - played once again by Malcolm Groome, who originated the role. Frank returned from his long exile in St. Louis and ran for a congressional seat, only to be touched once more by scandal. The story of the mysterious Charlotte Greer and the vendetta of the MacCurtins against the Ryans kept up a level of almost unbearable suspense, yet echoed an earlier vendetta storyline involving Faith's Irish husband, Tom Desmond. Frank and Jill loved and fought once
more, and once he recovered Pat and Faith briefly rediscovered their love. Kim and the Kirklands were promptly shipped out, except for Leigh Kirkland, who arrived and began breaking down the walls which Jack once more built around himself.  Even Kate Mulgrew, the original and irreplaceable Mary, made an appearance, dramatizing Jack's conversations in his head with the part of himself that Mary had touched most deeply.


Leigh, played by talented
actress (and opera singer)
Felicity LaFortune, came on
the show to fill the void
Mary's death left in Jack
Fenelli's life. A change in
head-writers broke up the
couple, leaving Leigh a
great character with
no place to go.

Unfortunately, Ryan's Hope's old audience did not return, and in order to attract a new set of viewers ABC once again fired Claire Labine and Paul Mayer and this time hired Pat Falken-Smith, who had enjoyed great success with General Hospital. She placed a heavy emphasis on young faces, bringing in the character of Dave Greenberg, whose loft above his deli is operated as an informal runaway shelter. Jill's young sister Maggie, who was brought into the story by Labine and Mayer, has become a central character. Also making an appearance in New York is Katie, the daugher of Kass, Maeve and Johnny's rarely-seen, happily married (and therefore boring) middle daughter; it's only a matter of time before little John, Frank's ten-year-old son, is sent to the kitchen for milk and cookies and emerges two days later as an eighteen-year-old stud. The carefully-laid relationship between Jack and Leigh had disintegrated, while he pursues the bimbo Sydney Price. The gravest sin is the explosion that gutted Ryan's Bar and Maeve's insistence on trading its tacky-homey Blarney Stone look for something more upscale.

Stay tunned, America, for Ryan's House of Quiche.


The show's new look: Ryan's Jailbait.
l-r: Maeve and Johnny's granddaughter
Katie Thompson (Lauren O'Bryan), runaway
Pru Shepard (Traci Lyn), and Jill's
half-sister Maggie Shelby (Cali Timmins).

Current cast list:

Nancy Addison Altman................Jillian Coleridge Ryan
Herb Anderson............................Jeremy Winthrop
Bernard Barrow...........................Johnny Ryan
Corbin Bernsen............................Ken Graham
Deveren Bookwalter.....................Stamford Hutchinson
Fred Burstein................................Laslo Novotny
Gloria DeHaven............................Bess Shelby
John Gabriel..................................Dr. Seneca Beaulac
Helen Gallagher.............................Maeve Ryan
Robin Greer..................................Sydney Price
Malcolm Groome..........................Dr. Patrick Ryan
Ron Hale.......................................Dr. Roger Coleridge
Marg Helgenberger........................Siobhan Ryan Novak
Earl Hindman.................................Bob Reid
Scott Holmes.................................David Greenberg
Felicity LaFortune..........................Leigh Kirkland
Traci Lyn.......................................Pru Shepard
Michael Levin................................Jack Fenelli
Robin Mattson...............................Delia Coleridge
Lauren O'Bryan.............................Katie Thompson
Geoffrey Pierson............................Frank Ryan
Daniel Pilon....................................Max Dubujak
Gerit Guealy...................................Jacqueline DuBujak Novak
David Sederholm............................Bill Hyde
Grant Show....................................Rick Hyde
Cali Timmins...................................Maggie Shelby


The current second-generation
Ryans: Frank (Geoffrey Pierson),
Siobhan (Marg Helgenberger),
and Malcolm Groome, who
originated the role of Patrick.

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