In 1974, ABC wanted another soap like General Hospital, so Claire Labine and Paul Avila Mayer created the network City Hospital… which went on to be called, as you well know, Ryan’s Hope. But ABC still got its hospital; conveniently located across the street from the Irish pub run by the Ryans — Maeve (Helen Gallagher) and Johnny (Bernard Barrow) — was Riverside Hospital.
A Rage to Love…
… was quickly abandoned as another possible title for the new soap. Nonetheless, the love story of Johnny and Maeve’s strong-minded daughter Mary (Kate Mulgrew) and hotheaded reporter Jack Fenelli (Michael Levin) soon became all the rage.
The wedding of Mary and Jack made it official: They were sparring partners for life. *
* Not as long as it sounds!
A Star Is Torn… Away
When after two years, fan favorite Mulgrew left to pursue other opportunities (which turned out to be everything from Star Trek: Voyager to Orange Is the New Black), Labine and Mayer wanted to kill off her character rather than let it be played by anyone other than their muse; ABC wouldn’t hear of it.
A Growing Family
Ryan’s Hope tried to recast Mary over and over again — here with Kathleen Tolan (right). But she was never the same. Luckily, other Ryans stepped up to fill the void, among them Mary’s siblings, feisty Siobhan (the splendid Sarah Felder) doctor Patrick (John Blazo) and would-be politician Frank (Daniel Hugh-Kelly).
Th-Th-That’s All, Folks
Finally, in 1979, ABC threw in the towel and allowed Labine and Mayer to dispatch Mary (by then Robert Goulet’s daughter, Nicolette). When the character later appeared in ghostly form, you can guess who was once again playing her!
For pretty much the entire run of the show, Patrick and fellow doctor Faith Coleridge (Karen Morris-Gowdy) tried to get — and stay — together. And it should’ve been easy, given how madly in love they were. Yet it was anything but, largely thanks to…
The Other Woman
Desperate Delia Reid (Ilene Kristen) was so eager to be a part of the Ryan family — though probably any family would’ve sufficed — that she suckered first Frank and then Pat into marriages that had shorter shelf lives than avocados.
So Wrong, It Was Right
The man with whom Dee (Randall Edwards here) really belonged was a fellow schemer, Roger Coleridge (Ron Hale), the doctor brother of Faith and… keep scrolling…
In court, legal eagle Jillian Coleridge (Nancy Addison Altman) was a force to be reckoned with. But in her personal life… yikes. There weren’t enough scissors in the world to cut her free of the tangled messes she made with true love Frank.
Skin Is In
Jill bared more than her soul to Johnny’s surprise son, Dakota Smith (Christopher Durham). But viewers were too appalled to think that the Ryan patriarch could’ve cheated on his wife to invest in the new couple’s affair.
Is There a Doctor in the House?
Early on, there were several — not only Pat but domineering Seneca Beaulac (John Gabriel) and baby-faced Bucky Carter (Justin Deas, who went on to win six Daytime Emmys for As the World Turns, Santa Barbara and Guiding Light).
Married to the Mob
Long before Labine introduced dimpled don Sonny Corinthos to General Hospital, she was mining the criminal underworld for story on Ryan’s Hope via Joe Novak (Richard Muenz), the reluctant mafioso whose wife Siobhan chose, of all professions, law enforcement.
Here’s Looking at You
Joe and Siobhan were recast a lot. But probably their most perfect pairing was the one that was forged by Roscoe Born (whom you’ll recognize from One Life to Live, Santa Barbara, etc.) and future primetime mainstay Marg Helgenberger.
The Face Is Unfamiliar, But…
Prior to being cast by All My Children as Jackson Montgomery, Walt Willey took a turn playing Joe with Carrell Myers as Siobhan.
Love in Bloom
Finally, in 1988, Barbara Blackburn became the fifth and final Siobhan. By then — as you can see — Born had returned to Ryan’s Hope to play Joe again.
Hey, Isn’t That… ?
Yep, in one of his earliest roles, Corbin Bernsen appeared briefly as Ken Graham on Ryan’s Hope on his way to landing his iconic role of sleazy Arnie Becker on L.A. Law. Fun fact: Mom Jeanne Cooper was at the time starring as Katherine Chancellor on rival soap The Young and the Restless.
The Shot Heard ‘Round the World
After Labine and Mayer sold Ryan’s Hope to ABC, it struck pay dirt with a love triangle involving wannabe starlet Kimberly Harris (Kelli Maroney), her extramarital lover and her mother. As you can see, Kim didn’t take it terribly well when she learned that her boy on the side was two-timing her.
That Awkward Moment When…
… you realize that you’ve been shot mid-tussle. Michael Pavel (Michael Corbett) was frantically trying to appease his sugar mama — and Kim’s actual mama — Rae Woodard (Louise Shaffer) when he was filled with as much lead as nerve.
‘I Want My Mummy’
Before getting his big break playing Adam Carrington on Dynasty, Gordon Thomson passed through Ryan’s Hope as Aristotle Benedict-White, an Egyptologist who was convinced that Faith was the reincarnation of an ancient queen. Erm, maybe it was the headdress.
All That Glitters
Speaking of Dynasty, ABC tried to glam up Ryan’s Hope like the primetime hit in the early ’80s by focusing on the dysfunctional family formed by Rae, Kim and Hollis Kirkland III (Peter Haskell), the wealthy Daddy Dearest that she’d never known. Fans were unsure about the move, though, and Labine and Mayer sure hated it.
True to Form
The show got back to its working-class roots by introducing Jill’s biomom, Bess Shelby (Gloria DeHaven), her other kids, Maggie (Cali Timmins) and Ben (James Wlcek), and one seriously ugly couch.
The soap’s last great pair of young lovers were future cop Rick Hyde (Grant Show, years from Melrose Place) and Jack and Mary’s daughter, Ryan Fenelli (Yasmine Bleeth, years from Baywatch). Of note: They weren’t always this serious.
There Goes the Bride
Alas, Ryan and Rick’s marriage lasted only about as long as it took pigeons to scoop up the rice that was thrown in their direction. But at least her dad finally found a post-Mary love interest with some staying power in wealthy Leigh Kirkland.
In the much-missed soap’s final episode, Maeve — as she had on so many occasions before — sang “Danny Boy.” To this day, we can’t hear it without being immediately transported back to Ryan’s Bar.