Michael levin
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Michael Levin passed away on January 6.

The soap world has lost a real firecracker of an actor. Michael Levin, who was principled hothead Jack Fenelli during Ryan’s Hope‘s entire run on ABC, died on January 6 of natural causes, his son tells our sister site, The Hollywood Reporter.

The Minneapolis native has said that he wound up being cast as the Italian-American reporter on the much-missed daytime drama because of a commercial that he’d done, in which he played an Italian spokesman for Alitalia Airlines. Once he had nabbed the part, Levin, nominated for the Outstanding Lead Actor Daytime Emmy three times in a row, quickly struck supercouple gold when he was paired with future Orange Is the New Black star Kate Mulgrew as feisty Mary Ryan. You can see why they were such a hit below.

So invested were fans in the characters’ love story — and the way that Levin and Mulgrew threw sparks — that when she departed, every attempt at recasting her role failed more miserably than the last. Personally, we would have moved on Jack to sister-in-law Siobhan, brought to life back then by the sublime Sarah Felder.

RYAN'S HOPE - Show Coverage - Shoot Date: March 14, 1983. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)FELICITY LAFORTUNE;MICHAEL LEVIN

Jack married Leigh Kirkland in Ryan’s Hope’s last episode.

Credit: Disney General Entertainment Content/Getty Images

In addition to Ryan’s Hope, Levin played one of Lisa Miller’s many husbands (John Eldridge) on As the World Turns and a doctor on All My Children. Despite his success on the screen and stage, Levin said in 1978, “If I had it all to do over again, and I could change anything I wanted to change, I would pick a profession where I could have a little bit more control.”

Read what one of Levin’s former co-stars remembers most vividly about him here. Then revisit Ryan’s Hope by clicking on our Riverside-centric photo gallery here and pay your respects to the stars we lost in 2022 in the photo gallery below.

Video: YouTube/Laken44