Ryan's Hope

Ryan's Hope
Created by Claire Labine
Paul Avila Mayer
Starring Helen Gallagher
Bernard Barrow
Michael Levin
Kate Mulgrew
Ron Hale
Nancy Addison Altman
John Gabriel
Louise Shaffer
Earl Hindman
Michael Corbett
Hannibal Penney, Jr.
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 13
No. of episodes 3,515
Executive producer(s) Claire Labine (1975–82)
Paul Avila Mayer (1975–82)
Ellen Barrett (1982–83)
Joseph Hardy (1983–88)
Felicia Minei Behr (1988–89)
Running time 30 minutes (19751989)
Production company(s) American Broadcasting Companies
Original network ABC
Original release July 7, 1975 (1975-07-07) – January 13, 1989 (1989-01-13)
Related shows General Hospital

Ryan's Hope is an American soap opera created by Claire Labine and Paul Avila Mayer, originally airing for 13 years on ABC from July 7, 1975 to January 13, 1989. It revolves around the trials and tribulations within a large Irish-American family in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.


In late 1974, ABC Daytime approached Claire Labine and Paul Avila Mayer, the head writers of CBS' Love of Life, about creating a new soap opera similar to General Hospital. Labine and Mayer added a large Irish-American family the Ryans to what ABC was initially calling City Hospital. Another of the show's working titles was "A Rage to Love," but that was soon changed.[1] A pub theme originated with Mayer's and Labine's work on the earlier soap Where The Heart Is: "On WTHI we had had a prolonged sequence with two characters who were having an affair... on the other side of town in a small Irish bar."[2]

Ryan patriarch Johnny (Bernard Barrow) owned a bar, Ryan's, across from fictional Riverside Hospital in New York City. His wife, Maeve (Helen Gallagher), assisted him in his duties, as did their children: Frank, Patrick, Mary, and Siobhan, who was introduced in the series in 1978, having spent the first three years away from New York City. The Ryans also had another daughter, Cathleen, who was married to Art Thompson and had two children: Maura (nicknamed Katie) and Deirdre. She was a housewife who lived with her family in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. The Ryans and the wealthy Coleridges were the original core families of the show. The soap took the then-unusual approach of situating itself in an actual community—the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan. Maeve's parish sat in the shadow of the George Washington Bridge, on 178th St. References were often made to Central Park (Delia's Crystal Palace restaurant), Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn (mob-owned fishing boats), and other localities to provide a sense of place. "We wanted to show how New York has communities," Labine said.[3]

Labine and Mayer also served as the executive producers of the show at this point, with George Lefferts as the producer. Lefferts was soon replaced by Robert Costello, who remained with the show until 1978. Nancy Ford co-wrote the first episode with Labine and Mayer.

The original cast consisted of Nancy Addison Altman, Bernard Barrow, Faith Catlin, Justin Deas, Michael Fairman, John Gabriel, Helen Gallagher, Michael Levin, Malcolm Groome, Rosalinda Guerra, Ron Hale, Michael Hawkins, Earl Hindman, Ilene Kristen, Frank Latimore, Kate Mulgrew, Hannibal Penney, Jr., and Diana van der Vlis.[4]

The premise of the show for its first two years involved the blue-collar, immigrant, Catholic Ryans and the three of their five upwardly mobile adult children still residing in NY: Frank, lawyer and aspiring local politician; Pat, physician at local Riverside Hospital; and Mary, aspiring journalist. The show contrasted the cultures of conservative parents with their more liberated, '70s-drenched children. Older morals about lifetime marriages, church-proscribed divorce, chastity outside of marital sanction were constantly being tested by New-World, New-Era urban values. Frank's political campaign for city council was challenged by a chain of events surrounding his paying off the Coleridge son who knew of the affair Frank was having with Jillian Coleridge while married to needy, frantic Delia. The political scandal angle was soon reiterated with Frank's short tenure in the state senate. Delia became involved with all three of Johnny Ryan's sons: Frank, Pat, and Dakota. The quasi-incestuous focus was echoed in coming years by Frank's involvement with both Coleridge sisters, Jillian and Faith, and with Faith's involvement with Ryan brothers, Pat and Frank, and again with Jillian's involvement with half-brothers Frank and Dakota, and by gangster Michael Pavel's involvement with New York publisher/Frank's ex fiancee Rae Woodward (Louise Shaffer) and her teen daughter, Kim (Kelli Maroney). Mary became irresistibly attracted to a reporter exposing Frank's blackmailing scandal, the fiery Jack Fenelli, and eventually moved in with him without benefit of marriage.

These extramarital and premarital affairs, the attendant children out of wedlock, the careerist women, the assertion of abortion rights: the clash of generational values in the Ryan clan was interesting to viewers, and there developed a passionate following for Kate Mulgrew's portrayal of Mary Ryan. Mary's career and personal goals were given neurotic counterpoint in Delia's machinations with Mary's brothers.

Show in transition

After two years of growth and success, Ryan's Hope began encountering challenges. Michael Hawkins left the role of Frank Ryan in 1976, and subsequent replacements included Andrew Robinson (1976–1978), Daniel Hugh Kelly (1978–1981), Geoffrey Pierson (1983–1985), and John Sanderford (1985–1989). In late 1977, Kate Mulgrew announced she would be leaving in January 1978. Followiing Mulgrew's departure, three different actresses, Mary Carney, Kathleen Tolan, and Nicolette Goulet, played Mary. It was Goulet who was in the role when storywriters Labine and Mayer decided to kill off the character in December 1979. The writers initially wanted to kill off Mary when Mulgrew announced her decision to leave but ABC refused to allow the popular character to be killed off, going ahead with the three re-casts. When it became obvious that no one other than Mulgrew herself would be accepted in the role, the network finally agreed to let Mary die. Mary's sister, Siobhan, was brought to town to become romantically involved with a man, Joe Novak, who turned out to be a mobster, a storyline that offed Mary in a grisly bludgeoning murder when she and Jack were investigating the mafia ties of the fiancé. Malcolm Groome chose to leave the role of Pat Ryan in 1978 and was replaced with John Blazo (1978–1979), Robert Finoccoli (1979), and Patrick James Clarke (1982–1983). All these recasts left the writers struggling to give a voice to any of the Ryan children and left the show's core family feeling unfamiliar to viewers.

Other characters not related to the Ryans were also recast. After Ilene Kristen left in January 1979, the role of Delia Reid was played by Robyn Millan (1979), Randall Edwards (1979–1982), and Robin Mattson (1984); Kristen returned to the show in the role from 1982-1983 (when she was fired due to weight gain) and 1986-1989. After Faith Catlin was dropped from the show as Faith Coleridge in May 1976, she was replaced with Nancy Barrett (1976), Catherine Hicks (1976–1978), and Karen Morris-Gowdy (1978–1983, 1989). Richard Muenz originated the role of Joe Novak in 1979, but was replaced by Roscoe Born (1981–1983, 1988), Michael Hennessy (1983–1984), and Walt Willey (1986–1987, with Joe initially under the guise of "Erik Brenner").

Of the major characters not related to the core characters, only Louise Shaffer's Rae Woodard had any impact, seducing both Roger Coleridge and Frank Ryan who she became engaged to, manipulating a breakup with him and Jillian, whom she despised. After Frank broke off her engagement, Rae plotted to destroy his political career, but eventually she was exposed. After her illegitimate daughter Kimberly (Kelli Maroney) was introduced, she became the focus of many storylines, including having an affair with the much younger Michael Pavel whom she had hired as her personal assistant after breaking him and Kimberly up. His murder by the mob ended this triangle and lead to Kim's departure and Rae's brief stay on the backburner of the storyline. When the wealthy Kirklands were brought in briefly to glamourize the show, Rae literally became the show's leading character, subplanting the Ryan's. After the Kirklands were written out, Rae became the instigator behind the Charlotte Greer storyline. When Shaffer's contract was not renewed, she remained on a recurring basis until hired by Search for Tomorrow to replace Maree Cheatham where she was reunited with former "RH" lovers, Michael Corbett (Michael Pavel) and Peter Haskell (Hollis Kirkland).

Among the other characters not related to the Ryans who passed through was the Irish born Tom Desmond (Thomas MacGreevy) who briefly dated Mulgrew's Mary, then married Faith Coleridge in order to stay in the country. After attempting to kill her due to a brain tumor which caused him to become insanely jealous of her and Pat, Tom was briefly tempted by the innocent Poppy Lincoln (Alexandra Neil), then known as Diane Thompson Neil, who helped him deal with his brief blindness and happened to look almost exactly like his late girlfriend Teresa Donahue (also played by Ms. Neil who went to appear on practically every New York soap in the next two decades). Desmond managed to last two years before being killed off but other characters were introduced and written out extremely fast.

Production changes

Several things occurred behind the camera as well during the late 1970s to create a long, 10-year demise of the series. In 1979, Labine and Mayer sold the show to ABC due to skyrocketing production costs. The storylines following the selling to ABC took a turn for the surreal. One of these included a take on King Kong in which a gorilla kidnapped Delia Reid Coleridge. Another included a search for lost Egyptian mummy Maatkare Hatchepsut. There were take-offs of Jaws, Manhattan, The Godfather, and The French Lieutenant's Woman. These were not the type of plots the show had previously been known for. Subsequent interviews with the headwriter Claire Labine, however, reveal that the network was not the driving force behind the surrealism: "Everyone always cites Prince Albert the ape story as a mistake. But I'd do that again. I loved those scenes. It was a story about alienation."[5] Just as the King Kong-style plot captured Labine's imagination, so was the Raiders of the Lost Ark-inspired plot concerning a queen mummy inspired by Labine's vacation in Egypt at the time. None were considered plausible-- "the Raiders story... appears neither comfortable nor realistic," not told within a soap's context of real life, just as the King Kong and Jaws plots "were universally criticized." [6]

At the beginning of 1982, ABC fired Labine and Mayer and replaced them with Mary Munisteri. During Munisteri's tenure as head writer, the focus began to move to the newly arrived wealthy Kirkland clan, which was headed by Hollis Kirkland III (Peter Haskell). It soon turned out that he was the father of Rae Woodard's daughter, Kimberly Harris (Kelli Maroney). As more and more Kirklands began to show up (including Christine Jones as Hollis' wife Catsy and Mary Page Keller and Ariane Munker as his daughter Amanda), less attention was paid to the Ryans and Coleridges. Various cast members at this time dubbed the show Kirkland's Hope.

Due to falling ratings, Labine and Mayer were asked back at the beginning of 1983. In addition, at the same time, original cast members Malcolm Groome and Ilene Kristen returned to their roles as Pat Ryan and Delia Reid. In the spring, Kate Mulgrew briefly returned to the role of Mary Ryan when the character was brought back as a ghost who communicates with her widowed beloved Jack and, while professing that she still loves him, urges him to move on with his life. Ratings rose slightly with these developments; however, it was not enough. At the end of 1983, Labine and Mayer were let go again and replaced with General Hospital scribe Pat Falken Smith (with James E. Reilly joining as a staff writer). Smith, along with executive producer Joseph Hardy, once again shifted the focus from the Ryan and Coleridge families. But sidelining the core families simply did not seem enough and numerous fan favorite actors, including Ilene Kristen, Louise Shaffer, and Karen Morris-Gowdy either got fired or left on their own accord during this period, although Kristen's character did return for a brief stint in 1984, albeit played by Robin Mattson. The primary focus of the series during the Hardy-Smith era was on Greenberg's Deli, with Cali Timmins' Maggie Shelby and Scott Holmes' Dave Greenberg becoming two prominent characters.

In 1985, Smith was replaced with Millee Taggart and Tom King. The show began a shift back to its roots during this time. The show, which had been airing at 12:30 Eastern US/11:30 Central since 1977, had just been moved to the Noon Eastern US/11c time slot, beginning October 8, 1984.[7] It appears that many of the cast members felt as though this was a very political move by ABC: since the daytime drama series Loving took over the former 12:30/11:30c Ryan's Hope slot, it allowed creator Agnes Nixon to use her clout with the network (from her lucrative soaps All My Children and One Life to Live) to get Loving a prime slot. This resulted in her new show commencing a block of back-to-back Nixon shows. Others felt that moving Ryan's Hope out of the 12:30 slot spared it competition from CBS mega-hit The Young and the Restless, and to a lesser degree, NBC's ailing Search For Tomorrow.[1]

The final years

During the 1980s, there were numerous cast changes. Some of the more notable ones included the additions of Michael Palance, Grant Show, Daniel Pilon, Gerit Quealy, Leslie Easterbrook, Tichina Arnold, Gloria DeHaven, Jimmy Wlcek, Maria Pitillo, Rosemary Prinz, Catherine Larson, and Christopher Durham. Durham arrived in October 1985 as Dakota Smith, who was brought to the Ryan family's attention following Johnny's admission of a tryst he'd had with a woman who stepped in as his caretaker while he was ill, and away from Maeve, in the 1950s. The long-ago weekend of intimacy produced Dakota, who arrived in New York to find out that Johnny was his father. Dakota soon became a rebel on the local scene, engaging in dirty dealings and becoming at odds with Frank, especially after he entered into a romance with Jill, Frank's beloved. Long-term fans were displeased with the storyline involving Johnny's infidelity, and ultimately, Dakota was written out with Johnny disowning him over his criminal activities. Soap vet Rosemary Prinz took over the role of Sister Mary Joel, a recurring part played by several actresses since the show's early days (including film actresses Sylvia Sidney and Nancy Coleman), and in a shocking twist, was revealed to be Jack's real mother. Diana Van Der Vlis, who had been part of the show's first year as Seneca's first wife, Nell, returned in a different role, as the somewhat bitchy Sherry Rowan, the widow of the murdered Richard. When Seneca came back, he was shocked by Sherry's resemblance to Nell, and impulsively asked her to marry him. In the final episode, the two were seen together at Jack and Leigh's wedding.


In late 1984, Joseph Hardy and Felicia Minei Behr decided that the character of Ryan Fenelli would advance to being approximately 17 years old for new storyline prospects, from the 9 year old she was currently, as played by Jenny Rebecca Dweir. Newcomer Yasmine Bleeth was hired to become the teenage Ryan in early 1985, who started only a month or so after Dweir's last appearance in the role.

Initially, Bleeth's Ryan Fenelli shared many youth-oriented and high school themed plots with Grant Show's Rick Hyde and bad boy D.J. LaSalle, as played by up-and-coming actor Christian Slater. Rick joined the local police force after high school graduation, and eventually fell in love with Ryan. Jack Fenelli was unsupportive of his daughter dating Rick, who tended to live dangerously; in protest, Rick and Ryan ultimately fled to South Carolina in April 1986, where they eloped. Ryan was approached and assisted at the town hall ceremony by a woman named Maura (Kate Mulgrew), who bore more than a passing resemblance to Ryan's late mother, Mary (it was suggested that this was Mary returning yet again in ghostly form). The two were followed and then found by Jack and Frank after the wedding and brought back home, and while Rick and Ryan moved in together, things became more rocky between Ryan and her family.

Later in 1985, Jadrien Steele departed from the role of 10-year-old Johnno Ryan. Instead of replacing him with another child actor, Hardy and Behr decided to advance Johnno's age to 19 for storyline purposes as well. After being called back home to New York by his relatives, following the accidental, near-fatal shooting of his father Frank by Rick Hyde, the suddenly grown-up John Reid Ryan surfaced in August 1986, and was portrayed for the rest of the show's run by Jason Adams. Johnno returned from attending college in the Pacific Northwest, complete with a baby son, Owen "Owney" Ryan. At first, despite prodding from Johnno's "second mother," Jill Coleridge, and everyone else, details of Owney's mother and the circumstances surrounding his birth were seldom shared by Johnno, until the mother to which he was not married, Lizzie Ransome (Catherine Larson) arrived a while later. News of this latest unexpected arrival to the Ryan clan soon brought Ilene Kristen back to the show as Delia, to meet her grandson and to cause more upheaval. Her return on September 8, 1986, which proved to be permanent, opened with the revelation that she had been having financial difficulty - the number one indication that for once, she had not run off to marry another wealthy bachelor to advance her fortune. Delia's last husband, Matthew Crane (played by Harve Presnell in 1984 during Robin Mattson's brief stint as Delia), had died unexpectedly in the intervening period and left her destitute. She tried to conceal this fact from everyone, but Maggie Shelby successfully exposed her at a Coleridge family dinner. Delia moved in with Johnny, Maeve, and grandson Owney.

Lizzie came to protect John and Owney from her ruthless father, Harlan Ransome (Drew Snyder), who wanted to take the baby and sell it for his own purposes, since he disapproved of such a young couple raising a child. After much hostility towards John and Lizzie, and an attempt to rape Delia, Harlan was bludgeoned to death.

Final storylines

By early 1987, with ratings sinking ever further, and many ABC affiliates dropping the show altogether, ABC asked Claire Labine to return as head writer, with her daughter, Eleanor Labine, as co-head writer. The Labines revitalized the show. A year after Labine's return, executive producer Joseph Hardy was replaced with Felicia Minei Behr.

Lizzie and John found there was true love in their relationship, and the young parents were now able to focus on parenthood without living in total sin. In March 1987, they were engaged. That same month, after successfully taking down Overlord, a local organized crime syndicate that had been terrorizing the Riverside area for almost a year, Siobhan and Joe announced they were leaving New York to seek their fortunes; along with their 3-year-old son Sean (Danny Tamberelli), they bid farewell to everyone at the Ryan's annual St. Patrick's Day celebration (aired March 17, 1987). The Novaks would return one last time, in October 1988. Jack, who had been wounded at the scene of the Overlord takedown, met a homeless teenage girl, Zena Brown (Tichina Arnold), while recovering at Riverside. Zena and Jack had a lot in common due to their history on the streets, and upon his release, Jack fought the authorities in order to get Zena placed in a good foster home. Zena spent two months in a foster home with an upwardly mobile black family, but after numerous attempts to get herself kicked out, Jack convinced the Ryans to take her in, which succeeded after Zena became very friendly with Maeve.

On the night of Maggie giving birth to daughter Olivia (Kelly Nevins and Melissa Nevins), in May 1987, her brother Ben Shelby (Jim Wlcek) arrived in town, blowing his cover of Ben Shelley when running into mother Bess (Gloria DeHaven) at a dinner party thrown by her. Lizzie, who had started working for Delia at her art gallery, had bought a painting from Ben, who under both his identities was a struggling artist who despised high society - the very explanation as to why he had been estranged from his family for some time. Ben caused friction with his family and their friends, but ultimately tried to prove himself a local hero when he was the first to witness John Reid Ryan's temporary infidelity to Lizzie. During the investigation of a recent murder at local Wellman College, which John Reid and Ryan were now attending, John fell into bed with Dr. Concetta D'Angelo (Lois Robbins), who had been helping him cover the case for Wellman's newspaper. John Reid and Concetta ended their tryst well before John Reid and Lizzie's wedding date approached, but Delia found out, and had a hard time forgiving her son.

During their wedding day that August, Lizzie was set to marry John, but was whisked away from the church by Ben, who ultimately told her, in private, the truth about John's cheating on her. John and Lizzie tried to reconcile, but Lizzie had a hard time forgiving John, and then admitted that she was falling for Ben. In the aftermath, the couple went back to their respective new love interests. Rick and Ryan's marriage, which had seen its ups and downs for the year and a half they had been united, took a turn for the worse and Rick finally walked out on Ryan after she miscarried their baby due to injuries she sustained after walking into a trap at Wellman College and promptly being attacked by thugs from a local chemical company. Wellman reporter Chaz Saybrook (Brian McGovern), and Concetta's brother Mark D'Angelo (Peter Love) were among the many eligible bachelors who vied for Ryan's affection. In September, Dakota started a run for Riverside district leader, with Delia as his campaign manager. To help with finances, Delia contacted influential politician Malachy Malone (played by none other than Regis Philbin), who agreed to back Dakota. Dee and Malachy's professional, and at times personal liaison lasted throughout the entire campaign. Dakota won in November, but once in office, engaged in several bribes that could have threatened his leadership. One of these bribes, in which he helped retrieve EKG scans of mobster Augie Price, who had just died after being targeted as an accomplice in the Meredith Drake Company scandal, actually enhanced his career. Jack and Pat took the scans to court, which prevented the case from going to trial.

Since the spring 1987, Jack had found himself in a blossoming affair with Commissioner Emily Hall (Cynthia Dozier), who had been Zena's official social worker. As their relationship evolved, Emily was pursued by politician Richard Rowan, who was married. Emily fought to keep Richard away in order to not jeopardize her devotion to Jack, but ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time when she walked into Richard's apartment just as he was lying dead on the floor. She was then cited a suspect in his murder. Emily hired a very pregnant Jill to represent her. Jill also had her hands full, focusing on her new baby with Frank, and counseling a determined Ryan to accept the fact that Rick was through with marriage so a divorce could proceed. In early December, she gave birth to a girl, whom bore the name of Mary Ryan, in an essence making the family dynamic complete again in the late Mary's honor.

However, the end was already in sight; ABC announced Ryan's Hope's cancellation in October 1988. As Bernard Barrow told Good Morning America on January 10, 1989, the show's Nielsen numbers were still openly revealed to cast and crew until Ryan's Hope fell to dead last in the daytime ratings during the 1987-1988 TV season. Thereafter, "a lid was tightened" according to Barrow, and the show's now-12th (13th the following year) place ranking was harder to obtain from the insiders. The final episode (#3515) on January 13, 1989, concluded with Helen Gallagher's Maeve singing "Danny Boy", as she had for many previous Ryan celebrations. For the final episodes, numerous cast members who had been on the show in previous years returned.

Soon after the show's end, the then-current and last version of the Ryan's Bar set was modified and then used on One Life to Live, where it was used for the next few years as a bar/club in Llanview. Coincidentally, both Ryan's Hope and One Life to Live would later share a series finale date, as OLTL concluded a 43-year ABC network run on January 13, 2012, twenty-three years to the day that Ryan's Hope aired its final episode. (OLTL resumed production in early 2013, initially as an online series airing on Hulu and The Online Network, but also subsequently for TV outlets such as FX Canada and the Oprah Winfrey Network. OLTL was later shelved and cancelled due to a lawsuit between ABC and the production company responsible for the online revival Prospect Park.)

In October 2013, Ilene Kristen made several appearances on General Hospital, reviving her role as Delia, now much older and running Ryan's Bar. (It was largely implied that both Johnny and Maeve had died.) Delia was also revealed to be the long-lost mother of the evil Ava Jerome, a GH character. Kristen's appearances were well received, as was the re-designed Ryan's Bar (rumored to be an old set from All My Children). She has repeated her role occasionally in 2014 and 2015 when GH plots take the characters to New York City.

Broadcast history

When Ryan's Hope premiered on July 7, 1975, ABC scheduled it at 1:00 p.m. Eastern/12 Noon Central, a timeslot previously occupied by All My Children (pushing that soap to the 12:30 p.m./11:30 a.m. slot).[7] The network reasoned that Ryan's Hope stood its best chances of gaining an audience by programming it in the 1:00/Noon slot that was free of soap competition on the other networks and by having ABC's number one soap as a lead-in. The show's audience grew from a 5.7 rating in 1975 (a rating is "the percentage of TV homes in the US that is tuned in" [8]) to a 7.3 in 1976. This placed Ryan's Hope in second place on the ABC roster, with All My Children at an 8.2 rating, ahead of General Hospital at a 7.1 rating and One Life to Live at a 6.8 rating.

In 1976, ABC joined the other networks in planning to expand its soaps to an hour-long format. Labine and Mayer declined expanding Ryan's Hope, which was moved to 12:30 p.m. Eastern/11:30 a.m Central in January 1977, where it now followed the hit game show Family Feud and to allow All My Children to shift to hour-long episodes.[7] The time change put it in competition with another soap for the first time, CBS' Search For Tomorrow. The ratings slipped a bit (7.0 in the 1977-78 season) against a 7.5 rating for Search for Tomorrow; ultimately, Ryan's Hope never exceeded its peak 1976 achievement. By 1978, all the other ABC-developed soaps had stronger ratings than RH. In 1979, All My Children was the number one daytime soap on TV, with a 9.0 rating, supplanted in 1980 by General Hospital with a 9.9 rating. While ABC otherwise flourished, Ryan's Hope struggled with its recasting and surreal storylines, and saw its ratings again at 7.0.

In 1981, CBS moved its ascendant The Young and the Restless to the same slot Ryan's Hope occupied, 12:30 Eastern/11:30 Central. The CBS soap garnered a 7.4 rating to a 6.9 for Ryan's Hope. By the following year, CBS earned an 8.0 for the timeslot while Ryan's Hope slid to a 5.6. ABC fared better against the second half of The Young and the Restless, as All My Children had ratings of 9.4 for 1982-83. The ratings continued to decline for Ryan's Hope, and ABC realized it couldn't perform apace its other soaps. Ryan's Hope was moved to 12 noon Eastern/11:00 a.m. Central in October 1984 with the thought that if it had built an audience in a soap-free timeslot in its first 18 months, perhaps it could do so again.

However, the ratings for Ryan's Hope never stopped eroding. ABC continued to air the show for another four years, even though after 1984 it never had a rating higher than 3.4, about a third of what the top-rated soaps were earning. One exacerbating factor was that although the noon timeslot relieved Ryan's Hope of soap competition, many ABC affiliates were intent on airing 12 p.m. newscasts, or other programming. They did not run Ryan's Hope often relegating it to independent stations within the market, which further diminished the number of households tuned in. ABC finally canceled the show in October 1988, with the final episode airing on Friday, January 13, 1989; it was temporarily replaced by reruns of Perfect Strangers, and the 1990-91 season saw the arrival of ABC's last daytime game show, a revival of Match Game, but like Ryan's Hope, it also suffered from the noon timeslot. When that show ended its run on July 12, 1991, barring a brief expansion of The Home Show into the noon slot, ABC ceded the timeslot back to its affiliates.

Nielsen Rating

Title sequence

In its 13 years on the air, Ryan's Hope went through quite a few theme, visual, and credit revisions. Retained through the run were the title sequence New York scenes and the theme song, credited to Carey Gold but according to lore written as "Here's to Us," with input by Claire Labine.

July 7, 1975 - February 29, 1980
The first years

During the first years of Ryan's Hope the sequence featured a montage of stills as members of the Ryan family along with Faith Coleridge and Bucky Carter picnicked in Central Park. The last shot of the original sequence was of Johnny and Maeve Ryan lifting their then-newborn grandson John Reid "Johnno" Ryan up toward a brilliant cloudless blue sky with Manhattan's skyline just visible on the horizon as the strains of "Here's to Us" played in a rather subdued flute, harp and string trio arrangement. By holiday season in late '76 recasting dictated that the visuals be changed, edited down to slow-motion scenes of Maeve and Johnny dancing with their grandson rosie-style in Central Park. These visuals raised the question just whose hope was referred to in the show's title—aspiring politician? immigrant matriarch? third-generation Johnno?

Closing credits for the majority of Ryan's Hope episodes usually ran over either a beauty shot or a still of Ryan's Bar. From July 1975 through fall 1978, Ryan's Hope’s closing credit lettering was in white Grotesque No. 9 Italic. From fall 1978 onward, the lettering was set in Souvenir Bold Italic. Also beginning at that time, the credits would sometimes run over a shot of an empty set featured in a particular episode. Between 1975 and 1980, Ryan's Hope was the only soap opera aired on ABC that contained a copyright notice at the end of every broadcast, which for most daytime soaps was not standard practice at the time. (Former ABC serial Dark Shadows was the only other daytime soap to have used a copyright date.) This was due to the show's non-network ownership during the first five years, until Labine-Mayer Productions sold their creation to ABC in 1980.

March 3, 1980 - March 1983
Post-success years

In Spring 1980, after Labine and Mayer's 1979 sale of Ryan's Hope to ABC, the network decided to make some image alterations as a plan to regain the success the show received in its first years. The opening sequence was changed during this time also so that instead of shots of the principal cast members of Ryan's Hope, there were panoramic views of New York and street shots of anonymous New York City people. This opening's shot sequence was as follows:

1. Aerial shot of the Chrysler Building
2. Statue of Liberty
3. Staten Island Ferry
4. The Brooklyn Bridge
5. A kindergarten teacher walking her young charges down the street
6. Two children on a swing set
7. A young couple sharing an apple
8. A zoom-in on sunlight reflected on a glass and steel skyscraper
9. A wealthy young woman stepping out of a limousine
10. Another young couple embracing
11. Boys playing soccer in Central Park.

The title appears on the screen after the freeze-frame of the boys tossing the soccer ball up in the air.

There was a new, more uptempo arrangement of Carey Gold's "Here's to Us" theme, arranged by his frequent collaborator Gary Anderson. The more Irish pastoral flute-harp-string arrangement was given a fuller orchestration, with melody featuring guitar with bass drum and rhythm guitar accents, traps brushing, brass section flourishes, and sweetening from a background string section. Within a year after ABC assumed production chores for Ryan's Hope, Carey Gold's musical cues were replaced by General Hospital's Charles Paul, whose cues for the show from 1981 through summer 1983 often had a General Hospital style and sound; although Carey Gold's theme remained through the end of the series.

From the first episode of Ryan's Hope that was produced under ABC's ownership in 1980, copyright notice at the end was changed to represent that of the network's, using at first medium-sized Arial font on a single line. For a year or so, the copyright appeared directly under the "Videotaped at ABC Television Center in New York" byline as the credit scroll paused (previously, "A Labine-Mayer Production" had appeared in the Grotesque then Souvenir credit fonts above the copyright). Since the start of the series, there had never been closing display of the show's title at the end of the sequence. By the end of 1981, the title finally began appearing at the end of the sequence, and the Arial copyright notice below it became smaller.

March 1983 - March 16, 1984
The new direction of 1983 aka recovery from "Kirkland's Hope"

The opening changed in March 1983 to once again feature shots of the main cast members playing the Ryans and their friends. Of course, the opening main title footage was shot in locations around Manhattan. This was the first Ryan's Hope visuals package in which character shots were added or removed when contract cast members came and went. The final shot in this version had Johnny, Maeve, and several of the younger Ryan children sitting in Central Park surrounded by autumn leaves, as Johnny throws a soccer ball up in the air. The frame freezes just as the ball travels out of everyone's reach, with the title appearing on the top left-hand corner. The second remix of "Here's to Us" remained for the first five months of this opening's run; however on August 22, 1983, the theme was switched to an arrangement that had more of a discernible rhythm, and was the most uptempo to date. It was this rendition that remained over the title sequence and closing credits until the end of Ryan's Hope's run in January 1989.

Within weeks of the debut of these visuals, Joseph Hardy replaced Ellen Barrett as the new executive producer, and was the first Ryan's Hope EP to be credited as such, in place of the "produced by" title. On May 16, 1983, "All Rights Reserved" was added to the program's copyright notice for the first time. Also, sometime during fall 1983, but no later than December 26 of that year, the established beauty-shot/empty set ending visuals were retired, in favor of stills of scenes from that day's episode. The credit fonts would remain the same until March 16, 1984.

March 19, 1984 - January 13, 1989
The final years

The most substantial changes to the title sequence and closing credits of Ryan's Hope, that had occurred by the start of 1984, continued on March 19 of that year. A whole new series of filmed shots containing all contract principals premiered on that day, along with a mix of videotaped footage. There was now a distinct pattern among the character shots, as one character would look in a certain direction, while the next character(s) would be waving to or walking towards the previous person, or engaging in some leisure activity seen by the preceding character. Just as in the previous package, shots of the cast members were added or removed as they came and went, but continuing characters would have their shots updated a few times each. The title logo changed from the Schadow Bold type used since day one to that of Advertisers Gothic Bold, the same lettering used in the title sequences of The Streets of San Francisco and Starsky and Hutch, two ABC primetime series of the 1970s (the font was also used in the game show Just Men!, which aired on NBC in early 1983). The title now also appeared across on a single line.

The freeze-frame shots in the final five years of the show featured Maeve Ryan only. From March 19, 1984 to April 3, 1987, the title was displayed over Maeve kneeling down in the street as pigeons fly away from her; from April 6, 1987 to January 13, 1989, Maeve was smelling spring blossoms off a tree branch, and then gazed to the side of camera view. With the extensive spring 1987 update, the cast montage was entirely videotaped footage, a single exception being the opening shot of Johnny riding a bike through the park, with Maeve in the rear of the seat, as the only film shot (from 1984) remaining. The title display went unembossed (from black shadowing) for a while beginning on April 6, 1987, mirroring the closing credit format, which had been unembossed for a year prior. In spring 1988, the title's black embossment was reinstated, as a result of Felicia Minei Behr becoming what would be Ryan's Hope's final executive producer. (Behr, unlike Hardy, continued to be credited as only "Producer" even after she became EP.)

The major graphic changes of this period even extended to the closing credits. As soon as the final theme package premiered, the Souvenir Bold Italic credit font used since 1978 changed to Advertisers Gothic Bold to match Ryan's Hope's new logo. These now ran over the episode stills that were introduced in the last months of the previous theme package. What was most noticeable about this latest credit format was that for the first time, the entire setup was run on a Chyron, whereas before then credits were still run on a scrolling machine frame. Also, character names in the cast list went from being displayed below actors' names to above them. At the same time, the copyright notice also changed to the new generic version, in a stylized italic font, that was also used on All My Children, One Life to Live, and all ABC News programs, including Good Morning America. These changes would remain until Ryan's Hope’s last telecast. Beginning in March 1986, black embossment normally seen in the closing credit text was removed completely. With the exception of the August 28, 1987 episode, the credits were in transparent white until the embossment was reinstated in spring 1988.

Awards and nominations

Daytime Emmy Award wins

Drama series and performer categories

Category Recipient Role Year(s)
Outstanding Drama Series 1977,[9] 1979 [10]
Lead Actress Helen Gallagher Maeve Ryan 1976,[11] 1977,[9] 1988 [12]
Supporting Actress Louise Shaffer Rae Woodard 1983 [13]

Other categories

Other awards

In America and overseas

In 2000, SOAPnet picked up reruns of Ryan's Hope, which was one of the few daytime dramas from before 1978 which saved all of its episodes. They aired the July 1975 through December 1981 episodes from 2000 to 2003. While reruns were originally abundant (airing daily in one-hour installments every six hours starting at noon, with two marathons of the week's episodes on weekends), by 2005 the show was only aired one hour per weekdays, and for a brief time, one hour a week. In September 2011, SOAPnet stopped showing Ryan's Hope in the 5am timeslot in favor of old episodes of All My Children.

Ryan's Hope has also run on RTÉ 2 in Ireland and has previously aired in Australia.

Onderweg naar morgen (which literally means On the way to tomorrow), debuted on Dutch television, with the Ryans and Coleridges remade into the Couwenbergs and Reitsemas; the Dutch writers based their show on story bibles originally written by Labine and Mayer. The show lasted 16 years from 3 January 1994 to 14 May 2010.


Years Head writer(s)
July 1975 July 1982 Claire Labine
Paul Avila Mayer
July 1982 Claire Labine
August 1982 January 1983 Mary Ryan Munisteri
January 1983 December 1983 Claire Labine
Paul Avila Mayer
December 1983 February 1985 Pat Falken Smith
James E. Reilly
February 1985 January 1987 Tom King
Millee Taggart
February 1987 March 1988 Claire Labine
Eleanor Labine
March 1988 September 1988 Claire Labine
Matthew Labine
September 1988 January 13, 1989 Claire Labine
Matthew Labine
Eleanor Labine
Paul Avila Mayer
Years Executive Producers
1975 1982 Claire Labine
Paul Avila Mayer
1982 April 1, 1983 Ellen Barrett
April 4, 1983 June 17, 1988 Joseph Hardy
June 20, 1988 January 13, 1989 Felicia Minei Behr
Years Producers
1975 George Lefferts
1975 1978 Robert Costello
1978 1982 Ellen Barrett
1982 April 1, 1983 None
April 4, 1983 June 17, 1988 Felicia Minei Behr
June 20, 1988 January 13, 1989 Nancy Horwich
Years Associate Producers
July 7, 1975 1976 Monroe E. Carol
1976 September 1978 Ellen Barrett
September 1978 1982, April 4, 1983 June 17, 1988 Nancy Horwich
1982 April 1, 1983 Nancy Horwich
Felicia Minei Behr
June 20, 1988 January 13, 1989 Jean Dadario Burke

Before they were stars

Many primetime stars got their start on Ryan's Hope, including Kate Mulgrew, Tichina Arnold, Catherine Hicks, Yasmine Bleeth, Grant Show, Leslie Easterbrook, Nell Carter, Corbin Bernsen, Marg Helgenberger, Ana Alicia, Christian Slater (who is Michael Hawkins' son in real life), Dominic Chianese, and Kate Mulgrew. Earl Hindman, Delia's long-suffering brother Bob Reid, went on to co-star for eight years on Home Improvement, as the Taylor's over-the-fence neighbor Wilson, whose face was always partially hidden behind his fence.

Deceased cast members

Actor Character Year of Death Years On Ryan's Hope
Wesley Addy Bill Woodard 1996 1977–1978
Nancy Addison Altman Jillian Coleridge 2002 1975–1989
Tom Aldredge Matt Pearse 2011 1979–1982
David Bailey Teddy Malcolm 2004 1988–1989
Bernard Barrow Johnny Ryan 1993 1975–1989
Nell Carter Ethel Green 2003 1978–1979
Cesare DanovaSilvio Conti 19921988–1989
Nicolette Goulet Mary Ryan Fenelli #4 2008 1979
Peter Haskell Hollis Kirkland III 2010 1982–1983
Earl Hindman Bob Reid 2003 1975–1989
Frank Latimore Ed Coleridge 1998 1975–1976
Irving Allen Lee Dr. Evan Cooper 1992 1986–1989
Kenneth McMillan Charlie Ferris 1989 1975–1976
Harve PresnellMatthew Crane 20091984
Anne Revere Marguerite Beaulac #2 1990 1977
Sylvia Sidney Sister Mary Joel 1999 1975–1976
Gale Sondergaard Marguerite Beaulac #1 1985 1976
Diana van der Vlis Dr. Nell Beaulac
Sherry Rowan
2001 1975–1976
Alice Drummond Susie Simpson 2016 1978


  1. 1 2 Schemering, Christopher, Soap Opera Encyclopedia, 1987, Ballantine Books
  2. "On The Creation Of Ryan's Hope", Claire Labine in Worlds Without End, 1997, Museum of Television & Radio
  3. Clives, Francis, New York Times, 11/27/76
  4. LaGuardia, Robert, Soap World, 1983, Arbor Books
  5. Jacobs, Damon, Claire Labine Interview 11/5/09, www.welovesoaps.net
  6. Genovese, John, 1982 Review, Afternoon TV magazine
  7. 1 2 3 Castleman & Podrazik, TV Schedule Book, 1984, McGraw-Hill
  8. Nielsen Media Research, Nielsen.com
  9. 1 2 "Daytime Emmys - 1977". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
  10. "Daytime Emmys - 1979". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
  11. "Daytime Emmys - 1976". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
  12. "Daytime Emmys - 1988". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-02-09.
  13. "Daytime Emmys - 1983". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-02-08.

External links

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