Friday, January 29, 2010

50 Greatest Soap Actresses: #10 Helen Gallagher

NAME: Helen Gallagher
RANK: 10
SOAP ROLES: Maude Boylan, ONE LIFE TO LIVE (1997-1998); Nurse Harris, ALL MY CHILDREN (1994); Hannah Tuttle, ANOTHER WORLD (1989); Maeve Ryan, RYAN'S HOPE (1975-1989)

1988 Daytime Emmy win for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
1986 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role on a Daytime Serial
1981 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series
1979 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series
1977 Daytime Emmy win for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series
1976 Daytime Emmy win for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series
1971 Tony Award win for Best Actress (Musical)
1966 Tony Award nomination for 1966 Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical)
1952 Tony Award win for Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Musical)

Lynn Liccardo: She inhabited the character of Maeve Ryan so completely that viewers forgot that were watching a Tony-winning musical actress – even when she was sitting at the bar singing "Danny Boy."

Claire Labine: (wrote for Gallagher on RH and OLTL) I loved bringing Helen in as Mel's mother [on OLTL]. It was such typical Helen! Elisabeth Röhm was a lovely girl, straight out of school. During the first day Helen was there in the studio, [Laughs] I saw Elisabeth coming down the hall. Helen’s dressing room door flings open and this arm reaches out and literally grabs her by the shirt. She said, “Come in here, we are going to rehearse!” It was as if an actor had been given the hook on stage, Elisabeth just disappeared! That was how she met Helen. That was very Helen, “We’re going to do this, we’re going to work at it.” She is a force of nature.

Mimi Torchin: Any actress who can make a story about cabbages absolutely earth-shattering and virtually unforgettable deserves her place on this list. It rambles around in my subconscious to this day.

Connie Passalacqua Hayman (Marlena De Lacroix): Eileen Herlie and Helen Gallagher. Their mother love characters created sheer magic. Both were Tony-winning Broadway actresses. Talent, training, experience! Oh, for a return to the age of real theater actresses on soaps!

Alan Carter: Admit it...anytime you hear someone sing "Danny Boy" you picture Maeve…

Damon L. Jacobs: An absolutely delightful and beautiful chapter of daytime history.  There was always something inherently soothing about seeing Maeve Ryan on my screen.  Gallagher was so able to completely transform herself into a loving confident dignified Irish matriarch, it was hard to imagine she was actually acting!  But this Tony and Emmy winning talent indeed knows how to apply skill and discipline in order to fuel her every character with vivid integrity and strong heart.   

Roger Newcomb: So much talent and soap fans were blessed to have the role of Maeve Ryan played by the brilliant Helen Gallagher

Daniel Hugh Kelly: (played Gallagher's son on RH) Another extremely gifted and beautiful woman, both inside and out, who's level of joy and patience (especially with me) was matched only by her love, generosity and dedication to her art, her show and, especially, her fellow cast mates. An absolute bundle of professional NYC energy, simultaneously wise and embracing, an iconic Broadway chorus line dancer with all the discipline and formidable talent that requires, Helen was not only the best actress and singer I have ever worked with, but she also had the best far. And my God, what an infectious laugh!

Kelli Maroney: (worked with Gallagher on RH) Helen really intimidated me when I first got on the show. She had so many credits, was a big Broadway star, and she was really the 'mother' of RH---whatever she said was what the audience was supposed to think. You always have one of those characters that tells the audience what to think and she personified it like no one else.

She really didn't have an Irish accent, in case no one knows that. But the thing she did that was so smart was, she mixed the Irish in with a little bit of a NY accent because Maeve had lived in Manhattan for so long. Brilliant!

Once I had a scene with her in which I was supposed to burst into tears---Louise wasn't working that day, and I was always after Louise to help me with, I asked Helen, and told her I was worried about 'coming up with that', etc...Helen just looked at me and said, "Don't know what to tell ya" other words, "sink or swim, kid, you're supposed to be a pro" and I was very proud that I did pull the scene off and I even surprised Helen so much that she fudged a line--I don't think she thought I'd come through and burst out crying like that!----one of my best memories. I just walked off the set afterwards going HEEHEEHEE to myself. :) She made you be your best!


  1. And the top 10 gets unveiled during sweeps.

    You are all SO hardwired soap fans, LOL.

  2. Helen Gallagher!! WooHoo!! Like Mary Stuart, I was worried she wouldn't make the list. She's definitely in my Top 10 as well :)

  3. Ah, Maeve Ryan of Ryan's Hope as played by Helen was the glue that held that family together. I so wanted to be an honorable Ryan and hang out at the bar with them. I don't recall seeing HG in any other roles but I would probably have been surprised to see her away from her bar and her handful of a family. Such and indelible impression she left in that role.

  4. I adore Helen Gallagher, but I want to give a shout-out to Daniel Hugh-Kelly and all the warm, lovely things he's had to say about his costars. His comments shine a wonderful light on these actresses and give us even more to admire about them.

  5. I am 12 and I love her. All her roles, he song and ever thing else about. Her epasilly her part in ryans hope.

  6. I am 12 and I love her. All her roles, he song and ever thing else about. Her epasilly her part in ryans hope.