Friday, August 17, 2012

50 Greatest Soap Couples: #11 Jack & Mary From RYAN'S HOPE

COUPLE: Jack Fenelli & Mary Ryan
RANK: 11
Jack: Michael Levin
Mary: Kate Mulgrew, Mary Carney, Kathleen Tolan, Nicolette Goulet
YEARS: 1975-1979; As a ghost/spirt in 1983, 1989

While working on her brother's (Frank) political campaign Mary met Jack, a young reporter assigned to cover the campaign for the Village Banner.   They clashed for many reasons from their backgrouns (he was Italian and she was Irish) to him being a devout bachelor versus her stubborn career-minded and family-oriented lifestyle.  Her family was the center of much of their conflict.  An opposites attraction kept them coming back to each other.  When they finally made plans to marry, Jack went on an all-night drinking binge the night before and didn't show up at the church.  Mary's father, Johnny, finally found Jack and sobered him up by throwing him into a cold shower.  Their beautiful wedding was filmed on location at St. Benedict the Moor Church on Manhattan’s West Side.

Jack and Mary were torn apart more than once with conflicts ranging from her job as a TV news reporter to the announcement that she was pregnant with their first child. While investigating Joe Novak and his Uncle Tiso and their mob ties, Tiso arranged for Mary's car to crash. She died in Jack's arms from her injuries leaving her husband to raise baby Ryan alone.

Jack and Mary's story was one of the most well-written romances in soap opera history, and played to perfection by Levin and Mulgrew.  The characters had heart, and depth, and the type of chemistry that is rare and special in any genre.  The first few years of RYAN'S HOPE were near-perfect soap and Jack and Mary were at the center of the show.  They became instant fan favorites.   In 1977 RYAN'S HOPE was named Outstanding Daytime Drama at the Daytime Emmy Awards and also won for writing and directing.

Levin was nominated for three Emmy Awards for his work in RYAN'S HOPE while Mulgrew's career was launched by her role as Mary.  She instantly found success in other film and television roles including the lead in STAR TREK: VOYAGER but always spoke fondly of her time on the show, returning over the years when she could.

Mary meets Jack on the first episode of RYAN'S HOPE (1975) 
Jack and Mary's wedding (1976)
Jack and Mary are separated after Ryan is born (1977)
Mary returns (1983, 1989)

Share your thoughts on Jack and Mary in our Comments section below or on our message board.

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  1. I love Jack and Mary, 2 great actors.

  2. Yeah, I'm happy Jack and Mary made it close to the top ten...they were great!

  3. I will never forget Jack and Mary - they were my all time number one favorite Soap Opera couple for over 30 years until the Otalia pairing. Now I have a hard time deciding between the two. I think the dynamics in both pairings had certain similarities that appealed to me. Jack and Olivia were both brooding, cynical and afraid to show their vulnerabilities while Mary and Natalia were both so full of faith and able to bring out the best in their partners and hang in there no matter how Jack/Olivia tried to push them away (for Natalia this only applies to the pre-cancellation writing for the story) I miss both of these couples so much - truly what soaps are all about for me.

  4. I love them too! I am so glad that a Ryan's Hope Couple made it to the list and so high on the list at that!

  5. Not to be negative but I hated the Jack Finelli character! I hated the Jack and Mary pairing.I found him to be crass and very annoying.Mary could have done so much better.He was a pig and a bore.This comment is no reflection on the actor himself.