Helen Gallagher: A Look Back at Her Storied Career, Including 'Ryan's Hope'

Tony Award and Emmy Award-winning Ryan's Hope legend Helen Gallagher is celebrating her 92nd birthday today.

Born in Brooklyn, Gallagher was raised in Scarsdale, New York for several years until the Wall Street crash which heralded the Great Depression, and her family moved to the Bronx. Her parents separated and she was raised with an aunt. She suffered from asthma.

Gallagher was known for decades as a Broadway performer. She appeared in "Make a Wish," "Hazel Flagg," "Portofino," "High Button Shoes," "Sweet Charity" (earning a 1967 Tony Award nomination for Featured Actress in a Musical), and "Cry for Us All."

In 1952, she won a Tony Award for her work in the revival of "Pal Joey." In 1971, she won her second Tony Award for her role in the revival of the musical "No, No, Nanette," which also starred Ruby Keeler and Patsy Kelly. Her song and dance number with Bobby Van from that show, "You Can Dance with Any Girl", is preserved on the cast album of that revival. She would later take on the role of Sue Smith in the Papermill Playhouse revival of the show, playing the role Keeler played a quarter century earlier.

Her first starring role on Broadway came in 1953 as title character Hazel Flagg, based on the 1937 Carole Lombard movie Nothing Sacred. Gallagher appeared in the 1977 movie Roseland opposite Christopher Walken. An aficionada of Rodgers and Hammerstein, she appeared on a special tribute to Richard Rodgers on The Bell Telephone Hour.

Despite her extensive work on Broadway, she is perhaps best known as the gentle Irish American matriarch Maeve Ryan on the soap opera Ryan's Hope, a role she played for the show's entire 14-year run, from 1975 to 1989. She was nominated for five Daytime Emmy Awards for her work on the serial, winning in 1976, 1977, and 1988.  She would go on to appear on Another World, All My Children and One Life to Live.

Below are some clips from Gallagher's storied career, her iconic Ryan's Hope days, and an amazing interview and musical performance she did on The Mike Douglas Show in 1979.

Happy Birthday, Helen!



















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