Fans of “Ryan’s Hope,” the beloved (and Emmy-winning) ABC soap opera of the 70s and 80s, might not realize it, but there were real Ryans.
The soap opera focused on an Upper West Side Irish American family, the Ryans, who owned a bar. Among their children were a writer and a politician. The writer was called Mary Ryan, played by newcomer Kate Mulgrew, who was incredibly popular and had a hugely successful career, including playing the commander of a Star Trek spaceship and playing Mrs. Columbo.
The real Mary Ryan was a person. Sadly, she died at age 82. She was writing with her best friend, Claire Labine, who created the series and borrowed Ryan’s name (and much of their history) for the soap opera.
Mary Ryan Munisteri was the editor of “Ryan’s Hope” for many years and also worked as the editor of other shows such as “Guiding Light”, “General Hospital”, “Love of Life” and “As the World Turns”. According to her biography, she won a dozen Daytime Emmy awards in writing teams. She also won an Emmy Award for Best Writing for the short film “Mandy’s Grandmother” (starring Maureen O’Sullivan), which was nominated for the Best Short Film Oscar.
On a personal note, I never knew Mary Ryan Munisteri. But her name was spoken in our house in the 1960s and 1970s because her stepmother, Inez Munisteri (Mary later divorced her first husband) had been great friends since the 1930s with my grandmother, Marion Davis Becker. Small world. I hope they all catch up and have a good time in the cosmos.