The Top Fifty Soap Opera Superstars
Their Stories
Click for "Ryan's Hope" index page

Twenty-one-year-old Kate Mulgrew came to New York at the tender age of seventeen. . . alone. At nineteen she concurrently landed a part in a play and the part of Mary Ryan in ABC's "Ryan's Hope."

"I come from a very large family," she explains. "There were eight of us, and Mom and Dad. It was a very extraordinary life because it was not by any means normal, and very seldom healthy, if you can understand that. It was extremely Irish Catholic- raucous, loud, vital, devious. Irish Catholics are very devious, you'd better believe that right now. I'm giving you a clue into our true nature. Because of the religion which is overwhelming in our lives, and though I've abandoned that aspect, it still is, what shall I say. . . it's haunting. I was raised in a very spiritual manner. I was taught to believe in the soul and the heart; and the mind and the body were very secondary, if not unimportant.

 "The love I have for my family is a strange, powerful, extremely important and vital love. It's so close, it's crazy. I mean there is always somebody here with me. My sister just left; my brother was here the week before; my father was here the week before that; my mother was here for a month; next week somebody's coming, and it's like that. It's beautiful in a way, but in a way it's rather odd.'

 Her reminiscing about her family apparently led her to thoughts about the death of her two younger sisters. She told me that one had died from a kidney disease as a baby, the other from a brain tumor at the age of thirteen. As she talked about Tess, her "favorite sister," it was obvious that Tess's death had had a profound effect on Kate Mulgrew, and very likely had altered Kate's whole perception of life.

 "You want to blame somebody, you want to blame something. You blame it on the fact that maybe she wanted to get out. I saw her deteriorate in front of my eyes. It was a brain tumor, the only kind of tumor that you can't help-a butterfly tumor. It envelops the brain and suffocates it.

 "It's the one real thing that ever happened to me. I could stand up on a million stages, I could do a million television programs, I could sleep with a million men, I could do anything, but that's not real. What's real is when that love is gone and you don't know where the hell it went and you don't know why, because you loved.

 "When I came to New York I learned, or saw very quickly that this is a barnyard. Everything is physical here, everything is of an earth quality. The transition was hard for me. You see I aspire toward a certain spirituality. There is a thing in me that wants to merely contemplate, for the rest of my life, and pray. Sex is still a problem. I'll be uptight for the rest of my life, I'm quite sure. But I wouldn't even call it uptight. I find sex shallow. That's because I am an Irish Catholic girl. Had I been a man things would be quite different for me. You see I'm all for sexual promiscuity for men. I think that's where they come from; that's their drive and that's their attraction."

 I proceeded to ask her if she had any ongoing relationship, and she very politely told me that it was none of my business. But she did say that she was "independent and single by nature." She also pointed out that she was very young and that she anticipated a great many changes in her attitude as she matured.

 "I want to do something good. I don't know, you've gotta pay life back for what it gives you, you've got to render back. Don't you think it's true?"

 I responded with an "absolutely" and a bit of a smile, and she began to loosen up and get herself back together again.

"I mean, it's so extraordinary, everything is here. The gifts are just showered, one after another, upon your head, until you feel like a princess." *