day TV
October 1976
By Claire Gaucher
Photos from this Article
Many THANKS! to a Totally Kate contributor for sharing this article.

It took about four days of viewing on TV to see Mary Ryan and Jack Fenelli get married . . . it took one day up at St. Benedict the Moor’s church in Manhattan to film it.

Everyone was there . . . the press, photographers and even a few friends of the cast members because it was a gigantic undertaking and even the “fake” wedding -was fun to watch!

Unfortunately for the cast, the heat was almost unbearable and the church was not air-conditioned. They were all dressed up in beautiful clothes, but it made it twice as difficult to work. Helen Gallagher who plays Maeve Ryan told us later that she was positive she would pass out several times. When she wasn’t needed on the set she found an open window and sat in it with her legs hanging out. She was dressed so elegantly that it was fun to see the mother of the bride so relaxed.

Kate Mulgrew was on a lot and when she was off camera, people fussed around and sewed last-minute stitches in her gown. Those of you who saw the wedding on “Ryan’s Hope” know how beautiful she looked in her cream-colored, silk organza infused with green Irish satin ribbon and long narrow columns of fine lace. The dress was supposed to be a copy of her mother’s wedding dress. The slender cuffs were made of lace too. It all cost about $200, but if it had been store bought, so to speak, there is no doubt it would have cost loads more.

The men all wore traditional morning wedding suits and looked especially handsome . . . though they suffered more from the heat than the ladies in the wedding party.

Ramse Mosteller, the costume designer, said that Maeve’s dress was greige, an accepted term for its clay color. She also decided on a good color for the bridesmaids. There were no strong, overwhelming effects—delicate yellow tops and yellow horsehair hats. They all wore white kid gloves. Mary carried yellow roses, by the way.

Every time they actually shot a scene for TV, the press all trooped downstairs to a room to wait. That left the actors free to do what they do best—act. It was hard enough to coordinate the whole thing, so the director had to be left free to get on with the shooting not bothered by photographers and all.

When the scene was shot, everyone came back up and took pictures of the stars resting, having clothes fixed, or whatever. Some times they sat in their pews, where they were placed for the next scene and photographers zoomed around getting candid shots of them. It was truly a difficult day for all of them and they were gracious about having a crowd around watching. Perhaps it helped dispel the monotony of waiting for cameras to be placed, etc. At any rate, they beamed and chatted freely with reporters from all the magazines.

Bernard Barrow (Johnny Ryan) was especially cordial and fun to talk to. Mike Levin (Jack Fenelli) looked terribly handsome in his fancy duds. He kept humming most of the time and when I remarked that he ought to make a record since so many of the stars were doing it, he seemed pleased. “Maybe I ought to take singing lessons and get into a musical,” he said. “I do like to sing…. didn’t realize I was humming. . . but you’re  right.  I’ll think about that.”

Everybody was at the church early and the filming went on all day long. It was endless and it’s a tribute to the whole cast that they stayed as good humored and calm as they did. For, as you all know, the scenes that were shot were very dramatic. Fenelli didn’t show up and the whole wedding was held up for two hours, while the male Ryans rushed off to find him, sober him up and get him to the church—not quite on time!

Then Mary Ryan isn’t sure SHE wants to go through with it and there was a beautiful scene between Mary and Jack when they talked it all out and he convinced her that no one dragged him there . . . or rather that no one could have dragged him there if he hadn’t wanted to come. In fact, he insisted no one would ever have found him in the first place.

So the stars had heavy scenes, lots of acting to do as well as look gorgeous and weddingy.

Imagine . . . the very next day they gave a 1st anniversary party for the show in Ryan’s Bar for the press and all their friends. There they were, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and looking for, all the world as if the day before hadn’t taken a thing out of them. The press, by the way, could hardly limp in to the party because they were so tired from covering the wedding the day before. Of course, in the true tradition of the press….they all showed up for the party AND the refreshments.

Kate Mulgrew and Michael Levin, however, were not there . . . they must have been exhausted and so everyone accepted it— though they were missed. Evidently a wedding takes a lot out of you—even when it’s not for real!

Helen Gallagher and Ron Hale and Malcolm Groome helped serve drinks from behind the bar. Bernard Barrow’s lovely wife was there with him, also John Gabriel’s wife. He’s Seneca Beaulac on the show. It was strange seeing Malcolm with his short haircut. I don’t know whose idea that was….he was one of those men who wore the longer hair so well. Of course, he looks good any way but it’s a shock at first, to see him shorn. Malachy McCourt, bartender on the show, was circulating and chatting with everyone. He’s such fun.

Nancy Addison was lovely as usual. Wasn’t she beautiful as a guest at the wedding. That big hat was so becoming. Maybe we should all go back to wearing them . . . they’re so flattering. Ilene Kristen was beaming at everyone as usual. She’s such a doll. And she is so good on the show! Hannibal Penney Jr., was charming and handsome as ever…..Ron Hale looked great, too. His hair is lighter now and he’s thinner. Which reminds me….when I bumped into Michael Hawkins (Frank Ryan)…I gasped! He’s SO thin now. When I said so, he grinned and admitted he’d lost something like 20 pounds!

Michael is such a nice man. He was all enthusiastic about plans for the whole cast to do Hamlet off-Broadway soon. I thought he was kidding, but he wasn’t. He’s terribly serious about it and said as many as want to and can, will be in it this fall. If you’re in town look in the papers and be sure to go see the Ryan clan and friends doing Shakespeare for a change. They are the busiest people, these stars on daytime dramas. They put the rest of us to shame.

Little baby Ryan was happily eating ice cream and cake, smiling at admirers but plowing right ahead with the vittles. He’s adorable. The writers on the show, who won awards this year, were helping serve the guests and it was all one great big happy family and a heck of a good party! A fitting end to a wonderful Irish wedding.

And a heartfelt Slainte (Gaelic for good health) to the bride and groom.

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