From July 1975 to January 1989, 'Ryan's Hope' never missed the St Patrick's Day celebration. By 1977, over 6 hours each day, from 10 o'clock in the morning to 4.30 in the afternoon, viewers could see as many as 13 soap operas a day on 3 networks. When Mary Ryan (played by Kate Mulgrew) married Jack Fenelli (played by Michael Levin) on 'Ryan's Hope' in 1976, co-creator Claire Labine pointed out, "It's an Irish tradition for the bride to have a coin in her shoe on her wedding day and when we were writing the script I remembered it from my own wedding (in 1958)." The TV wedding was taped on location in one day but shown over 4 drama-packed afternoons, "Every detail was carefully planned well in advance of the hectic production day and as a result everything went smoothly."
One fan confessed in 1979, "I get up at 11:00 (in the morning) because I'm hooked on 2 soap operas, 'Ryan’s Hope' and 'All My Children'. They sort of take you away from your problems and get you involved in other people's problems." A network chief remarked, "Our shows reflect contemporary American society in stories that a high percentage of younger viewers, men as well as women, know and understand because they share the problems or see evidence of the issues around them."
When Kate left 'Ryan's Hope', Claire explained how the central role of Mary had to be handled, "Actually, we had been building up to Mary's death for some time. When you have a happily married couple like Jack and Mary, you lose plot flexibility. We couldn't separate them romantically. The audience wouldn’t have accepted it. And frankly, as writers, Paul Mayer and I were unequal to the task of keeping them married and still providing a viable front-burner story for Jack, who has maintained incredible appeal to the audience."
John Gabriel acted in theater as well as television in 1980 recounted, "I just finished a tour of 'Brigadoon'. I'd do 8 shows a week of 'Brigadoon' in Ohio, then fly back to New York to tape an episode of 'Ryan's Hope', then fly back to Ohio. Fortunately, they'd cut my appearances in the soap, but I've never been so tired in my life. I'd done 'Applause' on Broadway before 'Ryan’s Hope', but I'd forgotten how much energy is expended in a stage show. You're dealing with people as much as 5 days a week. You get a connection you don't get with any other medium."
John recognized, "Soap opera is very hard work. You do a half-hour every day. You get the script, block it, break for lunch, run it through, compare notes, run it through again, compare notes, then tape it. Out of that you get remarkably good work from the actors because they work, work, work." A TV programmer made the point in 1986, "With serials, it's always best to stick with what you have. Any show on the air has some audience; a new show may not have any audience at all. It takes at least 2 years for a new show."
Brian McGovern played Charles Saybrook on 'Ryan's Hope' in 1987. He shared, "As a child I loved it when my dad let me accompany him on a commercial shoot. I was always mesmerized by the whole process. For a while my dad had a recurring role on 'The Young and The Restless', and it was exciting to visit him on the set. I guess you might say that was my introduction to daytime drama.
"I did ads for everything from Southern fried chicken to grooming aids. The most unusual experience was shooting a TV commercial for a Philadelphia newspaper. For that ad, I had to dress up as Superman and stand in front of a wind machine all afternoon. It was a little chilly just wearing tights and a cape. But thankfully, I didn't have to jump off any tall buildings."
Brian acknowledged, "Daytime is a tough medium and I have a lot to learn. I plan to use the soap as a training ground. I want to continue doing live theater, and my ultimate goal is to be a movie actor, but first I have to master this job, and then I can go on from here. I don't plan to get married until I'm at least in my 30s. Right now (in 1988) I like to spend a lot of time by myself, and my life revolves around my work. If you want to succeed in this business, you have to have tunnel vision. At the moment, I'm focusing on one thing only: My career."