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Ilene and Ron Hale

Soap Talk, July 10, 2002
Hosted by Lisa Rinna and Ty Treadway

(This aired on Soap Talk, a talk show on SoapNet, which is the cable channel on which Ryan's Hope now airs in reruns and on which all of the current ABC soaps - including One Life to Live - are rebroadcast at night and on weekends.)

LR: She's One Life to Live's mother from hell, and he's the father of a mob boss on General Hospital, but to millions of Ryan's Hope fans they will always be Roger and Delia. Take a look.

(They show a clip from what appears to be 1976, in which Roger and Delia are in his apartment and he is touching her cheek.)

DELIA: (in tears) I don't want to break your heart. I'm just trying to be sensible.

(Roger picks Delia up and carries her into the bedroom.)

ROGER: Love isn't sensible! It's madness!

DELIA: I don't know what it is about this apartment.

(He kisses her, and puts her down on the bed.)

ROGER: It isn't the apartment; it's you and me.

LR: Here they are, together again, Ron Hale and Ilene Kristen.

(The audience applauds and Ron carries Ilene on stage. He puts her down and they hug the hosts. They all sit down.)

LR: Well that was fun.

ILENE: That was scary, seeing that!

TT: They actually walked like that, all the way from New York, he carried her.

LR: So are you still recognized from being on Ryan's Hope?

ILENE: Absolutely.

RON: I would say it's...

(The audience applaud.)

TT: Moreso than...

RON: I would say it's about 60/40. 60% of the time it's Ryan's Hope.

LR: Really!

LR: Over General Hospital and over One Life to Live?

ILENE: Well, all of a sudden now, with One Life to Live, it's starting to happen. But, for a while, even when I was first back on One Life to Live, it was still Ryan's Hope.

LR: Isn't that amazing?

TT: Well, for One Life to Live, for you to be recognized, you gotta tease your hair out to here. A Jersey girl!

ILENE: I'm incognito right now.

RON: I get the same thing. People come up to me and say "I love you on GH, and what's Sonny really like?" - you know, I get that all the time - but then they'll say, "And I used to watch you on Ryan's Hope all the time."

ILENE: Ryan's Hope had an amazing impact on people.

LR: Why do you think that is?

RON: Well, we were the first soap to take place in a real town (i.e. New York)...

TT: The Levines (sic), obviously.

RON: Right.

ILENE: Claire Labine.

TT: Labine, excuse me.

ILENE: She was very...a very special writer, and Paul Mayer, and they wrote an amazing bible for the show.

TT: Like a long story.

ILENE: It was very long, and I was not particularly interested in doing a soap until I read what they had written, and it was really incredible - the character sketches of each of the characters.

RON: And we dealt with real stuff. I mean, we dealt with euthanasia...

TT: Current events stuff.

RON: Current events stuff, and it wasn't...and remember, I hate to say it, this was 1975...

(They all laugh.)

RON: And we're still doing it....1975, and, you know, a lot of the shows at that time, you still had the old formula, where people were sitting around sipping coffee, talking about other people, that sort of thing.

TT: More real life.

RON: Absolutely, real life.

LR: So you were dealing with the issues, as opposed to talking about them.

RON: Absolutely.

LR: And that's more interesting!

RON: Even the extras in Ryan's Bar used to amaze me when we had Ryan's Bar set up.

ILENE: (laughs) We had some characters!

RON: You'd walk in, but what they'd done - wardrobe and makeup and everybody - you'd have guys sitting there dressed as New York cops, dressed as sanitation workers, just like you do in real New York bars. You know, guys sitting there having a sandwich.

ILENE: Our actual original bartender wasn't Malachy McCourt, it was John Scanlon, who's become a big politico, so we'd have some crazy New York know...

TT: Now do you guys, do you ever miss playing those characters? I mean...

ILENE: I know we miss working together, that's for damn sure.

(She takes his arm, the audience applauds.)

LR: Why do you think they were such popular characters together?

ILENE: They were crazy, both of them. (laughs)

RON: Well, I don't know, we fell into something there, that I think was so lucky for the both of us. We were the baddies. There was no getting around that.

TT: It's good to be bad.

RON: It really was. I mean, I was so hated, and (Ilene laughs) of course Ilene's character, she brought this...

ILENE: And I was so confused!

RON: Well that was just it. Everybody understood why poor Delia did the things she did. It was so well scripted. I mean, you understood this was not a one-dimension "I'm just gonna be a bad guy" - Delia had so many deep-seeded problems as a child, she needed to be a part of the Ryan family desperately, she would do anything to do that.

ILENE: She came from a family...her mother used to sell tokens in the subway, her father was a drunk, he was gone, he died...

TT: Good stuff!

ILENE: Yeah, it was great, and she was somewhat of a tragic character, but I always wanted to do comedy, so I...

TT: That's what I was gonna say, you guys added a lot of your own personal flair for comedy.

RON: Yeah.

TT: Which is rare and fun - rare on daytime but very fun...

RON: That was the amazing thing because there you had crazy little Delia and rotten Roger, as they used to call me...

(They show a clip of Roger and Delia dancing in costume - with Delia dressed like Carmen Miranda - and they all laugh.)

TT: There you are baby!

RON: That is not fair!

TT: That's funny!

RON: That's not fair!

TT: (to Ilene) Cause, you're a professional dancer, you're a trained dancer.

ILENE: Yes, I started off as a dancer, and I...right before I did Ryan's Hope I was doing Grease on Broadway. I was the original Patti Simcox.

(The audience applauds.)

TT: Now, you were doing Grease on Broadway, and they came to you and they said, "Hey, would you like to be in Grease the movie"?

ILENE: Oh, no.

TT: Oh, that's what I heard.

ILENE: (laughs) No, who told you that?

TT: Well, I read it somewhere and I was like, "Well, she dodged that bullet, it's a good thing she dodged that bullet, working with that John Travolta!"

ILENE: I'll tell you what happened, cause I knew John, I had done Grease with John, and I ran into John while he was shooting Saturday Night Fever, and I saw him on the street and I was talking to him and he said to me, he said, "You don't want to do Grease the movie," he said, I think he meant you're too old to do Grease the movie, but it wasn't, no...

TT: Good career advice, John!

ILENE: He said, "They're cutting the part down," which they did, they cut the part down.

LR: Who played the part in the movie? I don't even remember.

ILENE: Susan Buckner. She's not, I don't think she's in the business anymore.

TT: I don't remember the exact part in the movie, do you remember...

LR: No, I don't either.

ILENE: No, she's there, but it was kind of different, so I wasn't really interested in...I never actually, the funny thing is I never wanted to play Patti Simcox, I always wanted to play Marty in Grease, the bad girl.

TT: The bad girl.

LR: Of course.

TT: Ron, you were busy doing Academy award-winning All the President's Men, with Robert Redford.

RON: Oh, those guys.

(The audience applauds.)

TT: Talk about some good writing.

RON: Yeah, Dusty...

TT: That's what I call him, Dusty...

RON: And Bob. Yeah, I was in Washington, DC doing All the President's Men and my agent called and said, "On your next day off, can you get to New York? They're auditioning for a new soap opera." And I said, sure, and to make a long story bearable, I came up, auditioned, and went back something like 2 or 3 weeks later and auditioned, and I knew the movie was ending and it was like, "Where is the next job coming from?"

TT: Right.

RON: And I signed a contract for 13 weeks - that was exciting, knowing I had 13 weeks!

LR: Right, as an actor, that's a long time!

TT: That's longterm!

RON: Thirteen weeks, I got a steady paycheck.

LR: RIght. Well, when we come back, more.

(After an ad, they show a clip of Ron on GH with Tamara Braun. Afterward, Ilene and the audience applaud.)

TT: Welcome back, we're here with Ron Hale - that was a scene of his from General Hospital - and Ilene Kristen. Now, for GH, you didn't have to audition for that, is that correct?

RON: That's right.

TT: That's like, actor's dream.

RON: A dream! It was amazing. I came out here in '94, and I was out here for a couple of months, and looking for work, and received a call one day from Mark Teschner, our casting director...

TT: Who's been in Lisa's Soap Box.

RON: Really?

LR: Yes, he's come and...we love him. He's a terrific casting director.

RON: And somebody had seen me on the street here in LA or whatever and he heard that I was here and he knew this role was coming up and he tracked me down and called me up and said, "We've got a role coming up, 4-6 months, we kill you off, are you interested?"

LR: And you've been on for eight years?

RON: And I said, "Uh, sure, how much," you know?

LR: Yeah, exactly. All about the money!

RON: "How much," then I said "sure."

LR: I'm teasing, but, you know, it's one of your first questions.

RON: Yeah, well of course.

LR: Now, did either one of you think that you would do another soap? Cause I never thought I'd go back to the soap world, and here I am, so...

ILENE: I kind of thought that it was kind of over.

TT: After Ryan's Hope?

ILENE: Yeah, because, you know...I don't know...with Ryan's Hope we had pushed the envelope so much and I was looking back at some of the soaps - and actually a friend of mine, her favorite soap is One Life to Live - and she said, "You should be on that show," and I said, "I don't think there's a place for me."

(They laugh.)

TT: Little did you know.

ILENE: Famous last words.

TT: Before we go, I do want to ask you about a castmate that you recently lost - we all lost, really - Nancy Addison.

ILENE: Yes, a terrific loss, she was the most beautiful, elegant person, she was one of my very dearest friends, I learned more about friendship from Nancy....just too young and so wonderful, and she battled cancer for three and a half years.

(They show a short clip of Nancy on Ryan's Hope.)

TT: A very brave soul.

ILENE: We did a memorial for her the other day.

RON: Last Wednesday in New York.

TT: And you sang?

ILENE: I sang. I wrote a song for her called "Flesh and Blood" and it was something that I really wanted to do. I was hoping that I would never have to do that song.

LISA: Really?

ILENE: Yeah, I was hoping I would never have to do it, I was hoping she wasn't gonna die, but I knew about a year ago that this was gonna be the end. So I worked on it and I was just hoping I could put it away in the drawer.

RON: And she was my sister for thirteen and a half years on Ryan's Hope, and she was like a sister to me.

ILENE: Yeah, she was like a sister to me also.

RON: And we all loved her so much, and she did so much for charities, for children with AIDS the last few years, she was wonderful, and we'll miss her.

(The audience applauds.)

TT: So, Ilene, now you play Roxy, who's possibly the worst mother in history.

ILENE: (laughs) Absolutely!

RON: And I'm the worst father in history.

TT: Well, you were, but you're making it up now.

RON: Yeah, I'm trying.

ILENE: I may never make it up to those kids - if we knew who my kids actually are. You know, it's been great. I have had the greatest...really, a great time.

LR: And you look like you're having fun, because I catch it from time to time, and I hadn't followed the show until I met Ty of course, and I just think you are terrific, really terrific.

(The audience applauds.)

TT: We actually have a great clip of you - from the live show - we have a great clip, we'll take a look at it.

(They show a clip of Roxy's head popping up at the foot of Max's bed in his hotel room in Vegas after he wakes up the morning after they eloped.)

ROXY: Morning Maximillion.

MAX: You!

ROXY: Yeah, I had a feeling that I could make you forget your problems with your kid.

(She suggestively sticks her head under the covers as Max braces himself against the headboard and gets a look on his face that is a combination of awe and terror, but then we see that she was just crawling to the head of the bed when she pops up again, in his arms, much to his horror.)

ROXY: And I hit the jackpot, more than once.

(The audience applauds and Ilene laughs.)

RON: She used to do that with me!

ILENE: (laughs) But not live! This was live.

TT: That was on live TV, yeah, and I sat in the set across the studio from you watching.

ILENE: That was pretty scary, to do that live, cause I was barely dressed. (laughs) I had to flash him at one point, also, so it was pretty scary, and it was really scary cause it was going well during all the rehearsals and then you get really scared, cause then you go, "I've got nowhere to go but down."

(They laugh.)

TT: You want something bad to happen so you can...

ILENE: Yeah, really, you know, they say, "Good dress rehearsal show, bad show," you know? So it was really scary. The live week was great.

TT: Well, you guys are somewhat used to that from Ryan's Hope - somewhat, as far as you taped that way.

ILENE: Well, the way that we used to do it, they didn't like to stop tape, and the scenes were very long. We had like ten, twelve page scenes.

LR: Wow.

ILENE: And they didn't like to stop. Every once in a while I'd have to stop though, because there was so much dialogue. It was like a little mini play.

RON: But you see, back in those days, we didn't have our own tape facilities. Now all the shows have their own tape facilities at the studios. We were only alotted something like 45 minutes of tape time a day, and we were doing a half hour show.

TT: Really?

RON: So it gave fifteen minutes of screwups. Producers didn't like...

(They all laugh.)

TT: I usually take fifteen minutes all by myself!

LR: Really.

RON: Literally, it was like live TV. We were all in our separate sets when they started taping - you'd tape the scene, the cameras, everybody would...down to the next set, booms, everything, stage manager would get there and go, "5, 4, 3, 2, 1," and you were on. If you were in the last scene of the day and people early on had stretched, they would come to you at the last minute and say, "You've gotta make up 30 seconds in this scene," or, "You've gotta make up a minute."

TT: My favorite is the other way.

RON: And there were no cuts, so we had to make the decision as actors, like that, "Where do I speed up? What's important? What isn't?"

TT: Right.

ILENE: I learned how to talk very fast.

RON: Oh my.

TT: My favorite is when they come to you and go, "You know, we're a minute short. You've gotta make up a minute. Just do what you want for a minute. Anything you want!"

ILENE: You know, sometimes when you go that slowly, though, the lines are like drifting away.

LR: Now, would you like to work together again?

ILENE: Oh, it would be great.

(The audience applauds.)

TT: They should do more crossovers.

LR: You could cross over, same network.

ILENE: Absolutely!

LR: Put it out there.

RON: (puts his finger to his lips) Don't say anything more.

ILENE: (laughs, hugs him) Okay, I won't say a word.

LR: Well, we hope that for you cause you are terrific together, terrific.

TT: The fans would sure love it.

(The audience applauds.)

LR: Thank you so much, for being here, for coming.

TT: Thank you Ron, thank you Ilene. You can catch Ron and Ilene on General Hospital and One Life to Live - and, of course, on the classic episodes of Ryan's Hope - all right here on SoapNet. Don't go away.