Helen Gallagher

This article is about the American actress. For the co-founder of Gallagher's Steak House, see Helen Gallagher (Solomon).
Helen Gallagher

Helen Gallagher in Ryan's Hope (1977)
Born (1926-07-19) July 19, 1926
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress, dancer, singer, makeup artist
Years active 1944–present
Spouse(s) Frank Wise (divorced 1958)

Tony Award, Featured Actress in a Musical, 1952 Pal Joey; Lead Actress in a Musical 1971 No, No, Nanette,

Daytime Emmy Award, Lead Actress 1976, 77, 88

Helen Gallagher (born July 19, 1926) is an American actress, dancer, and singer.

Early years

Born in Brooklyn, she was raised in Scarsdale, New York for several years until the Wall Street crash which heralded the Great Depression, and her family moved to the Bronx. Her parents separated and she was raised with an aunt. She suffered from asthma.[1]

Gallagher was known for decades as a Broadway performer. She appeared in Make a Wish, Hazel Flagg, Portofino, High Button Shoes, Sweet Charity (for which she received a 1967 Tony Award nomination for Featured Actress in a Musical), and Cry for Us All.

In 1952, she won a Tony Award for her work in the revival of Pal Joey. In 1971, she won her second Tony Award for her role in the revival of the musical No, No, Nanette, which also starred Ruby Keeler and Patsy Kelly. Her song and dance number with Bobby Van from that show, "You Can Dance with Any Girl", is preserved on the cast album of that revival. She would later take on the role of Sue Smith in the Papermill Playhouse revival of the show, playing the role Keeler played a quarter century earlier.

Her first starring role on Broadway came in 1953 as title character Hazel Flagg, based on the 1937 Carole Lombard movie Nothing Sacred.[2] The role earned her a feature photo shoot for Life magazine. Gallagher appeared in the 1977 movie Roseland opposite Christopher Walken. An aficionada of Rodgers and Hammerstein, she appeared on a special tribute to Richard Rodgers on The Bell Telephone Hour.[3]


Despite her extensive work on Broadway, she is perhaps best known as the gentle Irish American matriarch, Maeve Ryan, on the soap opera Ryan's Hope, a role she played for the show's entire duration, from 1975 to 1989. She was nominated for five Daytime Emmy Awards for her work on the serial, winning in 1976, 1977, and 1988.[3]

At the time she was cast in Ryan's Hope, Gallagher taught singing in her home three times a week. Michael Hawkins, who would play the first Frank Ryan, was one of her students.[4]

As the show progressed further into the 1980s, the ratings took a steep slide. When ABC executives cancelled Ryan's Hope, Claire Labine ended the final episode with Maeve at the family bar, Ryan's, singing her favorite tune, Danny Boy. Almost immediately after the cancellation of Ryan's Hope, Gallagher had a two-day guest stint on Another World, and has since appeared in All My Children as a strict nurse, and on One Life to Live as a sex therapist (whose son married Dorian Lord). She has continued to act in various Off-Broadway and professional theater productions.[3]

Later years

In 1984, Gallagher starred in the title role of Tallulah, a musical stage biography of actress Tallulah Bankhead.[5] She is currently a faculty member at HB Studio.

Theatre credits

Opening date Closing date Title Role Theatre
December 7, 1944 May 12, 1945 Seven Lively Arts Understudy
Corps de Ballet
September 6, 1945 September 15, 1945 Mr. Strauss Goes to Boston Corps de Ballet New Century
December 21, 1945 June 29, 1946 Billion Dollar Baby Chorine
March 13, 1947 July 31, 1948 Brigadoon Dancer Ziegfeld
October 9, 1947 July 2, 1949 High Button Shoes Nancy New Century
October 13, 1949 March 18, 1950 Touch and Go Daughter
The Girl
April 18, 1951 July 14, 1951 Make a Wish Poupette Winter Garden
January 3, 1952 April 18, 1953 Pal Joey Gladys Bumps Broadhurst
February 11, 1953 September 19, 1953 Hazel Flagg Hazel Flagg Mark Hellinger
May 13, 1954 November 24, 1956 Pajama Game, TheThe Pajama Game Gladys (replacement) St. James
Shubert Theatre
April 20, 1955 May 31, 1955 Guys and Dolls Miss Adelaide City Center
May 18, 1955 May 29, 1955 Finian's Rainbow Sharon McLonergan City Center
April 9, 1957 May 5, 1957 Brigadoon Meg Brockie Adelphi
February 21, 1958 February 22, 1958 Portofino Kitty Adelphi
Mar 19, 1958 March 30, 1958 Oklahoma! Ado Annie Carnes City Center
December 31, 1964 January 23, 1965 Royal Flush Understudy Shubert
January 29, 1966 July 15, 1967 Sweet Charity Nickie
understudy Charity
replacement Charity
May 24, 1966 January 3, 1970 Mame replacement Agnes Gooch
replacement Vera Charles
Winter Garden
April 8, 1970 April 15, 1970 Cry for Us All Bessie Legg Broadhurst
January 19, 1971 February 3, 1973 No, No, Nanette Lucille Early 46th Street
November 11, 1972 February 11, 1973 Much Ado About Nothing Choreography assistant to Donald Saddler Winter Garden
April 26, 1976 May 9, 1976 Tickles by Tucholsky Theatre Four
October 5, 1977 November 27, 1977 Misanthrope, TheThe Misanthrope Arsinoe Joseph Papp Public Theater
New York Shakespeare Festival
June 14, 1978 December 3, 1978 American Dance Machine, TheThe American Dance Machine Choreographic reconstruction Century
October 10, 1978 November 12, 1978 Broadway Musical, AA Broadway Musical Maggie Simpson Theatre of the Riverside Church
October 8, 1979 August 28, 1982 Sugar Babies Replacement Mark Hellinger
May 14, 1981 October 25, 1981 I Can't Keep Running in Place Beth Westside
June 13, 1983 Unknown Tallulah Tallulah Bankhead Westside Arts
August 23, 1983 September 5, 1983 Same Time, Next Year Doris Ivoryton Playhouse
March 9, 1987 March 9, 1987 Star Dust Performer Sardi's
May 17, 1990 July 8, 1990 Annie 2 Fran Riley Norma Terris
September 6, 1990 September 9, 1990 Money Talks Promenade
June 1996 June 1996 Home Mother Ensemble Studio Theatre
April 9, 1997 May 27, 1997 No, No, Nanette Papermill Playhouse
January 28, 2000 January 30, 2000 70, Girls, 70 Gert York Theatre Company

Film and television

Film and television
Year Title Role Notes
1949 Manhattan Showcase Host
1951 Don Ameche's Musical Playhouse Self Jan 25, 1951
1951 Don Ameche's Musical Playhouse Self Feb 4, 1951
1951 Paul Whitman's Goodyear Revue Self May 20, 1951
1951 General Electric Guest House Self August 12, 1951
1951 Mel Torme Show, TheThe Mel Torme Show Self November 5, 1951
1951 Colgate Comedy Hour Self Episodes 1.35 and 1.40
1952 Ezio Pinza Show, TheThe Ezio Pinza Show February 1, 1952
1953 The Ed Sullivan Show Self Episodes 6.25 and 6.45
1954 Kraft Television Theatre TV series, episode: Pardon My Prisoner
1955 Colgate Comedy Hour Self Episode 5.33
1955 A.N.T.A. Album of 1955 Self
1958 The Ed Sullivan Show Self Episodes 11.17, 11.19 and 11.32
1960 Strangers When We Meet Betty Anders
1960 Hallmark Hall of Fame Lise TV series, episode: Shangri-La
1961 Bell Telephone Hour, TheThe Bell Telephone Hour Self TV series, episode: The Music of Richard Rodgers
1961 Yves Montand on Broadway Self
1971 The David Frost Show' Self Episode 3.109
1971 Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, TheThe Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Self Feb 4, 1971
1972 26th Tony Awards Self
1973 27th Tony Awards Self
1976 American Woman: Portraits of Courage, TheThe American Woman: Portraits of Courage Mary Harris Jones
1977 Roseland Cleo
1975–1989 Ryan's Hope Maeve Ryan TV series, 788 episodes
1982 Family Feud Self Feb 8, 1982
1989 Live with Regis Self Jan 13, 1989
1989 Entertainment Tonight Self Jan 13, 1989
1989 Another World Hannah Tuttle TV series, two episodes
1990's All My Children Nurse Harris TV series, unknown episodes
1993 Law & Order Flo Bishop TV series, episode: Born Bad
1995 Cosby Mysteries, TheThe Cosby Mysteries TV series, episode: Last Tango
1997 Neptune's Rocking Horse Sadie
1997 One Life to Live Dr. Maud Boylan TV series, unknown episodes
2009 American Masters Self TV series, episode: Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About


  1. Klein, Alvin (August 21, 1983). "Soap Opera Star at Ivoryton". The New York Times.
  2. Inc, Time (1953-03-09). "The Little Girl They Had to Star". Life (March 9, 1953): 102–106.
  3. 1 2 3 Helen Gallagher at the Internet Movie Database
  4. Wilson, Earl (July 16, 1975). "Helen Gallagher Slips Into Soaps". The Milwaukee Sentinel.
  5. Frank, Leah D. (August 12, 1984). "Tallulah: Glitter and Self Pity". The New York Times.
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