Welcome, Lisa Ryan

Past chats with our guests.

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mookryan
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Post by mookryan »

Judith -

I'm incredibly touched by your memories of "Mr. President", thank you so much. I don't think I've ever heard a positive word about that show, or about my Dad's performance in it. I was 10 when Mr. President opened on Broadway. My family moved from LA to New York because of Mr. President, and it was an extremely difficult time for all of us. I didn't really understand what was going on, I didn't know that the show had gotten pretty bad reviews, that it was incredibly hard for my Dad to keep doing 8 performances a week for months and months after being panned by critics he had a lot of respect for. The Ryan household was pretty depressed, it was an extremely cold winter (something we were totally not used to!) and in the middle of that winter all of us, including my dad, came down with chicken pox.

It was a VERY strange time ... but the real bright spot for me was Mr. President. I loved the show, and when I hear "It Gets Lonely In The White House" it always makes me cry. Thanks for your memory ... it means a lot to me.

I think, hard as it was to leave LA, my parents were ready to get out of there - and "Mr. President" may have provided them with an excuse.
My Dad had a hard time with Hollywood ... he loved to act, but wasn't really into the "scene" ... the parties ... personal appearances, gossip,
scandals, lavish lifestyles etc. (if he could see how crazy it is these days he wouldn't believe it!) He was a pretty serious guy, and couldn't abide all the nonsense.
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moira finnie
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Post by moira finnie »

Since Judith and Lisa have both mentioned this adventurous theatrical project in Robert Ryan's career, I thought that we might enjoy this brief glimpse of Robert Ryan & his co-star Nanette Fabray promoting one of the finest scores Irving Berlin ever wrote, in an appearance the two made on What's My Line? to generate interest in Mr. President which opened in 1962. Mr. Ryan's self-deprecating remarks about his own singing are quite disarming. You can read about the interesting history of this show here: http://tinyurl.com/5q4fws
If you like musicals, the original cast album of Mr. President is still available around the internet and is delightful.
[youtube][/youtube]

Btw, today, Aug. 26th, we have a chance to see Robert Ryan in two of his very best performances in a couple of movies being broadcast on TCM today as part of the Janet Leigh SUTS tribute:
Act of Violence (1949), one of the very best Fred Zinnemann films is on at 6:30pm EDT.
Image
Robert Ryan, as a haunted former POW trying to connect with Janet Leigh[/b]'s husband (Van Heflin) in Act of Violence (1949).

The Naked Spur (1953), a particularly good collaboration between Anthony Mann & Jimmy Stewart, features Ryan as an off-beat, charming yet deadly fugitive. It is being broadcast at midnight tonight.
Image
Robert Ryan as a deceptively jocular villain in The Naked Spur (1953).

Next year a summer under the stars day devoted to Robert Ryan (or possibly a month?) would be wonderful.
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Dewey1960
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Post by Dewey1960 »

Moira, the "What's My Line" clip is fantastic! And you also brought up THE NAKED SPUR, one of my own personal favorite Western films.
Lisa: you mentioned to me that you're not a huge fan of "technicolor westerns." Have you seen NAKED SPUR recently and, if so, could you comment on it? (By the way, I think the questions put to you thus far have been extremely interesting as have been your responses! Thanks!)
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mookryan
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Post by mookryan »

Dewey! - I honestly don't understand why people are so crazy about
"The Naked Spur" ... I probably haven't watched it all the way though, so I guess this is my homework assignment!

One of my Dad's movies that I AM crazy about is "Act Of Violence" ... and in honor of it being shown on TCM I finally figured out how to upload a photo a friend took of me - trying (and failing) to recreate a publicity still from the film!

The clip from "What's My Line" totally blew me away! Wow ... I love that Harry Belafonte was on the show. He and my Dad worked together in "Odds Against Tomorrow" and in various political causes, and adored each other.
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mookryan
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Post by mookryan »

In answer to some questions from Joe ... about Stanwyck, Rogers, and the Dakota ....

I don't recall how he liked working with Barbara Stanwyck, I wish I did!
There are so many questions I'd love to ask him now, stuff I just wasn't very interested in when I was younger. I do remember my mother being
incredibly annoyed by Stanwyck ... and making disparaging remarks about her whenever she turned up on TV ... I have no idea why! (more questions I'd love to ask now)

My Dad's career sort of got jump-started when he appeared on Broadway with Tallulah Bankhead in Clash By Night. The story behind THAT - that my mother used to love to tell - was Tallulah's infatuation with my Dad -
and how displeased she was when she found out he was married.
She accused my parents of looking like siblings, reportedly saying:
"Bob - this woman looks like she could be your SISTER!"
(a very strange accusation ...)

Speaking of (real) siblings ... yes, my brother does have the note
from Ginger Rogers! It's amazing the note didn't get lost along
the way - a lot of family memorabilia seems to have sort of disappeared over the years, which is really too bad.

Not only did John Lennon and Yoko rent the Dakota apartment, but they bought it after my dad died. This is an ongoing source of annoyance for me, because at the time they bought the apartment the New York real estate market was at an all-time low, and the price of the apartment was ridiculously low. Now, of course, that apartment is worth a fortune - oh well! (do I possibly sound bitter?)

A very strange thing happened after John and Yoko took possession
of the apartment ... Yoko started claiming that she was seeing "the ghost of a very nice lady" ... who she suspected was my mother. She actually called me and asked me if I wanted to come visit my mother's ghost.
It was appalling. Then the story somehow ended up as a blaring headline in the New York Post ... I have NO idea how that happened!
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mookryan
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Post by mookryan »

Hey Klondike!

Just got back to your message - hilarious!
Was Stanley Jablonski a classmate of my dad's at Dartmouth?
His comments were really really sweet, really nice - thanks so much
for sharing that!

Did my Dad maintain any ongoing friendships with co-stars ...
probably the most "ongoing" was Harry Belafonte.
I can also remember my Dad hanging out with Henry Fonda for a time after we moved to New York ... but both of them were so excruciatingly shy, I think they made each other uncomfortable! My Dad liked outgoing people, probably to balance out his own shyness (I'm the same way) ... I remember he had a great fondness for Buddy Hackett (talk about outgoing!) who he had worked with in "God's Little Acre" .... also Aldo Ray. Probably his closest friend was the screenwriter Millard Lampell.
"Is this the 1940s?
Is everything in black and white?
Are you Robert Ryan?"
- James Lileks
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Dewey1960
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Post by Dewey1960 »

Hi again, Lisa. Your dad made several pictures with my two favorite directors: Jacques Tourneur (BERLIN EXPRESS (1948) and Nicholas Ray (BORN TO BE BAD (1950), FLYING LEATHERNECKS (1951), ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1952) and KING OF KINGS (1961)). Curious to know how he felt about those films (ON DANGEROUS GROUND in particular) and if he ever commented on the working relationships he had with either of these directors.
Last edited by Dewey1960 on August 26th, 2008, 8:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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moira finnie
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Post by moira finnie »

Hey Lisa!
Nice avatar and signature lines!

Speaking of Clash By Night did your father think Tallulah Bankhead was a good actress or simply a "personality"? What was his relationship with author Clifford Odets like?

Since you've touched on your father's theatrical career, could you please comment on a number of daunting roles he tackled over the years? How die he regard the production of Coriolanus that he did with John Houseman as producer at the Phoenix Theater in 1954 and the 1960 production of Antony and Cleopatra opposite Katharine Hepburn at the American Shakespeare Festival, as well as his appearances as Othello and later in O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night? Did he enjoy this work more than movies?

Since your father played a character loosely based on Howard Hughes in Max Ophüls' Caught (1949) and worked at RKO while Hughes ran that studio (into the ground, from all reports), did he have any opinion of that strange man?

Thank you for any reply. :wink:
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OScott
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Robert Ryan

Post by OScott »

Welcome Lisa

I always tell people that if I could invite any film actor to dinner it would be Robert Ryan. I respect his mind, heart, and talent. When I was in college in the late 1960's, I read Nathanael West's Miss Lonelyhearts. I made a point to see the film and was absolutely stunned by Ryan's portrayal of Shrike. I wrote your father expressing my gratitude for his powerful and remarkable performance. I was dumbfounded when he answered back, with a signed photo and personal note, expressing how rarely he received letters expressing such admiration for his work.

I know that your father and Myrna Loy (who played his wife in Miss Lonelyhearts) were same wave-length politically. What was your impression of their friendship. I met Loy a few times and she was always as gracious and interesting as I imagine your father would be. Also, any details on Lonelyhearts, Clift etc., would be appreciated.

Scott O'Brien
klondike

Post by klondike »

mookryan wrote:
Was Stanley Jablonski a classmate of my dad's at Dartmouth?
To the best of my memory (I last spoke to him, I believe, in '67), old Stan was in RR's graduating class.
I got a kick out of your Dad's choice of show-business friends; I'd figured they would be quite atypical for a busy film star, and I was right . . and still mildly surprised!
Furthering that concept of mold-breaking, I'd like to go on record as saying that some of my best cinematic sojourns with Robert Ryan have involved his least well-known screen characters: the RCMP officer in The Canadians, the legendary title role in Captain Nemo & the Underwater City, John the Baptist in King of Kings, and perhaps most fascinating of all, to me, the goodhearted, nail-tough fisherman who ultimately opposes a conniving Richard Burton in 1960's Ice Palace.
I guess part of my preference has something to do with watching a dedicated & complex artist stretching to embrace new opportunities.
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Post by mrsl »

Welcome Lisa:

Thank you for spending time with us. I guess I'm more on the nosey side regarding your Dad's roles. Was he ever very happy when finding out who his next co-star(s) were going to be, or on the other hand, very unhappy? You might not want to mention the unhappy part, since you've already talked about Greg Peck, but did he have a favorite leading lady in his younger days when he had leading ladies, or just other actors (male and female) he liked working with, over others? I'm another one who thinks he was cheated when they stopped giving him the leading man roles. He stayed so rugged and good looking, and in shape, considering some of the others who had spare tires by the time they were 50.

My favorite role of your Dad is one I haven't seen in over 40 years, that of Thor in Ice Palace. I love generational movies and he, Richard Burton, and Carolyn Jones stand out in my memory in that movie as all giving great performances.

Again, thank you for joining us.

Anne
Anne


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* * * * * * * * What is past is prologue. * * * * * * * *

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Post by MissGoddess »

I want to add my welcome to all the others, Lisa, and say how happy I
am that you've joined us! Your father is definitely one of my favorite
actors and if you don't mind my saying so, I think he was one of the most
attractive men on screen! When I was little, I saw him on TV in The
Naked Spur
and he scared me so for years I only associated him with
baddies, and then I caught a little known film he did with Shirley Boothe
called About Mrs Leslie (I wish this movie would come to DVD!),
and suddenly discovered a remarkably romantic and compelling leading
man. After seeing On Dangerous Ground (such an extraordinary,
sensitive performance!), he became a favorite.

I am curious about the Oakwood school your parents started---I
understand it's still going and I wondered if your family is still involved at
all?

And, in closing, I thought I'd just share this little excerpt from Tina
Sinatra's book on her father, because I wondered if she was
referring to you in it and because I thought it a sweet remembrance of
your Dad:

"One of our favorite neighbors was Robert Ryan. He was a tall, gentle
man who loved kids and adored my mother, and would often come over
to see her. The Ryans had a daughter about my age, a real tomboy.
She had a gray burro who loved apples and wore a hat with its ears
poking through.

"The back of the Ryan's property dropped off into a deep ravine where
things grew wild. It was there that I first discovered a patch of
multicolored Indian corn---I thought it was magic corn, since it was so
different from the yellow variety I'd get at dinner. I picked the most
beautiful ear, with its multitude of earth tones, and saved it for my
father's birthday.

"It was just an ear of corn, but Dad made a big to-do about it..."


Many thanks again to you for being with us.



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"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
-- Will Rogers
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inglis
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Post by inglis »

Hi Lisa! Great to have you here.
One of my favorite films is Bad Day at Black Rock .That movie had the cream of the crop cast in it .Did your Dad ever talk about that film and if so do you have any stories to share about the filming of that movie .It was one of the best for drama and mystery and so many great actors on one bill. Thanks Kindley ,Carol
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mookryan
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Post by mookryan »

I feel like I keep jumping ahead to the most recent questions and have lost track of some of the posts I meant to respond to yesterday and the day before. If I don't reply to every post before the end of my week here - please send me an email if you feel like it!

I wanted to say to Nancy, in reply to:

How did his fame affect your life? Did you grow up thinking all dads were famous? (which I think they are, in the eyes of their daughters) Did it cause trouble for you with your peers, or was it just another fact of your life ...

It's been strange ... because I feel like I've been through several phases of being my father's daughter over the years. When I was in elementary school (Oakwood - which I'm planning to write more about) ... the school was populated mainly by children of people working in Hollywood (actors, screenwriters, directors, etc.) ... so nobody was impressed by anyone else's "Hollywood pedigree" ... it just seemed like normal life (I think Hollywood was a LOT more "normal" in the '50's than it is now!)

When we moved to New York none of my friends had any idea who my Dad was ... and that lasted through my 20's and 30's. Occasionally someone I knew would mention that "Lisa's dad was a famous movie actor" and I'd always cringe, because the reaction was generally:
"Robert ... who?"
I was once asked if Robert Ryan was related to Ryan O'Neal!

When "The Wild Bunch" came out there was a brief period of time when people suddenly knew who my Dad was again ... I got fewer "Robert - WHO?" remarks.

I don't think he was ever a name that everyone knew (like Bogart or Gable ... the really big stars) ... so for most of my life I haven't had the experience of people being impressed by who my dad was.
It seems like Film Noir (like "The Wild Bunch") has given him another dose of fame ... which is great. He'd be really pleased!
"Is this the 1940s?
Is everything in black and white?
Are you Robert Ryan?"
- James Lileks
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Post by knitwit45 »

Thanks, Lisa. It sounds like, from what you have said, and what is being written on this and other sites, that your Dad was a grounded, caring man who loved his family and his life. Thanks so much for sharing a bit of that life with all of us.

Nancy
"Life is not the way it's supposed to be.. It's the way it is..
The way we cope with it, is what makes the difference." ~ Virginia Satir
""Most people pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it." ~ Soren Kierkegaard
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