"I was so drunk that year (on Dark Shadows), I barely remember what it was about."
-- Mitch Ryan
Dark Shadows Character:
Burke Devlin (#1)
Appeared in: 107 episodes
First episode: # 1, June 27, 1966
Last episode: # 248, June 7, 1967
Born: Louisville, Kentucky, January 11, 1928
Mitch Ryan doesn't have clear recollections of his time working on Dark Shadows. "I was so drunk that year, I barely remember what it was about," he told TV Guide in 1976.
In fact, Mitch was one of the few actors fired from the show. "He'd come to work with this monstrous hangover," Dan Curtis said in the same article. "Half the time he wouldn't know his lines-something you can't afford to do in soap opera."
Before joining the DS cast (in the first episode), Mitch had racked up an impressive list of New York stage credits, including nearly a dozen Shakespeare in the Park productions staged by Joseph Papp, and a successful run in Wait Until Dark on Broadway.
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RARE STAGE PHOTO:
Mitch Ryan with Lee Remick and Val Bisoglio in Wait Until Dark.
Mitch's dismissal from Dark Shadows, in 1966, was the first of two "rock bottom" points Mitch said he hit. "I stayed sober for a month before I started drinking again," he said. "Then in 1971, I had the whole bit, the blackout, the hospitalization at St. Vincent's, and the realization that I either had to turn it around or die."
One of Mitch's drinking buddies was Ralph Waite, who went on to sobriety and fame as John, Sr., the father on The Waltons. The two met through mutual friend Martin Sheen (The West Wing's President Bartlett).
After getting sober, Mitch's career returned to the fast track. He made numerous appearances on stage, film and TV, including leading parts in the 1976 series Executive Suite and the movies Lethal Weapon (1987) and Grosse Point Blank (1997).
He has had major roles in several soap operas, including All My Children (Alex Hunter, 1985-87), Santa Barbara (Anthony Tonnell, 1989), and General Hospital (Frank Smith, 1993-94)
In 1997, Mitch was cast in the ABC comedy Dharma and Greg, as super-rich (and super stodgy) Edward Montgomery. Edward's wife, Kitty, was played by Susan Sullivan.
Mitch has said he turned to acting to fill an emptiness he felt within. Growing up, he didn't relate well with his parents-a novelty salesman and an emotionally distant mother. In 1951, he escaped an unhappy home life by joining the Navy.
In 1954, he returned to his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. With his older sister, Margaret, Mitch went to see a young Warren Oates in Dark of the Moon. Mitch fell in love with acting. "If you are 21 and have no feelings of your own, the theater has a fatal attraction," he later told TV Guide. "I became totally involved, worked for nothing, 20 hours a day. Playing at being somebody else took me out of myself and gave the illusion of meaning and worth." (After undergoing years of therapy and kicking alcoholism, Mitch's sense of self was elevated.)
|Career Highlights |
DAYTIME TV: Santa Barbara (1989), All My Children (Alex Hunter, 1985), General Hospital (Frank Smith, 1993-94).
PRIMETIME TV: Dharma & Greg (Edward Montgomery, 1997-2002), Mission Impossible (1989), Star Trek: The Next Generation (1989), Jake and the Fatman (Lt. Dan Gorecki, 1989), Hemingway (1988), Murder She Wrote (1987), St. Elsewhere (1987), Hell Town (1985), A-Team, Hart to Hart (1983), The Chisholms (Cooper Hawkins, 1980), Grandpa Goes to Washington (Senator Cox, 1979), Family (Mike Dunstan, 1979), Most Wanted (Keith Garner 1977), Executive Suite (Don Walling, 1976), Baretta (Bax, 1976), Blue Knight (Pete Stryker, 1976), The Entertainers (Mr. Pasko, 1976), Chase (Captain Chase Reddick, 1974), Rockford Files (Colonel Hopkins), King's Crossing (Sam), High Performance.
TV FILMS: Ryan White Story (1989), Midget Bar (1989), Favorite Son (1988, miniseries), Northstar (Col. Evan Marshall, 1986), Robert Kennedy and His Times (Robert McNamara, 1985), North and South (Tillet Main, 1985, miniseries), Hostage Flight (Capt. Malone, 1985), Fatal Vision (Paul Strombaugh, 1984), Hot Pursuit (Edward Wyler, 1984), Kenny Rogers as the Gambler - The Adventure Continues (Charlie McCourt, 1983), Uncommon Valor (Chief Tom Riordan, 1983), The Monkey Mission (Keyes, 1981), The Choice (Jerry Clements, 1981), Joe Dancer, aka Big Black Pill (1981), Of Mice and Men (Slim, 1981), Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratton Story (Hugh Hefner, 1981), The Five of Me (1981), Angel City (Silas Creedy, 1980), Flesh and Blood (Jack Fallon, 1979), Having Babies III (Dr. Blake Simmons, 1978), Sgt. Matlovich vs. the U.S. Air Force (Lt. Col. Applegate, 1978), The Hemingway Play (Ernest Hemingway, 1978), Peter Lundy and the Medicine Hat Stallion (Jethro Lundy, 1977), Escape from Bogen County (Ambler Bowman, 1977), Christmas Miracle in Caulfield U.S.A. (Matthew Sullivan, 1977), Chase (Capt. Chase Reddick, 1973, pilot), The Entertainer (Mr. Pasko, 1976), Fuzz Brothers (Ben, 1973).
SCREEN: Lethal Weapon, Winter People, The Lincoln Conspiracy (1980), Midway (1979), High Plains Drifter (Dave Drake, 1978), Electra Glide in Blue (Poole, 1978), Two Minute Warning (priest, 1977), A Reflection of Fear (Inspector McKenna, 1973), Monte Walsh (Shorty Austin, 1969), Magnum Force (1973), The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1978), Glory Boys, aka My Old Man's Place (1972), The Entertainer (1960), The Hunting Party (1971), The Honkers (1972), Autumn's Child.
THEATER: Dance of Death (Edgar, 1990, L.A.), Anthony Cleopatra (1987, L.A.), Medea (1982, NYC), A Moon for the Misbegotten (Jim Tyrone, 1968-69, NYC; 1981, L.A.),, The Price (Victor Franz, 1979, NYC), The Hairy Ape (1974), Sudden and Accidental Re-education of Horse Johnson (Clint Barlow, 1968), Iphigenia in Aulis (1967-68, NYC), Wait Until Dark (1966, NYC), Coriolanus (1965), Baal (1965), Othello (1964, NYC), Twelfth Night (1963), Winter's Tale (1963), As You Like It (1963), The Tempest (Antonio, 1962), Whisper to Me (1960), Nine by Six: A Cry of Players (1956), Bus Stop, Macbeth, Baal (NYC).