The daytime community is mourning the passing of Ray MacDonnell, best known for his long-running role as the kindhearted Dr. Joseph Martin on All My Children. The actor reportedly died of natural causes at his home in Chappaqua, New York, on June 10. He was 93.
Born on March 5, 1928, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, MacDonnell attended Amherst College and later studied in London on a Fulbright Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Some of his early acting credits include series such as Robert Montgomery Presents, The Jack Benny Program, Producers' Showcase, and Armstrong Circle Theatre. He also played Dick Tracy in a pilot that was never picked up and appeared on Broadway in Mame, starring opposite Angela Lansbury and Ann Miller.
MacDonnell's first soap role was that of Philip Capice on CBS's The Edge of Night, where he stayed from 1961 to 1969. It was his over-four-decade run on All My Children, however, that sealed his fate as one of the genre's most beloved performers.
MacDonnell was an original cast member on the ABC soap opera, bringing Dr. Joe Martin to the screen when the series debuted in 1970. A widower, Joe was trying to raise his children, Jeff and Tara, in the Martin family home with the help of his wonderful mother, Kate. Joe fell in love with Ruth Brent, a nurse at Pine Valley Hospital, who was married to the abusive Ted Brent. After Ted's death in an automobile accident, Joe and Ruth got married and adopted a son, Tad, and had two other children, Joey and Bobby. After the death of his very good friend and coworker, Dr. Charles Tyler, Joe inherited the position of chief of staff at Pine Valley Hospital. Over the next 40 years, he was the solid rock everyone in Pine Valley turned to at one time or another for sound advice and fatherly love.
Sadly, All My Children's relocation to Los Angeles prompted MacDonnell's retirement in 2009, but he returned in 2011 for a number of appearances and again in 2013 during Prospect Park's online revival of the soap.
The Daytime Emmy Awards honored MacDonnell in 2004, when it presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to the actor (video below). He was joined by Rachel Ames (ex-Audrey Hardy, General Hospital), John Clarke (ex-Mickey Horton, Days of our Lives), Jeanne Cooper (ex-Katherine Chancellor, The Young and the Restless), Eileen Fulton (ex-Lisa Mitchell, As the World Turns), Don Hastings (ex-Bob Hughes, ATWT), Frances Reid (ex-Alice Horton, DAYS), Helen Wagner (ex-Nancy Hughes, ATWT), and Ruth Warrick (ex-Phoebe Wallingford, AMC) as an honoree that year.
Shortly after news of MacDonnell's death was made public, Mark Pinter (ex-Roger Smythe, AMC; ex-Brian McColl, ATWT; ex-Grant Harrison, Another World; ex-Thomas Rayner, GH; ex-Marcus Wheeler, Y&R) took to Twitter with the message, "Such a fine actor and lovely man. I was mesmerized by his work as Phil Capice on The Edge Of Night."
Susan Lucci (Erica Kane) took to Instagram to remember MacDonnell. She said, "He was truly our AMC patriarch—and filled our studio with warmth and professionalism—and his delicious sense of humor—there were times during scenes that I couldn’t dare make eye contact with him—just a look from his eyes with that ever-present gleam—would dissolve us into peals of laughter."
In a long-ago video interview with the Television Academy, MacDonnell's longtime AMC costar, David Canary (ex-Adam Chandler), spoke about his friend, enthusing, "Ah, Ray. He's a funny man. Dick Tracy -- he played Dick Tracy. They did a pilot for a television show quite a few years ago, but if you notice, he has that nose, that wonderful, terrific profile, that sort of Dick Tracy nose. He played Dick Tracy... and he was wonderful. And he's a lovely man. Again, these people are... the history of television."
MacDonnell is survived by his wife, Patricia, as well as his three children, Kyle, Daniel, and Sarah.
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