Ray MacDonnell, best known for his role as Dr. Joe Martin on ABC’s All My Children, passed away peacefully on June 10, 2021, of natural causes in his home in Chappaqua, New York, at the age of 93. A beloved original cast member of the iconic soap opera, MacDonnell left a lasting impression on his fellow cast members at AMC.
In Memoriam — Ray MacDonnell
Fellow original cast member Susan Lucci (Erica Kane) shared the sad news on her Instagram. “Wonderful RAY MACDONNELL,” she began her post. “Yesterday afternoon, my lovely friend Jill Larson (AMC’s fabulous “Opal”) called to share the very sad news that beloved RAY had passed away. 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.
“Thank you so much, Ray, for gracing our show on-screen and off—with your great presence,” she added. “My heartfelt sympathy to beautiful Pat and your family—RIP, RAY.”
“With Ray, what comes to mind is his legendary charisma, and professionalism,” former co-star Darnell Williams (Jesse) told Soap Hub. “He went to the school to always be there for your scene partner. One of the coolest guys to walk the planet.”
Peter Bergman (Jack, The Young and the Restless) not only co-starred alongside MacDonnell as Dr. Cliff Warner on AMC from 1979-89, but he also shared a dressing room with the beloved actor. “[Ray] was a lovely man with a dry sense of humor, who initially kept his new, overly-exuberant 26-year-old roommate at arm’s length until I proved myself a serious actor,” Bergman shares with Soap Hub. “Eventually, I broke him down and learned what a terrific guy he really was.
“He always had a book with him,” Bergman continues, “and spent seemingly all his down time reading. He spoke with great love for his family and shared wonderful stories of summers in their second home in Provincetown, Cape Cod. I went sailing with Ray a couple of times and he was an accomplished sailor…very comfortable in high winds (we somehow got to test that both times). At work, he was easy, affable, and very professional. I learned a lot about the importance of homework from Ray, who came to work prepared to tape the minute he walked in the door. An all-around great guy.”
“Kendall was integrated into so many different storylines so, I was lucky I got have relationships with each actor,” Alicia Minshew (ex-Kendall) tells Soap Hub. “I felt so lucky to have had that with Ray. I’m working with this legend! Ray was this classic, charming man, and he was so professional and great at what he did.
“In between scenes, Ray would make me laugh,” the actress adds. “I’m laughing thinking about some of the things he’d say to me in between scenes. He’d say I don’t even know what this means [medically] that Ray is about to tell you but I’m going to say it!”
“When I started on the All My Children, my character, Ellen, was involved with Ray’s TV brother Bill Mooney (Paul),” recollects Kathleen Noone, who won a Daytime Emmy in 1987 for her run on AMC. “I’ve got to tell you between Ray, Bill, and Larry Keith (Nick), you were always in for a lot of good laughs. Ray had a wonderful sense of humor, a very kind heart — there was a real sweetness to the man. I’m so sorry he’s passed but what a good long healthy life — 93! God bless him. I hope he went peacefully.”
Michael Lowry played MacDonnell’s TV son Jake, also a doctor, from 1996-2001. “To have somebody like Ray when I was just starting out my career as a young actor was like having a nice security blanket,” Lowry says. “[Our characters] worked at the hospital and we had all the family stuff. So many of my scenes were with Ray and also, Lee Meriwether [Ruth].
“Ray and I would get together and run lines,” Lowry says, noting his and MacDonnell’s dressing rooms were across the hall from one another’s. “Ray would regale me with stories of his career. The people with whom you have the first contact on a show can be the most meaningful. He left a positive impression on me.”
Born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on March 5, 1928, MacDonnell attended Amherst College and the Royal Academy in London as a Fulbright Scholar. He began his career during the golden age of television on such shows as Robert Montgomery Presents, The Jack Benny Program, Producers’ Showcase, and Armstrong Circle Theater.
In 1961, MacDonnell took on the role of Philip Capice on the soap The Edge of Night, where he remained until 1969. He was cast in the title role of the unsold 1967 pilot of a proposed Dick Tracy TV series before landing on another soap that was just about to debut. ABC launched the daytime serial All My Children on January 5, 1970, and Ray MacDonnell signed on as Dr. Joe Martin, one of the show’s original cast members.
He continued to be a mainstay on the award-winning show for more than four decades until retiring in 2009, with brief returns in 2011 and 2013. He took home a Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 for his contributions to the genre.
Television wasn’t his only venue of expression. MacDonnell appeared on and off-broadway over the years. The distinguished actor appeared opposite legendary actresses Angela Lansbury and Ann Miller in the production of Mame between 1966 and 1970.
Ray MacDonnell leaves behind his wife, Patricia, and three children, Kyle, Daniel, and Sarah. Soap Hub sends condolences to them, his friends, and fans during this difficult time.