Mitchell Ryan, best known to soap fans for his run as Burke Devlin on the daytime soap Dark Shadows, has died. He was 88 years old. At press time, no cause of death had been announced. Ryan’s Dark Shadows and former leading lady Kathryn Leigh Scott, pictured with him above, shared the news on Facebook.
Mitchell Ryan – In Memoriam
“My sweet, beloved friend Mitch died early this morning,” Kathryn Leigh Scott shared in a post that can be seen below. “He was a great gift in my life. I cherish my warm memories of his beautiful soul. I’m heartbroken.”
Ryan and Scott were paired together on Dark Shadows as love interests Burke Devlin and Maggie Evans before Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) arrived on the scene and sank his fangs into Maggie. Ryan left the series in 1967 and was replaced by Anthony George in the role.
Ryan was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then, raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. He made his acting debut in the play Thunder Road at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia. The actor appeared in the Broadway plays Wait Until Dark, Medea, and The Price. His off-Broadway credits include The Price and also, Antony and Cleopatra.
Ryan amassed more than 135 credits over the course of his career appearing in such series as Golden Girls, St. Elsewhere, Who’s the Boss?, Matlock, and Murder, She Wrote. His impact on the soap genre extends far beyond Dark Shadows. In 1993-94, he took over the role of mobster Frank Smith on General Hospital, Luke Spencer’s enemy and the father of Jennifer Smith (Holly Gagnier).
His other serial drama credits include Dallas, Santa Barbara, King’s Crossing, 2000 Malibu Road, and the 1976 series Executive Suite. Ryan starred opposite Susan Sullivan (Lenore, Another World; Maggie, Falcon Crest) on the medical ABC primetime drama Having Babies. Years later, the two were reunited as Greg’s (Thomas Gibson) parents, Edward and Kitty, on the ABC sitcom Dharma and Greg.
Last year, Ryan reunited with Sullivan and Scott when the three appeared along with David Selby (ex-Richard, Falcon Crest; ex-Quinten, Dark Shadows) for a reading of What Friends Do (#Expendables) for Smartphone Theatre, a play written by Sullivan.
On the big screen, Ryan appeared in Judge Dredd, Halloween, Liar Liar, Magnum Force, and Lethal Weapon. TV producer Jim Romanovich (The Daytime Emmys) tweeted, “So very sorry to hear of the death of Mitchell Ryan (Burke Devlin, Dark Shadows plus a zillion memorable roles). I was lucky a few years ago to have a two hour conversation with this great human being for my Dark Shadows special podcast. RIP Mitch.” Soap Hub extends sincere condolences to Mitchell Ryan’s family, friends, and fans during this difficult time.
So very sorry to hear of the death of Mitchell Ryan (Burke Devlin, Dark Shadows plus a zillion memorable roles). I was lucky a few years ago to have a two hour conversation with this great human being for my Dark Shadows special podcast. RIP Mitch. pic.twitter.com/ND86Y4cWcQ
— Jim (@JimRomanovich) March 4, 2022