Veteran actor Michael Levin, best known for his passionate portrayal of reporter Jack Fenelli on ABC’s Ryan’s Hope, has died. He was 90 years old.
Michael Levin: Honing His Craft
The beloved actor passed away peacefully of natural causes on January 6, 2023, at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York.
Born December 8, 1932, Michael Levin served with the U.S. Navy before attending the University of Minnesota. He moved on to California where he took acting classes alongside Jack Nicholson and Robert Blake. He continued honing his craft at the Minneapolis Guthrie Theater when it opened in 1962 and proudly recalled working with Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy there, according to his son, Jason.
A move to New York landed the actor work at the Repertory Theatre of the Lincoln Center under the tutelage of Jules Irving and the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut. It was a commercial for Alitalia Airlines as an Italian spokesperson that led Levin to his role as an Italian American reporter on Ryan’s Hope.
Levin was a core cast member, appearing in the first episode of the debut of the soap opera. His character’s romance with Mary Ryan (played by the phenomenal Kate Mulgrew) created one of the most beloved couples on daytime at the time and garnered him three consecutive Daytime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama Series starting in 1978.
Levin remained with the show until its climax in 1989, clocking in 1,074 episodes, and ended with his character’s marriage to Leigh Kirkland (Felicity LaFortune). Avid fans may recall that Fenelli’s daughter was played by a young Yasmine Bleeth of Baywatch fame.
After Ryan’s Hope, Levin landed roles on As the World Turns as John Eldridge and All My Children as Dr. Gould. He appeared in primetime on such shows as N.Y.P.D., The Equalizer, Law & Order, and New York News.
When the versatile actor wasn’t appearing on daytime or primetime television, he appeared on Broadway in such shows as The Royal Hunt of the Sun opposite David Carradine, Tennessee Williams’s Camino Real opposite Al Pacino, Sam Shepard’s Operation Sidewinder with Garrett Morris, and Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Woman of Setzuan with the late Colleen Dewhurst.
In recent years, he found joy in woodworking. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, sons Jason and Aaron, and grandchildren, Veronica and Nico. Soap Hub sends its sincere condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Michael Levin during this difficult time.