General Soap Operas

‘As the World Turns’ Vet Colleen Zenk Celebrates A Special Milestone

Colleen Zenk of As the World TurnsColleen Zenk of As the World Turns

As the World Turns may be gone, but it’s far from forgotten. This fall, fan favorite Colleen Zenk marked the 40th anniversary of her debut on the long-running CBS serial.

Here are some highlights of Zenk’s Emmy-nominated run as ATWT’s Barbara Ryan!

Early Days
Zenk debuted as Jennifer Hughes’ (Gillian Spencer) daughter in 1978. Initially, Barbara played out standard soap opera heroine stories.

She left good guy Tom Hughes (Tom Tammi) at the altar to wed bad guy James Stenbeck (the late Anthony Herrera), the father of their son, Paul (Andy Kavovit; Roger Howarth). James, however, tried to kill Barbara by trapping her in a ring with a raging bull.

Simply Barbara
In 1985, after a string of failed unions, Barbara developed a new attitude. Professionally, she launched a successful fashion line, Simply Barbara. When Tom Hughes (Gregg Marx) said he was going to drop her as a client because he was attracted to her, Barbara tricked the inebriated attorney into thinking they’d had sex.

She befriended businesswoman Lucinda Walsh (Elizabeth Hubbard), sparred with Shannon O’Hara (Margaret Reed) and Margo Hughes (Hillary B. Smith), and had an affair with Tonio Reyes (Peter Boynton).

Zenk embraced this new direction created for her by then-head writer Douglas Marland, and together actress and scribe took the character to new heights.

Hello, Barbara
After Barbara had been drugged at Duncan’s (Michael Swan) castle, she looked up and saw a hooded man reveal himself: It was James, back from the dead! Det. Hal Munson (the late Benjamin Hendrickson) sprung Barbara from jail after he proved James was really alive.

Barbara and Hal wed and the couple’s love theme (remember when soaps had those?), Wind Beneath My Wings, played at their reception. Conflict loomed when it came to light that Margo’s son Adam was fathered by Hal. Barbara’s affair with Darryl Crawford (Rex Smith) resulted in the birth of their daughter Jennifer (Jennifer Ferrin).

Later Years
Barbara had romances with other bad boys– John Dixon (Larry Bryggman) and Craig Montgomery (Hunt Block), and James kept popping back up from the dead to torment Barbara.

Eventually, she became romantically involved with Henry Coleman (Trent Dawson), James’s son. And when the world stopped turning in 2010 when ATWT went off the air, Barbara and Henry were left doing (literally) a happy dance.

Zenk received three Daytime Emmy nominations including two for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (2002, 2011).

Since then, she’s appeared on Blue Bloods and in the web series After Forever, which stars Kevin Spirtas (ex-Craig, Days of Our Lives) and Mitchell Anderson (Party of Five). Fans hope that one of the remaining soaps casts this talented performer soon!

Soap Hub joins Zenk’s fans in congratulating her on Barbara Ryan’s 40th anniversary!

Video Credit: General Hospital

Video Credit: General Hospital

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