Barbara Ryan was on one of the most complicated women in soap opera history and wore many hats on As the World Turns. She was heroine, mother, wife, friend, villainess, adulteress, manipulator, time-traveler, and so much more! Here’s a look back at the enduring Barbara who was never “simple’ and always an original!
Barbara broke Tom Hughes’ heart by leaving him at the altar to reunite with James Stenbeck, the father of her son, Paul. It turned out to be a big mistake. Not only was James unfaithful to Barbara with both Margo Montgomery and Dee Stewart, but battles over the Stenbeck fortune nearly led to Barbara’s death.
She had visions of a past life as a woman named Bianca, who was in love with a man named Geoffrey. In the modern day, Barbara met Geoffrey’s doppelganger – Gunnar St. Clair, James’ cousin, who had a claim to the Stenbeck fortune.
Triumph And Tragedy
James tried to kill Barbara by luring her into the middle of a bull ring. Gunnar saved Barbara. James was believed dead after falling out of an airplane. Alas, Barbara and Gunnar’s happiness was short-lived. He was diagnosed with a fatal disease and died on his own terms after taking off in a hot-air balloon.
Barbara had a relationship with publisher/attorney Brian McColl, but after they broke up because of her son Paul, Barbara tried to make things right. She found Brian with Shannon O’Hara — and something snapped in Barbara. After Cal Randolph pointed out her lousy history with men, Barbara took a new path – the town bitch!
She launched her own design line, Simply Barbara. She let happily wed duo Tom and Margo believe that she’d slept with Tom after he said he wanted to no longer be her attorney as he was growing attracted to her. Next, Babs took up with Tonio Reyes, the son-in-law of her BFF Lucinda Walsh. She also had a short relationship with Duncan McKechnie. But her new life was thrown into turmoil when James turned up alive!
The Hal Affect
Barbara came to rely on Det. Hal Munson after James returned. Hal proved that Barbara had not killed James after he died at Ruxton Hills, freeing her from jail. They got married and she started up Barbara Ryan Originals (BRO) after Lucinda simply refused to sell her back Simply Barbara.
Barbara learned that Hal was the father of Adam, Margo’s son, which led to a separation. During this time, Babs took up with Darryl Crawford and gave birth to their daughter Jennifer. Hal and Barbara split again after the truth came out.
Barbara had perhaps her most unlikely relationship next with John Dixon. Their marriage ended after their son Johnny died. She then hastily wed Craig Montgomery. After finding out that Craig was ripping her off, Barbara was burned in an explosion.
Hal would be there for Barbara during these trials, but their reunions wouldn’t last. She allied herself with a back-from-the-dead James to seek revenge against the women who’d wronged her before turning on James and stabbing him.
In Sickness And In Health, Till Death Do Us Part
Barbara had a tumor that led to temporary blindness and later, mouth cancer. She survived both and continued to meddle in the lives of her children. Tragically, Barbara lost daughter Jennifer to pneumonia and Hal who died in a police shootout. Barbara lied to Paul and Meg that her health was failing to get them to wed more quickly.
Barbara was stunned to learn that Henry Coleman was James’s son! As the beloved series came to an end, Henry helped Barbara escape after she was kidnapped by Iris, Gwen’s unbalanced mother. Barbara’s life, which had been filled with so much pain and uncertainty, was left on a high note as she and Henry got married and shared a dance with the promise of living happily ever after.