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Catching Up With Michael O’Leary — Dr. Rick Bauer from Guiding Light

Dr. Rick Bauer from Guiding Light Michael O Leary InsiderDr. Rick Bauer from Guiding Light Michael O Leary Insider

Michael O’Leary took over the role of Frederick “Rick” Bauer on Guiding Light in 1983 and turned him into a beloved character that became indelibly woven into the fabric of Springfield until the show went off the air in 2009.

A Michael O’Leary Update

About a year after Guiding Light’s demise, Michael O’Leary, along with former As The World Turns actor Scott Bryce (Craig Montgomery), created a comedy web series called Steamboat.

It was a look at the “desperate dying days of a daytime soap opera” and featured numerous soap opera alumni, including Michael Park (Jack, ATWT), Kim Zimmer (Reva, GL), Beth Chamberlin (Beth, GL), Justin Deas (Buzz, GL), Kurt McKinney (Matt, GL), and Michael O’Leary. The series garnered numerous web award nominations and produced lots of laughs. The series can still be seen on YouTube.

After the web series ended, Michael O’Leary began undertaking the craft of playwriting, the result of which was a play called Breathing Under Dirt. As a one-act, it won the 2016 Manhattan Repertory Theatre One Act Play Competition.

It was then expanded and O’Leary asked some of his former co-stars to join the production to take it on the road. Joining him in Breathing Under Dirt was Cynthia Watros (ex-Annie, GL; now Nina, General Hospital), Grant Aleksander (Phillip, GL), Tina Sloan (Lillian, GL), and Beth Chamberlin. The show got great reviews and came to the attention of prestigious director and acting coach Larry Moss.

O’Leary marvels, “I sent it to him on a lark just thinking maybe he’ll look at it. He did and he loved it and he’s been a part of developing it now for the last couple of years. We’ve done about four or five readings and most of them have been with Guiding Light members and it’s been a real blessing. It gives us a chance to connect with each other, but it also gave me a chance to do it in front of a lot of people and get some really wonderful feedback.”

A Passion Play

The play takes place in 1950s Georgia and, as Michael O’Leary describes it, “it has a very sort of Tennessee Williams feel to it. Believe me, I’m not comparing myself to Tennessee Williams, but it’s a very sort of southern-themed play with southern sensibilities. It’s a story about the reconciliation and forgiveness between a mother and daughter.

“Developing a play takes time. We did a reading again in New York in February and now we’re at a place where we’re ready to go. Mr. Moss feels the play is in a great place and I do, too. We’re done with the development process, so now we’re on to the next step.”

Despite an exciting career as a playwright, Michael O’Leary hasn’t left acting altogether. He was cast in the lead of a movie called The Glorious Resurrection of Claire Owens. Production is scheduled to start in July, but that may be pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He’s also excited to discuss another exciting project. “I’m doing online tutorials with students who are as young as 9 years old and I’ve got somebody who’s 75. And it’s a preparation to destination, which means I don’t just teach actors acting, I teach them how to have a career. I walk them through the steps. And I do everything via Zoom and FaceTime, so it’s not geographic specific.” For more information, you can send an inquiry to

Remembering Guiding Light

Michael O’Leary sighs when he realizes that it’s been over 10 years since GL went off the air and he opens up about some hard times.  “I look back to 2016 when I was at the tail end of my divorce. My life was really, really down. And I needed a victory. And my friends gathered around and said, ‘Let’s help Michael out.’ And they did.

“They jumped in and did this play with me and they showed up and I wasn’t able to pay them. It was a one-act play festival. And they showed up and they rehearsed and there was a lot of expenditure of their time and talents. And we did it. They did that for me. So that’s Guiding Light right there!

“I don’t know how many cast members stay together as we have. And to this day, we still keep in touch. I keep in touch with Ron [Raines; Alan]. I see Robert Newman [Josh] occasionally and talk to Grant [Aleksander] and Peter Simon [Ed]. We’re all still very close. In fact, the guys get together once every four months in New York and we meet at this Italian restaurant and we have dinner together.

“So it says something about the friendship that we all have. Peter Simon, director Bruce Barry, Jay Hammer [Fletcher], Ron Raines, myself, Grant Aleksander, Robert Newman, Justin Deas; we all get together, sometimes not all of us. But you know, for men to make weight of saying to ourselves, ‘Guys, what we have is really pretty spectacular. Let’s not lose touch with each other.’”

Guiding Light fans have always known that their cast was special, and it’s a joy to hear Michael O’Leary confirm that!

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