Broadway Blip: Helen Gallagher
Helen Gallagher was a mainstay of the Broadway musical throughout 50s, 60s, and 70s. A celebrated supporting player with a delicious comedic timing and a radiant personality, she never seemed to find that vehicle that would elevate her to star status. Gallagher won Tony Awards for Supporting Actress for her appearances as Gladys Bumps in the 1952 revival of Pal Joey and for Best Actress for her turn in the 1971 revival of No, No, Nanette. The true star vehicle that many thought would put Gallagher in the upper echelons with Mary Martin and Ethel Merman was the 1953 Hazel Flagg wherein she played the title character. The musical with a score by Jule Styne and Bob Hilliard lasted a lackluster 190 performances, but it is universally accepted that Gallagher was electrically charged in the role. Other Broadway productions featuring Helen Gallagher include Make a Wish, Portofino, High Button Shoes, a Tony-nominated turn in Sweet Charity, and Cry for Us All. Arguably, there never was a musical theatre performer who deserved to be huge star quite like Helen Gallagher.
Fun Fact: Helen Gallagher may have been a mainstay of Broadway, beloved by theatre audiences, but she is probably best known for her role as Maeve Ryan on the popular TV soap opera Ryan’s Hope. She stayed with the show for its entire run, from 1975 to 1989 and was nominated for five Daytime Emmy Awards, winning three times.