Michael Levin, who played Jack Fenelli on the ABC soap opera “Ryan’s Hope,” died last week. He was 90.
Jason Levin told the Hollywood Reporter his father died Jan. 6 of natural causes at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York.
Born Dec. 8, 1932, Levin appeared in more than 1,000 episodes of “Ryan’s Hope,” including the pilot in 1975 and the finale in 1989.
The late actor was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama Series every year from 1978 to 1980, and he has been hailed as one of the top 25 greatest soap opera actors of all time.
In addition to his TV career, Levin appeared on Broadway in the 1965 production of “The Royal Hunt of the Sun,” as well as three plays in 1970, including “Camino Real” with Al Pacino.
He reportedly served in the US Navy for two years and attended the University of Minnesota to become a writer.
In a 1978 interview with Rona Barrett’s Daytimers Magazine, Levin recalled his first experience in an acting class at the university. He said he was told to act like “a little kid.” Despite being a “petrified” 22-year-old, he was “sold.”
“That was it right there,” he declared.
“I was very successful at the university,” he continued. They thought I was a diamond in the rough, and they wanted me to stay to get my master’s degree, but I said no! I had to get to Hollywood. I was going to be a star!”
He took acting classes with the likes of Jack Nicholson in California, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which noted he returned to Minneapolis to perform at the recently-opened Guthrie Theater before flying the coop to New York.
It wasn’t until he landed the role of an Italian spokesman for Alitalia Airlines that he was cast as Jack, an Italian American reporter, on “Ryan’s Hope.” He also went on to appear in “Law & Order,” “New York News” and two other daytime soaps, “All My Children” and “As the World Turns.”
“In this profession, you don’t have a lot of control over your own life,” he told Daytimers Magazine. “It’s a silly thing to say, but if I had it all to do over again, and I could change anything I wanted to change, I would pick a profession where I could have a little bit more control. Maybe I’d be an architect or something like that.”
Levin, whose personal hobby was woodworking, is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, sons Jason and Aaron, and two grandchildren.