Nancy Addison Altman
Originally Published in Soaps in Depth
(September 17, 2002)
Strength is a word that often has been associated with Nancy Addison Altman. It characterized her portrayal of feisty lawyer Jillian Coleridge on Ryan's Hope as well as her battle with cancer that finally claimed her life on June 18. Strong is also the perfect time to describe the impression she made on those she leaves behind...friends, castmates and all of us who enjoyed her work.
Recalls Ron Hale (Mike, General Hospital), who played Jill's ne'er-do-well brother, Roger, opposite Altman for RH's entire 1975-1989 run: "Whenever I called to see how Nancy was doing, she'd invariably turn the conversation to talk about me. Even when so much was going on in her life, she wanted to find out about me. She wasn't selfish at all."
Even in the darkest days, Altman never lost her sense of humor, either. "About two years ago, Nancy was listening to my tales of woe from the dating department," relates Ilene Kristen (Roxy, One Life to Live), once Altman's RH foil, Delia. "I was seeing a couple of guys at the same time, and one in particular that I was crazy about was so reluctantly in the relationship and I couldn't figure out why. So I was talking to her about it, and at one point, she was looking at me, and I said, 'Honey, don't feel sorry for me.' Nancy says, "[Screw] you! Feel sorry for you?! I'm jealous!
That wry exchange was typical of Altman, an actress with such low tolerance for BS that it's a wonder she's not only stayed, but thrived, in showbiz. "She was a tell-it-like-it-is person," says good pal Catherine Hickland (Lindsay, OLTL).
Often, Altman poured her energies into projects that were as pleasing to the heart as the eye. For instance, points out Hickland, "Nancy was so committed to the charity work she did with Hale House."
Altman's generosity extended to her admirers as well. On the occasion of RH's 10th-anniversary blow-out, the soap's fan club president, Lorenzo Sisneros, finally got to meet his favorite star - and give her a bouquet. In return, he finally remembers, "she kissed me on the cheek."
Eventually, Altman put down her present, Sisneros continues. "Two hours later, Nancy was standing at the elevator to go home, and she said, 'Oh, wait, I'm forgetting my flowers!" It gave me such a warm feeling to see her running back with flowers in her arms. I'll always cherish the kiss she gave me."
Courtesy of Wanda