Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Mary Fickett studied acting at New York City's Neighborhood Playhouse under Snaford Meisner and started her television career working in "Television Theatre" programs like Kraft Television Theatre in the 1950's. Her first featuring film was Man on Fire alongside Bing Crosby in 1957. In 1958, she received a Tony Award nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance in "Sunrise at Campobello," opposite Ralph Bellamy.
During the 1960's, she began working in daytime soap operas. This is where she would stay for the rest of her career. In 1961 she played the role of Sally Smith on The Edge of Night. In 1967, she returned to the show in the different role of Dr. Katherine Lovell and stayed with the show for a year.
All My Children
In January, 1970, the American Broadcasting Corporation launched its new soap opera All My Children, created by Agnes Nixon. Fickett was an original cast member playing Ruth Parker Brent, a nurse at the local hospital and wife of alcoholic car salesman Ted Brent. Her character quickly found an attraction to the widowed Dr. Joe Martin (Ray MacDonnell). The pair tried to ignore their attraction until Ruth's husband was killed in a car accident. Ruth and Joe married on screen but found their happiness cut short by the Vietnam War. Agnes Nixon had always intended for her soap to deal with important issues of the day, so to facilitate Richard Hatch exiting the role of Phil Brent his character was drafted into service. Ruth became an anti-war protester and made some of the first anti-Vietnam speeches aired on American Daytime Television. This storyline decision, although troubling to television executives at the time, won Fickett the first Emmy Award given to a performer in daytime television, in 1973. She received a Daytime Emmy nomination in 1974 for her performance in a storyline that involved her son being missing in action. This was another milestone for daytime TV, as it was the first time a war scene was aired on daytime television. The audience saw Phil being hit by a bullet and going down, then carried away by a young Vietnamese boy (played by the adopted son of a friend of Agnes Nixon).
Joe and Ruth were happily married, but found they could not conceive a child together. To have the child they always wanted they began procedings to adopt Tad Gardener, a child that had been abandoned. A problem arose when Tad's father, Ray Gardener, arrived in town wanting money and filed a lawsuit to stop the adoption procedings. He then tried to extort money from the Martin family, in exchange for stopping the lawsuit. Joe refused to do this and kicked him out of his house, but Ruth called him back saying they could "sort things out." Fickett's second controversial storyline started when Ray showed up in a drunken rage and raped Ruth. She received her second Daytime Emmy AwardDaytime Emmy nomination for this storyline in 1976.
Christmas of 1979 was an important period in the show for Mary Fickett. Ray Gardener had set a bomb in the basement of the Martin house and Ruth was finally pregnant with Joe's baby. Ray had a change of heart after learning that his daughter Jenny was with Tad in the house, and died when the bomb exploded in his hands.
In 1980 the fictional couple survived storylines involving infidelity. Joe had an attraction to his patient Leora Sanders (Lizbeth MacKay ) which he never acted upon, but Ruth had an affair with David Thornton (Paul Gleason) in the late 1970's.
Slowing It Down
In the mid 1990's Fickett decided that she wanted to cool down her schedule and spend more time with her family. She allowed her contract to expire and expected to go on recurring status (where an actor is paid by appearance rather than a contracted salary). Negotiations with the producers of the program broke down and the soap world was shocked when the role of Ruth Martin was recast with Lee Meriwether taking on the character in 1996.
In 1999 Meriwether's agents had communication problems which aggravated the producers of All My Children. This prompted them to go full circle, firing Meriwether and rehiring Fickett on recurring status. She resumed the role of Ruth and was involved in many front burner storylines like Dixie Martin (Cady McClain) miscarrying Tad's baby and the breakdown of Joe Martin (Jr,.)'s marraige to Gillian Andrashy (Esta Terblanche ).
After a year of this, Fickett decided to call it quits from the busy schedule of soap opera acting and retired in December 2000.
In 2002, the producers of All My Children wanted to bring Ruth back to the show's canvas but Fickett remained in retirment. Lee Meriwether has been playing Ruth when the occasion calls for it since then.
Ficket has two children from her three marriages. She has been married to Allen Fristoe (a daytime TV director) since June 1979.
Mary Fickett: The Internet Movie Database - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0275693/
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