Clint Ritchie and The Buchanan Years Remembered

Clint Ritchie

Thinking Fans salute Mr. Ritchie: Steve misses “the easy chemistry between Erika Slezak and Clint Ritchie” … Dale says he “brought a fresh masculine sensibility to Llanview when the town was filled with bluebloods” … and more. See Comments below.

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By  Marlena De Lacroix

How sad it is for One Life to Live viewers that Clint Ritchie passed away this week at age 70.  

When his eponymous character Clint Buchanan galloped in from the west to take over The Llaniew Banner newspaper and later the heart of its owner, the show’s main heroine, the widow Viki Riley, he really became part of the fabric of the show and remained so for the next twenty years.

The foundation of his character was a throwback to old movie heroes like John Wayne and James Stewart — a truly good man you can depend on.  A quiet hero,  a true American.   Clint was the strong shoulders a troubled woman like Viki needed to lean on sometimes to be able to pick up the pieces of her shattered life (most notably her DID, which exploded in the

At the end of the 90s, the actor who was not happy with the modern misunderstanding and direction of his hero character quit OLTL and rode off into the sunset.

mid-80s and in the early 90s).  I always admired that the character Clint adopted her sons and always treated them as if they were his own.  And I actually bought him as a newspaper editor — a member of the rare breed of men (and women) I’ve known in real life who are rough on you, yet teach you more valuable skills and ethics than anyone else you’ll ever meet.  Like how to live.

The real Ritchie, a cowboy who had been a Hollywood contract TV and movie player, galloped into soaps during the Dallas mania in 1979.   The Buchanans – Clint,  his heart-throb younger brother Bo buchanan boysand his hilarious curmudgeonly father Asa — may have been derivative of primetime, but they still became a total daytime sensation.  Even if the meeting of these three actors and the timing turned out to be serendipity,  at least someone at ABC knew what they had.   A medium that centered on women and was all about romance needed some very manly men.

Relax. The macho dimension of that term “manly men” was most often translated on soaps into humor and charm, something the three actors who played the Buchanans — Bob Woods, Phil Carey and Ritchie — had in spades.  The actors were a tight family off the screen and the playfulness and depth of caring of their off-screen selves definitely was reflected not just in their popular characters, but in the whole up and lively tone that made the  show shine with throughout the 80s.  OLTL  had very, very healthy ratings then.

As an actor, Clint Ritchie was very versatile.  He could simultaneously  play Clint as a bad-ass editor; an ever-arguing, ever joking son and brother, and a tender lover and husband to Viki.  Clint and VikiMillions loved the supercoupling of these characters, but personally I was never crazy about them.  French-ified sophiscate moi never thought that gruff cowboy Clint was good enough for an urbane, upper crust woman like “my” Viki.   Now that I’m a little older I can understand  how her falling in love with a man who was always there for her could  trump cultural differences.

I never knew Ritchie well; he was a private guy who really didn’t hang out much with the press. But as an OLTL fan,  you could surmise  how much of who he really was transferred into his character.  I’m not just talking about the fact that they both loved horses and were named Clint.   Up until some point in the 90s, the lifelong single actor who really seem to enjoy what he was doing. He really relished being a part of the “real” Buchanan family and the OLTL cast.

Unfortunately, times changed.   Somehow  during the late 80s and into the 90s , old-fashioned traditional American heroes went out of style in pop culture and in real life.  Oneride set of OLTL writers even tried to vilify Clint  by making him a homophobe (during the Billy Douglas story). That was a bitter betrayal to Ritchie and his fans!   At the end of the 90s, the actor who was not happy with the modern misunderstanding and direction of his hero character quit OLTL and rode off into the sunset.

Clint retired in 1998, returning only to make periodic appearances on OLTL after that.  He died February 2nd.    My condolences go out to his family, his OLTL family and his many fans.

Comments

  1. Dale says:

    Hi, Marlena, I hope you are well. Sorry to have gone MIA on you, but these are busy times! However, I could not let his column pass by without acknowledging Clint Ritchie.

    I don’t know if you remember that when you asked for our OLTL memories last summer, one of mine was how Clint adopted Kevin and Joey. They were (and are) Buchanans in his eyes, blood or not. Viki was so pleased and touched by Clint’s dedication to her children, and so was I.

    Clint Ritchie is a HUGE part of OLTL’s history (along with the criminally under acknowledged Phil Carey!). Clint brought a fresh masculine sensibility to Llanview when the town was filled with bluebloods like Tony, gentle doctors like Larry and Will and scoundrels like Brad and Marco. His presence and impact were instantly felt. Clint was a unique character and Clint was a unique actor. In a very short time, Clint and his brother (and their pa!) became a part of OLTL like they had always been there.

    I still miss Clint Ritchie’s Clint, the hard driving newspaper man with a soft spot for his family. Ritchie was a hardworking and loyal soldier, and brought so much to the show in his 20 years. Thanks for remembering Clint!

    Marlena says: Darling Dale, I was worried about not hearing from you! Glad you are OK and that we are united in our admiration for what Clint brought to the show! He was the first Buchanan to come to town and I had forgotten what LLanview was like at the time. He definitely was a unique character. But when I started thinking about him in regard to today, I realized how very much Clint, the original character, was like the old western, all-American movie heroes used to be. Today’s OLTL’s central hero, the character we are expected to love and root for, is Todd! Today’s Clint, albeit played by a brilliant actor (Jerry ver Dorn), is written as a blustering stuffed-shirt and a fool. How times and soaps have changed. Think about it!

  2. antmunoz says:

    I hate that Jerry ver Dorn is playing Clint today. (I’m glad he’s employed, but he’s not Clint. I think he knows it, too.) He should be Ross on GL, but that’s another story too-often told. Clint Ritchie’s death would be the perfect opportunity to kill off the character of Clint, if ver Dorn were not currently on the show. It’s ironic that OLTL can’t show the proper respect for the actor who originated the iconic role by “retiring” it upon his death, but chose to “kill” off Asa Buchanan, Clint’s Pa, while the actor, Phil Carey, is still alive! (And also usually POd at the OLTL PTB.) I very much enjoyed Mr. Ritchie’s portrayal of Clint for many years, and I agree with the reasons he quit. And for what? The Billy Douglas story had little long-lasting impact on gays in daytime (sorry, but that’s just beginning to happen with Luke and Noah on ATWT; of course, Bianca has carried the torch for lesbians on AMC for a decade now, despite that Zarf fiasco), and Viki’s romance with Sloan Carpenter…just another dead husband there (she collects ‘em all, I guess). We coulda, shoulda, woulda still had Clint Ritchie as Clint Buchanan all these years later, until his passing, and could have enjoyed many more years as well as the reconciliation between Clint and Viki that Erika Slezak and ver Dorn can not pull off. RIP, Clint Ritchie. Clint Buchanan died when you left.

  3. Melanie says:

    Great tribute Marlena! I only started watching OLTL around 1994 so I didn’t see much of Ritchie as Clint, but what I saw, I loved. A great character played by a great actor…

  4. JHS says:

    Marlena:

    First of all, a slight correction: Clint died on January 31, 2009.

    Second, you are absolutely right on the mark. After I met Clint and we became fast friends, it was patently obvious that in the most fundamental ways, he was playing himself in his portrayal of Clint Buchanan. Therein lay his brilliance and talent. He brought so much of himself and his own philosophies on life and love to the character in a quiet, understated way that Clint and Clint melded perfectly.

    Lastly, the character of Clint was not turned into a homophobe. That was never the writers’ intent, nor is that the manner in which Clint approached or played the role. We spent many, many hours talking about this because that was the point at which OLTL ceased to be fun for Clint for a long, long time. That was the first time in his long career that he ever received unflattering or unkind reviews or mail from the show’s fans and that hurt him more deeply than words can express.

    Clint explained to me many, many times that he approached the way the writers changed the character from the vantage point of a man trying to protect and hold onto his family. It wasn’t about prejudice or bigotry. It was about the disintegration of the one thing that Clint Buchanan valued most in the world: Hie loved ones, primarily his wife, who was turned into an unrepentant adulteress, and children who were navigating a world with which Clint Buchanan was unfamiliar and about which he was horribly frightened.

    That so many viewers neither understand nor appreciated the subtle undertones imbued in his performance was one of the biggest heartbreaks of his life because, as I said above, the man was Clint Buchanan.

    As for Mr. ver Dorn, I’m sure that he is a lovely gentleman and a talented actor. He might be fine in the right role. I have tuned in a few times just out of curiosity, He has not captured the essence of the real character of Clint Buchanan — and never will. That’s because Michael Logan was spot-on when he said that there are some roles that should never, ever be recast — and Clint Buchanan is one of them.

    When Clint Ritchie retired and had no interest in returning to the show full time, ABC should have continued to invite him back for brief visits. He relished those brief returns to the studio, his friends there, and the character he loved. I will never forget the times he called me and said, “Well, honey, I’m gonna be packing.” He was so excited and I was excited for him and, selfishly, myself because it meant that I would be able to again enjoy his talent.

    Now that our beloved cowboy is gone, the character of Clint Buchanan should be gone, too.

    Your readers may visit Clint’s official site here: Clint Ritchie.com. His site will remain online and his fan club continues to thrive.

    JHS
    “The Woman from Lodi”
    “Bucky’s Babe”

    Marlena says: My condolences go out to you, Janie. Thanks for reporting first-hand how Clint really felt about all the problems he had to deal with while playing his character.

  5. Steve says:

    I remember how happy some fans were when Viki and Clint split, because this would give Viki more of someone who wouldn’t keep her down, or who would be more of her intellectual equal. And yet, in that time, she has gone from being a strong wife and mother and newspaper publisher and even a crimefighting mayor of Llanview to being a woman who can do little more than wring her hands over the screwed-up lives of her family. I thought Clint balanced Viki, and to this day I miss the easy chemistry between Erika Slezak and Clint Ritchie. I think people take for granted just how precarious a position Viki could have been in after Joe died. Even the most popular characters can slowly lose steam. If not for her finding love again with Clint, Viki might not even be there today.

    Viki and Clint helped ground the show during the Rauch era of insanity. The ratings were never higher than stories which starred them. They always seemed so real, even when they were involved in time travel, or in Heavenly spaceships.

    What I liked most about Clint was his humor, his quiet, laconic manner. I also admired how Clint adopted Kevin and Joey and they truly were his sons.

    It makes me sad, because Clint was so degraded in the 90s, written off as a throwback, a bigot, a reactionary. I don’t think people realized what they had until it was gone. And I say this as someone who was a huge, huge, huge Jerry ver Dorn fan when he was on GL. I know there was no way Clint Ritchie could have continued in the role, but he will always be Clint to me, and he will always represent many of my fondest memories of the show.

    I know it’s a cliche but every time one of these actors passes on, I feel a little part of daytime going with them.

    Marlena says: I agree with you totally, Steve, about all these veteran deaths taking a little part of daytime when they go. As someone who has written too many obituaries and tributes in the last year, I feel depleted and depressed. So many of these great performers deserve more than a few paragraphs when they die, because think of how many thousands of hours of entertainment and joy they gave us throughout our lives.

    I loved One Life to Live in the 80s (save for Eterna, which was dreck) but I have to agree with your statement that it was Viki and Clint who grounded the entire show. I long for the days when older, well-established characters like Viki and Clint were given respect by the writers.

    When I wrote the column above, I purposely did not mention the actor involved in the Clint recast, because what does he have to do with Clint Ritchie’s death? I personally feel this is a time just to remember who Clint R. was, and what he brought to daytime all on his own. And that, as Asa might say, was a hell of a lot!

  6. Andrea says:

    I will miss this fabulous actor who tore at my heart when he fell in love with Victoria Riley! I will miss him greatly!

  7. Marianne says:

    Clint was one of those actors that Hollywood under used. I loved his small role in Centennial. He did a lot with what basically was a cameo.
    I remember back in the day when I worked at the Broadway Dept Store in Los Angeles. At lunch time all the women from the office buildings would come into the Electronics Dept to watch their soaps. This is where I discovered the wonderful actor Clint Ritchie.

    He was handsome. That goes without saying. But he was so much more than just a handsome face. His love of animals was what made me admire him even more than his acting. He gave these unwanted animals homes where they could live out their lives in peace. I hope they will all be given loving homes now that that wonderful man is gone.

    When I went online on Monday and saw AOL doing a story about a soap star having died, I never thought it would be him. I was shocked when I saw his face and read how he had passed away. It is the end of an era. An era, where a man treated a woman as a lady instead of his latest ho. Clint Ritchie was a throwback to the days of Cary Grant. A true gentleman. I felt his pain when I read how they had changed his character and he decided to walk away.
    This shows what character he had.

    I never got a chance to meet this wonderful man. And I felt sad that he never got married or had kids. He would have been a wonderful dad. To all of you who got to meet him, you are so lucky. A man like him only comes around once in a lifetime if ever. He truly was one of a kind. I know he is with God and his family , now. This world is now a sadder place that such a man is no longer part of it,.

    Marlena thank you for doing this memorial

    Marlena says: Thank you for this absolutely beautiful letter, Marianne. As I read this, I just learned about Phil Carey’s death this morning. There are no words for how sad this all is. What an awful, awful week this has been for soap fans!

  8. Debby Taylor says:

    I don’t think I can top the other responses except to echo their sentiments on what a fine actor and human being Clint Ritchie was. I will never forget what he brought to the show and will remember his poignant scenes with Erika and Erin Torpey and of course, with Phil Carey and Bob Woods!

  9. Debby Taylor says:

    I have to add my shock and deepest condolences to the family of Phil Carey. This is so unreal to lose both Clint and Phil within a week of each other. Hopefully they will reunite in Paradise. They were men’s men and will never be forgotten. They were bigger than life and had a strong presence which will never be replaced!

    I hope the show acknowledges their passings with dignity they deserve!

  10. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    What a lovely tribute to Clint Ritchie you’ve written here.

    He and Erika certainly did help ground the show during the wild and wonderful 80s. So often, we viewers, and often the writers, don’t seem to understand how important it is to have that grounding couple there until they’re not there.

    I especially appreciate JHS’s comments above about Clint Ritchie. Helps to understand the man to have that inside scoop about his portrayal.

    Tis a sad week with the news of Phil Carey’s death too. But I’m sure Bucky and Phil are having a grand ol’ time in Heaven now.

    Thanks to both for the wonderful memories.

  11. siport says:

    Hi Marlena,

    I’m so out of it I had no idea that Clint or Phil Carey had passed away. So close together: my Buchanan men. Count me as someone who loved Clint and Viki and thought and continue to believe they are a couple, no matter how many more guys Viki gets. Ritchie and Slezak had a chemistry that just couldn’t be beat, and I always believed that the show realized they had to choose between them and chose Slezak. I understand why they did, but I never believed any of Viki’s ‘ romances’, post-Clint while Ritchie was on the OLTL Canvas. They became tolerable after Ritchie left, and ver Dorn, though I do love him, isn’t Clint. He’s just not. He’s not a bad actor, but he’s not Clint.

    The Buchanans were originals, and they were family, even when they were prototypes. The original castings of Asa, Clint, Bo and even Cord, were on the money. They fit, and though I should have hated them, I loved them from the moment they pretty much took over the OLTL Canvas.

    It’s hard as a longtime soap viewer to be so wistful…I sound OLD when I say it..LOL

    But, those were times of character and actors hired to fit the characters. Actors with depth and quality. Just admit that casting these days doesn’t have these criteria as their top priority.

    RIP, Mr. Ritchie. This longtime fan thanks you.

    Marlena says: What a beautiful letter, sip! We “old” fans are still in this together, bound by our memories, affection, and knowledge exactly what elements are needed to produce the kind of truly great soap opera we witnessed for so many years.

  12. JHS says:

    Just a note to you, Marlena, Marianne, and all: Do not worry. Clint’s animals will be lovingly cared for. His family is seeing to that.

    As for Phil Carey . . . oh, how ironic that he should go just five days after Clint. They remained close to the end of their earthly lives and I’m sure that they had a great cowboy reunion in heaven.

  13. Clints Family says:

    JHS- and everyone…Beautifully put about my Uncle Bucky! He was and always will remain Larger than Life to me and many others.

    You can bet he and Philly are together livin’ it up and ready for a whole new type of ride!

    He truly is a legend and a legacy that will not be forgotten.

    JHS– Thank you for all you do and have done for him!

  14. Robin Fletcher says:

    While I like Jerry ver Dorn and am glad he made Clint his own, Clint Ritchie was a truly incredible actor who created a truly incredible character, one that will always be fondly remembered in my heart. R.I.P. Mr. Ritchie. Your fan, Robin Fletcher, Dallas, Texas

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