Gloria Monty '38
Gloria Monty O’Byrne ’38 was inducted posthumously into the AHA Fine & Performing Arts Hall of Fame in 2010. Gloria used her experiences under the dome in Fort Lee as a springboard to her future successes. She was involved in the drama club, the Gay Pretenders, all four years and was named president in her senior year. Gloria also sang with the Glee Club. A classmate remarked in the 1937 edition of Echoes, “How many classes have been brightened by the spontaneous wit of Gloria Montemuro.” Gloria was just 16 when she graduated from Holy Angels. She went on to pursue a degree at the University of Iowa. She received a Master’s degree in drama from Columbia University. In 1952, Gloria married Robert O’Byrne and the two opened their own acting company in New York City.
Gloria worked as a producer/director of Broadway, Off-Broadway and Summer Stock productions. In 1950, she was hired as an Associate Director for the CBS soap The First Hundred Years. A year later, she became the first woman to ever be hired as a Director tv daytime drama for Love of Life. In 1954, she became Director of CBS’ Secret Storm where she remained for ten years. NBC’s Bright Promise was her next stop and she remained there until 1961. In 1978, Gloria took the reigns as Executive Producer of the daytime drama General Hospital. When she was asked to take on the responsibility for General Hospital, it was four weeks away from cancellation. In addition to Executive Producer she also directed and wrote story lines which took the soap from the ratings’ basement to the number one spot, where it would remain for the next seven years and resulted in an estimated $100 million for the network. In 1981, General Hospital had the highest ratings in daytime history (30 million viewers) with the wedding of Luke & Laura. When asked to reflect on her career, Gloria said, “I think my best talent was directing. I’m basically a director; that’s what made it for me at General Hospital.” In 1987 Gloria left General Hospital and began work in film and tv movies. She was the Executive Producer of the films: Promises, Ludlum Equation and Community Hospital (of which she was co-creator). She also co-created the following for tv: River City, Untitled and Women in History. Gloria returned to General Hospital in 1991and remained for two years.
Gloria won two Emmys when General Hospital was named Outstanding Drama Series in 1981 and 1984. She was named by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Interesting People in the World and was the inspiration for the soap producer character in the film Tootsie. In 1997, Gloria was named by NJ Governor Christie Whitman to serve as chairperson of the NJ Film commission and in 1998 she was inducted into the Soap Opera Hall of Fame.
On March 30, 2006, Gloria passed away after a valiant fight with cancer. She is remembered by the actors she cast during her tenure. John Stamos (GH’s Blackie) recalls “She really changed the face of soap operas. She would block a scene and she would always want movement. We would start a scene standing and she’d say, ‘Why don’t you blast out of the door?’ I think she introduced fast pacing to daytime.” Tony Geary (GH’s Luke), who worked with Gloria on Bright Promise and General Hospital was quoted as saying “It is difficult to express what Gloria meant to me. She was the guardian angel of my career. She taught me to believe in myself as an actor in a profound way. She literally handed me a lifetime of work in the form of one character.”