Colleen Zenk Pinter

Colleen Zenk Pinter
Colleen Zenk
Born January 20, 1953 (1953-01-20) (age 58)
Barrington, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Spouse Mark Pinter (1987 - 2010; 2 children)
Michael Crouch (1983 - 1986; 1 child together)

Colleen Zenk (born January 20, 1953) is an American actress.


Daytime career

She is best known for her role as fashionista-heroine-turned-evil-bitch-cougar-mother-from-hell Barbara Ryan on the daytime drama As the World Turns, a role she began portraying in September 1978.

For much of Zenk's run on the show, her character, Barbara, was tormented by her criminal ex-husband, James Stenbeck (played by Anthony Herrera). For a brief period in the mid-1980s, the character of Barbara was taken in a different direction by then-head writer, Douglas Marland, and became a romantic vixen. But for the most part, Barbara was a beleaguered heroine who faced one trial and tribulation after another.[citation needed] In 2001, then-head writer Hogan Sheffer took the character in a drastically different direction after the character suffered burns in a fire (as well as deceit by then-husband Craig Montgomery). As a result, the character became a villainess.[citation needed]

Sheffer was quoted in an August 2006 interview in industry magazine Soap Opera Digest that he wanted to give Zenk, who he felt was a capable actress, more to do than just pour coffee. Viewers were impressed that Zenk, who so consistently played the heroine, was so believable as a villainess, and so were critics; she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in 2001 and 2002. She was named Best Villain by Soap Opera Digest in 2003. In 2011, she was nominated for a third time for a Daytime Emmy in the Outstanding Lead Actress category.

As a long-running player on the show, Zenk was prominently featured during the show's 50th anniversary episode in April 2006.

Zenk remained the show's women-you-love-to-hate-yet-really-love in the show's last year. Finally finding happiness and marrying for the 9th time as the show came to an end in September 2010.

Theatrical roles

In 1980, Zenk co-starred alongside musical theatre legends Chita Rivera and Donald O'Connor in the sequel to "Bye, Bye, Birdie" titled "Bring Back Birdie", the biggest, most expensive flop to ever hit Broadway at the time. She was featured, singing and dancing with Albert Finney and Carol Burnett, in the movie musical "Annie" directed by the late, great John Huston.

In July 2005, Zenk starred as Dolly Levi in a tour of Hello Dolly! at the Academy Theater in Meadville, Pennsylvania and the Poconos Playhouse in the summer of 2005. Due to overwhelming audience response she was asked to reprise the role for a November 2005 run at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

In June 2007,three weeks after her initial three surgeries for Oral Cancer, in the 50th anniversary production at Little Theatre on the Square of Chicago, she starred as Phyllis Stone in Stephen Sondheim's "FOLLIES". Recovering from tongue reconstruction and on heavy pain medication for radiation burning and side effects, Zenk sang and danced with the 35 piece orchestra and brought down the house.

In April 2011, only 4 months after more cancer surgery to her tongue, she debuted her one-woman show "Colleen Zenk: LIVE" at Bob Egan's New Hope, to great critical acclaim. She will be featured in the new Off-Broadway show from the Araca Group, "Odyssey, the epic musical" at the American Theatre of Actors, October 21–30. Then, the long-awaited NY debut of her one-woman show "Still Sassy" will open at Feinstein's at the Regency, October 30 & November 6, 2011.

Personal life

She was born in Barrington, Illinois, studied drama at The Catholic University of America and performed there in 2006 to raise funds for drama scholarships.

In 1987, she married actor Mark Pinter, whom she met on the set of ATWT. Together, they raised 6 children (four from previous marriages and two from their union). They made their home in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Her step-daughter, Siri, is the "significant other" of Carson Daly.[1] The couple's son was born on March 16, 2009.[2]

In May 2010, it was announced that Zenk was suing for divorce. The divorce was finalized in August 2010.[3]

Cancer diagnosis

In 2007, Zenk was diagnosed with oral cancer. Through a series of four surgeries including brachytherapy radiation, Zenk's stage II cancer was treated. In October 2007, Zenk appeared on CBS's The Early Show to publicize the risk factors of oral cancer and to stress early screening. Colleen has partnered with The Oral Cancer Foundation to do additional interviews in print and TV media as well as produce public service TV announcements (PSA) on the importance of early detection. In January 2008 Zenk's oral cancer was integrated into As the World Turns story line, with her character Barbara Ryan receiving the same diagnosis. This happened as the Oral Cancer Foundation was looking for low cost ways to inform the American public about the risks from oral cancers. While a difficult role to play having just come out of treatment for the disease herself, she and the producers of ATWT agreed to the storyline. In spring of 2008, CBS donated approximately $500,000 in airtime minutes on their national affiliates for the PSA to play. In November 2008, her cancer returned. She had neck dissection surgery to remove 22 lymph nodes and then underwent five weeks of daily IMRT radiation ending in late February 2009. Like the character of Barbara Ryan, Zenk is also now cancer free. Hollywood, Health and Society honored her and "As The World Turns" for her courageous, truthful storyline. More surgery in late 2010 turned out to be a scare, pathology negative. She is now in remission.


  1. ^ Mark Pinter Excited for Grandchild's Birth Celebrity Baby Blog, January 13, 2009
  2. ^ "It's a Boy for Carson Daly" Yahoo news, March 16, 2009
  3. ^ [1] Suds Report,, May 14, 2010

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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