Nora Hanen

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Nora Hanen
One Life to Live character
Portrayed by Hillary B. Smith
  • 1992–2013
  • 2017
First appearance September 16, 1992 (1992-09-16)
Last appearance November 21, 2017
Created by Michael Malone
Introduced by
Classification Former; guest
Other names
  • Nora Gannon
  • Nora Buchanan
  • Nora Colson
  • "The Nightbird"
  • Lawyer
  • Disc jockey
Residence Llanview, Pennsylvania

Nora Hanen is a fictional character from the American soap opera One Life to Live. The role was originated by Hillary B. Smith in September 1992, and she remained on the show through the original television finale on January 13, 2012.[1] Smith reprised the role when new regular episodes of OLTL began airing on Hulu, iTunes, and FX Canada via The Online Network in April 2013.[2][3] General Hospital executive producer Frank Valentini announced in January 2017 that Smith would crossover the role of Nora to General Hospital. Smith first appeared on March 6, 2017.


Nora is portrayed by actress Hillary B. Smith. Nora was introduced as a guest character in 1992, by head writer Michael Malone and executive producer Linda Gottlieb.[4] Prior to her casting in One Life to Live, Smith was already an established actress in the genre of daytime drama. She had previously starred as Kit McCormick on The Doctors in 1982, and one year later, taking over the role of Margo Montgomery Hughes on As the World Turns, a role she played from 1983 to 1989.[5] When she won the role of Nora on the show, producers were impressed with her hard-nosed approach to the character but wanted Smith to become a redhead and show Nora's soft side. Her first front-burner storyline was a six-week trial in which she defended local villain Todd Manning (Roger Howarth) and his fraternity brothers, who were accused of gang-raping college coed Marty Saybrooke (Susan Haskell).[6] The actress said in an interview with Soap Opera Digest, "When [then-Executive Producer] Linda Gottlieb told me [Nora] would be representing the rapists and would get them off, I was nauseated. To let the rapists get off — I thought that was a really bad message."[6]

Smith later persuaded the writers to change the outcome and a mistrial was declared.[6] Almost immediately after her debut, Smith, in the role of Nora, became a centerpiece of the show, particularly for her involvement in the multiple-Emmy Award winning rape trial storyline. Smith considered leaving the drama on several occasions.[6] When her contract was set to expire in 2005, Smith's character was put into a six-month coma. However, she signed another four-year contract that following December.[6] Smith inked a new contract again in 2010, making her a mainstay on the soap for twenty years.[7]

In January 2017, it was revealed that Smith will be reprising her role as Nora on General Hospital, making her the first actress to crossover to another soap since the end of Prospect Park's lawsuit against ABC.[8][9] She first appeared on March 6, 2017. On November 10, 2017, it was announced that Smith would reprise her portrayal of Nora on General Hospital, beginning from November 13 to 21, 2017.[10][11]


One Life to Live

When Nora debuted in 1992, she quickly made a connection with fans for her backstory as the Jewish attorney and ex-wife of previously-established African American Llanview District Attorney, Hank Gannon (Nathan Purdee), and mother to his daughter and Llanview University college student, Rachel (Ellen Bethea). She has an older sister, Susannah Hanen (Maureen Anderman), a psychiatrist who helped Victoria Lord (Erika Slezak) integrate her varied personas. Nora's popularity continued to grow as she played a key role in some of the show's most popular storylines on the 1990s, most notably the Marty Saybrooke (Susan Haskell) gang rape trial in 1993. The character is also known for her supercouple romance with Bo Buchanan (Robert S. Woods), culminating in their popular 1995 rock 'n' roll-themed wedding.

Nora meets Bo in October 1992; that Thanksgiving he and his wife Sarah (Jensen Buchanan) are involved in a hit and run accident and Sarah is killed. Over the next several months, Nora and Bo work side by side trying to track down the killer. The case is finally closed and the two had become best friends; slowly their relationship grows into romance one after a kiss on New Year's Eve. The couple's first date is at the Serenity Springs spa owned by Max Holden (James DePaiva), and it is soon followed by a slew of junk food eating and jitterbug dates. Bo and Nora first have sex in April 1993 and say, "I love you" in May 1993. However, Nora's chronic headaches worsen, leading her to believe that she was the one who had caused the accident leading to Sarah's death. Bo soon proves this to be false and proposes marriage. During Nora's recovery from a brain tumor, she is terrorized by former client Todd Manning (Roger Howarth), whom she had betrayed while defending him for Marty's rape, leading to his conviction. Bo and Nora marry on June 1, 1995, at St. James Church, the ceremony officiated by Reverend Andrew Carpenter (Wortham Krimmer), a rabbi, and Little Richard (as himself).

After Bo is devastated when his son Drew, a police officer, is killed in the line of duty, Nora hopes to conceive a child to give Bo a reason to live; out of desperation, she turns to former lover Sam Rappaport (Kale Browne). The pregnancy pulls Bo back onto his feet, but he and Nora later divorce when Sam's jealous ex-wife Lindsay (Catherine Hickland) publicly reveals that Nora's son had apparently been fathered by Sam. Sam dies in 2003 when Lindsay accidentally shoots him, leaving a letter behind that Lindsay delivers, stating that Bo is the biological father of Sam's supposed son, Matthew (Eddie Alderson).

Nora soon begins to see District Attorney Daniel Colson (Mark Dobies). Despite frequent crises with Bo, Nora continues her relationship with Daniel, who soon proposes. After their wedding, Nora begins suspecting that Daniel is having an affair. As Daniel is to become Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, Daniel is arrested for the murders of Paul Cramer (David Tom) and Jennifer Rappaport (Jessica Morris). Nora learns of Daniel's homosexual affair with Mark Solomon (Matt Cavenaugh), and Daniel is soon sent to prison.

Nora suffers a stroke and becomes comatose for months. After waking from her coma, Nora begins to put her life back on track, until more tragedy occurs. Nora's house catches fire, and she realizes that she is another victim of racist arsonist Tate Harmon (Chris Beetem). After having difficulty with her insurance, former father-in-law Asa (Philip Carey) invites Nora and Matthew to move in indefinitely. After Asa's death, he leaves the mansion to Nora in his will. During their time in Texas for the will reading, Nora and Clint Buchanan (Jerry verDorn) begin a relationship, which soon blossoms into love. Subsequently, Dallas Jones (Loyita Chapel), Clint's ex-girlfriend from London years earlier, re-enters the picture intent on rekindling their romantic relationship. Nora later tricks Dorian Lord (Robin Strasser), another ex-romance of Clint's, into giving Buchanan Enterprises back to the Buchanan family after she steals it out from under Clint out of revenge for his dumping her.

Nora and Bo's teenage son, Matthew, is in a car accident with drug-addict and Marty's teenaged son, Cole Thornhart (Brandon Buddy). He survives but is paralyzed from the waist down. Nora, who had taken in Cole after the "death" of his mother, is furious and initially wants to send Cole to prison. Remembering her daughter Rachel's own drug addiction, she later changes her mind and allows Cole to go into rehab instead.

Dealing with Matthew's paralysis brings Bo and Nora closer, sparking Clint's jealousy. Clint calls neurosurgeon Dr. Greg Evans (Terrell Tilford), who is confident he could restore the use of Matthew's legs, but when he cannot guarantee that Matthew will survive the operation, Nora and Bo refuse to allow Greg to operate on their son. Furious, Matthew quickly hires Téa Delgado (Florencia Lozano) to sue his parents for the right to make the choice himself. The matter is complicated when, on the night before Nora's wedding to Clint, Matthew catches his parents passionately kissing. He attempts to blackmail them into giving consent for the surgery; they call his bluff and ultimately Matthew cannot intentionally hurt his beloved uncle Clint by telling him what he saw.

Bo's growing feelings for Nora seem to be reciprocated, but a confused Nora simply will not allow herself to hurt Clint by pursuing them and backing out of the wedding. Clint's "20-minute girl" does ultimately tie the knot with him. Shortly after their wedding, Matthew sues Bo and Nora for the right to have an operation to make him walk again which brings Bo and Nora even closer as they unite to stop Matthew. When they "kidnap" him and take him to London, they finally confess their true feelings for each other and passionately kiss. Clint later finds out about Nora's feelings for Bo and confronts her; she admits that she's fallen back in love with Bo, and Clint quickly divorces her and disowns Bo.

Shortly after Bo and Nora's reunion, he is shot but survives. Bo and Nora remarry in June 2010. Several months into their marriage, Nora becomes jealous of Bo's attractive new secretary, Inez Salinger (Jessica Leccia), whom Nora is sure wants to steal Bo away from her. Inez begins dating Clint, who quickly blackmails her into seducing Bo as revenge against Bo and Nora for humiliating him with their reunion. Clint also pays Inez's evil ex-husband, Eddie Ford (John Wesley Shipp), to kidnap Nora and hold her hostage while Inez drugs Bo in an attempt to make him think they'd slept together. Though Eddie tries to rape Nora, she is eventually rescued, and Eddie is shot and killed shortly thereafter. Nora leaves Bo when she learns of his "affair" with Inez, but once Inez confesses to drugging Bo, Nora takes him back.

Bo and Nora focus on finding Eddie Ford's killer and are stunned when Clint informs them that Matthew was the culprit. After much soul-searching, Bo and Nora decide not to turn Matthew in and try to keep his role in Eddie's murder a secret. Bo and Nora welcome their grandson, Drew Buchanan II, to their family on the series finale episode January 13, 2012.

To Nora and Bo's dismay, Matthew does not follow through on being an involved father to his son. Regardless, Nora and Bo gladly accept the role of grandparents and offer support to both Drew and Destiny. Nora also finds time to return to her college passion of doling out advice as a disc jockey. With Bo's encouragement, she begins hosting a radio call-in program and calls herself the Nightbird.

General Hospital

Attorney Nora arrives in Port Charles, New York from Llanview, Pennsylvania in March 2017, first appearing in an encounter with Corinthos family attorney Diane Miller (Carolyn Hennesy). The former Llantano County, Pennsylvania district attorney comes to town as the hired private lawyer for Valentin Cassadine (James Patrick Stuart) in a child custody lawsuit for his daughter, Charlotte, against her biological mother Lulu Spencer Falconeri (Emme Rylan).


  1. ^ Hillary B. Smith bio (archived)
  2. ^ Hal Boedeker (25 January 2013). "'All My Children,' 'One Live to Live' reborn via Hulu". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  3. ^ Jolie Lash (25 January 2013). "One Life To Live, All My Children – New Episodes On The Way This Spring Via Hulu, iTunes". Access Hollywood. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  4. ^ Weinraub, Judith (February 7, 1992). "When Soap Gets in Your Eyes ...; `One Life to Live's' Michael Malone, Playing for Weeps". The Washington Post. Katharine Weymouth. Retrieved May 19, 2009.
  5. ^ "Hillary B. Smith: Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Hillary B. Smith 411". Soap Opera Digest. Archived from the original on September 19, 2015. Retrieved July 1, 2011.
  7. ^ "Smith To Stick Around!". Soaps In Depth. October 28, 2010. Retrieved May 19, 2009.
  8. ^ SOD (January 31, 2017). "HILLARY B. SMITH TO GH!". Soap Opera Digest. United States: American Media, Inc. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  9. ^ Evans, Greg (January 31, 2017). "'One Life To Live' Soap Vet Hillary B. Smith Checks In To 'General Hospital'". Deadline Hollywood. United States: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  10. ^ Soaps SheKnows (November 10, 2017). "Hillary B. Smith Returns to General Hospital as Nora". United States: SheKnows Media. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  11. ^ Frank Valentini (Executive producer); Shelly Altman and Chris Van Etten (Head writers) (November 21, 2017). General Hospital. Season 55. ABC.

External links

  • Nora Hanen profile – (archived)
  • Nora Hanen profile –
  • "Nora in a Nutshell". Retrieved March 27, 2010.
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