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Lucy's Bedside Vigil For Dad

Sunday News (New Zealand)

19 March 2006

SUNDAY , 19 MARCH 2006


When Hollywood star Lucy Lawless flew back to New Zealand to raise money for sick Kiwi kids, little did she know she would end up in a hospital vigil by her dad's bedside.

The Xena:Warrior Princess heroine gave up the Oscars a fortnight ago to take part in a charity ball for Auckland's Starship children's hospital.

Just days later she was at the side of her desperately ill father Frank Ryan in Auckland hospital's intensive care unit.

Frank, 73, the former mayor of Mt Albert, has had two operations for bowel cancer.

He has been drifting in and out of consciousness since the first surgery a fortnight ago.

Frank's older brother, noted Auckland lawyer Kevin Ryan, said Lucy and the rest of the family were distraught at his condition but were praying for his recovery.

"We want him back, we pray for him to come back and we believe he will be back," Kevin, 75, told Sunday News.

"Frank used to be a good boxer, he was the light-middleweight champion of the Waikato, so he's a fighter.

"We're hopeful and he has a prayer chain and the whole Ryan family are behind him and pray for his full recovery."

Frank was diagnosed with the cancer only about three weeks ago after a health scare while in Northland with his wife Julie.

The couple had returned days before from a fortnight's cruise around the Caribbean, shouted by Lucy.

"He came to visit me at home after he came back from the Caribbean," Kevin said.

"He'd enjoyed his trip, he was a box of birds, you wouldn't think that less than three weeks later he'd be in hospital."

Lucy is one of seven children. She was head girl at Marist College and studied languages at Auckland University.

She was the 1989 Mrs New Zealand before landing the Xena role in the mid-90s, which propelled her to global fame.

Lucy has three children and lives most of the year in Los Angeles with husband, American producer Rob Tapert. She also has a home at Auckland's Mission Bay.

A selfless supporter of charity causes, she has been involved in breast cancer research, the prevention of child abuse and the promotion of breastfeeding.

Lucy is a Starship Hospital Foundation board member, and has sponsored a Bangladeshi child.