Nora Hanen

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Nora Hanen Buchanan
Hillary B. Smith as Nora Hanen Buchanan
One Life to Live character
Portrayed by Hillary Bailey Smith
Duration 1992–2013
First appearance September 16, 1992 (September 16, 1992)
Last appearance August 19, 2013 (August 19, 2013)
Created by Michael Malone
Introduced by
Classification Final, regular
Aliases The Nightbird
  • Lawyer
  • Host of Nightbird
Residence Buchanan Apartment #38
459 Wakashin Street
Llanview, Pennsylvania 19100

Nora Hanen Buchanan (formerly Gannon and Colson) is a fictional character on 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]


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 1990.[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 has 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 re-signed to 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]


When Nora debuted in 1992, she quickly made a connection with fans for her backstory as the Jewish attorney and ex-wife of prior-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 Viki 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 in 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 is soon followed by a slew of junk food eating and jitterbug dates. Bo and Nora first make love 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. Nora is diagnosed with a brain tumor, but during her recovery 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 flame 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 is able to continue 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 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 can't 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 did not follow through on being an involved father to his son. Regardless, Nora and Bo gladly accepted the role of grandparents and offered support to both Drew and Destiny. Nora also found time to return to her college passion of doling out advice as a disc jockey. With Bo's encouragement, she began hosting a radio call-in program and called herself the Nightbird.


  1. ^ Hillary B. Smith bio
  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. Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Smith To Stick Around!". Soaps In Depth. October 28, 2010. Retrieved May 19, 2009. 

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