Tuesday, February 10, 2009 8:05 PM EST | By Scotty Gore
(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — “One Life to Live” brings diversity back to Llanveiw by resurrecting the African-American Gannon family.Throughout the 1990s, the Gannon’s made quite a splash in Llanview. Patriarch Hank was the ex-husband of the town’s noted Caucasian defense attorney Nora Hanen; creating one of daytime television’s only interracial couples of the time. They also brought along their daughter Rachel and Hank’s brother R.J., whom it was later revealed had once had an affair with Nora while she was married to Hank. Over the years, Rachel would become a murderer and a drug addict, and R.J. a thorne in the side of the Llanview Police Department and his brother Hank, who became the District Attorney following the resignation of Herb Callison. But by the end of the decade, the Gannon’s had faded into the background and were rarely seen or mentioned by the residents of Llanview. However, all that is about to change as word comes that “One Life to Live” has plans to return the Gannon family to the spotlight. First there was casting call issued last month for the character of Rachel Gannon. The audition script involves Rachel discussing how best to handle her half-brother Matthew’s drug problem with her mother Nora. The scene has added importance given the character’s past drug use. Few other details have been released regarding the recasted role, however it is speculated that Rachel’s latest visit to Llanview may last more than just a few episodes. Ellen Bethea originated the role of Rachel in 1992. After leaving “OLTL” in 1995, she would return for brief stints in 2000, 2001, 2005, and 2006. In Bethea’s absence, Mari Morrow took over the role from 1995-96, and Sandra P. Grant from 1996-98. With the impending return of his daughter to Llanview, many “OLTL” fans began to wonder if Hank Gannon could be far behind. The wait proved to be short as Soap Opera Digest announced today on their website that Nathan Purdee will be bringing the elder Gannon brother back to Llanview beginning April 1st. The exact length of Purdee’s return to “One Life” in remains unknown at this time, however. Fans may recall that Purdee left “OLTL” in 2003 after eleven years with the show. During his time in Llanview, Hank Gannon was described an honest and trustworthy kind of guy. He quickly became best friends with his ex-wife’s new husband Bo Buchanan, and two worked side-by-side for years as District Attorney and Police Commissioner. But in 2003, following the bad publicity that surrounded the Mitch Laurence murder investigation, Hank resigned as District Attorney. Quickly fading into the background, Hank promptly disappeared from sight following Purdee’s departure from “OLTL.” Hank, now offscreen, began teaching law at Llanview University. The last mention of the character came from his brother R.J., who stated that Hank had moved back to Chicago to be closer to Rachel, and was now teaching law and coaching college football somewhere in the Windy City. With Hank and Rachel returning to the canvas, it could potentially mean more airtime for R.J. Gannon and his portrayer Timothy D. Stickeny, who remains on recurring status with “OLTL” despite the fact he was last seen nearly a year ago. However, only time will tell. “One Life to Live” airs Weekdays on ABC. Weeknights on SOAPnet. Check local listings.