The strained relationship between the actress and her mother got worse after they had an argument over Denise Quaid.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 8, 2021. It has since been updated.
Meg Ryan made a name for herself in the industry by portraying happy-go-lucky characters in romantic comedies. Even though she looks like a sweet person, some people who're close to her might disagree. Tom Hanks for example said, “Meg is not perky, I always got the distinct impression that this woman is not to be messed around with," and maybe he's right.
The actress has not been in contact with her parents ever since they had an argument about Dennis Quaid, whom she married in 1991. Although her father, Harry Hyra, said that they were on relative speaking terms. “I have a talking relationship with my daughter that I fostered for years, that I have worked hard to mend,” Hyra told People. But Ryan cut ties with her mother, Susan Jordan completely.
According to Amomama, the rift between Ryan and her parents started the day Jordan took her Ford Pinto and moved to New York to become an actress. “Susan was talented and had been a housewife since we got married,” Hyra revealed. So when she had enough of the family life, she left to follow her dreams. As the couple got divorced in 1976, Ryan was left with her father, brother, and two sisters.
The When Harry Met Sally actress mentioned in her interviews that her mother abandoned her kids to fulfill her own dreams but Jordan dismissed it all by saying that she took the job as an assistant to a casting director for Ryan, According to New York Post. “One of the main reasons I took that job was so I could meet all the agents and introduce them to Peggy.” Peggy was Ryan's nickname. “I tried out once for a part in a TV commercial to help pay for basic expenses that my job couldn’t cover.”
If things seemed to be getting better between the two after Jordan moved back with her children, the glimmer of hope soon disappeared after Ryan and her mother had an argument over her relationship with Quaid, whom she met in 1990, and his drug addiction.
But Jordan thinks that the whole ordeal was "a very handy thing for her to do, to present herself as a savior of this troubled soul who was a drug addict" because “everyone knows Meg as this wonderful persona, the saving angel for poor Dennis." She continued, "How would it have looked if it came out that I had noticed this first? She had to discredit me to preserve her image."
The estranged mother was heartbroken when Ryan didn't visit her after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1979. "... Every member of my family came to see me in the hospital after my mastectomy except for Peggy. She wouldn’t take one day off from college to come to see me. She didn’t even call. She said she just didn’t feel comfortable,” she said. In 1992, Jordan underwent a mastectomy, and it strained their relationship even further.
By the time Jordan's health issues got worse, Ryan had cut all ties with the parents. She even asked people close to her not to give her contact details to Jordan. The same year, Ryan gave birth to her son, actor Jack Henry, but Quaid made something very clear. “He told me I would never be able to see my grandson,” Jordan recalled. Nine years later, Ryan and Quaid got divorced.
Their split gave Jordan hope for reconciliation. She said, “If she called me now, I would tell her that I love her. It would give me peace to know that she is leading a happy life. I can’t blame Dennis Quaid, but I think it’s strange it all started with him. Now, I hope it’s not too much to pray that this separation ends with him, as well.”
However, Ryan's friends believe that there is no way the two have any hope of reconciliation. “Any reaction Meg might have is completely deserved. Her mother betrayed a parental bond,” said Nora Ephron. “Meg accepts that she’s not going to have a relationship with her mother, and that’s that.”
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photos by (L) Brenda Chase, (R) Dimitrios Kambouris