American actress Colleen Zenk Pinter was born on January 20, 1955 in Barrington, Illinois. She studied drama at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In 1978, she got her big break, when she joined the cast of the daytime soap As the World Turns. There, she plays the role of Barbara Ryan, a role which she didn’t originate, although her portrayal is the one most associated with the character.
Throughout Pinter’s run on the show, her character was portrayed as a heroine, encountering numerous hardships and challenges. She was particularly tormented by her ex-husband, criminal James Stenbeck (Anthony Herrera). Her character changed minimally, the most notable of which came in 2001, when she suffered burns in a fire and survives to become a villainess. The soap’s head writer, Hogan Sheffer, believed Pinter was a good actress who deserved more than being just a martyr figure. Her performance led to a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2002.
Pinter also appeared in films and on stage. Her first film, the mystery thriller You Better Watch Out, was released in 1980. In 1982, she appeared on the acclaimed musical film Annie, where she performed three songs for the soundtrack. In 1993, she appeared on the television movie Woman on the Ledge, appearing alongside Deidre Hall and Leslie Charleson. In 2005, she starred in a regional production of Hello Dolly!, where she played the female lead alongside her husband, fellow actor Mark Pinter.
Pinter was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2007. She has since recovered, and is working with the Oral Cancer Foundation to raise awareness and advocate early screening, through numerous interviews and PSAs. As a result, her character in As the World Turns received the same diagnosis.