Reflecting On The Past, Looking To The Future, ‘General Hospital’ Celebrates 60 Years On Air


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At one time, there were 15 soap operas on the air. Now there are just four.

One of those that has stood the test of time is General Hospital. This is evidenced by the fact that on April 1st the serial drama will mark their 60th anniversary of being in existence.

Set in the fictional seaport town of Port Charles set in upstate New York, the show is the show was the brainchild of married writers Frank and Doris Hursley.

Filmed in Hollywood, California, the cast and crew have produced over 15,000 episodes and counting, with the title hospital as the centerpiece of the series.

The producing and writing teams of GH consistently deliver 250 storylines a year, all filled with a combination of romantic moments, dysfunctional family dynamics, suspenseful weddings, social and medical issues, twisted villains, adventurous heroes, and more.

The series has received the Emmy Award for Outstanding Daytime Drama a record 15 times, and the medical drama is currently the longest-running scripted drama on television in production.

In honor of reaching six decades on the air, the show will kick its anniversary programming on Wednesday, March 29th with a special episode honoring the late Sonya Eddy. Eddy played General Hospital‘s head nurse Epiphany Johnson starting in 2006 until her sudden passing in December of 2022.

The week of April 3rd will feature the return of the Nurses Ball, a charity event focused on raising awareness for HIV/AIDS.

And, as the observance of the anniversary run continues, icons of Port Charles will unite to stop a legendary threat from the past.

Co-head writer Dan O’Connor explained that the celebration takes place over a period time because, “there’s no way to condense 60 years of history into one show or one storyline. So, we thought the best way to honor the past of the show and the future of the show and where we are going is to use the nurses’ ball as a jumping-off point, as an opportunity to bring our beloved cast and characters together to acknowledge what we had done in the past and to set up storylines for the future.”

Longtime cast member Genie Francis, who joined the show in 1977, is responsible for one of the biggest storylines on the series, the romance and wedding of Luke and Laura.

She says about the experience, “It’s hard to put that in just one sentence. It’s still sinking in to me how big a deal it was. At the time, I knew it was popular, but I never dreamed that we would be celebrating the 60th and still talking about that moment.”

Francis was just 19 years old when she shot the elaborate wedding sequence.

As for her memories of that day, she says, “I think of what an uncomfortable day that was to shoot, in super-spiked high heels, sinking in the mud. I [had] that headdress on, which is pretty, but it was wired, and it was sticking in my head, and I was not allowed to sit down because you couldn’t wrinkle that dress. And everybody was super tense because it was such a big deal. After the ceremony, and we started to dance, then I actually started to have fun. But, before that, it was a very tough day of shooting.”

While the actual wedding was filled with both happiness and traditional soap opera drama, there’s still discussion about the controversial beginnings of the super couple, which involved sexual assault.

Francis addresses this, saying, “The date-rape issue. I had a feeling I was going to be asked about that. You know, as a young kid at 17, I was told to play rape, and I played it. I didn’t even know what it was. But, at 17, you follow the rules, and you do as you are told, and you aim to please.”

She continues with, “At 60, I don’t feel the need to defend that anymore. I think that the story was inappropriate, and I don’t condone it, and it’s been a burden that I’ve had to carry to try to justify that story, and so I’m not doing that anymore. I think, when a woman says ‘No,’ that she should be listened to, and if you replay that scene, you don’t have Laura just saying ‘No, ‘You have her screaming ‘No.’”

Having expressed this, Francis says that having continued to play the character all these years, she feels ‘very fortunate to have this new reinvented Laura.’

“I love who she is in the present day. She was such a victim as a young woman, and to see it flip around and have her be this powerful woman who is the mayor of the town. She doesn’t take crap from anyone. She’s a strong woman. She’s a good role model for other women. I love my Laura today. I loved my Laura then too, but this is where it needed to go,” she explains.

Not only have the characters evolved but so has the production of the show, says Francis. “We did it as though it were live [and] it was terrifying. I remember having trick clothes so that you could exit one set and rip them off as you ran to the next one. There was no such thing as making a mistake.”

While the actors are no longer doing it live, they are still working very fast, to which Rebecca Herbst, who has played Elizabeth Webber since 1997, says, “I love the pace of the show. I may be the only one. But I love that we get in and get out, and we do 250 episodes, I think, a year. I don’t get bored. I like that we work fast.”

Writing those 250 episodes is a challenge, says O’Connor, “but I think what helps the process is that our entire team of women and men absolutely love the show. We grew up watching the show. I still have to pinch myself sometimes when I’m writing certain characters. I think the love for the show is what gets us through and keeps us going.”

Within those storylines fellow co-head writer, Chris Van Etten, stresses that, “We strive to remain relevant. We’re always consuming news and doing our best to keep our finger on the pulse so that the cast have the opportunity to portray stories that meet the audience where they live.”

This is one of the reasons that executive producer Frank Valentini believes that General Hospital has outlasting so many of the now defunct daytime series, as he says, “In a very competitive television market, where we’re competing with streaming and everything else, the fact that we’re still going strong, and able to tell stories that no one else can tell in a three-dimensional, attenuated way where we can tell everyone’s point of view, is a testament to not only to [the actors], but the people who are back in the studio shooting a very tough episode today as well. Next year we’ll celebrate 61. It won’t be such a big celebration, but I think every year it’s an accomplishment to stay on the air and to be relevant and to be something that people talk about and care about.”

‘General Hospital’ airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for the exact time in your area. The series is also available for streaming on and Hulu.

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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