General Hospital celebrates 50 years

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general hospital 50th anniversary

Two years ago, General Hospital was on the verge of cancellation. ABC believed that its daytime soap operas and their audiences weren’t worth the investment and pulled the plug on long-running serials All My Children and One Life to Live. In late 2011, it was announced that OLTL’s executive producer Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati would move over to General Hospital. Not only did the soap’s ratings rise, but they evaded cancellation (OLTL replacement, The Revolution was cancelled instead).

The new regime managed to revive interest by focusing less on the mob and more on the veteran characters the show was famous for, including romance and adventure. As veteran cast members and characters return for the 2013 Nurses Ball, let’s take a look at some of General Hospital’s most memorable moments:general hospital 50th anniversary

  • General Hospital hits the airwaves on April 1, 1963!
  • The Young Marrieds, a sister-soap for GH debuts on ABC in 1964 and airs until 1966. It was set in the suburb of Queens Point, which is the current home of several PC residents.
  • Dr. Steve Hardy (John Beradino) marries flight attendant turned nurse, Audrey March (Rachel Ames) in 1965.
  • 1966: Now in colour!
  • 1969: Dr. Steve Hardy makes a guest visit on ABC’s newest soap One Life to Live.
  • Also that year, nurse Jessie Brewer’s (Emily McLaughlin) philandering and much younger husband, Dr. Phil Brewer (Roy Thines) is believed to have died in a plan crash in South America – he’s discovered alive the following year.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • 1975: Dr. Lesley Faulkner (Denise Alexander) discovers that her baby didn’t die! Laura was switched at birth! A year later, Genie Francis takes over the role
  • Young married doctors Jeff Webber (a pre-MacGyver Richard Dean Anderson) and Monica Bard (originally Patsy Rahn, later Leslie Charleson) arrive in Port Charles…Monica’s actually got her sights set on brother-in-law, Rick (Michael Gregory, later Chris Robinson)
  • As ratings decline in 1978, ABC hires a new executive producer, Gloria Monty, giving her thirteen weeks to turn the show around. She does, with the help of famed writer Douglas Marland. Not only does the soap survive cancellation but it heads to first place in the ratings thanks to its focus on younger characters.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • The same year, nurse Bobbie Spencer (Jackie Zeman) asks for her older brother Luke’s (Anthony Geary) help to split up young lovebirds Luke and Scotty (Kin Shriner)
  • Heather Webber (Georganne LaPiereMary O’Brien and later Robin Mattson) ends up taking the LSD that she was planning on giving Diana…setting of a chain of crazy that continues to this very day!
  • Alan Quartermaine also comes to town to help fund a new hospital wing, his wealthy family follow him to town.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • 1979: A delirious Monica cries that Rick, not husband Alan, is the father of her baby (AJ) to Leslie (Rick’s wife) while giving birth – the kid ended up being Alan’s afterall
  • Luke rapes Laura at the Campus Disco
  • 1980: Tracy Quartermaine (Jane Elliot) refuses to give her dying father Edward his heart medication unless he changes her will! He was faking the whole time!
  • Luke and Laura spend Summer ’80 on the run from Frank Smith’s men
  • Alan sets a trap for Monica and Rick, but ends up saving them

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • 1981: While helping the Quartermaine’s locate the Ice Princess, the world’s largest uncut diamond, Luke found out from WSB (World Security Bureau) spy Robert Scorpio (Tristan Rogers) that the Ice Princess and its statue contained the formula to create carbonic snow (seriously!). The evil exiled-to-Greece Russia nobles, the Cassadines got their hands on the Ice Princess and managed to drop the temperature in Port Charles. They’re next step was to take control of the world, but Luke, Laura, Robert and actress Tiffany Hill (Sharon Wyatt) managed to stop Mikkos Cassadine (John Colicos) and his brothers, Victor and Tony.  They were hailed as heroes by the citizens of Port Charles — Luke and Laura saved the world, you guys!
  • Rick Springfield joins the soap as Dr. Noah Drake. His hit single, Jessie’s Girl hits number that summer.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • Luke and Laura are married on November 16, 1981 in a lavish outdoor ceremony. Mikkos’ widow, Helena Cassadine (played by GH fan Elizabeth Taylor) showed up a placed a curse on the bride and groom. Luke and Laura’s other wedding guests included her ex-husband Scotty, oh and about 30 million American viewers – the highest rated daytime television event in history. Princess Diana reportedly sent champagne for the occasion.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • The following year, Laura disappears from the docks. She turns up a year later (when Luke’s the mayor) but doesn’t mention she gave birth to Stavros Cassadine’s son! Luke spent Laura’s missing year searching for her but found Demi Moore and Janine Turnerinstead…he also had time to become the mayor of PC. Lesley and Rick adopt foster kid Blackie Parish (John Stamos). Robert marries Holly (Emma Samms).

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • 1984: Luke, Robert, Frisco (Jack Wagner) and Felicia (Kristina Wagner) search for stolen Aztec treasure in Mexico
  • Luke and Laura decide to leave Port Charles, but not before announcing that their expecting a kid
  • 1985: Finola Hughes (Anna Devane) joins the soap as Robert’s ex-wife and mother of his daughter, Robin (Kimberly McCullough).
  • Bobbie is left temporarily paralyzed in 1987.
  • Anna and Duke (Ian Buchanan) team up to save the world from a nuclear disaster. She on horseback, he on helicopter.
  • 1986: Monica and her lover Sean Donely (John Reilly) bankrupt the Quartermaines, leaving Lila (Anna Lee) to develop a pickled relish called “Pickle-Lila,” saving the company.
  • 1988: Anna is kidnaped by the evil Grant Puntnam (and his dog, Satan) and is rescued by Robert.
  • Tracy’s son, Ned Ashton (Kurt McKinney) shows up and has an affair with his uncle’s wife, Monica!

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • 1990: Robin makes a new friend – Casey, an alien from Lumina! Lucy wears red to her wedding to Alan.
  • 1992: Cesar Faison (Anders Hove) kidnaps Anna. Robert finds her, but the boat explodes leaving them for dead! Mac becomes Robin’s guardian.
  • Brenda! Brenda! Brenda! Vanessa Marcil makes her debut as Brenda Barrett, Julia’s 17-year-old sister. Brenda became an honourary member of the Quartermaines, Robin’s “big sister” and our pretend girlfriend.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • 1993: Luke and Laura return with their son Lucky (Jonathan Jackson)!
  • John Ingle takes over the role of Edward Quartermaine from David Lewis.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • In an effort to compete with primetime soap Beverly Hills, 90210, GH developed a popular teenage crowd in the mid-90s. In addition to Brenda, there were Jason (Steve Burton) and AJ Quartermaine (Sean Kanan), Jagger Cates (Antonio Sabato Jr.), Karen Wexler (Cari Shayne), Robin Scorpio (Kimberly McCullough) and Keesha Ward (Senait Ashenafi).

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • 1994: No! Not Barbara Jean! Frisco and Felicia’s daughter Maxie received her cousin BJ’s heart following a bus accident. We still get chills when we think of Tony (Brad Maul) listening to BJ’s heart beat in Maxie’s chest for the first time.
  • Edward’s past with Mary Mae Ward (Rosalind Cash) is revealed.
  • Ned (now Wally Kurth) marries Lois (Rena Sofer). Their daughter, Brook Lynn, is born two years later.
  • Luke and Laura welcome their daughter, Lesley Lu “Lulu” Spencer into the world.
  • The first annual Nurses Ball takes place, benefitting AIDS research
  • 1995: While being treated for breast cancer, Monica meets Paige Bowen and later adopts her daughter Emily after Paige dies. Emily (Amber Tamblyn) and Lucky become best friends.
  • A drunken A.J. crashes his car, leaving Jason with severe brain damage…Jason becomes stone cold Jason Morgan, ditching the Quartermaines and medical school.
  • Robin’s boyfriend Stone dies of AIDS: “I can see! Robin, I can see,” still haunts us as a nearly blind Stone cries out on his deathbed.
  • Ned, Lois and Mac convince Brenda to wear a wire when talking to Sonny.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • 1996: Nikolas Cassadine (Tyler Christopher), Laura’s son with Stavros (or was it Stefan (Stephen Nichols))? comes to town and saves Lulu’s life (he was a bone marrow match!). Attorney Alexis Davis (Nancy Lee Grahn) aka Natasha Cassadine also comes to town.
  • Brenda hooks up with Miguel (Ricky Martin)
  • Clinkboom! Sonny’s pregnant wife Lily (Lilly Melgar) dies in a car explosion, meant for him.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • Carly Benson (Sarah Brown) comes to town, hell-bent on seeking revenge from Bobbie, who gave her up for adoption. Carly manages to seduce Bobbie’s husband Tony! She also sleeps with Jason and A.J. and finds herself pregnant with baby Michael.
  • Brenda’s love triangle between mobster Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) and corporate raider Jasper “Jax” Jacks (Ingo Rademacher) is described as “the hottest love triangle in soap opera history.”
  • 1997: Port Charles, a spin-off originally focusing on interns (and later vampires) premieres. Scotty, Karen (Jennifer Hammond, later Marie Wilson), Kevin (Jon Lindstrom), Lucy and Scotty cross over.
  • 1998: After Elizabeth (Rebecca Herbst) is raped, Lucky finds out that Luke raped Laura all those years ago.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • Brenda’s car goes off a cliff and is presumed dead!
  • 1999: Lucky is presumed dead in a fire but he was actually kidnapped by Helena Cassadine (now Constance Towers) and Faison! Lucky resurfaces with a lot of angst and a lot of hair (with Jacob Young in the role).
  • Robin tells A.J. (now Billy Warlock) the truth: he’s Michael’s father, not Jason!
  • 2000: Wait, was that Brenda? Jax (Ingo Radamacher) heads out of town.
  • 2001: Tamara Braun takes over the role of Carly.
  • Robin heads over to All My Children when Anna is found alive.
  • 2002: Laura slips into catatonic state after she believes she’s killed Rick.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • Brenda’s alive! She breaks up Jax’s marriage to Skye (Robin Christopher) and later marries Jason so they can’t testify against one and another.
  • The next year, Jax leaves Brenda at the altar fearing that she still loves Sonny. Brenda decides to leave Port Charles and goes to Europe.
  • 2003: Sonny accidentally shoots Carly in the head as she’s giving birth to Morgan.
  • Emily (now Natalia Livingston) returns to PC and hides that she’s been diagnosed with breast cancer. In order to hide her prognosis from boyfriend Zander (Chad Brannon), Em asks Nik to pretend to fake a romantic relationship. The pair actually end up falling in love and Emily is cured of her cancer!
  • Port Charles is cancelled with GH signing breakout star Kelly Monaco, as a new character named Sam McCall. Sam is later revealed to be Alexis’ daughter.
  • Tracy Quatertmaine returned and proved that Skye wasn’t Rae’s (Linda Dano) daughter with Alan.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • 2004 saw the Port Charles Hotel fire where Alexis confessed to Carly that Sonny was Kristina’s father.
  • Lila Quartermaine passes away in her sleep.
  • Kirsten Storms replaced Robyn Richards as Maxie Jones.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • 2005: Luke tricks Tracy into marriage. A train accident occurs following Lucky (now Greg Vaughan) and Liz’s wedding. Laura Wright assumes the role of Carly, a few months after the show miscast the role with Jennifer BransfordJulie Marie Berman debuts as a teenage Lulu and breaks up Dillon Quartermaine’s (Scott Clifton) marriage to Georgie Jones (Lindze Letherman). Sam brings Robin back to Port Charles so that she can treat Jason. Robin falls for Dr. Patrick Drake (Jason Thompson), son of Dr. Noah Drake.
  • 2006: A virus outbreak has Port Charles quarantined; killing Tony Jones but not before his son Lucas (Ben Hogestyn) comes out to him. The virus storyline was even referenced onSaturday Night Live! Robert also returns!
  • Lucky’s hooked on pills and falls into Maxie’s bed, while Liz hooks up with Jason. Lulu aborts her baby with Dillon.
  • General Hospital: Night Shift debuts on American cable network SOAPnet and airs for two seasons.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • Robin and Patrick give Laura an experimental drug, which brings her out of her catatonic state. Unfortunately, it’s temporary and she returns to catatonia following her and Luke’s 25th wedding anniversary.
  • 2007: Sam tells Lucky the truth: Jason is Jake’s father! Lucky splits with Liz and begins a steamy affair with Sam.
  • Jerry Jacks (Sebastian Roche) takes the Metro Court hotel hostage. The lobby is destroyed, Robin is shot and Alan dies following a heart attack.
  • The “text message killer” kills off Emily Quartermaine and Georgie Jones, devastating fans
  • 2008: Sarah Brown returns, but as Claudia Zacchara, Johnny’s (Brandon Barash) sister, who is later retconned into his mother!
  • Lulu kills Scotty’s illegitimate son Logan (Josh Duhon) in self-defense. Laura wakes up to defend her when Scotty comes looking for her.
  • Twisting the knife: Natalia Livingston returns, but as Emily’s long-lost twin sister, Rebecca.
  • Twisting the knife even further: Luke has a bastard son with Holly Sutton (Emma Samms) named Ethan Lovett (Nathan Parsons).
  • Robin goes into labour at her wedding to Patrick in November. Little Emma is born and the couple get married on New Year’s Eve.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • 2009: Carly marries Jax.
  • James Franco joins the soap as serial killer Robert Frank who becomes obsessed with Jason. He’s later revealed to be Jason’s twin brother who was sold on the black market by Heather Webber.
  • Maxie and Spinelli (Bradford Anderson) have their non-wedding.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • 2010: Michael is sent to prison after he kills Claudia while trying to defend Carly and his baby sister Josslyn. Jason gets himself arrested so that he can protect Michael (Drew Garrett, later Chad Duell) in jail, but it’s too late: Franco has someone rape Michael.
  • Sonny shoots undercover cop Dante Falconneri (Dominic Zamprogna), who turns out to be his son with Olivia (Lisa LoCicero)!

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • Sonny finds Brenda in Italy. She later comes back to Port Charles so Jason can protect her from the Balkan. Back in PC, it’s revealed that Brenda shared a past with Sonny’s son, Dante, while she was in New York.
  • Jonathan Jackson returns as Lucky just as Liz’s affair with Nikolas is exposed.
  • 2011: Brenda and Sonny marry in February but decides to leave him when she realizes that being Mrs. Corinthos will put her newfound son, Alec, in danger. Jax, who is also on his way out, gives Brenda and Alec a ride to Europe.
  • Goodbye crying cowboy: Lucky skips town a few months after Nikolas – leaving Liz all alone.
  • Lulu and Dante get married.

general hospital 50th anniversary

  • Jason and Sam finally get married! Franco rapes Sam on her honeymoon, leaving her to wonder who the father of her baby is.
  • 2012: One Life to Live head writer Ron Carlivati and executive producer Frank Valentini move over to General Hospital, save it from cancellation!
  • They also bring with them Todd Manning (Roger Howarth), Starr Manning (Kristen Alderson) and John McBain (Michael Easton).
  • After years of tormenting Robin, Patrick and viewers, Lisa Niles (Brianna Brown) is murdered by Patrick’s brother, Dr. Matt Hunter (Jason Cook).
  • Robin is presumed dead in a hospital lab explosion. She’s later revealed to be held captive by Faison and then Jerry Jacks.
  • Anna decides to stay in Port Charles following Robin’s memorial service to be closer to Emma and takes a job as Police Commissioner at the PCPD after Mac steps down.
  • Jerry Jacks poisons Port Charles’ water supply, leaving PC’s 99% to try to raise funds and get the antidote. John Ingle passes away days after his final appearance as Edward Quartermaine where Edward gives Emma Drake the first test antidote.
  • Sam get’s her baby back and he’s Jason’s!
  • Jason is shot in the back (by Faison) and kicked into the harbour.
  • A very-much alive A.J. (played once again by Sean Kanan) returns to comfort Monica following Jason’s death.
  • With Robert, Luke and John’s help, Anna discovers that “Duke” is really Faison wearing a mask. The real Duke returns to Port Charles with her.
  • Robert finds Robin alive, but slips into a coma following an injection from the evil Dr. Obrecht (Kathleen Gati).
  • Edward Quartermaine’s memorial is held with Ned and Skye returning. Edward and Lila reunite in the afterlife, leaving fans sobbing.
  • New nurses Sabrina Santiago (Teresa Castillo) and Felix Dubois (Marc Samuel) track down Lucy Coe to help revive the Nurses Ball! Meanwhile, evil doc Britt Westbourne (Kelly Thiebaud) plots to seduce Patrick.
  • 2013: Following some “vampire” stuff, Lucy manages to successfully revive the Nurses Ball!
  • Tracy and A.J. face off for ELQ!
  • Laura returns to Port Charles and accepts Scotty’s proposal when she thinks Luke has moved on with Anna. Lulu is kidnapped, forcing Luke and Laura to team and search for their daughter!

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About Author

Jeevan Brar is a digital content producer and freelance entertainment writer based in Toronto. Jeevan has managed The TV Watercooler since 2008, the Canadian blog has focused on daytime soaps, primetime hits and reality TV guilty pleasures. The blog has also connected Canadian soap fans with exclusive interviews with the cast of enduring daytime dramas The Young and the Restless, Days of our Lives, General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful. 'Like' The TV Watercooler on Facebook. You can also follow Jeevan on Twitter and Google+.

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