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October 5, 2015

General Hospital celebrates 45th anniversary

by Allison Waldman, posted Mar 22nd 2008 11:32AM
GH logoHas it really been 45 years since General Hospital started broadcasting? Four decades + five years of medical machinations, legendary love stories, action and intrigue. Yes, yes, it's true, on April 1, ABC's General Hospital will celebrate 45 years on the air. Current executive producer, Jill Farren Phelps, will cut the cake and members of the cast will blow out the candles, but we're the ones that probably should be smiling. Memories of the great years gone by are inevitable with any show that's run as long as GH. But there's something special about this ABC soap.

It starts with Luke (Anthony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis), the romance that set the bar high for all daytime couples. Their 1981 wedding was the highest-rated episode in the history of American daytime TV. Over 30 million people were watching then, and nearly as many watched when Elizabeth Taylor joined the cast -- for a while -- as Luke and Laura's nemesis, Helena Cassadine. "We were all kind of scared to work with her, but she came on and she was so excited to be with us," recalled Sandy Masone, a sound engineer who's worked on the show for over 30 years. "She was so gracious. She even invited us back to her house for a party."

The story of Luke and Laura was unique because it was as much about action adventure as it was about hearts and flowers. More than any other daytime soap, General Hospital is action-packed. The storylines are dominated by mob wars and Maurice Benard's Sonny Corinthos is daytime's answer to Michael Corleone. There still some medical-based plotlines, but not as many and you'd think for a show called General Hospital.

In all, the 45th anniversary is very cool. As Ms. Phelps said, "You don't get to 45 years just because you're lucky." In addition to luck, they've had some notable actors pass through the halls in years gone by, like box-office star Demi Moore (who showed off her smoky voice as Jackie Templeton), primetime hearthrobs Jack Wagner (Melrose Place), John Stamos (Full House) and Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver), and singing stars Ricky Martin ("Living La Vida Loca") and Rick Springfield ("Jessie's Girl").

Looking ahead, GH will be going global. "Later this year, General Hospital will premiere in France. For us, it's not just about viewers on the broadcast network, it's about viewers around the world," said Brian Frons, ABC daytime prez.

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