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Ten actors who helped make General Hospital shine

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 20th 2008 12:02PM
GH logoIn honor of General Hospital's 45th year on the air, AOL came up with a terrific photo trivia quiz which was like a trip down memory lane for longtime fans like me. Seeing all those familiar faces made me realize that through the years there have been some wonderful actors who've called Port Charles home. Here's ten that were memorable and, in my opinion, let an indelible mark on General Hospital.

Amber Tamblyn (1995-2001)
When the producers and writers of GH realized the quality of an actress they had with Amber Tamblyn, they took this 12 year old girl and made her an important part of the Quartermaines, a core family. She appeared as Emily Bowen, the daughter of Page, a woman Monica befriended while they were undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. When Page died, Monica and Alan adopted Emily and she became part of the family, and eventually the conscience of the squabbling, occasionally unscrupulous clan (along with Lila). Amber grew up on GH, going through growth spurts and the emotions of the awkward years. She never failed to convey a reality and truth in her acting. She was a shooting star, passing through GH on the way to bigger things, like Joan of Arcadia.

Emma Samms (1982-85; 1992-93; 2006)
Long before her stint on Dynasty and The Colbys, Emma Samms had captivated daytime watchers as Holly Sutton, the gorgeous, but devious, con artist who crossed paths with Luke (at a time when Laura was MIA), before finding her perfect mate in Robert Scorpio. Robert married Holly to keep her from being deported; and their marriage of convenience turned into a real love story. They were the TV equivalent of Nick and Nora Charles from the Thin Man movies, funny, loving, adventurous, playful -- everything but the martinis. Emma brought class to GH and played beautifully with both Anthony Geary and Tristan Rogers. Unlike so many soap heroines, Emma stood out as lovely, lovable and frothy, a welcome presence every time she rejoined the show.

Jack Wagner (1984-88; 1989-91; 1994-95)
As Frisco Jones, Jack Wagner got to do all kinds of fun things on GH. He was a singer with Blackie Parrish's band. He joined the Port Charles Police Department and was a rookie cop. He was recruited into the WSB (World Security Bureau) and became a spy. Along the way, he fell for Felicia -- a modern day, Aztec princess. If all this sounds ridiculous, it was. But it was also fun. Jack even had a number one AC hit with the song "All I Need" in part thanks to GH promoting the song. Wagner cut his teeth on the soap, perfecting the sardonic style he brought to Melrose Place. Good looking, but not a bodybuilder hunk, Jack was at his best playing against the hero type. If he left The Bold & the Beautiful (where he's currently Nick Marone) tomorrow to return to GH, he'd been a welcomed return.

Demi Moore (1982-83)
General Hospital was looking for an actress in the Margot Kidder/Karen Allen style (it was the era of Superman and Raiders of the Lost Ark). When 19-year-old Demi Moore showed up, the first thing they loved about her was the voice. That husky growl contrasted with her good looks and mesmerizing eyes. She was cast as Jackie Templeton, an aggressive, ambitious reporter who caught the eye of Robert Scorpio. Demi's role on GH was short -- just two years -- but she made a strong impression. Within a few years she was part of Hollywood's Brat Pack and her movie stardom took off. GH sort of caught lightning in a bottle a second them when they brought Janine Turner -- pre-Northern Exposure -- on the show as Jackie's sister, Laura.

Ian Buchanan (1986-89)
Great looks, great accent, great actor...that is Ian Buchanan. He was a former model when he turned up on GH as Duke Lavery, a master criminal. For three amazing years, he was the center of a terrific love story -- with Finola Hughes' Anna -- and just became a star before your eyes. When he left, he immediately reappeared in primetime on Twin Peaks (as Dick Tremayne) and It's Garry Shandling's Show (as Ian McFyfer). He was versatile and idiosyncratic. To this day, GH fans still wish Duke Lavery could come back just so Ian could return to the canvas. He occasionally drops into The Bold & the Beautiful still; like in the last month or so.

Jonathan Jackson (1993-99)
Like Amber Tamblyn, Jonathan Jackson grew up before our eyes on General Hospital. Unlike Amber, though, Jonathan came onto the show with huge expectations thrust upon him. He was Luke and Laura's son, Lucas Lorenz Spencer, Jr. -- Lucky. He had to be up to speed in scene with Genie Francis and Anthony Geary, a wise beyond his years ten year-old who knew how to get cross-country on his own when he parents were being pursued by mob king Frank Smith. Jonathan was perfect right out of the gate; he looked, sounded and acted like he'd be Luke's kid. He was sensitive like Laura, too, not just a smart ass kid. In six years on the show, Jonathan made Lucky his own. He won three Daytime Emmys for his performances as Lucky, and he's still the real Lucky to many people, even though two other actors have subsequently played the part.

Rena Sofer (1994-96)
Before 24, Heroes, Coupling, Blind Justice, Just Shoot Me, Oh, Grow Up, Ed and all the other primetime series in which she's been involved, Rena Sofer made a Brooklyn girl named Lois Cerullo one of the most memorable characters on GH in the '90s. Tough talking with a heart of gold, Lois was intimately involved with Ned Ashton, his family -- the Quartermaines -- as well as Sonny Corinthos (her old friend from Bensonhurst) and his main squeeze Brenda Barrett. These were all very colorful characters and the show really popped while they were front and center. Rena showed her flair for comedy as well as drama as Lois. The same qualities that keep getting her cast on primetime shows. For her role as Lois, she nabbed the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 1995. (By the way, she's currently, she's pregnant with her third child.)

John Stamos (1982-84)
He was Blackie Parrish and he was a cool guy. Even the name was cool for the time. John Stamos was every bit the teen heartthrob in his tenure on General Hospital. He was a tough street kid whom Rick and Lesley Webber adopted. He started a band, Blackie and the Riff Raff, but ultimately got into trouble -- involuntary manslaughter -- when Lou Swenson, his girl, died accidentally. It was a convenient way to write John Stamos out of the show because he was ready for bigger challenges than daytime. So Blackie got ten years in prison, and Stamos got Full House, then Jake in Progress and now ER. GH fans are still waiting for Blackie to return, having done his time (and then some).

Finola Hughes (1991-2007 -- on and off)
There was something distinct about Finola Hughes from the second she appeared on GH. Oh yeah, they stuck a big huge scar on her face (not the best makeup job), so there was that. But the clip Brit accent, the tone of the ultimate Bond girl, Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), a dash of Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) from The Avengers, Finola Hughes was the whole package. Her storylines kicked ass, too. Anna Devane was involved with WSB spy Robert Scorpio, his former partner, ex-wife and mother of his child. But she was also a double agent. She went straight, became the chief of police, had another big time love affair with Duke Lavery (Ian Buchanan), and -- oh, yes, she won a Daytime Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actress. What I love about Finola is that even though she's done lots of primetime -- including hosting How Do I Look on the Style Network -- she still comes back to GH to play Anna Devane. She's coming back this week to learn that she's going to be a grandmother. Robin is preggers. One thing for sure, she will be a very cool granny.

Lynn Herring (1987-2003)
I miss Lynn Herring on GH as Lucy Coe. She was one of those actresses that could play comedy, drama, good girl, bad girl, she was a character that was completely fun and arresting. She was so good as Lucy, who started as a prim librarian who was keeping a secret life under wraps, that when General Hospital spun off another soap, Port Charles, Lynn was the anchor. Her character was the link between the two shows -- until Port Charles went all Dark Shadows and entered another reality altogether. She's been out of the TV loop for a while -- raising her kids with husband and co-star Wayne Northrup (the original Roman Brady on Days of Our Lives) -- but she could easily walk into the Quartermaine mansion one day in the future and pick up right where she left off.

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Claire Quilty

Demi "I can't act my way out of a paperbag" Moore? She made an indelible impression on me, too like even the great Gloria Monty could screw up royally in casting.

Loved John Stamos but helping the show shine is a bit much.

Here's my list:

1. John Beradino.

This man was GH. He was the heart and soul of this show. Steve Hardy was the beacon to the staff and to the audience. It's a shame Guza and Company have forgotten. I never will. Indelible shine, indeed.

2. Leslie Charleson, Stuart Damon, Denise Alexander and Chris Robinson

Yes I listed them as a whole because although they are great as individual characters (particularly LC as Monica, imo, who brought to life the greatest female character in soap history) they made their greatest mark together in the quadrangle to end all quadrangles.

They saved the show from cancellation and brought it to number #1. I think that kind of "shine" needs to be recognized. And as GH just celebrated its 45th it's pretty indelible.

3. Tony Geary

This man threw himself into what was to be a throw away character that died after helping his sister come between the Scotty/Laura pairing. He went on to to become an icon. Newsweek covers made his presence extra shiny.

4. David Lewis and Anna Lee

The Quartermaine parents. No disrespect intended to John Ingle but there was only one true Edward Quartermaine and that was Mr. Lewis.

What in other hands could've just stayed a background support of worried parents became the patriarch and matriarch of the show. Edward and Lila were a entity separate from their son and daughter in law and were a huge part of what made the Quartermaines THE premier (and longest lasting) family of GH.

Though both are gone (RIP) they shine on and are most assuredly indelible in the wonderful lasting impression they left on GH and its viewers.

5. Finola Hughes

I concur on this. For the first time a woman was saving the day. Anna not only stood out for her popular pairings Robert and Anna, Duke and Anna but because she could stand alone.

Anna was a feminine, sexy, capable spy turned police chief. She brought in the bad guys and was a loving single parent to her daughter Robin. She made "damsel in distress" a thing of the past because Anna could save herself.

For the decade that she reigned and for the incredible adventures she gave us while holding her own with the big boys she made GH shine.

6. Rena Sofer and Vanessa Marcil

They ushered in a new kind of soap heroine. They were also helped along by Claire Labines sublime writing. They gave us incredible female friendship built on support and love. No cattiness for them.

Rena gave us the very charming, no nonsense Brooklynite Lois Cerullo who along with her family brought a kind of reality to GH. They loved and told it like it is.

Vanessa turned out a gorgeous, sexy girl who wanted to be more. Brenda longed to be more than a pretty face and she was. A loyal, trusted friend. A not so perfect but always trying girlfriend. And she also was the center of one of the biggest triangles GH ever put out while one half of the most popular pairing of the 1990's.

The two will always shine on for me.

7. Maurice Benard

Specifically for the Claire Labine 1990 period. (I now feel his character is a mark against the show and MB's acting is phoned in.)

During the time his character didn't eat up the show and wasn't written as the moral center Sonny gave a new take on the PC mob scene. He wasn't trying to get out like Luke. He wasn't forced into it either but somehow he was rootable.

He made no bones about who he was and he wore his love that fought against for a certain model on his sleeve. He showed respect to those he felt deserved it and created a unique and entertaining friendship with the aforementioned Luke and with his young protoge Stone Cates.

Sonny's loss of his "little brother" Stone to AIDs gave GH one of its more memorable and heartbreaking stories.

Those memories made GH shine in the 90's. If only he had stayed gone after the wedding that wasn't.

8. Stephen Nichols

The Cassadine with a heart. Stephen brought so much to the the role of the romantically tortured enemy of Luke Spencer. He was refined and aristocratic. He was of mercurial mood swings and deep love. He gave Luke Spencer a run for his money with Laura. He raised his nephew/son (can't remember which Nikolas ended up being) with tenderness and pride.

He turned the Cassadines from a farcical joke in the early 80's to a formidable forced in PC. Cassadines are still in PC today and I attribute it to the incredible character SN brought to life.


April 25 2008 at 12:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My top 10:

Jack Wagner
Kin Shriner
Tony Geary
Ian Buchanan
Finola Hughes
Tristan Rogers
Genie Francis
Lynne Herring
Jackie Zeman
Richard Dean Anderson

April 21 2008 at 8:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Morjana Coffman


No mention at all of Richard Dean Anderson as Dr. Jeff Webber? RDA portrayed Dr. Webber from '76 through '81.

According to the RDA web site:


...young resident and neurosurgeon Dr. Jeff Webber. His story lines included discovering that his wife, Monica, had slept with his brother, Rick. Depressed, he shot himself in the head, but later survived brain surgery. He also fathered Heather's baby, which was sold to the Taylor family. When his wife, Heather, was institutionalized, he left Port Charles for Carson City, to start a new life with his son P.J.

More info at:


April 20 2008 at 6:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with this list. Good choices!

April 20 2008 at 4:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

He chews the scenery and steals every scene, but to neglect mentioning Anthony Geary, even though this list does seem to be about former cast members, is an outrage. He rewrote ALL the rules for a hero on the soaps and I get the feeling he rewrites some of his lines, too. I've been a fan since the 80s and is was, is, and will always be, the quintessential daytime drama actor.

April 20 2008 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No, I did not reach for every famous name on GH. I watched the show, and I remember Jackie Templeton (Demi Moore) as a feisty, fun character. I chose not to do Anthony Geary and Genie Francis for obvious reasons -- everyone knows they were on GH. How many people remember that was where John Stamos started. Tristan Rogers was a tough choice to leave out; he was super cool as Robert.

Thanks for reading, everyone -- and commenting!

April 20 2008 at 3:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Allison's comment

Fair enough, regarding naming many obscure actors people may not know were on GH. Maybe because your title just says "10 actors that made GH shine" it's hard not to include Tony & Genie for that category (and many other old GH favorites.)
But in terms of 10 popular actors we know well now, that began by "shining" on GH...I get you choices better now. (we still disagree on Demi. :) ...she was feisty, I just didn't think she was all that good then, and didn't add much to GH's legacy.)

April 21 2008 at 12:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And no Rick Springfield as Dr. Noah Drake?

He was so dreamy!

April 20 2008 at 2:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree re: Demi Moore. Sounds more like this writer is just dropping every name that went on to be famous after GH..Demi, who I like now, but was not that great as Jackie did nothing for GH except give Luke a "love" interest during one of Laura's many absences. As the other poster here says, she was there and gone as soon as she could get a movie contract.

And no Tony Geary or Genie Francis here? Are you kidding, or does that just go without saying forever more?! I think sometimes those two (especially Genie), get overshadowed by the huge sensationalism that arose from their characters' "super-couple" status. People kind of count them out as just a popular phenomonon. But they both continue to be memorable as Luke and Laura, together and by themselves. They changed that show forever! And I wish Genie was still there today.

Tristan definitely deserves a nod here too....Robert Scorpio remains one of GH's most popular characters, and fans always clamor for his return.

Jack Wagner shined with his then partner Kristina Melandro-Wagner. Yes he was the better actor, but it was their supercouple that was so memorable back them..they were great together.

April 20 2008 at 2:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Amy's comment

ps. re: Jonathah Jackson....he WAS Lucky Spencer.
He was perfect as Luke and Laura's son, like no other has been since. "Scrappy", self-reliant and daring (Luke Spencer's son), wise and sensitive (like Laura.) But the writers have unfortunately ruined Lucky's character too these days.

April 20 2008 at 2:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have to go back and reread this
what no luke and laura?!
luke is the best soap character in the history of soaps!

i've watched all 3 abc soaps from the beginning and agree with your other assessments except for jackie templeton and duke lavery-forgetable characters imho

and where is brenda barrett??!!

i think jason castro of american idol can replace blackie
he can have the career of john stamos!

April 20 2008 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Vincent J. Murphy

What? No Tristam Rogers as Scorpio? Epic fail! He was the coolest psuedo-secret agent ever. Screw Demi Moore, she was on and off in the blink of an eye.

April 20 2008 at 12:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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