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General Hospital

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For the ITV soap opera which ran from 1972 to 1979, see General Hospital (British television).
General Hospital

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General-hospital-siren.jpg


Network ABC
Executive Producer Jill Farren Phelps
Head Writers Robert Guza, Jr. and Charles Pratt, Jr.
Premiere Date April 1, 1963
Runtime 60 minutes (30 minutes from 1963 to 1976; 45 minutes 1976-1977)
IMDB page [1] (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056758/)

General Hospital is the longest-running daytime soap opera on the American ABC television network, and is also the longest-running soap opera produced in Hollywood (having been taped at the Prospect Avenue ABC Television Center West since its inception).

The show debuted on April 1, 1963, the same day that rival network NBC launched its own medical soap opera, The Doctors. The show originally aired for a half-hour until the network expanded it to 45 minutes in 1976, and then to an hour in 1978. The serial was created by soap writers Frank and Doris Hursley, a husband-and-wife team. The show is often credited for starting several trends in the soap opera genre in the 1980s, most notably that of the supercouple and fast paced action-adventure plotlines that were remarkably different from the more traditional domestic and social issues that had been the sole focus of most soap operas during the previous decades.

Contents

History

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Generalhospital1984.jpg
The General Hospital title card, seen between 1975 and 1993.
The first stories were mainly set at a general hospital in Port Charles, a fictional New York town, and revolved around manly doctor Steve Hardy (John Beradino) and his nurse Jessie Brewer (Emily McLaughlin). Steve was chief of Internal Medicine on the hospital's seventh floor and dedicated his life to healing and caring for the sick, ably assisted by Nurse Jessie. Jessie's turbulent marriage to the much younger Dr. Phil Brewer (most notably played by Roy Thinnes) was the center of many early storylines. Over the years, Phil became renowned for his philandering, with Jessie constantly forgiving her errant husband for his affairs. The seemingly neverending cycle of separation and reconciliation between the two finally ended in 1974, when Dr. Phil Brewer was murdered.

Another nurse, Lucille March (Lucille Wall), brought her sister, flight attendant Audrey (Rachel Ames) to town; slowly but surely, she romanced Dr. Hardy, eventually marrying him three times. While there was no overt tension, Jessie was disappointed as there had always been an air of sexual tension between her and Steve. It was never acted upon, as they remained close friends until Jessie (and actress Emily McLaughlin) died in 1991. Steve Hardy himself died five years later when his portrayer, John Beradino passed away in 1996.

The show was glacially paced and low-rated in the earlier years, save for one relatively high-rated and fast-paced plot in 1971. In this storyline Audrey was accused of murdering her son's babysitter and General Hospital was briefly elevated to the number one position, beating long time ratings giant As the World Turns. However, the success was shortlived. Due to relatively easygoing choices in storyline, the show almost always lost out to rival medical soap The Doctors, which was considered by many to be more daring. Although TIME noted that the acting performances were decent, an article on the soap genre, in 1976, panned General Hospital's minimal budget for settings and props, calling it not unlike a high school production.

Faced with cancellation threats in 1978, ABC brass brought on Gloria Monty as Executive Producer. Monty had much experience in the genre from directing The Secret Storm for years. Under her tutelage, and the headwriting stints of Douglas Marland (who created longtime staples the Quartermaine family and Bobbie and Luke Spencer) and Pat Falken Smith, General Hospital bounced back from the brink and subsequently became the highest-rated American soap opera, from 1979 to 1988. Monty stayed as Executive Producer until 1987, only to return briefly from 1991 to 1992, in a widely panned tenure during which she was accused of no longer being in touch with the daytime audience. Monty was replaced with the equally controversial Wendy Riche.

Thanks to Monty, the show is perhaps most famous for the supercouple pairing of Luke Spencer and Laura Webber (Anthony Geary and Genie Francis). While the show had managed to be saved from cancellation thanks in part to a plot where Laura accidentally murdered her much older lover, David Hamilton, it wasn't until Laura was paired with Luke that General Hospital became the phenomenon that it was for most of the 1980s. Their wedding in November 1981 was the highest rated episode of any Daytime Soap Opera in the United States, with more than 30-million viewers. Their relationship was not without some controversy, as Luke raped Laura in 1979. Laura was traumatized and went to counseling, but after her popularity with Luke flourished she claimed the rape was a "seduction" (in 1998 the issue was revisited and Laura finally admitted to herself that Luke raped her). The show has also created other popular pairings in Holly Sutton and Robert Scorpio (Emma Samms and Tristan Rogers) as well as Duke Lavery and Anna Devane (Ian Buchanan and Finola Hughes), and the show's focus began to drift away from the original hospital setting onto a series of action-adventure plots, most of which were highly successful with the show's audience.

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Generalhospital1994.jpg
The General Hospital title card, seen between 1993 and 2004.
In the 1990s, through the efforts of Riche and headwriter Claire Labine, the show gained critical acclaim for its sensitive handling of social issues, most notable of which were the heart transplant storyline which involved the death of eight year old BJ Jones (in a bus crash and the subsequent donation of her heart to her dying cousin Maxie), Monica Quartermaine (Leslie Charleson)'s bout with breast cancer and the love story of Stone Cates (Michael Sutton) and Robin Scorpio (Kimberly McCullough), which was shortened by Stone's death from AIDS, and followed by storylines in which Robin had to deal with being HIV positive as a result of her and Stone's relationship. The show kept most of the popularity it held for most of the 1980s, and a long-rumored spin-off (which was tentatively titled GH2) materialized in 1997 in the half-hour soap Port Charles. Problems began to arise around 1994-1995 when the show lost millions of viewers. All the soaps lost ground at this time, but particular criticism was placed upon GH for the succession of grim stories involving BJ, Monica, and Stone (as a result, they dropped plans to give Audrey Alzheimer's Disease). Labine left in 1995 and was replaced by Bob Guza, who zeroed in on the mob and popular heroine Brenda Barrett (Vanessa Marcil). Guza came and went several times, returning for good in 2002. Riche left in late 2001 and was replaced by the controversial Jill Farren Phelps.

While General Hospital featured plots that have been widely considered preposterous (i.e. the town of Port Charles was going to be placed under a deep freeze by maniacal Mikkos Cassadine; luckily, Luke and Laura saved the town just in time), arguably, the most tired plot among fans today is the constant emphasis on the mafia and character Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard). He, his wife Carly (Sarah Brown, Tamara Braun, then Jennifer Bransford), his confidante Jason (Steve Burton), and Sonny's sister Courtney (Alicia Leigh Willis) have received ample amount of airtime for two years, which resulted in head writers Robert Guza, Jr. and Charles Pratt, Jr. to shy away from using solely these characters in their traditional roles (when they have been shown, their love lives have been ripped apart, instead focusing on entanglements with other romantic interests).

In recent years the show has shied away from its veteran characters. After over 35 years Rachel Ames was taken off-contract and removed from the opening credits, angering many longtime viewers. In 2004 Anna Lee was moved to recurring status after 25 years as Lila Quartermaine (Lee died soon after and some fans held the show responsible). Other characters, such as Bobbie Spencer (Jackie Zeman) and Felicia Scorpio (Kristina Wagner) became little more than extras, in spite of their years of popularity with fans. In May 2005 Wagner was fired and replaced with Sandra Ferguson.

GH aired its 10,000th episode on April 17, 2002.

The exterior shot of the hospital in the opening and ending credits is the General Hospital of the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, located just east of Downtown Los Angeles.

Other notable entertainers that have appeared on General Hospital include: Demi Moore as Jackie Templeton, Jack Wagner as Frisco Jones, Elizabeth Taylor as the original Helena Cassadine, Ricky Martin as Miguel Morez, John Stamos as Blackie Parrish and Rick Springfield as Dr. Noah Drake.

Cast

Current Cast Members

Template:AmericanSoaps

Recurring Cast Members

Deceased Cast Members

Awards

The show, as well as many of its actors and crew, have been nominated for many dozens of awards, winning on many occasions. Some of the more noted major awards (Daytime Emmy Awards, Soap Opera Digest Awards, and Young Artist Awards) won are listed below.

Daytime Emmy Awards

Show

  • 2005 "Outstanding Drama Series"
  • 2000 "Outstanding Drama Series"
  • 1999 "Outstanding Drama Series"
  • 1997 "Outstanding Drama Series"
  • 1996 "Outstanding Drama Series"
  • 1995 "Outstanding Drama Series" and "Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series"
  • 1984 "Outstanding Daytime Drama Series"
  • 1981 "Outstanding Daytime Drama Series"

Individuals

  • 2005 "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series" Natalia Livingston
  • 2004 "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" Anthony Geary, "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series" Rick Hearst "Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series" Chad Brannon
  • 2003 "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" Maurice Benard and "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series" Vanessa Marcil
  • 2002 "Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series" Jacob Young
  • 2000 "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" Anthony Geary and "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series" Sarah Brown
  • 1999 "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" Anthony Geary, "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series" Stuart Damon, and "Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series" Jonathan Jackson
  • 1998 "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series" Steve Burton, "Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series" Jonathan Jackson, and "Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series" Sarah Brown
  • 1997 "Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series" Sarah Brown
  • 1996 "Outstanding Younger Leading Actress in a Drama Series" Kimberly McCullough
  • 1995 "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series" Rena Sofer and "Outstanding Younger Leading Actor in a Drama Series" Jonathan Jackson
  • 1993 "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series" Gerald Anthony
  • 1991 "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series" Finola Hughes
  • 1989 "Outstanding Juvenile Female in a Drama Series" Kimberly McCullough
  • 1982 "Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama Series" Anthony Geary and "Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role in a Daytime Drama Series" David Lewis
  • 1981 "Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role in a Daytime Drama Series" Jane Elliot
  • 1979 "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Daytime Drama Series" Peter Hansen

Soap Opera Digest Awards

Show

  • 2005 "Favorite Show"
  • 2003 "Favorite Show"
  • 2001 "Favorite Show"
  • 2000 "Favorite Show"
  • 1999 "Favorite Show"
  • 1998 "Favorite Show"
  • 1997 "Favorite Show"

Individuals

  • 2005 "Favorite Villain" Ted King, "Outstanding Lead Actor" Maurice Benard, "Outstanding Lead Actress" Tamara Braun, "Outstanding Supporting Actor" Rick Hearst, "Outstanding Younger Lead Actor", Scott Clifton
  • 2003 "Favorite Return" Vanessa Marcil, "Outstanding Lead Actor" Maurice Benard, "Outstanding Supporting Actor" Steve Burton, and "Outstanding Supporting Actress" Nancy Lee Grahn
  • 2001 "Outstanding Male Newcomer" Chad Brannon and "Outstanding Supporting Actress" Nancy Grahn
  • 2000 "Favorite Actor" Maurice Benard, "Favorite Actress" Sarah Brown, "Outstanding Lead Actor" Anthony Geary, and "Outstanding Supporting Actress" Nancy Grahn
  • 1999 "Favorite Veteran" Stuart Damon, "Hottest Male Star" Steve Burton, "Outstanding Lead Actor" Anthony Geary, "Outstanding Young Lead Actor", Jonathan Jackson, and "Outstanding Young Lead Actress" Rebecca Herbst
  • 1998 "Hottest Male Star" Ingo Rademacher, Outstanding Lead Actress" Vanessa Marcil, "Outstanding Male Scene Stealer" John Ingle, "Outstanding Younger Leading Actor" Steve Burton, and "Outstanding Younger Leading Actress" Sarah Brown
  • 1997 "Hottest Female Star" Vanessa Marcil, "Hottest Male Star" Ingo Rademacher, "Outstanding Lead Actress" Genie Francis, "Outstanding Male Newcomer" Tyler Christopher, and "Outstanding Younger Lead Actor" Steve Burton
  • 1996 "Hottest Female Star" Lynn Herring, "Outstanding Lead Actor" Maurice Benard, and "Outstanding Supporting Actor" Stuart Damon
  • 1995 "Hottest Female Star" Kristina Wagner, "Outstanding Child Actor" Jonathan Jackson, "Outstanding Supporting Actor" Brad Maule, and "Outstanding Younger Lead Actress" Rena Sofer
  • 1993 "Outstanding Child Actor" Kimberly McCullough
  • 1992 "Outstanding Supporting Actress: Daytime" Jane Elliot and "Outstanding Villainess: Daytime" Lynn Herring
  • 1991 "Outstanding Villain: Daytime" Kin Shriner, "Outstanding Villainess: Daytime" Lynn Herring, Outstanding Lead Actress: Daytime", Finola Hughes, and "Outstanding Male Newcomer: Daytime" Michael Watson
  • 1990 "Outstanding Male Newcomer: Daytime" Kurt McKinney and "Outstanding Heroine: Daytime" Finola Hughes
  • 1989 "Outstanding Villainess: Daytime" Lynn Herring and "Outstanding Male Newcomer: Daytime" Scott Thompson Baker
  • 1988 "Outstanding Newcomer: Daytime" Ian Buchanan
  • 1986 "Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress on a Daytime or Prime Time Serial" Kimberly McCullough
  • 1984 "Outstanding Youth Actor in a Daytime Soap Opera" David Mendenhall

Young Artist Awards

  • 2003 "Best Performance in a TV Series (Comedy or Drama) - Young Actor Ten or Under" Dylan Cash
  • 1994 "Best Actor Under Ten in a Television Series or Show" Jonathan Hernandez (Tied with Shawn Toovey for Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman)
  • 1990 "Best Young Actor in a Daytime Drama" R.J. Williams
  • 1987 "Exceptional Performance by a Young Actor in a Daytime Series" Kimberly McCullough
  • 1986 "Outstanding Young Actress - Regular Daytime Serial" Kimberly McCullough
  • 1985 "Best Young Actor in a Daytime or Nighttime Television Series" David Mendenhall
  • 1984 "Best Young Actor in Daytime Soap" John Stamos and David Mendenhall (tie)
  • 1983 "Best Young Actress in the Daytime Series" Janine Turner
  • 1981 "Best Young Actor - Daytime TV Series" Philip Tanzini

See also

External link

  • GH At ABC (http://abc.go.com/daytime/generalhospital/)

fr:H˘pital central

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