What were you doing 41 years ago? If you were like millions of soap opera fans, you were glued to General Hospital. Read on to find out what exciting stories were playing out at the time.
General Hospital — Looking Back
Alan Quartermaine (Stuart Damon) was planning a party to reveal that Alan Jr. was actually his son and not Rick Webber’s (Chris Robinson). Jeff Webber (Richard Dean Anderson) and Anne Logan (Susan Pratt) were trying to figure out a way to be together despite Jeff’s wife being in a catatonic state. But most importantly to many GH fans, Luke (Anthony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis) were on the run from crime boss Frank Smith (George Gaynes).
Luke and Laura’s complicated relationship took a dramatic turn when Scotty Baldwin (Kin Shriner) found out the truth about Laura’s lies and set out to kill Luke Spencer. On the day Luke was to marry Mr. Smith’s daughter, Jennifer (Lisa Marie), Scotty barged onto the wedding yacht and got in a fight with Luke, sending him overboard and presumed dead. Luke wasn’t dead and when they got the chance, he and Laura ran off together so that they could break up Frank Smith’s “Organization.”
Once it was known that Luke was actually alive and that Laura was with him, Frank Smith put a “hit” on them both. Luke and Laura were now running for their lives. They had to find a mob figure known only as the Left-Handed Boy. Luke knew that he was the key to decoding Mr. Smith’s “Black Book” and breaking up the Organization. But Luke and Laura had to get out of town before the hitman tracked them down. After spending time in a couple of cheap, run-down motels, they decided to get out of town. Little did they know that the hitman, named Hutch (Rick Moses), was already on their trail.
As Luke and Laura made their way to the bus depot to take them out of Port Charles, they saw their faces on the front page of the newspaper. They knew they had to get off the streets fast. Luckily, at that very moment, they were passing a large department store called Wyndhams. The couple ducked inside and began a week of fantasy for Luke and Laura lovers everywhere. Over the course of the television week, beginning August 4, 1980, Luke and Laura spent the day and night in the store, with plans to leave the next morning.
First up, Luke decided that Laura needed a wig to disguise her blonde hair. As fate would have it, a hairdresser from France, Monsieur Robert, was scheduled to be at Wyndhams, but he missed his flight. Enter Luke Spencer, who put on a ridiculous French accent and announced Monsieur Robert’s arrival, along with his assistant, Simone, who didn’t speak English. The episode that aired that day was full of Luke’s antics cutting a woman’s hair and then talking a lady out of her black wig while a horrified Laura looked on in wonder. It was hysterical.
The Tuesday episode saw Luke and Laura becoming store trainees, Carl and June. They wound up in the men’s shoe department, with Carl dealing with an irate customer and June trying to do inventory. By the end of the episode, the store was closing and Luke and Laura decided to hide out and stay the night. They would have a “Night of Nights.”
The Wednesday episode, which aired on August 6, 1980, would contain Luke and Laura’s most romantic moments. They donned formal attire, drank champagne, ate caviar, and danced the night away. When Laura finally passed out in the middle of a steamy kiss, it was a frustrating and amusing moment for Luke and the audience.
The Thursday episode was mostly Luke and Laura trying to sleep, not knowing that the hitman, Hutch, had been in the store with them the whole time. Hutch came close to killing them, but he’d learned that the Left-Handed Boy had over $10 million in gold, so Hutch decided to let the couple lead him to the fortune.
Friday’s episode had Luke and Laura packing up the new clothes they’d bought and getting ready to leave the store. It was only then that they stumbled upon the body of a dead night watchman, whom Hutch had killed when he got in the way. Luke and Laura ran out of the store, headed for the bus depot, and on to the next part of their adventure.
General Hospital, which was becoming known for taking the show outside of the studio, spent a weekend shooting on location at a famous Los Angeles landmark, Bullocks Wilshire. Bullocks Wilshire was an actual department store that had been used in many films and shows over the years and the producers knew this would be the ideal location for Luke and Laura’s fantasy night.
There was one stipulation from the store before the show could shoot, however. The characters could not be portrayed shoplifting any items. For curious fans who wondered why the cash-starved couple didn’t just take some items from the store to pawn for money, this was the reason. Fans heard Luke and Laura declare many times over the course of the week that they would not steal anything.
Forty-one years is such a long time ago. But for lovers of Luke and Laura’s story, it seems like only yesterday that they went along for the night of their lives!
General Hospital (GH) airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Port Charles, check out all the latest that’s been posted on GH spoilers, and for an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.