Ten years ago, General Hospital’s Franco Baldwin was an enigmatic multi-media artist with a penchant for stalking and murder. But those illegal and messy peccadillos were eventually revealed to be the side effects of a brain tumor – an excuse that many a soap opera villain wishes they could use.
Who Is Franco Baldwin?
Christened Robert James Frank by his adoptive mother, Betsy, Franco was a New York City native and art enthusiast who allowed himself to be arrested, tried, and sentenced for a crime that he did not commit – robbery – so that his best friend (and true culprit) Ronnie Dimestico wouldn’t be.
Between the slow-growing tumor that manifested in his brain and the influence of his fellow inmates, Franco began to slowly become intrigued with the idea of killing. Upon his release, he murdered a man… just to see what it felt like.
Surprisingly, he felt nothing. But he was struck by the “beauty” of his craftsmanship. Moving forward, Franco made a name for himself in the art world with his re-staging of crime scene photographs. And when no actual crime served to inspire him, Franco simply committed one of his own!
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As Franco’s obsession with death grew, so did his appreciation for the men and women who brought about life’s cessation. Jason Morgan, a well known – though rarely prosecuted – hitman became Franco’s most favored assassin.
He took to stalking and photographing the man and recreating each of his kills. He hovered nearby while Jason disposed of Claudia Zacchara’s corpse and he later euthanized a rival gang member that Jason had wounded but left alive.
Though notoriously reclusive, Franco agreed to pose for a photo spread and be interviewed for Crimson magazine – but only because the publication was located in Port Charles, Jason’s hometown, and staffed with his acquaintances.
Franco set about wooing Maxie Jones (who allowed herself to be blindfolded, photographed and taken to bed by the artist) and later kidnapped the two women closest to Jason’s heart: his girlfriend, Sam McCall, and best friend, Carly Roberts Corinthos.
Jason rescued Carly. Franco, in turn, kidnapped Lulu Falconeri, strapped her and Sam to bombs and placed them at opposite ends of town. Jason had eight minutes to save one. Who would he choose?
Jason raced to Sam’s side and freed her from what they both believed was imminent danger. But unlike the bomb threatening Lulu’s life, the one attached to Sam was fake. Luckily, both women emerged unscathed.
Franco Baldwin Is A Bad, Bad Boy
Unlucky for Jason, Franco’s reign of terror continued. He arranged for a violent felon to watch after an imprisoned Michael (which resulted in the young man’s rape) and he continued to stalk Jason and his loved ones (particularly Carly’s infant daughter, Josslyn).
Franco even managed to frame Jason for his murder during a live performance art piece and kidnap Elizabeth Webber’s son, Aiden. But it was his drugging of Jason and Sam on their honeymoon – and his insinuation that he raped the incapacitated Sam – that nearly cost Franco his life.
Despite supposedly being shot to death and set ablaze by his idol, Franco survived. And thanks to the machinations of his biological mother, Heather Webber, he briefly assumed a position of power within the Quartermaine family.
Even after his true parentage was revealed (and Scott Baldwin was identified as his father), Franco managed to avoid any real punishment for his crimes. The brain tumor was located, removed, and blamed for his actions (which, by that time, also included the kidnapping of Dany Morgan), and then he gained protection from further retribution thanks to his involvement with Carly Corinthos.
That relationship, however, was doomed to failure. Not only did Franco have to protect Carly from multiple attempts on her life (courtesy of his mother), but she cheated on him with Sonny. Franco retaliated by publicly revealing the tryst as well as outing Sonny as AJ Quartermaine’s murderer.
Franco then fell in love with Nina Reeves, whom he attempted to help abscond with Ava’s infant – and who he also had to protect from Heather’s homicidal impulses.
A Softer Side – And Painful Memories – Surface
Though he and Nina eventually split, Franco found a champion in Elizabeth Webber. She helped clear his name when he stood accused of committing a series of murders and it was thanks to her love and support that Franco was able to confront the repressed memories of his childhood sexual assault.
The two eventually married – though the ceremony took place inside the PCDP’s holding cell, owing to Franco’s agreement to help the police suss out the Port Charles Serial Killer.
The couple also weathered Franco’s brief transformation into Drew Cain, thanks to a memory-mapping procedure and his subsequent involvement with Kim Nero.
Now the newlyweds are facing further crises. Money is tight, college tuition bills are looming, and their house is in need of major repairs. But if anyone can soldier through, it’s these two. General Hospital airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for airtimes.