It’s hard to believe that Leslie Charleson didn’t even create the role of Monica on General Hospital (GH), but considering she’s now been playing the role continuously for 40 years – longer than any other actor on the show – we can’t imagine Port Charles without her.
It all started when Charleson walked on the GH set for the first time on August 16, 1977 – which happened to be the same day Elvis Presley died. It had huge impact on the actress since she adored the King. But she was able to meet co-star Jane Elliot (ex-Tracy), who did a movie with him.
It was the beginning of an amazing run that has seen Monica engage in countless affairs (one even with nephew Ned!), epic verbal battles with various rivals (always getting in the last snarky word!), and horrors like cancer, alcoholism, strange bio-toxins and a Lassa Fever outbreak.
One of the most memorable stories surrounded the eternal triangle she had with husband Alan and her lover, the supposedly upstanding Rick Webber (Chris Robinson), who for a year she thought was AJ’s dad. Her fights with Rick’s wife, Lesley (Denise Alexander), were legendary.
During the height of that affair, Alan (Stuart Damon) tried to kill Monica — but like cartoon antagonist, Wile E. Coyote, he always seemed to get be the one who ended up hurt. Unlike many costars who don’t get along, Charleson and Damon’s backstage friendship was legendary.
Despite having many women as adversaries, Monica has also had some incredible friendships. Her bond with Gail Baldwin (Susan Brown) was incredibly heartwarming, as was her respect for mother-in-law Lila (Anna Lee).
She also shared a strong bond with young Laura Webber (Genie Francis), which sometimes put her at odds with her mother, Lesley (of course her sleeping with Lesley’s husband didn’t help). After Lesley returned from the dead, the two women mended fences.
But one of the most surprising elements of Monica was her ability to forgive. She knew Alan had an affair with Susan Moore that produced a little boy, but after Susan’s murder, Monica raised their child as her own, often putting Jason ahead of her own son by Alan, A.J.
Over the last 40 years, the actress has seen the disintegration of the Quartermaine family one by one. Monica has lost her kids, her husband, her in-laws and now her sister-in-law has moved away. She now finds herself as the head of the family – and it’s fun to watch!
Soap Hub sends congratulations to Leslie Charleson on her 40 years – and our deepest thanks for all of the amazing memories.
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