Genie Francis and other actors from General Hospital took part in a panel discussion about the show at the Winter TV Critics press tour in Pasadena in honor of the show’s upcoming 60th anniversary. When Francis and co-star Kristina Wagner (Felicia) were asked about the show’s presentation of social issues over the years, Francis spoke out about one of the show’s most controversial storylines.
Genie Francis Talks About Her Rape Storyline
“I had a feeling I was going to be asked about that,” Francis said when the topic of social issues on GH (including date rape) was brought up. Veteran viewers recall that on October 5, 1979, Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary), believing he was going to be killed by Frank Smith’s (George Gaynes) mob, came upon Laura, alone at the Campus Disco. He played the song “Rise” by Herb Alpert and danced with Laura, with whom he was obsessed. Luke forced himself on Laura and raped her on the disco floor. Later, the show wrote a love story between the two characters and re-wrote history, describing Luke’s act as a “seduction.”
The Gift of Perspective
“As a young kid at 17, I was told to play rape, and I played it,” Francis explained to a room full of TV critics and reporters. “I didn’t even know what it was. But, at 17, you follow the rules, and you do as you are told, and you aim to please. At 60, I don’t feel the need to defend that anymore…I think that story was inappropriate, and I don’t condone it. And it’s been a burden that I’ve had to carry to try to justify that story, and so I’m not doing that anymore.”
As anyone who has viewed the episode can see, there’s little to zero ambiguity as to what occurred. “When a woman says, ‘No,’ that should be listened to,” Francis maintains. “And if you replay that scene, you don’t have Laura just saying ‘No,’ you have her screaming, ‘No.'”
Genie Francis Loves Laura Today
Now, Francis says she feels very fortunate to be playing Laura and who she is today — a confident wife, mother, and grandmother, Port Charles’s mayor, and fierce defender of her family and friends.
“I feel very, very fortunate to have this new reinvented Laura,” the Daytime Emmy-winner says. “I love who she is in the present day. She was such a victim as a young woman, and to see it flip around and have her be fully empowered, this powerful woman who is the mayor of the town. She doesn’t take crap from anyone. She’s a strong woman. She’s a good role model for other women. But I love my Laura today. I loved my Laura then too, but this is where it needed to go.”
The actress credits executive producer Frank Valentini with making her feel comfortable as she continues to tell Laura’s tales. “There was no such thing as making a mistake,” Francis recalls of her early days on the show as a teenager. “That was really hard on me…when I was talking about this and the stress that I was under as such a young kid [and] my father telling me, ‘You can’t make a mistake,’ and my sweet producer…said to me, ‘You can make a mistake now.’ So sweet.”