General Hospital’s Maurice Benard invited his Port Charles colleague, John J. York to the set of his video podcast show, State Of Mind, with surprising results. After working together for over 30 years, the two work buddies crossed the line from being co-workers and friends to being family by sharing stories never revealed to each other before.
John J. York: Being Vulnerable and Digging Deep
Most people are familiar with the quote, “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about.” Benard and York have been co-stars on General Hospital since 1993, with York getting his start on the show in 1991 as Mac Scorpio and Benard joining the cast as Sonny Corinthos [and filming one of his first scenes with York] in 1993. Yet York had no idea about the mental health crisis that his castmate was going through at the time.
During a dark period, Benard found himself curled up in a ball in his dressing room just before doing a scene with William deVry (Derek Wells/Julian Jerome) and Billy Miller (Jake Doe/Jason Morgan/Drew Cain). “I had monologues in the scene. They probably couldn’t tell, but I was dying. It was so difficult. You haven’t seen me like that.”
The Chicago native was incredulous as Benard revealed the specifics of his nervous breakdown chronicled in the New York Times best-selling novel Nothing General About It: How Love (and Lithium) Saved Me On And Off General Hospital and his guest appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
“I have known you for over 30 years,” York shared, “and I have never seen you anything but upbeat, funny, the greatest guy in the world to work with, a mentor to everyone you work with, all the young people, all the young men and women on the show, everyone who comes through because everyone comes through Sonny’s door.”
York has his own struggles after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis at 17 but had no experience with any mental health crisis in his past so the information was eye-opening to the actor. Both men discussed the higher power that got them through their individual struggles.
John J. York: Tapping Into His Spiritual Side
York grew up in a Catholic household with two sisters and three brothers. He came from a close-knit family that attended church regularly, and although he fell away from the church, he often felt like there was a higher power helping him along the way.
“I used to tell people that when I started in this business, there was always a hand to help me.” He revealed, “I thought, ‘I want to be an actor,’ and all of a sudden, there would be a hand to pull me into this agency. Then there was another hand to take me to California, and then there was another hand to get me to a job to make money, and there was always a hand.
“But there is someone putting those hands together, I feel,” continued York. He described what that feeling meant. “It gives me goosebumps, and it was a journey, not a race, not a sprint. It is a marathon of getting there. How you are finally finding your peace in what you do. Here we are, two gray-haired old men. Nothing else is important to me. My job, my relationship with you, and my work is important. It’s relationships, joy, seeing the face of God in the experiences and people in my life.”
The two men had so much more to share. York discussed growing up, his very large family, moving to California, and meeting his wife, Vicky Manners. The proud father talks about his daughter, Schyler, finding her spiritual base and credits her with his renewed faith and practice, and the power of prayer in his life. Benard brought up his early career, and how much he admired his friend’s success. They discussed York’s role as the lead in the 80s primetime series Werewolf and his Playgirl cover. Watch the full episode here.
Fans can follow John J. York on Twitter. Maurice talked about upcoming State Of Mind episodes from Graceland, Las Vegas, and a street version. Fans can learn more and follow Maurice Benard on Twitter, Instagram, or State of Mind. If you are struggling with Mental Illness or know someone who is, reach out to NAMI.org.
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