The brainchild of husband and wife writers Frank and Doris Hursley, General Hospital follows the trials and tribulations of medical staff, mobsters, the wealthy Quartermaine clan, and an array of other Port Charles citizens. Here are 10 facts about the ABC daytime drama.
General Hospital History
1. Taking A Spin
General Hospital has inspired two spinoffs. There was daytime drama Port Charles (1997 to 2003) and primetime entry General Hospital: Night Shift (2007 to 2008).
2. Daytime Emmy Top Dog
When it comes to Outstanding Daytime Drama Series wins, no soap opera has taken home more Emmy gold than General Hospital. The show’s current tally, as of 2020, is 13 victories.
3. Glory, Gloria Hallelujah
On the brink of cancellation in 1978, Gloria Monty was hired as GH’s new producer and given 13 weeks to save the show. Determined to hook the college crowd, she cast younger actors, sped up the show’s pace, and introduced action-adventure and science-fiction plots. By the year’s end, the soap moved from last place to first in the Nielsens.
4. Wedding of the Century
To this day, General Hospital boasts the highest-rated episode in daytime television history: Luke (Anthony Geary) and Laura’s (Genie Francis) 1981 wedding. Over 30 million viewers tuned in to watch their action-packed and long-awaited nuptials.
5. Superstar Power
No soap has ever scored a guest star as big as GH did and likely never will. In 1981, Oscar-winner Elizabeth Taylor appeared as the first Helena Cassadine, crashing Luke and Laura’s wedding and putting a curse on the newlyweds. It turned out she was a huge fan of the soap and happily agreed to the stint, donating the money she made from it to charity.
6. Raising Awareness
The soap brought HIV and AIDS awareness to the forefront with the onset of its first annual Nurses’ Ball fundraiser in April of 1994. It had a significant social impact, coinciding with the Day of Compassion, and even featured the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.
7. The Carly Connection
Three actresses have all attained great success portraying Carly Benson Corinthos. Sarah Brown, who originated the role, won three Daytime Emmys for her performance. Her replacement, Tamara Braun, was nominated as Outstanding Lead Actress in 2004. Current Carly, Laura Wright, has garnered six Outstanding Lead Actress nominations, taking home the trophy in 2011.
8. Getting Real
The show explored mobster Sonny Corinthos’s dark side in 2006; specifically, his moodiness and unexplained fits of rage. It was revealed to be aspects of undiagnosed bipolar disorder, taking a page out of actor Maurice Benard’s real life. He’d been battling the disorder for decades.
9. Ladies at the Top
The show’s longest-running cast member is Leslie Charleson, who has portrayed Dr. Monica Quartermaine since August of 1977. However, co-star Jacklyn Zeman is a close second, having begun her run as nurse Bobbie Spencer in December of 1977.
10. Still Going Strong
General Hospital is the longest-running American soap opera currently in production. Having debuted on April 1, 1963, the show celebrated its 57th anniversary in 2020. General Hospital (GH) airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for airtimes.