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Why Genie Francis Is Beloved as General Hospital’s Laura

Why Genie Francis Is Beloved as General Hospital's Laura

General Hospital viewers were introduced to Genie Francis as Laura after the medical-themed soap revealed that Dr. Lesley Williams had given birth to a baby she’d been told had died. Life in Port Charles has never been the same since Francis arrived on the scene and GH viewers can’t imagine the show without the beloved star or her TV alter-ego.

Genie Francis AKA Laura Webber Collins Is The Star Of General Hospital

Fans can’t wait for the actress to return from her vacation but they’re the first to support the hardworking GH star when she takes a well-deserved hiatus. To say that Francis was instrumental in helping keep the ABC series, which was near cancellation in 1978, on the air would be an understatement.  GH was anemic, ranking No. 10 out of 15 soaps around this time.

Show producer Gloria Monty and head writer Douglas Marland shifted Francis and Laura to the front-burner and the show began to sizzle. Viewers got behind heroine Laura as she was seduced by adoptive father Rick Webber’s (Chris Robinson) ‘pal’ David Hamilton (Jerry Ayres) and also after ambitious student nurse Bobbie Spencer (Jacklyn Zeman) went after Laura as she wanted her boyfriend Scotty (Kin Shriner) for herself. Zeman’s Bobbie was as devious as she was vulnerable in her own right. Viewers hated Bobbie being mean to Laura — like when she taunted her for her role in David’s death — but fans rooted for both of them in their own ways for different reasons.

Teen Angst

Teenage Laura suffered more travails and tragedy than many soap opera heroines twice her age endured. After realizing that she — not her mother Lesley (Denise Alexander) — had accidentally killed David, Laura ran off to New York and was nearly forced into prostitution by a pimp named Fish (Robert Davi). Fortunately, Scotty, Rick, Jeff (Richard Dean Anderson), and Bryan (Todd Phillips) came to her rescue. Laura returned to Port Charles and was sentenced to probation for her role in David’s death.

Bobbie schemed with the help of her brother Luke (Anthony Geary) to set Laura up so that Judge Stallman would ship her off to reform school! The Spencer siblings not only failed to do so but Luke found himself falling for Laura.

Laura desperately wanted to marry Scott so the couple wed in the park in the summer of 1979, incorporating poetry from Elizabeth Barrett Browning into the ceremony.

As viewers became more and more devoted to Francis and Laura, the ratings went up. And up. And up even more, eventually becoming not just the top-rated show in daytime television but also a Pop culture phenomenon. Francis’ endearing performances had (and still have) audiences rooting for her character.

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The Luke and Laura Phenomenon

Luke and Laura’s “love on the run” story in 1980 cemented the show’s popularity. The following year, they took on the evil Cassadine family as they searched for the elusive Ice Princess, and saved the world from being frozen by a madman. Francis appeared on the covers of mainstream magazines TV Guide, Newsweek, and People.

Approximately 30 million viewers tuned in to see Laura and Luke wed in November 1981. It remains Daytime TV’s highest-rated episode. Alas, GH viewers had to get used to Francis and Laura leaving Port Charles. She exited the show in early 1982 only to return for several weeks in late 1983. She appeared briefly in 1984 and made a more permanent return in 1993. This time, Genie Francis stayed on GH until 2002.

Francis returned in 2006 for a series of episodes that earned her overdue gold — The 2007 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series statue. Francis was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in both 1997 and 2021.

Genie Francis: A Triumphant Return

Viewers were overjoyed when Francis came back to GH again in 2008 but, alas, it was another brief return. Fortunately, after a stint on The Young and the Restless as the enigmatic Genevieve Atkinson, Francis came back to GH just in time for the show’s 50th anniversary in 2013. Once back, Laura re-encountered two of her most intense enemies — Helena Cassadine (Constance Towers) and her son Stavros (Robert Kelker-Kelly) — as she and Luke went on an adventure to find their daughter Lulu (Emme Rylan).

Today, Laura is happily wed to Dr. Kevin Collins (Jon Lindstrom), a good man, who adds stability and security to Laura’s life. With grandson Spencer (Nicholas Alexander Chavez) in crisis, Lulu still in a coma, and other dramas, there’s plenty to keep Laura busy.

Genie Francis plays Laura as loving, loyal, fierce, passionate, strong, vulnerable, and protective — all the things that viewers want to see in a soap opera leading lady. Long may Laura’s tenure as Mayor of Port Charles continue and may Francis’ stay on GH do the same!

General Hospital (GH) airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Port Charles, check out all the latest that’s been posted on GH spoilers, and for an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.

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