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General Hospital Daytime Emmy Winner, Peter Hansen Dead At 95

Courtesy/AP

One of the most respected actors in the General Hospital family has died.  News spread on Tuesday that Peter Hansen (Ex-Lee Baldwin) had passed away at age 95.

According to his family, Hansen died unexpectedly on Sunday in Santa Clarita, California.

Peter first joined General Hospital in the role of lawyer, Lee Baldwin from 1965-1976, followed by a return between 1977 and 1986. He re-joined the show briefly in 1990, and then again from 1992-2004.

Pertr’s work in Lee’s alcoholism storyline earned him the first ever Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Award at the Daytime Emmys in 1979.  Hansen also appeared in the  GH spinoff Port Charles, as well.

When social media learned of Hansen’s death, several touching tweets and posts began to emerge including one from GH itself.  In a tweet the show said, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Peter Hansen’s family and friends. He will forever be a part of the  legacy. 

Kin Shriner who for years has played Scott Baldwin, Lee’s son, tweeted:  “RIP Peter Hansen. I will miss our talks, but me and @GeneralHospital fans have so many great memory’s of u.” Shriner later sent out a tweet that said, “Peter guided me through thousands of General Hospital father son scenes. Will miss him .”

Share your remembrances of Peter Hansen in the comment section below!

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Tay
Tay

I have really missed having Lee on canvas and hope GH pays him an appropriate rememberance

dmr
dmr

It would be nice if TPTB wrote his death in, and had Scotty have a flashback montage-the long-time viewers love flashback scenes!

su0000
su0000

There is no end. For the soul there is never birth, nor death. Nor, having once been, does it ever cease to be. It is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, imperishable and timeless…
wow he went to 95 a century of life ..

davlestev1
davlestev1

R.I.P. Peter Hansen..I watched you for years and years. .Peter and Gail forever! !

davlestev1
davlestev1

Meant to say Lee and Gal.

davlestev1
davlestev1

Gail..sorry

nancy dillingham
nancy dillingham

Great actor. Total pro, it appeared. Memorable character. My sympathies.

Max Daddee
Max Daddee

Well said, Nancy. Peter was a great actor and the role of Lee Baldwin represented one of fine character and integrity. A tribute to him on GH is well-deserved and I hope if it’s done, it’s done with class.

jaybird369
jaybird369

Peter Hansen was such a wonderful and versatile actor.

Rest In Peace.

Amen.

James R. Poissant
James R. Poissant

I am hoping Peter’s death will be written into the storyline so Scotty has something to do and we can also say goodbye to Lee too. I always liked Peter and his character Lee. Let’s give this man something to smile about from Heaven!!!

Steve
Steve

Even if they just show Scott returning from the funeral. A scene of him, Laura and Monica adding Lee’s photo to the memorial wall in the GH lobby would be appropriate.

After Rachel Ames (Audrey), Peter Hansen currently has the most longevity (not counting breaks) as one actor in a single GH role. That’s about to be passed by Genie Francis, Jackie Zeaman, Kin Shriner and Leslie Charleson.

Charday
Charday

Great idea, Steve. Wouldn’t it be great to bring back Gail Baldwin for a cameo?!

dmr
dmr

I was hoping that too..

Patricio
Patricio

Oh yes ! Great post! Mr Valentini has so much respect for soap viewers he will get it in there.

Timmm
Timmm

Good idea James.

Michelle
Michelle

It would be so very nice if they did.

Jimh(leave it to beaver)
Jimh(leave it to beaver)

One of the best and most missed actors in daytime…sad news…also, On March 1, Micheal M. Ryan who played Att. John Randolph on Another World from 1964 to 1979 had died at the age of 88…he also appeared on Edge Of Night and Another Life and was in the movie Tootsie…killing him off on AW was a big mistake back then just like when GH killed off Stuart Damon as Alan!!!

Timmm
Timmm

Scotty Baldwin is a little less today without his father. Peter was so good on GH. Rest Peter!

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Clearly, Mr. Hansen lived a long life. Yet I am sad to hear of his passing. And his death has spurred memories of GH days gone by. Here is the cast I enjoyed originally, including Mr. Hansen, and truly value:

John Beradino (Steve Hardy)
Emily McLaughlin (Jessie Brewer)
Rachel Ames (Audrey Hardy)
Valerie Starrett (Diana Maynard Taylor) — as mentioned, my absolute all-time favorite.
Craig Huebing (Peter Taylor)
Lucille Wall (Lucille March)
Martin West (Phil Brewer)

Mr. Hansen was indeed a great actor. I remember countless storylines involving the character of Lee Baldwin:

Long-running alcoholism
Volatile relationship with son Scotty Baldwin (Kin Shriner)
Early relationship with Meg Bentley (Elizabeth MacRae)
Scandalous affair with Brook Bentley (Indus Arthur)
Friendships with Jessie and Audrey, among others
Love story with Gail Adamson Baldwin (Susan Brown)
Work as addiction counselor/mayor

Through the decades, the character of Lee Baldwin was a steady presence on the GH canvass. Probably the most enduring (if not endearing) aspect was his relationship with son Scotty. Mr. Hansen brought class and gravitas to the role. His work on GH ended long ago, but he is a vital part of the rich GH history. His passing gives fans, even those who weren’t around in the early days or those who may never have seen him on screen, a reason to celebrate and respect his legacy. The man and the actor are truly missed…

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

I left out Lee Baldwin’s work as an attorney and his numerous, dramatic courtroom scenes.

Jimh(leave it to beaver)
Jimh(leave it to beaver)

Nicely said…

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Thanks, Jim!

jaybird369
jaybird369

James…Brother…as always, your knowledge about the history of GH IS SO SPOT ON!!!!! TOTALLY!!!!!

LATER, GATOR!!!!!

Peace.

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Thanks, Jay!

vinman
vinman

Jamesj75….your post brought back a lot of fond GH memories. ….also included for me were Tom Baldwin (Lee’s brother)Howie and Jane Dawson &mother and Sharon Pinkham and AL Weeks (Lucille’s bf-husband)….sorry don’t remember their “real” name.Have been a watcher of GH since ’70…sister since April 2,1963.

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Thanks, vinman! I started watching in 1969, close to the time you started. You and I are rarities, and your sister even more so! I LOVED the 70s, particularly the first half. I am so glad you mentioned some of the other characters who were on at that time. I didn’t mean to exclude them as I enjoyed them, too. I should also add Sharon Pinkham’s husband Henry as well as Dr. Jim Hobart (James B. Sikking) who later went on to star in Hill Street Blues.

It was indeed a quirky group of characters, and the action centered around the Hospital! Particularly the 7th floor nurses’ station. THOSE were the days! Take care, Friend!

Patricio
Patricio

Hi there Mr. James!

What a memory you have! Thank you for jogging so many of my memories of the great GH and those great characters. Diana Taylor ! Fabulous ! Her story line was one of the best ~EVER!

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Patricio, you have made my day! You are most welcome! And thank you! So glad you were also a fan of Diana Taylor! I mentioned in other threads a while back how enamoured I was with Valerie Starrett as Diana Taylor (on GH, 1969-1977). I could go on and on (and I have) discussing my fondness for her and the storyline of Peter and Diana Taylor. But that storyline drew me in, I remember it vividly, even certain dialogue, and I will never forget it. To me, everything else on GH has paled in comparison.

The 1970s were a formative time in my life. Even the other GH characters from that time were so enjoyable. Music was vitally important to me — it still is. And I was an enthusiastic viewer of GH, with its long scenes, organ music, and all the various looks exchanged at the 7th floor nurses’ station. I can still remember the seductive music they played when Augusta McLeod (Judith McConnell) was in a scene.

Take care, Friend!

rebecca1
rebecca1

I didn’t realize he had been alive all these years; just assumed he was gone because he never reprised his role. Shame…what a GH icon.

Happy to hear he lived a long life; sorry to hear of his passing. RIP.

Llanviewer717
Llanviewer717

I loved Peter Hansen. I was in my early teens when he took over the role of Lee from another fine supporting actor, the late Ross Elliott. In no time, Peter made Lee uniquely his. I loved watching him through the years. I remember Lee’s drinking days and his struggle to maintain his sobriety. Peter always played Lee with such honesty and compassion. The scenes between Lee and his often troubled adopted son Scott are priceless. And I loved the beautiful relationship between Lee and Gail.

Thank you Mr. Hansen for decades of wonderful entertainment. You did an excellent job. May you rest in peace. Please say hello to our beloved Emily McLaughlin, John Beradino, Lucille Wall, Patricia Breslin, Anna Lee, David Lewis and John Engel.

Iakovos
Iakovos

I recall well Mr. Hansen and his work as Lee Baldwin on GH. Class act. Loved the relationship between he and Gail and their middle-aged love and partnership. And the stories about difficulties with son Scotty. Loved how this character was written into the Port Charles fabric so seamlessly whether plots were front burner for him or he supported stories. Handsome. Great voice. Understated but with power. No tricks or theatrics. They don’t make them like that anymore!

Patricio
Patricio

Thank you Ialos for bringing my memory of that great relationship with Gail.

mark
mark

He was a gorgeous silver fox!!!! Love him on GH and on that episode of golden girls he did!

nancy dillingham
nancy dillingham

Oh, I remember them well. “Those were the days”! 🙂

aria
aria

how sad, but it looks like he lived a long life, 95yo is not something everyone can achieve, nevertheless, i’m sure his family miss him, so my condolences, and to us GH fan, we will miss him…

Nik
Nik

Wow, what a great actor, R.I.P.

Shay
Shay

So sorry to hear of Peter Hansen’s passing. His Attorney Lee Baldwin was the epitome of the classy gentleman that was once such a soap opera staple….mannerly, dignified and oh-so-ever-handsome! (They just don’t make them like that anymore!) His courtroom demeanor and décorum were impeccable….nothing resembling the shameless shenanigans of today’s laughable legal eagles, sadly including those of his own “son!” (I always wondered what this character would have to say about those trademark cringeworthy antics for which Scotty has become increasingly famous during recent years…) Lee’s marriage with that lovely lady doctor, Gail, was a perfect pairing of two mature, well-heeled professionals…they made for a most elegant couple, a union of true adults with a moral center that provided old-fashioned gravitas in their collective role as the go-to couple for guidance and support amongst the younger generation. Alas, their kind are no longer found in Port Charles, where the parental figures are now often just as messed up as their offspring…if not more! As for Lee’s alcoholism storyline, what little I saw of it seemed to be very authentic, poignant and deserving of acting accolades….it honestly broached the subject and was done with unflinching realism and unapologetic candor in showing the unwelcome consequences of his unacceptable drinking habit, again, rather different from the more sensational modern interpretations we currently encounter. Lastly, I vividly recall when I first laid eyes on the characters of Lee and Scotty, I thought they looked like a real father and son! Peter’s silver fox Lee was extremely attractive and Kin’s Scotty was a dreamy blond law school student who seemed to be the younger physical–though not temperamental—embodiment of him….Oddly enough, I later discovered to my amazement that the elder Baldwin had adopted little Scotty when he married the child’s bio-mom, so the remarkable resemblance was simply pure coincidence, as there were no genuine blood ties there. Like others on this thread, I join in the hope that the unforgettable Mr. Hansen—and the always fondly-recalled and well-regarded Lee Baldwin—are given a proper goodbye/salute on GH….There are thankfully just enough remaining legacy characters on the canvas who had meaningful relationships with both Lee and Gail to provide the necessary emotion to the situation, including, of course, Scotty, as well as Laura and Monica….even Bobbie from her days at the old nurses’ station!!!!….Farewell, Mr. Hansen….you will be missed!

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Hello Shay! Such a nice tribute you’ve given to the actor and character! I like the way you compare Lee’s parenting with what goes for parenting in today’s characters. I also appreciate your attention to these details:

Lee and Gail’s relationship
Often-forgotten plot point that Lee wasn’t Scotty’s biological father, a great and “true” father nonetheless
Need for a proper send-off of this legacy character

It’s so comforting to share these remembrances of this classy actor and great character. Take care, Friend!

Shay
Shay

Thank you for your generous comments, “Gentleman James!” Despite the fact I was a very tender age when I first encountered this esteemed actor and GH was but an occasional treat, and not the daily habit it later became in the “Luke and Laura-laced” ’80’s, I always felt a natural affinity for the characters of Lee and Gail because they were so much like the adults—i.e., immediate/extended family and friends of my parents/grandparents—in my own life. All profoundly decent, dependable, honorable people who faced life’s challenges and vicissitudes with a sense of dignity and maturity unseen today…..no matter what happened, they just “got on with it,” and I suppose that is why so many were/are deservedly referred to as being part of “the greatest generation.” Hence, by association, it never fails to sadden me when one of them leaves us….and why I was compelled to commemorate the considerable contributions of both Mr. Hansen and Susan Brown in their roles as “Lee and Gail” on this once-formidable show. Along with others on this thread, I would be most delighted should the aforementioned actress be able to grace Port Charles with a guest appearance for that highly-requested salute to the character of Lee Baldwin, so it is my sincere hope she would be available to do so were the offer extended. Also, I just wanted to mention that the only reason I was so well-versed on the true nature of Scotty and Lee’s relationship is because one day whilst viewing the soap over summer break at the home of a friend, I was remarking to her about the striking resemblance between the two actors who portrayed the Baldwins, and her great aunt—who was present at the time—explained how the characters really weren’t related at all and further apprised me of their interesting history….therefore, that notion has stuck in my mind forever. What can I say? Just another fine example of the things both great and small that my much respected elders have taught me. Thanks again for your greatly appreciated compliments, “Kind Sir,” and here’s wishing you (and your loved ones…) a most joyous and blessed Easter! Later, my friend!

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Shay, please forgive me for not replying sooner. I want you to know that I appreciate your further comments and explanation of your tribute to Peter Hansen. Again, your thoughtful and respectful analysis is spot on! I like the lovely, lilting, legitimate “Luke and Laura-laced 80’s” line, being a fan of alliteration myself!

But to a larger sense, your nod to the maturity and honor of the Lee and Gail characters is so true and apt. We need these moral centers in our shows. Yes, you can have the villains and sometimes give them shades of gray (50 anyone?), but even in real life (as you experienced with your elders), there are still honest, decent people who always try to do the right thing. That type of character can exist on a soap, and it doesn’t have to be boring. Take care, Friend!

Shay
Shay

“Gentleman James”….You need never apologize for failing to make a “rapid response!” We all have “real lives” to lead…and this little slice of “soap heaven” is but a guilty pleasure that most of us must take in necessarily small doses! However, having said that, what a lovely man you are! I always appreciate your gracious and thoughtful remarks…for me, they are highly reminiscent of those I would frequently receive from one of my all-time favorite English teachers…very elegantly put and extremely exacting in their expression. I would certainly not be surprised were you to have a similar profession, although it could also be that you simply share my love of and respect for the written word! Regardless, I consider your comments both treats and treasures…please keep up the fine work of gracing these threads with your wonderful recollections from daytime dramas past and charming convictions that characters with “moral centers” are not a passe’ concept. Once again, thank you for (all of) your generous sentiments….take care, my friend!

Shay
Shay

P.S. As for your most complimentary observation regarding my use of “alliteration,” I do plead guilty to loving that particular literary device…sometimes to the extreme, I must admit! (But thank you, James, for noticing our mutual affection for it….) I’m also quite fond of “assonance” and prone to the occasional overuse of “onomatopoeia,” as well!!!

Jamesj75
Jamesj75

Shay, thanks a million for your generous and kind words… You are extremely classy and benevolent. Isn’t it great how you can make someone’s day even by making online comments to someone you’ve never met? You’ve done that for me, Shay… Thanks! My long-term occupation is editor/writer, so your hunch was correct. 🙂

I feel that I don’t have much to add to most of these discussions as my soap viewing is minimal at best… But I don’t mind sharing an occasional observation of “daytime dramas past,” as such memories are happy and cathartic for me.

As always, I appreciate your terrific insights and analysis! I hope to check in more often to enjoy your contributions.

PS: I had to look up both “assonance” and “onomatopoeia.” Thanks for the education, and take care, Friend!

k/kay
k/kay

Rest In Peace my sweet friend when actors were truly actors

Breaking News

Brandon Barash Replaces Tyler Christopher At DAYS

According to reports from Soap Opera Digest and Daytime Confidential, former General Hospital favorite Brandon Barash has temporarily replaced Tyler Christopher, in the role of Stefan DiMera at Days of our Lives.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Brandon played mobster Johnny Zacchara on GH from 2007-2016.

Because DAYS tapes well in advance; look for Barash to hit the air sometime in early 2019.

What are your thoughts on Brandon as temp replacement for Tyler as Stefan O? Comment below.

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GH’s Maurice Benard Takes On Role Of John Gotti In Upcoming Lifetime Movie

Who better to use their mobster experience playing the iconic role of Sonny Corinthos on General Hospital, and put it to good use, when taking on the role of a real-life mobster than Daytime Emmy winner, Maurice Benard?

As revealed over the past weekend, Maurice Benard is hard at work filming a Lifetime Movie based on the life of Victoria Gotti called “The Victoria Gotti Story”.

Sharing the news via his social media, Benard expressed: “Thank you lifetime and everyone involved 4 a Beautiful opportunity.”

Recently, John Travolta played the notorious New York mobster in the movie Gotti released earlier this year.

The infamous Gotti, had a wife and a daughter both named Victoria.  So as to which point of view the film is focusing on is yet to be released.

So what do you think of the casting of Maurice as John Gotti? Intrigued to see the Lifetime Movie when it debuts? Comment below

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General Hospital

General Hospital’s Max Gail Opens Up On Portraying Mike’s Battle With Alzheimer’s & Making A Difference In People’s Lives

“What happens the day I wake up, and you guys are the strangers,” says Mike to his son, Sonny and his wife Carly (Laura Wright). “I left you before to my everlasting regret, but it’s going to happen. I’d do anything if I didn’t have to do it again, but it’s going to happen – one way or the other.  At least this way I could leave some good feelings, instead of disappearing before your eyes.”  Those words were said during a gut-wrenching scene on Friday’s episode of General Hospital, as Mike tries to come to terms with his deteriorating mental state in his battle with Alzheimer’s, and the hard realization that he may be better off in a care facility, instead of at his son’s home.  These scenes, as all the scenes in this storyline, have been exquisitely played by Max Gail (Mike) and Maurice Benard (Sonny).

When Max Gail arrived on the GH canvas as the recast Mike Corbin in a role made soap-famous by Ron Hale, viewers did not know what to initially expect.  What they did know was that Max is an accomplished actor with a body of work from primetime dramas and comedies, film, and the stage, and that if he is coming to GH, he must be coming on board for something major.  Before GH, suffice to say, Gail is most remembered for his role as “Wojo” on the ABC sitcom Barney Miller that aired from 1975-1982.

In story on GH, Mike, who abandoned Sonny as a child, once again re-enters his son’s life, but soon we learn that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and that the soap is tackling a story that is an important medical, social, and familial issue of our time.

Gail has been a revelation in this role.  A clear frontrunner for an Emmy, playing the facets, the levels, the characteristics, and the heartbreak of a person who is slowly losing everything they know near and dear to them, as in the end they are ultimately stripped of their dignity from this most horrific of diseases.

On a personal note, and as part of this conversation with Max, it was important for him and for me to share, that I lost my mother at the end of April of this year to Alzheimer’s.  So his work hits close to home, this story hits close to home, as it has also resonated for many viewers who have shared their stories on social media and when Max makes personal appearances.

Here now is this very special interview for Michael Fairman TV with an actor whom we can all agree is touching all of our lives.

You’re portraying a person suffering from Alzheimer’s and play the progression of the disease.  Do you feel pressure as an actor to get it right for those who have loved ones, or person’s afflicted with it?

Courtesy/ABC

MAX:  It’s more like an urge, or a calling to find some kind of truth in it that I can connect with.  One of the things I’m inclined towards showing is someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia often just drifts off somewhere else.  “Where am I going?”  This has happened to me many times in life.  For instance, when I was a youngster, I can remember getting in my car, and I’d driven a long way from some party or something like that, and I’d been drinking, and I didn’t remember it.  I knew I’d gotten home somehow.  So, it’s not out of my realm.  I’ve learned that there are no set behaviors really… other than that it usually ends up being really difficult for caretakers, and seemingly really painful for many, if not most people suffering with Alzheimer’s, and losing connection and losing the ability to just function.  We are kind of on the cusp of that in story at GH.  I think it was originally proposed that I would play the part for just a few months, and to give me an out if it wasn’t working.  Maybe, there was a placeholder idea to ship Mike off to a home or something, but the storyline has touched so many people that it has been continuing.

The story has been so effective.  You’ve done such an amazing job, and the fans love Mike and what you’re doing with the character, and they’re on board on this journey.  It’ll be interesting to see how far they will take this with Mike.  Will we actually see him not being able to communicate anymore?  How far will the writers go to show the horrific aspects of Alzheimer’s? 

MAX:  I’m not sure.  You know, I’ve had times where I’ve got the scene, I get the writers, and I get the heart of it.  Other times, I find where that transition is from where Mike is lucid and clear, and other times what that state of mind is and that switch is, and what that is in behaviors and energy level.  I think there’s an ongoing downturn for Mike, and for me as an actor finding something in the moment and finding how it works with things that he does remember.  They’re trying to find a place for Mike within all of the interwoven drama of General Hospital.  I, frankly, had no idea how complex the range of storylines was.  Mike doesn’t really have control over his story.  I don’t want that as an actor.  Mike has some intentions that are really important to him.  I’m trying to find that balance where there are times when he has a pathetic, very sad remorse about what he has missed.  I think that underlies his feelings for his son, who he never could quite reach, because of his own failings as a father.  Sonny’s formative experiences growing up were then with his abusive stepdad.  Finding all of that is really important to do in a way that doesn’t make Mike just this sweet older man with Alzheimer’s.   It’s a wonderful challenge to be presented with.

Courtesy/CBS

You brought up that Mike is seemingly very sweet in his demeanor now.  My mother, who I shared with you died a few months ago from Alzheimer’s was a strong-willed, feisty woman.  As the disease took hold of her, she became very sweet.   She became almost childlike.  The fire had gone out of her eyes.  You knew she didn’t know who you were, and so, all of that, as you know is so tough to witness as her son.  In terms of Mike and his ultimate care, everyone says they love him and want what is best for him, but that he needs to be taken care of because he gets confused, doesn’t know where he is sometimes. etc.  Sonny has been grappling with putting him in a care facility to be looked after, or to keep him with the Corinthos family under their roof.  However, Mike has come to a realization that he may need to be in facility all on his own, and doesn’t want to burden his son by living with him anymore.  That was a poignant moment, and another one of the best scenes has been when Mike couldn’t remember that Sonny was his own son. 

MAX:  Right and he doesn’t know if he’s around friends or around enemies.  This can be true of Alzheimer’s patients.

I had that happen with my mother when she came out to Los Angeles to see me for the last time.  She was out of her element, she was confused, and she broke down and cried in the hotel room.  She asked my father, “Why did you bring me here?” and he told her, “We came to see our son.”  It was heartbreaking.   Later, she had a moment of clarity and realized more of what was going on.  I think it’s those in-and -out moments that you portray so well on-screen.  I feel that they are very realistic to what I, and others, have experienced.

Courtesy/ABC

MAX:  I appreciate that and sharing that with me, because you never know as an actor.  That place of “Where am I?  What is this?” makes me think of that “Summer Wind” moment from the Nurses’ Ball when it wasn’t just, “I’m embarrassed.  I don’t remember the words.”  It was, “I don’t know where the f**k I am.  I thought there was a band there, but there’s not.”  So, in a way, I just had to be there on this big soundstage and just feel this big space around me.  I could barely see that there were people out there.  It’s kind of a terrifying thing to a lot of people, but I think Mike has something in him that makes him want to be okay with all of this.  He doesn’t have to freak out and get accusatory.

Courtesy/ABC

What has it been like working with Maurice Benard as your on-screen son?  Do you watch back your scenes together and ever go, “Oh, that was great!?”

MAX:  Yes, there have been a lot of those!  There are some scenes that are so emotionally focused, and we get a lot of delight in each other.  He has been playing this character in this situation for so long, so it’s just kind of in him.  Maurice has presence.  I think when I went in to read for the part of Mike, I had gone through pilot season and had gone in for some interesting pilots.  I didn’t feel like I was really connecting in the readings, because most things are by tape these days, anyway.  When this part came up, a soap hadn’t really been on my radar.  I knew I’d be going in to read with the actor, so I said, “Okay,” and I looked at the material, and then I checked out Maurice on IMDB.  One of the things that got my interest was that he has been diagnosed and takes medication to deal with bipolar disorder, and that’s become a part of his life, and it’s become part of his character.  I thought, “Wow, that’s really interesting.  This is a survivor, and he’s risen to something that takes a certain kind of balance and courage.”  I watched some clips, and when I went in for the reading of this kind of an amalgamation scene of what the story elements were going to be, I felt like we connected before we’d even started the dialogue.

Well, Maurice certainly loves working with you! He has been very supportive and vocal about that.

MAX:  It’s mutual.  We can take really little simple moments, and we can find something deeper in it, and it doesn’t have to be an, ‘I’m going to start crying now’ moment.  Although, I would love for Mike to have a moment of self-observation where he goes, “Gee.  I cry a lot more than I used to.”  I think there are people who are like that, and it’s okay for certain people to cry, and for other people it is not.

Courtesy/ABC

There was a part of my mom that knew something was wrong.  She’d go, “Why am I crying?  I don’t know why I’m crying.”  She got confused as to why she was feeling that.  She couldn’t connect it all, and at times she kept saying, “I don’t understand.  I don’t understand.”  Those were the things she would try to express.

MAX:  I have a feeling that Mike has those moments too, but he finds a way for it to be okay.  There may be a point where someone with Alzheimer’s can’t pull it off anymore, but how we find those and those specifics, I don’t know.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Working on a classic sitcom such as Barney Miller is vastly different than working on a daytime soap opera.  While now being at GH, have you found any commonality within the experience?

MAX:  If I can take a moment and reflect on Barney Miller, because it was a great experience and one that I found was not so easy to find again over the years.  One of the things that really resonates is that when we started shooting the studio audience laughed too easily.  We would end up retaking the scenes.  Sometimes, we didn’t have the end of the show written, because they tended to let certain things start to show up in the earlier parts of the script.  Danny Arnold who was the writer, creator and producer of Barney Miller would always take over the way Frank Valentini (executive producer, GH) does in a way … looking to be respectful of the director, but still seeing things on his own.  Frank has a really wonderful eye.  He’s much more connected into the overall storylines, the motivations that went into the writing, and what he sees in the moment.  I always welcome him on the set because the directors, who have a range of talents and sensibilities, are tasked with coming up with a whole lot of shots to cover, a whole lot of tricky angles, and all of that.

Courtesy/ABC

Vernee Watson has been amazing as Stella, who is also Mike’s social worker.  Does Mike have romantic feelings toward Stella?

MAX:  Vernee is wonderful.  I didn’t know Vernee had been on the show when I came on board.  She won an Emmy, and I’m not surprised.   She is so present and so specific, and she’s very bright and gets what all of these elements are, and so, I think they have a connection.  For whatever ways Mike has lived in his like, there isn’t some strange, exotic draw that she is black, and Mike is white.  I like that because both my first and late wife, and my second wife, with whom I’ve had children (and we’ve been separated for awhile, but have a great relationship) are African-American.  So, in my world that is not a big deal.   I think there’s an affinity there between Mike and Stella.  You know, he’s alive.  He’s old, but he’s not dead.  There’s an ease with women he likes.  I think there are a whole lot of reasons for them to not get involved.  One is just professional, and she’s a social worker.  We just shot something where I say something to somebody else about, “back when I still had all my marbles,” you know, he’s in another stage of life, which many people go into gracefully, while many don’t.

 

What do you think about how Mike knows about who was buried at Charlie’s Pub?  He was trying to keep the truth about Charlie Delaney from coming out, which turned into a gas leak that blew up the bar!  This storyline ties in to Sonny’s mobster dealings as well.

MAX:  Well, this is where they put this effort in the storytelling to connect Mike in some way and be intertwined with Sonny.  Of course, it reveals certain things about Mike that he’s never revealed to anybody before.  So, that’s kind of cool.  I think when he knows what and how much sometimes is not clear.  That’s why I started talking about Barney Miller because the other thing was a lot of times when we go together for the table reads, they didn’t have the end of the story.  They had a first draft, maybe. Dan would talk about it, and they’d say, “Next week, the main story is going to be this man in his fifties who is coming to terms with the fact that he is gay,” or whatever those underlying themes may be with the different characters reactions.  So, we knew elements going into it and that sometimes I  didn’t know what the writers are really intending.  In terms of Mike, he’s kind of back and forth in certain moments.  I have to resist the idea that they trap me by just being careless.  I’ve learned that just trying to fix the script often gets you into a place where you “rehearse yourself out of it,” as they say.

Courtesy/GoodDayLA

You appeared on the morning show Good Day LA  a few months back with Laura Wright (Carly), and Maria Shriver, who has founded the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement.  What was that like meeting Maria, and helping get the word out about the effects of this disease and the work Maria is doing?

MAX:  It was great to do.  Maria had sent out a tweet that is was wonderful what was going on, on General Hospital.  On Good Day LA, she talked about her work, particularly focusing on the fact that more women are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than men.  So, then Laura and I sat down and did an interview alongside Maria.  We actually had a nice conversation before.  They did a web interview also as a follow-up.  That was very cool, because Maria is very smart, and I’d never met her, but it was great to see what she was doing.  Whatever we are dealing with in the show is sort of my opportunity in the real world to bring awareness and shed light on the subject.  I’d love to see an ongoing conversation online amongst people who can share their stories with each other.  That’s a lot of what they’re doing.  They’re raising money for research, but people need to be able to talk to each other when you’re a caregiver.  Coming out of the early sixties and early seventies when I was playing a cop on TV, I never was a fanatic activist.  I certainly got the behavior of the Chicago police at a certain time in terms of the energy and conflicts of the time.  There was something to think about, but at the same time, I had opportunities to kind of share that all cops aren’t bad, just look at the show, Barney Miller.

Courtesy/ABC

You were my favorite character on Barney Miller as Detective Wojciehowicz!  I think for many who watched the show you were, too!

MAX:  I think “Wojo” ended up being the heart of the show.

Max, you’re helping people through your beautiful performances including me.  Congratulations on that.   I’ll continue have to have a box of Kleenex handy as I watch how it all unfolds for Mike.

Photo: IMDB

MAX:  Well, I really appreciate your questions.  I’m just planting that seed.  That is really what I would like to do after talking to you and so many people.  That’s something I’d like to put out there.   We each have our own domains and responsibilities and all of it overlaps, and you can kind of get in touch with that; if you just go around the circle and share it, and then go around again.  I’m looking to help people out there in the world who are watching and are looking to share in the conversation.

So, what did you think about the heartbreaking scenes on Friday’s episode of GH between Mike and Sonny?  What have you thought of Max Gail’s performance throughout his GH run?  Have you experienced the loss, or are watching someone you love, or care about slip away from Alzheimer’s?  Share your thoughts via the comment below.

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Video du Jour

This weekend we mourn the loss of General Hospital’s beloved Susan Brown who played Gail Baldwin. Here is her final scene from 2004 when Gail and her husband Lee (the late Peter Hansen) showed up at Lila’s funeral and had an exchange with Alan and Monica. Share your thoughts on Susan’s passing via the link below. Leave A Comment

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