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GH's Tony Geary & Jackie Zeman Reflect On Elizabeth Taylor's Appearance On Anniversary of Luke & Laura's Historic 1981 Wedding!

Courtesy/ABC Photo Archive

Courtesy/ABC Photo Archive

“My curse on you Laura and Luke … my curse on both of you!”  And with that, fans of General Hospital are still to this day seeing the evil Helena Cassadine continuing her revenge vendetta against the Spencer clan, and almost every one else in Port Charles!

Of course, that classic line was uttered by the late Oscar winning motion picture star Elizabeth Taylor, the original Helena Cassadine, now played by Constance Towers.

Today, November 16th marks the anniversary of the beginning of the two-part episode from 1981 where a record breaking 30 million people stopped what they were doing in the afternoon to watch the nuptials of Luke (Tony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis)!

Now, TV Guide Magazine’s Michael Logan has a chat with none other than Geary, and his on-screen sis, Jackie Zeman (Bobbie) to get a few remembrances of what it was like having a star of the magnitude of Elizabeth Taylor come to the ABC soap opera, and how it impacted the genre.  Here are a few excerpts below!

Tony Geary:  “I’m sure nobody from the network went to Elizabeth about this unsolicited, because the possibility that she’d do GH was just too crazy to even imagine. Someone from her team must have floated the idea first. This was back when she was married to Sen. John Warner and wasn’t very happy sitting on the farm in Virginia. She told me that GH — especially the Ice Princess story — took her out of her lethargy every afternoon. Luke and Laura’s love story made Elizabeth feel very nostalgic. She said it reminded her of her youth and the great romance films of the old studio system.”

Courtesy/ABC Photo Archives

Jackie Zeman:  “You  have to remember these were very different times. Show business was compartmentalized. Soap actors didn’t do primetime.  Primetime actors didn’t do movies. So (Taylor]) was a big shot in the arm for GH and all of daytime TV. Her guest stint broke the rules.”

Tony Geary:  “After her appearance, we suddenly had a glut of big names wanting to be on GH  but (then-executive producer) Gloria Monty wasn’t biting. Her attitude was, ‘I don’t need stars. I make ’em!’  It’s a testament to Elizabeth’s star power that her character (now played by Constance Towers) is still with us all these decades later. Helena has died and come back more often than I’ve had a glass of wine. There’s a reason for that longevity — the character was born of magnificence.”

Watch the “I do’s” from Luke and Laura’s wedding, and then the classic moment when Helena (Elizabeth Taylor) puts the “Cassadine curse” on the young marrieds!  Then let us know, where were you watching Luke and Laura’s 1981 wedding?  What did you think of Elizabeth Taylor coming to General Hospital for her guest star turn as Helena? Was it the biggest shot in the arm for the soaps?  Comment below!

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ShayAvatar610Michael (not Fairman)su0000Iakovos Recent comment authors
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nina griffin
nina griffin

I was a junior at Kalamazoo College in Michigan when this aired. About 30 of us, mostly girls but some guys as well, cut class both days to watch. We smuggled champagne into the lounge, even though we were under age and had cake too. It was a blast!

su0000
su0000

It was before my time..
I did notice back then GH had a great budget, the sky was the limit in comparison to today when they pinch pennies..
It was fun to put faces to some of the names that still echoing in Port Charles..

It reminded of Mayberry and I thought I’d see Aunt Bee and Opie .. lol

(how young everyone was wow!)

JLH
JLH

I was a freshman in college but made sure I made it home in time for the fun. Man, it sure would have been so much easier watching GH and going to school if I’d had a video recorder but alas that was still several years in the future…

jeremy
jeremy

OMG, i still remember this i was only 5 years old. I was home at my Grandmas house with the whole 25 members of my family watching “GH” my aunts, uncle, grandma, cousin brothers,cousin sisters, my sisters, my mom and grandpa. Wow, we had our turkey that day. Man, so many memories of that day. 🙂 Still a loyal fan to this day.

JENSEN
JENSEN

Freshman in college. Teacher canceled class on the 17th.

Iakovos
Iakovos

Was also a college freshman, at University of Dayton. had a bio lab and the graduate student in charge knew we were all about Luke and Laura. She let us go in time to watch. It was so cool, in memory, that we collectively gathered everywhere for this pop culture phenomenon. I have seen the episodes since and I cringe a little, but even with the outrageousness, GH showed its roots in family and humanity. I miss that on GH and other soaps. Seems it is about moving ever faster and being more shocking. That Luke and Laura played out a long time and that is why the payoff was huge. We were so engaged and involved.

Harry
Harry

What a fun piece to read, Michael Fairman. I remember Elizabeth Taylor cursing Luke and Laura as if it were yesterday.
Sadly, her curse was powerful and lasting.

Karen Kelly McEachern
Karen Kelly McEachern

On the day Elizabeth Taylor made her debut on GH ( 11/10/81 ) I gave birth to my son Michael. I left my teaching job and drove to the Dr.’s office and was promptly sent to the hospital. I drove down a Main St. in Boston having contractions. When I pulled into the parking lot of the hospital the attendant said there wasn’t any room to park. I gave him the keys and said I was in labor. Thirty minutes later my son was born. I begged the Dr. not to send me to recovery as Ms. Taylor was making her debut on GH and I needed a TV. The Dr. agreed and I was ushered into a private room. A few days later with a newborn baby and a toddler at home, my grandmother and I watched the wedding together. I will never forget that time and am still watching GH since 4/1/63.

Laurie
Laurie

Great story!

Now for a BIZARRE question- Is your son, Michael, a musician in Nashville? I ask because I recognized the last name (unique) and I lived in Nashville & worked in the music industry up until I got married a few years ago. My hubby’s job keeps him in Arkansas for now..but nevermind that.. I still talk w/my Nashville friends & somewhere, somehow I’ve come across this name & his music. I just thought that was so strange and it’s such a small world if so!!

I was 11 when Luke & Laura got married. I remember it and this is around when my lifelong crush on Dr. Noah Drake, Rick Springfield began. It’s too bad recording devices weren’t around back then for viewers to record their “stories” just yet. Love to see these videos. Thank goodness for youtube & sites like these.

Karen Kelly McEachern
Karen Kelly McEachern

Hi Laurie, No, my son lives in Boston . The best part of Luke & Laura’s wedding was when Scotty grabbed the bouquet as Laura tossed it. We were totally surprised since there weren’t any hints, social media , etc. at the time. Something funny, I won a guitar at the 50th GHFCW in ’13 signed by Rick Springfield. My grandson is using it now to take lessons. I’m still a die-hard fan. Yes, You Tube is great.

Alan
Alan

I was a sophomore in high school and skipped class both days to watch at my friend Tipsy’s house.

I think Luke and Laura ultimately did more harm than good to the soaps. Other shows attributed The couple’s popularity to their “on the run” adventures instead of their love story spawning a trend that led most soaps astray of their roots. Suddenly Search For Tomorrow’s Travis and Liza Sentell were running all over Hong Kong looking for a jade necklace, Bo Buchanan was driving a car powered by the mysterious alternative power source Solarimide, and Days Of Our Lives’ Bo and Hope were trying to find the 3 prisms of power that Stephano DiMera thought would cure his brain tumor.

Laurie
Laurie

I don’t know if I agree completely, but yes, most do claim the action was what drove their popularity. I always thought they were popular DESPITE the “on the run” chaos, not BECAUSE of it. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. I did fall in love with the characters and the show though! Fun times.

Michael (not Fairman)
Michael (not Fairman)

I agree in general. Often when something has succeeded on the soaps, TPTB on other soaps have misunderstood WHY it has succeeded and tried to duplicate the wrong elements; Luke-and-Laura-on-the-run isn’t the only example of this. (Not that trying to copy somebody else works very often anyway.)

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Scott (ATWT Fan)

I wasn’t alive during Liz’s time on GH, nor was I a GH watcher until 2007-08, but I must say, she brought such a regal presentation to Helena, and would’ve loved to see her carry that character more than the appearances she did provide with her. I think the character could’ve been so much more than she has been.

Llanviewer717
Llanviewer717

I remember those episodes very well. Those were the days!!!!!!!!

k/kay
k/kay

Oh TG get your memory going she was a big fan and called to say when our Luke &Laura going to get married the rest is history!

Tommy Prunty
Tommy Prunty

i I em ember the day well, I had an hour on my first office job at a PR firm on 34th street across from Macy’s in NYC, I took my lunch at 3pm to see the wedding and when I got there I had to turn the channel to 7 and another two fans cam up and we decided to change all of the sets on and to channel 7 by mid show a crowd had gathered and we all watched the wedding together, some of us even met for the next day to see part two.

MBmomof3
MBmomof3

I remember this storyline so well. Great time in soap history. Thanks for the memories!

Mary Lou Glines
Mary Lou Glines

Without a doubt Ms Elizabeth Taylor’s appearance on General Hospital changed the ENTIRE way soaps were viewed by the entertainment industry and the general public. No longer was it embarrassing to admit a soap on a resume but became a place where many noted people would now be seen. She was amazing!

Avatar610
Avatar610

I was in high school when the wedding occured, and I ran home to watch it. I didn’t have a VCR yet (the next year I got one), so I used an audiotape recorder to tape the event for posterity- if only I knew about today’s technology! The big shock was Scotty’s appearance and the resulting fight. I’ve always felt that GH should redo the scene with Helena casting the curse with Constance Towers for continuity’s sake, as Taylor’s scenes were filmed separately as inserts.

The big problem caused by the wedding was that EVERY OTHER SOAP played “Follow the Leader”, especially the P&G soaps, desperately trying to duplicate what uniquely worked for GH. BIG MISTAKE- overall, longtime viewers began to be alienated as some shows went for big adventures, big weddings, and big-name guest stars. Most of these attempts flopped (e.g, ATWT’s “Mr. Big” storyline with Zsa Zsa Gabor, SFT’s Hong Kong story), and ratings began to erode for some shows. Yes, it was a watershed moment for daytime, but some soaps were comprimised in the long run by trying to copy GH’s formula for success.

su0000
su0000

I do not agree.. it is not true..
guest stars have always brought in viewers and most importantly they are a fun time for the fans to have them in a story..
Bif events also brought in viewers are were a treat to watch..
anything that is grad is interesting, different, and fun ..
Right!!
GH always has been and always will be the ‘modern’ forerunner of the soaps..
GH is truly unique and stand outside the box..

Avatar610
Avatar610

You miss the point I was making- OTHER soaps have tried and failed to follow the formula of GH’s success!!! What works for one soap doesn’t usually work for others. If you were around in 1981-82, you probably remember a LOT of actors on other soaps imitating Tony Geary’s classic “Luke” curly hairdo- Rod Arrants on SFT, Christopher Rich on AW, Allen Fawcett on EON, Wayne Northrop on DAYS. The larger-than-life adventures that worked for GH did NOT work for shows like AW, ATWT. Y&R and AMC, for instance, stayed more-or-less true to form during the next few years and kept high ratings.

Michael (not Fairman)
Michael (not Fairman)

I’m curious how you would know “it is not true,” su0000? You said above this was before your time.

I remember things just as Avatar610 does. The storylines on other shows that tried to copy GH’s “On the Run” storyline were indeed big failures; daytime executives tried too literally to copy what GH had done without understanding why it worked. The adventure stories didn’t fit the other shows that tried them, and it showed—and the effort failed, and actually damaged some of those shows badly.

Avatar610
Avatar610

Thank you, Michael! Those of us who were watching soaps back then remember how things did change for the worse for some shows desperate to grab big ratings to match GH’s unique success.

Shay
Shay

Interesting, but it would have been more appropriate to hear from co-star Genie Francis on this epic soap event. JZ was a poor substitute.

Breaking News

Natasha Henstridge To Play Opposite GH’s Departing Vinessa Antoine in DIGGSTOWN

More casting news from the upcoming Canadian legal drama series, Diggstown which will star General Hospital’s Vinessa Antoine (Jordan) in the central role of Marcie Diggs.

As fans know, Antoine will be exiting GH in the role of Jordan as she begins filming the CBC series.

However, Antoine is getting a co-star on her new show, in none other than Natasha Henstridge.  The actress has previously appeared in CW’s Beauty and the Beast and Secret Circle.

 

According to Deadline, in Diggstown, Natasha will play Colleen MacDonald, a single, no-nonsense, openly gay director of legal aid now headquartered in Halifax after being blacklisted by the legal community in Toronto. She hopes to one day work her way back home.

As for the premise of the new series, Diggstown is set in the gritty arena of legal aid.  It centers on Marcie Diggs (Antoine), a star lawyer who reconsiders her priorities after her beloved aunt commits suicide following a malicious prosecution. Landing at a legal aid office in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Marcie is driven by one thing – to never again allow innocent lives to be destroyed by the justice system.  The team of lawyers that Marcie works with are a curious band of do-gooders, cynics and scrappers – messy souls struggling to keep personal disappointment and demons out of their practice as they work directly in the community to find justice for their diverse clients, exploring issues of racism, poverty and gender bias.”

Antoine is the first black actress to be cast as a dramatic series lead on iconic Canadian Broadcasting Company, CBC.

So, what do you think of the premise of Diggstown?  Sounds intriguing to us! Comment below.

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General Hospital

GH’s Kathleen Gati and Michelle Stafford Deliver The Power Performance of The Week!

A grieving mother and sister found themselves stuck in a revenge plot gone haywire, that provided the backdrop in which two accomplished actresses; Kathleen Gati (Liesl) and Michelle Stafford (Nina) were able to shine on episodes of General Hospital.

Although Peter’s kidnapping went on far too long, and fans on social media have their own viewpoints as to what they think of Mr. August aka Henrik Faison (Wes Ramsey), the final week of taking Peter hostage to torment him as payback for his part in Nathan’s death; gave Gati and Stafford scenes from the comedic, to the emotional, to the cray-cray, and more..

Courtesy/ABC

On Thursday’s episode, Nina is trying to talk down Liesl from torching the place, but Liesl is becoming more unhinged and more grief-stricken.  She says to Nina, “I lost my son.  I gave Nathan up to protect him.  I spent my life not even daring to gaze in his direction for fear that Cesar would take him.  I never wanted my son to be like him, and now my beautiful boy is buried in the ground, while the other son is still breathing!  So, I must finish this my way, Nina  …  with or without you!”

Pleading, an emotional Nina responds: “Aunt Liesl, you are not the only one who lost time with Nathan.  I did, too.  I missed him growing up.  I missed his childhood, and seeing the incredible man he turned into.  I feel his absence and I feel the loss every second of every day.  I hate Faison, and I will for the rest of my life, and I hate Anna (Finola Hughes) just like you did, but that does not justify what I have done… being an accomplice in this crazy revenge.  None of that is going to bring my brother back.”   Nina goes on to say:  “I knew J would not want his mother grieving alone. This isn’t grief anymore … this is madness.”

Obrecht with rage and sadness in her eyes says, “The brightest souls like my Nathan are extinguished.”  And from there, as viewers know by now, Liesl sets the fire, which sets the stage for Nina’s rescue, and the Friday cliffhanger of Finn (Michael Easton) having to decide whether to go in the burning building and get Peter out, or not.

Courtesy/ABC

Later on the pier, a stoic, but grief-stricken Liesl is arrested.  She spitefully tells Curtis (Donnell Turner) and Jordan (Vinessa Antoine), “Tell Anna something for me: ‘Now we are even!”‘

Earlier in the week, we saw how Kathleen Gati navigated the comedic yet dramatic moments as she had to knock Franco (Roger Howarth) out, while she was trying to get back to Spoon Island, as he realized Obrecht was the guilty party who took Peter.

Gati has made Obrecht, this one-of-a-kind character, come to life, no matter what the circumstances the writers put her in.  And as for Michelle Stafford, when Nina spoke of her brother and the loss she continues to feel, it was one of the most on-the-money moments for anyone who has lost a sibling that they looked to.

So, even through some of the absurdity of the circumstances, and as they were portraying two women trying to figure their way out of the mess they created,  Gati and Stafford never faltered as they committed to the material, and delivered this week’s Power Performance of the Week.

Share your thoughts on the performances of Kathleen and Michelle and what stood out to you via the comment section below.

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Breaking News

GH’s Billy Miller Lands Role In Apple’s Upcoming Thriller Series, ARE YOU SLEEPING

Exciting casting news for mutli-Daytime Emmy winner, Billy Miller (Drew, General Hospital).  Miller has been cast in the upcoming drama series thriller, Are you Sleeping to be on Apple’s streaming platform.

Are you Sleeping stars Oscar winner Octavia Spencer along with Lizzy Caplan, and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) with another Oscar winner, Reese Witherspoon serving as one of the series executive producers with the project through her production company, Hello Sunshine.

According to Deadline: Are You Sleeping, is based on the true-crime novel by Kathleen Barber,and provides a unique glimpse into America’s obsession with true-crime podcasts and challenges its viewers to consider the consequences when the pursuit of justice is placed on a public stage.

Code Black’s Moon Bloodgood is also set as a series regular. Brett Cullen (Devious Maids) and Hunter Doohan, will recur along with Miller.

In story, Octavia Spencer stars as Poppy Parnell, a relentless investigative reporter who looks to uncover the truth behind a decades-old questionable murder verdict through her new podcast. Caplan plays twin sisters Josie and Lanie, whose father’s murder decades ago is examined on the podcast. Paul plays convicted murderer Warren Cave, whose guilt or innocence has remained a question in many people’s minds for the past 20 years.

Miller will play the role of Lanie’s husband, Alex Dunn.

Elizabeth Perkins, Mekhi Phifer, Michael Beach, Tracie Thoms, Haneefah Wood and Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us) also co-star in the series.

So, looks like Billy will be a part of a star-studded cast! Excited to see him in this role? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Video du Jour

Next week on Y&R, Hilary is fighting for her life, but the prognosis is not good. Friends and loved ones come to the hospital and ask for forgiveness and to tell her to fight. But how can she? Watch the latest promo from CBS Daytime below. Leave A Comment

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Power Performance

Kathleen Gati & Michelle Stafford

General Hospital

Airdates: 7-19/20-2018

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