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Happy 54th Anniversary To General Hospital!

Courtesy/GH Facebook

Those doctors, nurses, mobsters, and Port Charles stalwarts are having an anniversary!  Today, April 1st marks the 54th anniversary of ABC daytime’s long-running series, General Hospital.

GH created by Frank and Doris Hursley premiered back on April 1, 1963 and now the soap has logged 13,775 episodes in 54 years!

In a post on their social media accounts, the series shared with their fans: “Today might be April Fools Day, but we aren’t joking when we say it’s been our pleasure to spend the last 54 years with you. 13,775 episodes later and #GH is stronger than ever. ”

Pictured in an on set photo to mark the milestone are GH executive producer, Frank Valentini surrounded by cast including: Chad Duell, Finola Hughes, Kelly Monaco, Roger Howarth, Maura West, Rebecca Herbst, Billy Miller and Chloe Lanier.  In addition, some very important behind the scenes VIP’s are pictured.

Last month, General Hospital picked up 23 Daytime Emmy nominations and won last year’s prize for the Outstanding Daytime Drama Series.  Will they make it a two-peat?

On-Air On-Soaps would like to congratulate everyone in the General Hospital family for keeping Port Charles alive and well in the hearts and minds of its enduring fans.  Now, share your congrats to GH on turning 54 years young today in the comment section below!

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Margie Dalton
Margie Dalton

We need to repeat Best Soap Ever GH been here since day one. Watched with my Papa just to see John (Dr.Hardy ) baseball star on Daytime
CONGRATULATIONS 54 let’s keep it going!!

Theresa
Theresa

I’ve been watching for 50 years and I love every minute of it.

Patricio
Patricio

Dr Hardy! Jessie! Audrey!Diana Taylor!

su0000
su0000

Thank you Ron Carlivati for saving GH when it was days from cancellation. You were GH’s last hope it’s lifeline.
You brought GH back to life so it would continue on for years to come..

Hoping GH will make it to 60 years and beyond!

Patricio
Patricio

I agree SuSu!

Mr. C brought GH back from certain death! He made OLTL the best soap ever.

Kimberly Stamness
Kimberly Stamness

Congrats GH! I have been watching for over 40 yrs. I will be watching as long as you are on. Love you guys!

aria
aria

Love my GH, so glad its still on, but hey mike, if you don’t mind me calling you mike? I see Rebecca Herbts pictured above, but no Maura West, just to let you know. Back to GH, happy 54th anniversary, and to many more.

Akmom
Akmom

You missed Rebecca Herbst who is holding the cake with Kelly.

rose
rose

Thought I would comment on what I have been liking lately on GH. Start with the budding, but alas probably short lived friendship of Tracy and Laura since Tracy will be leaving GH. Am looking forward to their great “adventure” to Turkey. Oh well, better late than never. But would like to see more of this bff, fun stories in the future. Maybe Monica and Laura once in a while? And matching Laura with Kevin was great.

Fun to she Hillary/Nora visit Port Charles as a high powered lawyer. Hope she gets to say a while. Her scenes with Diane reminded me of Alexis’s early days with Diane before they became good friends.

Anna’s stories have been interesting lately from the now finished (for now) Olivia Jerome story to her new reveal with Valentin. There always was some mystery about Anna and the wsb. And who would have ever thought she would call on Dr. O to find out info from Faison. Loved seeing them play off each other.

Also liking how they have found a way to have Valentin a little more human. Such as his conversation with Jason about the scarecrow in Jake’s drawing. Even though I didn’t like his behavior at the Cassadine Island, a part of me doesn’t think he really killed Nik and there’s more to this story to come when writers figure out what they want to do with the Nikolas character. And you can never have too many Cassadines.

I just can’t warm up to Franco and Liz though. Just my personal thing. I still liked him better with Nina. Who is still so insecure. Can say I blame her much after what she’s been through. Would rather see more of her doing her Crimson magazine thing…here she’s projected a new found sense of confidence.

Is Michael going to grow into his ELQ corporate hat. It’s about time. And I’m sure he will find a way to forgive Nelle. Look what’s he’s forgiven with Sonny over the years.

And good for Ned and Olivia. Fun but very dangerous robbery at the Floating Rib, but don’t ever, ever try to emulate Olivia. But, wow, what you have to do to get Olivia to say” I do!”

And I do like that they have finally got Curtis and Jordan together…maybe.

If I have any suggestion it would be to find a way to bring a couple, or even just one, strong male character to GH who is not a criminal.

rebecca1
rebecca1

I think the show has been great…but I do miss, when I think about it, all our GH characters. So many are gone…Nic, Lucky, Emily, Lila, Alan, Aj, now Tracy…Alice!…Luke…basically the majority of the “originals” are gone. Sad…

Too bad they just throw Lucy in every now and then. Should give her a story.

I’m not sure what or how they’re going to handle Ned and Olivia. Ned has always been one of my favorite characters but is now reduced to the occasional visit. Olivia used to be very present and now she, too, is barely on. So, I hope they’re not riding these two off into the sunset. Would rather see the Q’s rebuilt…have Ned stay…move Olivia and son into the house, have Michael live there…have Jason become more involved…remember how close Michaela and Jason were? They’re never even in a scene together!

I love the show for what it is…but it’s not what it was. Sigh….

Patricio
Patricio

Hello Rosie!

What a great well informed post! Girl ! You know your soap ! I think I agree with 100% of your observations

Steve
Steve

Congrats on 54, an anniversary that looked in doubt 5 years ago. Frank’s a wizard with the budget, but was that really all the cast they could round up for this photo?

Amanda Amelia
Amanda Amelia

Congratulations to General Hospital on your longest running soap. You are truly the best. Also, I must add that you have the most dynamic and handsome couples on the soap, especially my favorites, Curtis and Jordan (Curdan). I’m glad that they’ve finally called a truce. I’d love to see more crime solving between them and Jason and Sam (JaSam). Again Congrats and keep up the good work.

Esmerelda
Esmerelda

Happy 54 year General hospital and can’t wait to see what you guys will bring next Monday and how everyone will be with each other and hope that everyone is with the right person

Rosemarie Nilan
Rosemarie Nilan

Congratulations to all involved in making GH episodes great to watch. I’ve been a fan since 8 yrs old watching this show daily with my grandmother. I’m 56 yrs old today and still record and watch the show every evening. All the characters on the show are great to watch. I wish the show much success and I wish everyone well. God Bles❤️

Patricio
Patricio

Hello Rosemarie I was born in 1961 and will be 56 soon. GENERAL HOSPITAL has also been part of my life since I can remember! I too enjoyed it with my mother. She let me stay home for Luke + Laura’s wedding! DVD s and SOAPNET allowed me to follow as I grew up and had a career. I still go to pick up the phone to call my mom about goings on in Port Charles, until I remember my beautiful mother has passed a few years ago. She literally watched the show from her hospital bed the day she died. Inside her pocketbook was the latest copy of ABC SOAPS in depth. Tell me soaps don’t serve a higher purpose. …

God bless you Rosie- may we enjoy GH for many years to come.

rebecca1
rebecca1

I’m incredibly happy that GH is still with us…and hope it is for many years to come. But that pic, LOL, really annoys me! For a celebration of such media magnitude centering on an iconic soap, you would think that the scene would include the legendary actors who have been the center of GH. Where’s (and I’m going to use the character instead of the actors names here for convenience) Tracy, Monica, Felicia, Scott, Mac, Kevin, Lucy, Bobby, Sonny, Robin, Laura, Lulu…these characters are still on the show (though not enough) and yet they weren’t, “eating cake” or the photographer took a pic after the these GH icons had left the building….I get the feeling the man on the right stood apart as if to say…”yeah, yeah…people are going to ask who I am and where is Laura!” 😉

Kevin
Kevin

I figured the party included only the actors present on stage to record that day. Not a major milestone to make a big deal over, but at least they had a cake. Cheers & here’s to many more, GH!

rebecca1
rebecca1

You mean for the actors/crew to not make a big deal over? Well, it kinda is…especially in today’s soap climate Fifty-four is a long TV time…I think the “survivors” should have all been in the pic. 🙂

Pat
Pat

Long-time die hard fans must only still be watching out of habit. Sadly, this once-iconic show has become such a dumpster fire over the last few years. It’s so evident that those two washed-up female head writers are phoning it in with lame storylines. Plus, the pacing is awful and they’ve created the most sexist male dominated show on TV. It’s very disturbing material. GH has great actors, but they can’t make chicken salad out of chicken s— you know what.

The key demographics for these soaps are awful. Younger generations of females are not watching these shows anywhere close to the way they did 20, 30, 35 years ago. Yes, there’s much more media competition now than ever, but the writers need to get with the times already, and if they cannot, then bring in some new, young blood that actually has fresh ideas. Stop recycling the same old burned-out hack writers who failed at other shows! It’s ridiculous. (Ron Carlivati to Days?! What a joke. That will sadly be the final nail in the coffin for that show, I predict.)

Also, quite frankly (and it’s hard for me to say this because I don’t mean at all to insult the shows and older fans) but I truly think that to many younger females today (Millenials, Gen. Z) there’s now a stigma attached to daytime soaps as a genre- that they’re not trendy programs, and the scheduling model is antiquated and daunting, IMO. Not that I fully agree, but I think that’s the feeling out there. Honestly, whatever is done, I just don’t think you’ll ever see sharp upticks in younger demos for these shows again.

Susan
Susan

Sad to say but I think there’s some truth to what you mention. And this is coming from someone who watched/followed GH religiously when I was in high school and college in the early ’80s during the show’s L&L heyday, and am still a fan today.

I’ve taught college and graduate history courses for seven years, and in happening to overhear students talk with each other about TV shows they watch, even programs during the daytime hours, I’ve never once heard a conversation about GH or another soap opera. There was one time when I made a few pop culture references to GH during a lecture, and the large majority of the students gave me weird looks and the rest shrugged their shoulders, as if I was speaking a foreign language. That spoke volumes to me about how old these shows seem to be skewing nowadays.

Patricio
Patricio

That’s sad. When I was in college we were scheduling classes around our soaps!

God bless and teach those kids what the soaps were about in American pop culture1

rebecca1
rebecca1

Soaps have always had a stigma. No one ever proudly declared they were watching soaps…well…not once they got past college. I work in publishing and I was shocked to find out that including myself, there were a number of editors who watched a soap or two! I realized, that though I watched…I didn’t think anyone else did other than my stereotypical impression of who viewed these shows.

Of course they’re not going to compete with any shows on prime time…that’s why they’re on daytime! LOL…So many of us watch PBS, or shows on cable…you can’t compare Downton Abby or Game of Thrones…The now defunct but once-so-trendy Vampire Diaries…etc, etc.

Daytime is not going to abandon its older fans. It’s a continuing saga that lives because of its viewers who grew up with them. I doubt they’ll ever attract a new, really young demographic. People don’t come home from school to watch TV with their parents, grandparents, etc. They’re out. They’re on their laptops, cell phones, whatever…

Nothing will bring the ol’ soaps back. I think we…and that includes anyone of any age who have been watching for a while…should see them for what they are. A genre. One that is hanging by a thread. Still love em!

Stefanie Locke
Stefanie Locke

Watched since Luke met Laura ,when the opening credits had the ambulance with the hospital behind.BEST SOAP EVER.

nancy dillingham
nancy dillingham

I remember the first story of Angie with the horribly burned face–vividly.

Lew S.
Lew S.

Congrats GH!

Charday
Charday

I started watching more of GH the last month or so (but I still tend to FF through certain characters). Mildly enjoying the show again for the first time in over a year.

Suz tm
Suz tm

Watched since 1972 when I was 9 years old because my baby sitter watched. I remember nurse Lucile and the medicine room where they had all sort of conversations. Really became invested when a young Genie Francis started. I was memorized by her. Loved her with Scott and then Luke. I have watched off and on since Genie left. Began watching again when I caught an episode with her paired with Kevin. Love them together. I mainly watch for the vets, Laura, Kevin, Scotty, Bobbie, Tracy, Ned , Lucy (in small doses). I do enjoy watching Ava, Liz and miss Nick and Lucky. Have
never really cared for Sonny, Alexis or Sam. I will continue to watch unless the show is again taken over by Sonny and Co as it was last fall with the whole Morgan’s death story.

Iakovos
Iakovos

Are we twins? We are same age and I recall the introduction of Laura. Loved the story of Lesley taking the fall for Laura’s self-defense killing of David Hamilton. I loved the show then and was happy to keep riding the Luke & Laura bandwagon, although years of silly sci-fi spy shenanigans grew tiresome. As do the last 20-25 years of mobster story lines. Still, there have been some very strong actors, characters, and moving stories to keep me engaged, even though not as much as I once was. I would like to see GH embrace its history. Let me see more of the old guard. AS THE WORLD TURNS was so good about that. That said, Happy 54th GH! I turn 54 in August. 🙂

Suz tm
Suz tm

Funny! I just turned 53. I well remember the David Hamilton story! I loved Leslie and wish they would bring her back! I watched for years. I remember Laura reuniting with Luke on the Mayors lawn . My college roommates and I all screaming! I watched on and off until Luke and Laura returned full time with a young Lucky. I was pregnant the same time Laura /Genie was with Lulu. I continued to watch until Laura went catatonic, and then again watched off and on hoping and praying for a Laura/Genie return. Began watching again Last August when I Caught Laura paired with Kevin. I just can’t handle the show centered around d Sonny. Wish they would center the show around another central couple, focus on the vets and add some humor!

dmr
dmr

I agree with what you said about “Sonny and Co.” and Morgan’s death. I was never a fan of Morgan, so his death was not very impactful for me, as a viewer. I thought the character was a petulant, spoiled, narcissist, and the way that his family spoke of him afterwards just made me roll my eyes. I was happy to see the actor and the character leave the canvas. I wish TPTB would focus on real issues, as they did/have with Alexis’ alcoholism, not chasing after missing pills, figurines, paintings, etc.

Reed
Reed

At least there was cake…although I’ll be damned if there’s any mention of GH’s 54th anniversary on the ABC website–they’re still living off of the golden anniversary. Nice! Sounds about right for a medium that has been left for dead. Are the networks invested at all in the futures of these programs or have our beloved shows been reduced to placeholders on a television schedule–timeslots that could just as easily be filled by the next inane talk show of the moment?

As fans, let’s continue doing our part by supporting our shows, talking them up, and finding ways to return former viewers to the fold, or entice new ones from the binge watching generation. It’s never been easier to watch, the DVR is a wonderful thing (I’m 30+ episodes behind on GH, so I’m still enjoying their 53rd year), as is the internet, which allows us to view on any number of devices. It’s such a great medium with a tremendously loyal following. We have publications, websites, message boards, and events devoted to our shows, and where else in sports or entertainment will you find the talent to be so accessible to their fans? And kudos to the talent for doing more than the networks to ensure the continued survival of these shows! Do not leave it up to the corporate suits to preserve the wonderful tradition of daytime dramas, only the audience can do that. Keep up the great work MF et al, ensuring our medium stays relevant and entertains us all well into the future!

Shay
Shay

@Reed….It’s funny you mention that GH’s 50th Anniversary is still being touted on the ABC website, since I was just thinking that the last time the show was honestly worth celebrating was at that juncture. I had just been drawn back into regularly viewing the world of Port Charles with that festively momentous occasion, and it was absolutely thrilling seeing those old, familiar characters like Frisco, Noah, Scorpio, etc. visiting throughout that aptly-named “golden”year…Alas, since then, that awesome “thrill” has gradually faded into being well and truly gone for me…too many unsatisfying newbie characters and lame, convoluted, and even incomplete, storylines have tried and failed to grab even this onetime diehard fan who knew and loved GH in its “glory days.” It’s not that I don’t wish a “Happy 54th” to the show…I do, but I would really love to see more emphasis on acknowledging and honoring the rich history and legacy families that made this particular soap so spectacular.

Reed
Reed

Shay, the ebb and flow of daytime…to be a fan, you have to be diehard–either that or you have to have no life. We are a loyal bunch, and that means hanging in during the clunkers (Paul as a serial killer, what?) and characters that don’t resonate. I hope you’ll continue to find the time for your favorite show, as I do, taking the good with the bad. It’s neither a sprint, nor a marathon, but 13,775+ shows and counting! Lots of air to fill and not all of it breathable!

Shay
Shay

@Reed….At 13,775 episodes down and counting, you have a much more distinguished GH viewing record than do I…..My own particular fandom began with the highly-popular “Luke and Laura” era, and unfortunately, waned to a certain degree during the ’90’s “Sonny C.” domination, which controversially remains in a somewhat similar fashion to this day. So, I fully fess up to the fact I’ve not watched this show on a non-stop basis like you have, however, I’ve always kept apprised of its happenings, would tune in when the vicissitudes of Port Charles’ life piqued my interests anew, and of course, wished the soap a continued healthy existence, whether in my absence or presence…..and I still do!!!! I was simply waxing nostalgic about the 50th anniversary year of GH and all those fabulous moments we witnessed…they were ever so special…and honestly made the occasion seem as if one had gone home again!!!! It was a genuinely heartfelt celebration!!! Sadly, my current emotion compares more to feeling like being a stranger in one’s own town! That’s the point I was striving to explain! A “clunker” of a character here or there is completely understandable, but too many at once really pushes the level of tolerance for any viewer, especially those of the longtime variety who I should think would be more easily disenchanted with the oft-newfangled aspects of Port Charles present! Oh, by the way, I do hear you on Paul….I actually loved Richard Burgi’s GH stint, and considered it a huge mistake to turn his charming character into such a slimy son-of-a-gun that it all but guaranteed his unwelcome departure…As one of those truly rare actors who has “leading man” written all over him, every effort should have been made to retain him—and Paul!—far into the show’s future.

Reed
Reed

Shay, you give me too much credit…or not enough, I do have a life, so I can’t claim to have seen them all, but I’ve navigated the VCR and DVR ages to keep up. Keep hanging in or checking in whenever you can because this genre is on life support. Being the last of a dying breed should motivate everyone involved with the production of these shows to put the best product out there, lest they want to be around for their demise. The achievement of 54 years and counting is stunning, so let’s hope the stewards of these shows agree how special and unique it is to be a part of something that has been such a constant in so many lives. The state of daytime is not akin to Amazon laying waste to the retail model (RIP Sears), it’s more a dearth of creativity. The audience is out there, generations of us, the brand is in place and is iconic–polish it up and reinvigorate it, these are franchises to be managed, not endangered species that we look to preserve. We can only hope for such passion in the corporate suites of the network executives because the viewers have it en masse!

Rodd
Rodd

Congratulations to everyone at GH! I love watching this show and hope it continues for many more years to come!

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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Breaking News

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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