On Nov. 16, 1981, General Hospital aired the wedding of television's hottest duo: Luke (Anthony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis). The moment became a cultural touchstone that transcended America and daytime soap operas. Forty years later, TV Insider's Dan Clarendon looked back on the supercouple's romance and nuptials.
As fans know, Luke raped Laura in 1979 on the floor of the Campus Disco. TV Insider quoted a 2020 People interview with Abigail De Kosnik, who penned The Survival of Soap Opera. De Kosnik explained how the rape was rebranded as a "seduction," adding:
The question became, ‘Why did Luke do that?’ And the answer the show’s writers gave was that Luke did it for love. They became popular not despite the rape, but partly because of it.
Luke and Laura still fell head over heels for one another, and they wed two years later. A then-record audience of 30 million viewers tuned in for the ceremony, according to ABC News. Elizabeth Taylor popped up for a cameo as vengeful Helena Cassadine, who cursed the pair. The then-Princess of Wales (née Diana Spencer) sent Francis and Geary champagne, TV Insider quoted Geary as telling USA Today in 2006.
Filming the wedding was no picnic, though. Francis told USA Today:
And I was being yelled at to not wrinkle the dress. Everyone was so uptight, screaming and yelling.
The rape was addressed again in 1998 when Luke and Laura's son Lucky (Jonathan Jackson) discovered his father had sexually assaulted his mother. In last year's People and ABC show The Story of Soaps, Francis said of revisiting that storyline:
General Hospital, for months, for almost the whole year, addressed rape head-on in a whole new way. And for the first time, Laura confronted him about having assaulted her. That was remarkable. To say to Americans, ‘We were wrong.’ And to, in essence, allow Luke and Laura to finally confront head-on something that had been repressed, not just in their relationship, but in a lot of fans’ memories. And that’s the power of soap operas.