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Genie Francis Reflects on 45 Years at General Hospital

Laura Spencer, General Hospital

On her 45th anniversary at General HospitalGenie Francis still remains at the heart of Port Charles as Laura. Debuting in the role on Feb. 8, 1977, the actress helped catapult the show to new heights. To celebrate this exciting milestone, Francis looked back on her decades at GH in an interview with Soap Opera Digest.

Laura exploded in popularity when EP Gloria Monty brought her to the center of the canvas. Francis recalled the lunch at which Monty outlined her plans for the character, musing:

Yes, that I remember vividly. I remember my heart pounding so hard, I could feel it in the pit of my stomach. It was that 'fire in the belly' kind of thing, because she was asking my father’s permission to push me front and center and she said, 'It’s going to change your daughter’s life drastically.' And I kept hoping, 'Give her permission! Give her permission!' I was chomping at the bit, basically. I couldn’t wait to prove to people what I could do, I could not wait. It was like that before I got the job. I just had a knowing in my heart and my soul that I could do this, that I was going to be really good at it and I just was looking for the opportunity. 'Someone let me show it!'

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Laura became half of TV's most popular supercouple along with Luke (Tony Geary). But Francis had deal with the storyline of Luke raping Laura, which was later whitewashed to be a "seduction." She said:

When I look back at that time and how young I was, I don’t know how I got through it — and I got through it really alone. My parents were not that involved with me. [The network] was flying me from place to place and I was alone. And I was a child, and I had to justify all that stuff. People wonder, 'Why don’t you want to write a book or talk about all these things?' And I’m like, 'Well, some of it is like remembering going to war.' There were parts of it that were really, really hard and parts of it that were not good for me and then there were parts of it that were absolutely exciting and sublime. It had a little bit of everything going on. But it was a crazy amount of pressure and responsibility to put on someone who was a child. 

Today, Laura is mayor of Port Charles and happily married to Kevin (Jon Lindstrom). Of Laura's current romance, Francis shared:

Jon [Lindstrom, Kevin] and I legitimately like each other, so there’s that, and that comes through. And also because he’s a really wonderful actor. I think we were both ready for something new. We’d both been on the show for a very long time and we both had different partners for a very long time and we were both excited about having something new. And the new thing seemed to just ignite; the coupling had a charisma to it and it’s always fun when you bump into something like that because it always ends up being something bigger than you, you come together and it sparks into something larger. I had that with Tony Geary, and I have that with Jon Lindstrom. It’s an interesting thing that happens. I’m grateful for it because if we were not able to do that on that show, I don’t think they would have kept the character on in quite the same way.

Read the rest of the wide-ranging interview here.