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Sunday, November 18, 2012

General Hospital 50th Anniversary Tribute, Salute to Spencers...

As some of you know RHeart Radio, the Fan's Voice is paying tribute to ABC's longest running daytime serial still in production, General Hospital, in honor of their 50th Anniversary.  Our Salute to General Hospital Tribute Series began in September and will continue through April 10th, 2013.  Each month fan favorites of the show are highlighted.  This month is Luke and Laura's 31st wedding anniversary, so we couldn't pay homage without including an episode dedicated to the family that changed soap operas forever...The Spencer's! 

*A little history...

In 1978 General Hospital was on the brink of cancellation so executives brought in Gloria Monty to get the sinking ship back on top.  With Head Writer Douglas Marland, it was her vision of bringing adventure, intrigue, mystery, love on the run that transformed the traditional soap format into MUST SEE TV!   Monty set the standard that rippled through every network daytime serial and birthed the term 'Super Couple'.  Luke and Laura's wedding remains the single highest rated episode in American daytime history with 30 million viewers!  And who could forget the infamous curse by Helena Cassadine, then played by legendary Elizabeth Taylor?   Due to the lack of ability to record television at the time, fans scheduled classes or work around the show and relied on their friends or family to fill them in on what was going on.  Monty made the show a household name and today if you go anywhere around the world, people know who Luke and Laura are whether they're soap fans or not. 

In 1977 the first Spencer to hit Port Charles was Barbara Jean (aka) Bobbie, a former prostitute turned student nurse who had a devious side.  Her heart belonged to law student Scotty Baldwin and though they had a one-night- stand, he pined for Laura Weber.  By the time Bobbie's big brother rolled into town a year later, 17 year old Laura and Scotty were already married and Bobbie's goal was to break them up!  What was her plan? To have Luke do her dirty work of course!  Though her initial plan to leave Laura and Scotty stranded out of town was successful, it was Luke that ultimately broke them up.  What was only supposed to be a 3 month gig for Anthony Geary, turned into a 34 year career that catapulted him, as well as Genie Francis to daytime legend status.  One of the most controversial storylines was when Luke raped Laura at the disco one night.  After the mob ordered a hit on Luke, he resigned to the fact his life was over.  Laura found him uncharacteristically crying at the disco, drunk and though he warned her to go home she refused.  He finally confessed his love for her, then said he wasn't going to die without holding her in his arms.   Monty decided to go the less violent route and choreographed the scene in such a way it was more of a seduction than attack as originally written.  To prepare for such a violent scene, Tony and Genie met with a social worker to ensure believability.  Interestingly the song chosen for the scene at the disco, 'Rise' by Herb Alpert, though already on the Billboard 100 rose to number one due to the storyline.  Amazingly the audience felt Luke's regret and pain for hurting Laura and on his road towards redemption, won her heart permanently. 

During our Salute to Spencer's November 14th, we had the honor of chatting with Jackie Zeman, who has portrayed Barbara Jean Spencer on and off since 1977.  Some of you might remember her as Lana McClane on One Life To Live.  Jackie told RHeart she was working in New York City and after her role ended on OLTL, she received an offer for a 2 year contract from General Hospital, so she packed up and moved across country to Los Angeles....and the rest is history!  One of the things she liked about her character is that her storylines were always grounded in reality, while Luke and Laura were off on fantastical adventures.  Executive Producer Wendy Richie is responsible for bringing the audience one of the most heartbreaking and fondly remembered storylines- the BJ storyline.   After a bus accident, Bobbie and Tony made the gut-wrenching decision to give BJ's heart to Maxie.  Parents across the country felt their pain and anguish as they lost their child so another could live.   The scene that got to me to most was when Felicia realized Maxie received BJ's heart and the two mothers fell to the ground in tears.  How touching was it when Tony put his ear to Maxie's chest and heard BJ's heart beating?  Jackie looks back at her years on the show with affection, especially having been a part of such an iconic family.  Though we haven't seen her on our screens for 2 years, Jackie said fans still come up to her and show their love.  Who knows?  Bobbie and Lucas returning to Port Charles might be just what the doctor ordered!   Jackie has been a busy beaver during her absence and made the transition to the ever growing online web serials.  She's currently a cast member of The Bay The Series and recently wrote a book called "Turn Your Acting Talent Into A Successful Career", available on her website: Jackie Zeman Website

Whether you're an old time General Hospital fan or newbie, I think fans can relate to many of the demons that have plagued the Spencer Clan.  Through all the adventures involving various enemies such as Frank Smith, the Cassadines, Cesar Faison, crazy kidnappings, alcohol and drug addictions , DNA switches, psychotic obsessions, new found children, cheating and conning, one thing can be said- the Spencer's always stick together!  Little did Gloria Monty know how long her legacy would resonate throughout daytime television or that the popularity of  'The Spencers' would remain!

Listen to our Salute to Spencer's w/Jackie Zeman: RHeart's Salute to Spencer's

Our next Salute to General Hospital's 50th Anniversary Tribute is the Salute to Nurse's Ball with Lynn Herring!  Join us December 5, 2012 at 10:00pm (ET) as we chat with Lynn about her time as MC of the popular annual charity event, as well as the storyline that sparked it.  Maybe we'll get a little sneak peek of how the return is going behind the scenes!  Salute to Nurse's Ball

1 comment:

  1. It was the most important moment in the history of daytime, bar none.


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