General Hospital 60th Anniversary Primetime Special: Embracing and remembering 60 years of television excellence

60 Years of Stars and Storytelling | General Hospital Promo (December 23rd, 2023)
60 Years of Stars and Storytelling | General Hospital Promo (December 23rd, 2023) / General Hospital

Last night ABC presented a look back at the last 60 years of one of the best daytime dramas to grace our screens. General Hospital has gone through it all, births, deaths, resurrections; trauma of all sorts.

But there is so much that goes into bringing a show to life and we would be remiss if we all didn’t think the production team, the directors, the writers, who take a few simple words and bring an entire dream to life. It was the year 1963 and Martin Luther King Jr. just delivered his, “I Have a Dream” speech, the LA Dodgers became World Series Champions, and a brand new little daytime drama made its premiere on the American Broadcasting Network.

At the start of it all General Hospital was only a 30-minute show and each episode surrounded the doctors, nurses, and patients of the hospital. And since then the show has branched out the several families that have become the pillars of Port Charles.

Connor Walsh
ABC's "General Hospital" - 2010 / Alberto E. Rodriguez/GettyImages

To this day it is the longest-running soap opera on television and the longest-running scripted series in production on American television. When a show is on for over 60 years on television, you are bound to achieve some pretty nice accolades over time.

General Hospital is no stranger to owning the red carpet. In total General Hospital has won 132 Emmy Awards.

They have been awarded 15 of them for the category of Outstanding Daytime Drama alone and they also carry the most wins of any daytime drama in television.

"General Hospital isn’t only a story, it’s a place in our hearts. "

Genie Francis

Some of the most legendary actors of all time got their start on General Hospital. Without their small roles in such a big atmosphere, they may have not gotten the push to fame they needed.

General Hospital was often the starting point for several famous actors

But thanks in small part to this show, here are some names who General Hospital helped catapult into our lives forever and are eternally part of the GH Family:

  • Rick Springfield
  • Demi Moore
  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • John Stamos
  • Bryan Cranston
  • Richard Dean Anderson
  • James Franco
  • George Takei
  • Ricky Martin
  • Mark Hamill
  • Kristin Davis
  • Jonathan Jackson
  • Meghan Markle

While there are some very notable former members of General Hospital, let’s take a look at some of the current ones that remain household names. The one and only Genie Francis.

Genie stepped onto the stage in 1977 at the age of 14. Laura Spencer has since remained a beloved character and Genie has become a legend for the role.

Mere months from then, Kin Shriner came on to play the role of Scottie Baldwin and every day since then he has brought laughter to our screens for nearly half a century. He could be a slime, like most lawyers, but at the end of the day, he has the back of the people he loves.

Also around that time Leslie Charleson came to Port Charles as Dr. Monica Quartermaine, formerly Dr. Monica Bard. Leslie is the longest-tenured actor in American soap operas.

Monica has been through it all. Nobody has dealt with pain and heartache in Port Charles and came out of it the way she has.

Nobody ever could. She has the strength and resilience that could only be played by Leslie Charleson.

While we on the topic of the Quartermaines, we can’t forget the spitefully witty and just downright no-filter character of Tracy Quartermaine, played by the phenomenal dame that is Jane Elliott. There are only two kinds of people in this world: those who love Tracy and those who hate to love Tracy.

She was cooled down with age, but what you see is what you get with Tracy. No matter what, Jane is bringing elegance and more humor than you can prepare yourself for.

Jane began her career in 1978 and has come and gone. The actress made another return in 2023 and we hope to see much more of her.

The mansion never feels the same without her presence. Another actress who got her start in 1977 was the late and great Jackie Zeman.

We sadly lost Jackie to cancer earlier this year, but not before she gave us 45 years of excellence in daytime. During the 60th anniversary special, Rick Springfield said it best, "Jackie Zeman was not only an incredibly talented actress but she had a huge heart.”

We all miss her terribly. Currently, General Hospital is running the story of Bobbie Spencer’s funeral, which gives the fans a chance to salute Jackie one more time on her legendary life and career.

"As much as they squabble when trouble comes the Quartermaine’s stick together. "

Through the years there’s very little drama the Quartermaines were not a part of. Beyond the family of Port Charles, there have been so many storylines inspired by real-life events General Hospital has tackled to give the public a chance to relate to the show they are watching.

And some that have even inspired people to fight against suicide and not take their own lives. One issue tackled was Maurice Benard’s real-life battle with his bipolar disorder, which he got to play out on screen.

Haley Pullos, Maurice Benard
ABC's "General Hospital" - 2010 / Alberto E. Rodriguez/GettyImages

Since then, it has inspired people of all kinds who battle any form of mental disability. Maurice runs a podcast called State Of Mind (you can subscribe through Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, or any podcasting streaming platform).

GH has also tackled serious issues like racism, sexual assault, alcoholism, transplants, AIDS, and Alzheimer’s. During the special John Stamos told a miraculous story I had never heard of.

He wanted to begin his musical career on General Hospital, but the higher-ups were not having requests from the newbie. Understandable.

But when Sammy Davis Jr. was on the show to perform, he was the one who gave John Stamos his big break. He had John play the drums for him and the rest was history.

You can see that scene on YouTube today. And John has played music on television ever since.

The most beautiful thing is that no matter how big some of these stars are now, they are so grateful for what General Hospital did for them. There’s nothing but respect and gratitude.

It’s truly a treasure to see such hugely famed individuals still have that kind of loyalty and love for the ones who helped them along the way. It’s a humbling experience the upcoming generation should always remember.

General Hospital memories

The special even took a look back at some of the best weddings that took place on General Hospital. Of course, the famous Luke and Laura wedding, which is still the most-watched scene in soap opera history.

We also have Felicia and Frisco, Liz and Lucky, and Robert and Anna’s wedding. Unfortunately, none of those couples are together anymore, but each of them shared a deep love that still shines through to the screen to this day.

Except for Frisco who does not deserve any grace. I think we were all just a tad jealous that these gorgeous women could still fit into those wedding dresses so many years later.

Maura West and Cynthia Watros introduced the night to the show's bloopers. I think an entire hour on bloopers alone would make for a spectacular gut-busting night of television and high ratings.

Think about it ABC. There’s nothing quite like seeing your favorite actors have human moments.

We have not only lost so many characters through the years but also some of the faces behind the characters whom we still carry with us in our hearts. This past year we also lost Billy Miller, who once played Drew Cain.

Stuart Damon who played Alan Quartermaine passed in 2021. Last year we lost Sonya Eddy, who portrayed Epiphany Johnson.

Sadly, we also lost Tyler Christopher, who played Nicholas Cassadine for many years, who succumbed to cardiac arrest after years of battling alcoholism. It has been a rough year for the General Hospital family, and losing the legendary Jacklyn Zeman put a knife through all of our hearts.

"”She always had a smile on her face and made coming to work a pleasure. Although I miss her terribly, I feel so fortunate to have been graced by her presence. Sadly there are others we’ve lost too but despite the losses their spirit lives on our hearts and these halls. Happy 60th Anniversary General Hospital.”"

Rick Springfield

Props, wardrobe, set, lighting, so that a director can prepare it, and actors can step in front of the camera and bring it to life. It’s hard to believe how a few pages of work from one person’s mind can create magic.

But here we are 60 years later, and General Hospital is at the forefront of breaking barriers and making dreams come true, helping to inspire the next generation page by page. Cheers to another 60 years!

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What are some of your favorite characters from General Hospital? What are some of your favorite moments from the soap opera?

Let us know in the comments below!