The names of Genie Francis and Laura Spencer are nearly synonomous in the minds of most daytime television fans, possibly because Ms. Francis began portraying Laura Vining, biological daughter of Dr. Lesley Williams, when she was only fourteen years old. Born in Engelwood, New Jersey, on May 26, 1962, Genie's only previous acting experience was a guest appearance on "Family" a year earlier. Francis moved at age 7 with her parents & 2 brothers to L.A., where her father, Broadway stage actor Ivor Francis, pursued his dream of becoming a star. But it was his daughter who was destined for fame. At age 13 Francis decided she wanted to act & asked her father to give her junior high school photo to his agent: "My parents said, 'Have Murray send her out on auditions. She'll get discouraged & she'll give up.' I went out on auditions & I won. And I've worked ever since." Five years later, in 1981, she left General Hospital, returning for brief appearances in 1983 and 1984.
After leaving General Hospital, Ms. Francis appeared in the television movie Bare Essence, and in the primetime series which followed it. She also co-starred in Books I, II and III of the ABC miniseries North and South, and had recurring appearances on the primetime series Murder She Wrote. In 1987 she joined Days of Our Lives as Diana Colville, then moved to ABC's All My Children in 1990 to play the role of Ceara Connor. While living in New York, Ms. Francis appeared in a number of theatre productions. To the delight of her many fans, she returned "home" to General Hospital in October, 1993.
In 1996, the storyline featuring the return of the Cassadine family to General Hospital gave her and her co-stars, Anthony Geary, and Stephen Nichols, ample opportunity to display their talent. As a consequence, Ms. Francis won a Soap Opera Digest award and was also nominated for an Emmy in 1997.
Ms. Francis is married to actor/director/producer Jonathan Frakes, and the mother of two small children. Following the birth of her children, much of Genie's time has been devoted to her family. Only this year did she begin appearing again in other venues outside her role of Laura Spencer. She has guest-starred on Third Rock from the Sun and is scheduled to appear in the season finale of the television series, Roswell.
Perhaps the heart of Genie Francis's phenomonal appeal to daytime audiences lies in her own attitude toward her work, her fans and her character. In a TV Guide interview with Michael Logan (May 17, 1997), she said this about being an actor:
"It's up to me! On one of the soaps I worked on, an actor raised an issue over a glaring character error - something that was completely out of character - and I heard a director say 'Don't worry, she's ironing.' Meaning that the viewer wasn't paying that close attention. And that is an attitude that makes me grow fangs. I can't and won't go there as an actor, as an artist. I didn't become an actor to adopt that attitude. If you have that attitude, go home - just go home. Because every day should be our absolute best - we owe the audience that, we owe ourselves that."
She also added that:
"I consider myself a blue-collar actor. There's no big fuss over soap opera people. We're pretty much snickered at. We're like the country music stars. It's true. We're snickered at! You have to truly love what you do and be totally self-motivated. I do this for me - and the woman who comes up on the street and cries and says, 'You know I'll never forget that moment when Laura put the star on the Christmas tree. I can't even put it into words!' I do it for those reasons. It's a personal love - because that they can never take away from me. "
About Laura she said:
"There is something else at work here that is beyond me - and that is Laura. She has a life of her own. There is a magic in her. The muse is in her. And I'm lucky to have her in my life."