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Genie Francis on Reliving General Hospital's Legacy for "The Story of Soaps"

May 19, 2020

Michael Maloney

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ABC and People Magazine have teamed up to tell The Story of Soaps, a documentary airing Tuesday, May 19, that takes a look at the impact serialized storytelling, specifically daytime dramas, have had on society and in television.

Producers, naturally, also reached out to Genie Francis, who has played Laura Webber Collins on General Hospital since 1976, to take part in the two-hour program. The Emmy winner brings a unique perspective to the special as GH shot to unprecedented popularity during her first tenure on the show due in no small part to Francis’ talent and popularity.

The actress also chatted about her current story on GH in which Laura’s going up against Cyrus Renault (Jeff Kober), an uber-baddie sure to go down in the history books as one of Port Charles’ most memorable villains. Read on for the scoop!

The timing of The Story of Soaps is serendipitous as soaps have always brought people together – something we could use right now!

Genie Francis: I think it’s a nice idea to celebrate the soaps. We have been struggling for an audience a little bit. It’d be nice to get people to appreciate it for the institution that it is, for how long we’ve lasted, and for its roots which go back to radio days.

My dad [the late Ivor Francis] participated in that. He was Ma Perkins’ son Joe on radio [in the serial Ma Perkins]. They have been on for so long and are a reflection or our society. We should be able to find ourselves somewhere on the screen. Soap operas go on for generations. I get letters from fans who started watching with their mothers when they were six-years-old.

 

During your first run on GH, the show became so popular. You were on the covers of Newsweek, TV Guide Magazine, and People. What are your memories of that time?

At the time, it pretty much went over my head. It was shocking. The bigness of it all was intimidating and scary. It was like being caught in the middle of a tornado. All of a sudden you're riding around in it. It was lightning in a bottle. When I was going through it, I was trying to keep up, keep dancing, and keep rising to the occasion that was being asked of me at 17, 18…even 16. The whole nation was [watching]. Read More.

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GH's Genie Francis Reveals She Was "Thrilled" About Establishing Laura "On Her Own" After Luke Left

 

May 19, 2020

Avery Thompson

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You can’t talk about soaps without talking about Genie Francis. The ‘GH’ icon spoke with HL about the Luke and Laura phenomenon, Laura’s evolution, and what keeps her coming back to Port Charles.

Whenever you think of soap operas, it’s impossible not to think of Genie Francis. Since 1977, the General Hospital legend has played the one and only Laura Spencer. Genie, along with the show, skyrocketed to global fame when Luke and Laura became a supercouple and married in 1981. Luke and Laura’s wedding was watched by over 30 million viewers and remains the most-watched hour in daytime history.

Genie has witnessed Laura’s incredible evolution since she stepped into the role in 1977. From the Ice Princess saga to Laura’s psychotic break to becoming the mayor of Port Charles, the character has had quite a life. Genie spoke with HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY ahead of ABC’s The Story of Soaps special, airing May 19 at 9 p.m., about everything from Luke and Laura to “coming home” to Port Charles again. Genie also talked about creating a “mature Laura” during her latest stint on the show.

Read our full Q&A below.

General Hospital really took off in the 1980s with the Luke and Laura storyline. When did you know that you were part of a phenomenon?

Genie Francis: I think when they photographed us for the cover of Newsweek. That’s when it kind of struck me. It wasn’t a soap opera magazine. It wasn’t even a television magazine necessarily. It was a news magazine. Gloria Monty, who was producing the show, was really excited about it. That was the moment where we realized that we had arrived. Read More.

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INTERVIEW: Genie Francis

Dishes On Her Satisfying Return To General Hospital

By Kambra Clifford

October 24, 2018

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Genie Francis (Laura Spencer) opens up about her "painful" past on General Hospital and why the future looks so much brighter.

After several months of being away from General Hospital, Genie Francis is back in the role of Laura Spencer. And it's not just fans who are thrilled that the legendary actress finally has substantial storyline that allows her to flex her acting skills.

"Oh, it's so much better than not having a story, I can't tell you!" she expresses to Soap Central of being in the middle of the Ryan/Kevin evil twin switcheroo, as opposed to being a side character as Laura has been in recent years. "It's really painful to go to work when you have nothing to do, and it's hard to keep myself interested. And of course, if I'm not interested, then nobody else is. If I'm going to do a show or if I'm going to do a soap, then I want to work! I want to have a story. If not, I don't really just want to hang around."

Being front and center in storyline comes with another fabulous benefit that Francis is thrilled about: "Laura has an apartment!" she enthuses. "It's great. I love the feeling."

The actress' first major front-burner storyline this go-around has seen Laura return to her husband, Kevin, having no idea that he's been replaced by his serial killer brother, Ryan Chamberlain. Francis is having a blast playing the story, especially as it gives her the opportunity to work with the twins' portrayer Jon Lindstrom.

"I love Jon Lindstrom," she enthuses. "He's great. We have a good friendship. I can always talk to him about something if I'm uncomfortable with anything that we're doing. He's just an all around great guy." Read More.

Genie Francis Admits She Was 'Terrified' Her First Day at GENERAL HOSPITAL (EXCLUSIVE)

 

Oct 11, 2018

By Chris Eades

ABC Soaps In Depth

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Today, Genie Francis is beloved to soap fans for playing the legendary Laura Webber Baldwin Spencer Collins on GENERAL HOSPITAL, but when she made her daytime debut in the role back in 1977, she had no idea that this teenage girl was destined to become a television icon. “I was terrified,” Francis told Soaps In Depth of her first day on the GH set. “I didn’t know anything about working in that kind of environment! There’s a stage manager who counts you down, and then there’s a silent wave that means ‘action.’ I didn’t know anything about any of that, so when he waved, I waved back! I had no idea what I was doing at all.”

Thankfully, there were plenty of people in the cast and crew who were willing to help the newbie find her footing. “Denise [Alexander, ex-Lesley] and Michael Gregory (ex-Rick) [showed me the ropes],” Francis revealed, “and there was a director named Phil Sogard who took me aside and explained to me what upstage and downstage were. I had people who walked me through all of it.” Read more.

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Genie Francis Speaks Out on Returning to 'General Hospital'

& Reflects on Laura's

Best Moments

October 09, 2018

Michael Maloney

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General Hospital fans were ecstatic earlier this month to see Laura Collins return to Port Charles. She and her portrayer, Genie Francis, exited the story canvas at the beginning of the year so Laura could take care of her grandson Spencer’s (Nicolas Bechtel) broken legs.

TV Insider spoke to Francis about her exciting storyline in which her presumed dead, psychotic brother-in-law Ryan (Jon Lindstrom) has pulled an "Eva Grubb" and taken over the life of Laura’s husband Kevin Collins (also played by Lindstrom).

Francis also weighs in on the gratitude she feels to her fans, which characters she had a hand in either bringing onto or back onto the canvas, and which story she wouldn’t mind seeing retconned. Read on to get the scoop from the fan favorite and Emmy-winning actress.

Well, on behalf of GH fans everywhere, yay! Your return is great news!

Genie Francis: Thank you!

How did you feel when there was an immediate outpouring of fan support on social media for you when you left the show in January?

I was shocked. I couldn’t really believe that people still care that much. It’s hard to tell when you’re separated from your audience. I was very moved by it and I was shocked that the support is still there.

What kept you busy these last nine months?

I have a new home that I’ve been busy working on and doing major renovations. I went back doing something I love to do. I’ve been busy with painting, knitting, walking my dogs, visiting friends and doing regular life stuff, which I really do enjoy!  Read more.

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Nothing General About

‘General Hospital’ Star

Genie Francis

October 4, 2018

By Ronnie Polaneczky

The Philadelphia Inquirer

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If a journalist lives long enough, she'll get to interview the star of a TV show she was obsessed with in her youth.

Last week — pinch me — that aging journalist was me.

For 45 delightful minutes, I chatted up actress Genie Francis, best known to daytime-soap viewers as "Laura" of General Hospital fame.

In my college years, I adored the show. On Nov. 17, 1981, with 30 million other viewers, I raced home to watch "Laura" marry "Luke," played by actor Anthony Geary, on what remains the most-watched episode of any daytime drama.

Dubbed a "super couple" by TV Guide, "Luke and Laura" were a rare phenom in pop culture: a soap-opera love duo known beyond the sudsy boundaries of the tales that fill the small screens of America's weekday afternoons.

Since then, Francis has left and returned to General Hospital numerous times; this month marks her latest return to the gloriously dysfunctional town of Port Charles. Along the way, she has built a durable career as a star in other daytime dramas (among them, Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless) and prime-time miniseries (North and South, Bare Essence), as well as in numerous guest-starring roles on such hits as Murder, She WroteRoseanne; and Roswell.

Now 56 years old and happily empty-nesting in Los Angeles with her husband, actor/director Jonathan Frakes (beloved by millions as "Commander William T. Riker" of the Star Trek franchise), she's looking forward to visiting Philly on Oct. 13 for the Inquirer's "55+Thrive" Lifestyle Conference. Its sponsors include Nutrisystem, and Francis — who has recently lost 30 pounds — is one of the weight-loss company's celebrity endorsers.

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During our pre-interview call last week, I found Francis to be warm, down-to-earth, thoughtful, and candid. Here's some of what we spoke about:

What’s the best part about getting older?

I've stopped people-pleasing. I'm finally at a place where I don't care as much about what others think. If they ask me to do or to be something that causes me discomfort, my answer is no — just no. Also, when something happens that upsets me, it doesn't stay with me. I can't be bothered anymore.

Has that change surprised you?

Yes, but I was so overdue to start choosing to be happy. Read more.