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Today In TV History

Today in TV History: Genie Francis, Daytime TV’s Most Famous Bride, Was Born

Where to Stream

General Hospital

Of all the great things about television, the greatest is that it’s on every single day. TV history is being made, day in and day out, in ways big and small. In an effort to better appreciate this history, we’re taking a look back, every day, at one particular TV milestone. 

IMPORTANT DATE IN TV HISTORY: May 26, 1962

WHY IT’S IMPORTANTThere aren’t many television events that feel actually historical, but that’s what the wedding of Luke and Laura on General Hospital was. Merely four months after the spectacular wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana captivated America, U.S. television audience got their own wedded royalty to obsess over.

The story of Luke and Laura was not at all an entirely happy one. In a moment that was sadly not unusual for its era, the Luke/Laura pairing had its beginnings when Luke raped Laura while both were working at the campus disco. Both the General Hospital producers and the show’s fans willed themselves to look past those violent beginnings and soon the rape was re-shaped in the show’s canon as a “seduction.” It’s one of the more shameful instances in soap opera history, and one that General Hospital revisited and addressed in the late ’90s when Luke and Laura’s teenage son learned of his parents’ past.

But by the time Luke and Laura got married in November of 1981, the pair were the hottest thing on daytime TV. And possibly all of TV. What other event could have drawn two-time Academy Award winning and legit Hollywood royalty Elizabeth Taylor to the show to make a cameo as ultimate villainess Helena Cassadine?

Through it all, Genie Francis’ performance as Laura Spencer was one of the most beloved in the genre. The young girl who found a spine of steel and went from teenage puppy love to slinging an automatic rifle over her shoulder and facing down megalomaniacal villains bent on freezing the world. (Yeah, General Hospital was LIT in the early ’80s.) On and off for almost 40 years, Francis has played Laura while she was on the run from the mob, fighting for her children’s lives, grieving, betrayed, catatonic, returned, vengeful, catty, nurturing, and kind. She’s one of the giants in Daytime television. And in 2007, she was finally awarded a Daytime Emmy for her work.

So happy birthday to Genie Francis, and may General Hospital continue to keep the daytime drama afloat on American television.

[Where to stream General Hospital]

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