Daytime Emmys: ‘General Hospital’ Celebrates 50th Anniversary

General Hospital

No midlife crisis for ABC soap as revitalized production team energizes storylines while recruiting past stars for return gigs.

Even if  “General Hospital,” ABC’s remaining daytime drama, weren’t turning 50 this year, it would still be worthy of a shoutout at the Daytime Emmys.

In addition to celebrating five decades of production, “General” (which debuted on April 1, 1963) is enjoying a creative resurgence that’s generated improved ratings and critical acclaim.

ABC reports that “General” is pacing for its best season in five years in total viewers, averaging more than 3 million. “General” is the No. 1 broadcast daytime program among women 18-34 and also up 18% in total viewers season to season.

The credit for the turnaround goes to exec producer Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati, who joined the show in early 2012.

Much of the pair’s long-term vision came to fruition with episodes featuring the return of the Nurses’ Ball, an event within the show’s storylines that began back in 1994. The gala serves as an AIDS fundraiser, with Port Charles citizens performing variety acts.

“I felt that if we aimed really high and came close, then we’d be really happy and the fans would be, too,” Valentini says. “We’re really thrilled with what we have. It’s exceeded our expectations.”

“Our 50th year could have come and gone with a (simple) ‘Wow,’” says multiple Emmy-winner Anthony Geary, who hasplayed Luke Spencer since 1978. “But Frank and Ron have been determined to make it something special for the audience. The ratings are showing that they’ve already decided to achieve that.”

Complementing this has been the return of several past favorites, including actor-singers Rick Springfield and Jack Wagner, fitness guru Richard Simmons and Rachel Ames, who originated the role of Audrey back in 1964.

Genie Francis, Kin Shriner and Jackie Zeman, who helped rally the show to high ratings in the late ’70s, are back as well.

“It’s not just faces coming on as stunts,” Geary says. “The characters are folding into stories. It’s very exciting.”

Said Vicki Dummer, ABC exec veep of Time Square Studios, primetime current series and specials: “I’m thrilled to be celebrating (the show’s) 50 exceptional years on television. … As someone who grew up watching ‘General Hospital,’ it has a special place in my heart.”

Other daytime programs are celebrating milestones this year, too. The Young and the Restless and the Daytime Emmys themselves both turn 40. The way in which GH and these other shows will be honored at the Daytime Emmys is still being decided.

“I’m not big on self-congratulations, but certain anniversaries should be honored,” Geary says. “Turning 50 is an enormous achievement.”

“I like celebrations,” Valentini says. “It’s really important to reflect back, take stock and look towards the future.”

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  1. sanman$ says:

    I’m Paul Brno & I did a scene with Jackie Zeman in Joan De Incheko’s soap opera technique class in 1976 before she was in General Hospital. & when she was living with disk jockey Murry The K.

  2. Deborah Caudill says:

    I have watched GH since its beloging would hurry home when in first grade to watch Love Luck @ Larua they belonge together always get rid of Scottie .

  3. Deboh says:

    I love this show have been watching for 50 years would hurry home from school when just in firs grade my favorite is Luck @ Lora they belonge together.

  4. Eileen Fahey. says:

    I am a big fan of general hospital I love it

  5. chuckito says:

    Frank and Ron just “get it.” They have done a great job putting a faltering show back together. JFP and Guza seemed to be just phoning it in for years – or were just too tired and bored and it showed. So not everything the new regime does is always going to work, but the show’s got heart and a pulse again. It has direction and it moves. Glo Monty might he watching from above. Cheers.

  6. Nan says:

    How can we have a 50th anniversary without Robert? He is far more important than Ethan, Noah or some of the others they’ve brought back. I am very disappointed that they have excluded him – I’m sure the writers could come up with a reason why he has ‘forgotten’ he say Robin.

    • ctwildheart says:

      You don’t know that he was excluded. He could have scheduling problems and couldn’t do it. Or they could be bringing him back during the Nurse’s Ball – hopefully with Robin!

  7. ctwildheart says:

    GH has been fantastic lately! I am loving less mob and more relationships – and not just sexual/romantic relationships. Siblings, parent/child, friends, colleagues…

    I hope if they do some sort of ‘tribute’ to GH at the daytime emmy’s….that it is better than the crappy ‘tribute’ they gave AMC/OLTL& Agnes Nixon last year.

  8. sharon says:

    sorry to see that jason is not showing for the 50th……really miss him on the show……

  9. Kathy says:

    Robin played by Kimberly McCullough should have been included. Kimberly played Robin from a child for over 25 years on GH. Some in the picture above aren’t even on GH 10 yrs..The Scorpio family is a huge part of GH history. Robert and Robin should have been included..

  10. Karen says:

    I am glad to see GH given the recogntion it deserves. However, let’s not forget that ABC axed two of their best soaps and saved GH. All of this made no sense. GH was on the chopping block as well, until their “Revolution” show bombed like a tank to the cellar. It amazes me how Ms. Drummer now says how much she loves GH, when she and her predecessor, Mr. Frons, wanted to dump all soaps from ABC. What a difference a year makes! Unfortunately for ABC, the fans have not forgotten their betrayal, and they never will.

    • ctwildheart says:

      Sadly, it wasn’t just Frons & Drummer that wanted soaps gone. More at Disney still feel that way. BUT, the fans have shown them they were wrong. We won’t forget.

  11. Tim says:

    Best ratings in 5 years? 😳
    Averaging 3 million viewers? 😳

    What is that, the New Math? I defy you to provide evidence to support that. They have had exactly 2 days since this regime took over a year ago and they were barely over 3 million, so it’s not possible. They averaged 2.4 share 2007-2008. They have barely hit 2.1 in a given week. Last week was 1.9.

  12. GHFan30 says:

    Where is Robert Scorpio? One of the top 5 characters in show history. He was the leading man on the show during the 80’s after Tony Geary left in 83 and kept the show at number 1.
    His absense is a glaring mistake.

  13. Tahirey Sutton says:

    I thibnk that since there were a lot of old people brought back, they should have brought some of the old writers back(he knows the history)to write the anniversary.Instead they have to people from a canceled soap to do GH;s 50th. It was ok but I seen nothing soecial, if they wanted to do somethibng special they should have brought back Steve Burton who was with GH for 20 years, or try to get JJ(as Lucky)back.Why was Ethan back, it made no sense! I just think Pratt could have done better, because its relly clear this new team knows nothing about Love.

    • ctwildheart says:

      I have only seen about 10 minutes of the official anniversary episode and I do not understand how you can say it was nothing special! Those few minutes had me on the edge of my seat with a tissue in hand! Steve doesn’t WANT to come back! JJ had scheduling issues that prevented him from returning. I was thrilled to see Ethan back and believe it will make sense. You are SO wrong about the new team…they are all about love and relationships!

    • I’m sure glad you’re not running GH. The best thing the new regime has done is to downplay the mob stories of the last 10+ years. I’m so glad Steve Burton is gone…that, along with the returning vets, has gotten me to return to GH after many years.

  14. Ted says:

    I have watched GH on and off again for years, but WOW, what a thrill to be watching what has been happening with all the returning characters and story lines that bring them all in to the fold. Great job to the producers and the cast as it has brought back so many wonderful memories to see so many back and remembered.

  15. When is the Day your going to do it?

  16. C&M@702OMDr. says:

    I have to say GH has never been better! The powers that be are really pulling out all the stops and it’s been great to see them integrate past players with current storylines. I’ve watched this soap off and on for nearly 30 yrs and now I can’t wait to come home from work and see what surprises are included for that day. It’s a real treat and I don’t miss a single episode. Way to go GH!

  17. Janet Fritz says:

    Watching Lluke and Laura today is as exciting as it was in the 1970’s.I have been a fan of the
    show since it began in 1963 with Dr. Hardy and Jesse..I still let out a yelp when I saw Luke and Laura together. It was like being with family.

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