Actress Genie Francis and her survived-it-all soap character Laura Spencer is heading back to ABC’s General Hospital. Francis, who has come and gone on the daytime series numerous times over the years since starting in 1977, has been off the show since January, and reportedly will begin taping new episodes in September.
The news, first reported by the TV Insider website, was confirmed by exec producer Frank Valentini in a tweet, adding that the show has “an amazing story” for the actress. (See the tweet below).
Francis told the TV Insider website today, “I’m headed to Maine for the next month and then, after that, I’m back at General Hospital. I’m looking forward to coming home and I am really excited about this new invigorating storyline they have for Laura — I look forward to the next chapter of this prolific and historic character.”
Francis was put on recurring status in January by the show’s exec producer Frank Valentini, and the character took off for Europe to care for a grandson who’d broken both legs in a skiing accident. In March, the actress tweeted a defense of Valentini to fans angry over her reduced status:
Francis won a 2007 Daytime Emmy (supporting actress in a drama series) for her portrayal of Laura Vining Webber Baldwin Spencer Baldwin Collins, but the actress became half of a cultural phenomenon several decades before, when General Hospital’s supercouple Luke & Laura broke through daytime fandom and into the general culture’s zeitgeist. The couple’s hourlong wedding episode of November 16, 1981, drew 30 million viewers, still a soap ratings record-holder.
Anthony Geary, who played Luke Spencer, left the show in 2015.