General Hospital

Last updated

General Hospital
General Hospital (Title Card, 2019).png
Also known asGH
Genre Soap opera
Created by Frank Hursley
Doris Hursley
Written by
Directed by See below
Starring
Theme music composer
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes14,000 (as of February 23, 2018) [1]
Production
Executive producers
Producer See below
Production locations
Camera setup Multiple-camera setup
Running time
  • 30 minutes (1963–1976)
  • 45 minutes (1976–1978)
  • 60 minutes (1978–present)
Production companies
Distributor Disney–ABC Domestic Television
Release
Original network ABC
Picture format
Audio format Stereo
Original releaseApril 1, 1963 (1963-04-01) 
present (present)
Chronology
Followed by
Related shows
External links
Website

General Hospital (often abbreviated as GH) is an American daytime soap opera. It is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running American soap opera in production, and the second in American history after Guiding Light . [2] [3] Concurrently, it is the world's third longest-running scripted drama series in production after British serials The Archers and Coronation Street , as well as the world's second-longest-running televised soap opera still in production. General Hospital premiered on the ABC television network on April 1, 1963. General Hospital is the longest-running serial produced in Hollywood, and the longest-running entertainment program in ABC television history. It holds the record for most Daytime Emmy Awards for Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, with 13 wins. [4]

Contents

The show was created by husband-and-wife soap writers Frank and Doris Hursley, who originally set it in a hospital, in an unnamed fictional city. In the 1970s, the city was named Port Charles, New York. From its beginning, General Hospital starred John Beradino and Emily McLaughlin, and both actors stayed with the show until their deaths in 1996 and 1991, respectively. They were joined a year later by Rachel Ames who remains to date the longest serving actress on an ABC soap opera, having been continuously on the show from 1964 to 2007. General Hospital was the second soap to air on ABC (after the short-lived Road to Reality, which aired for several months during the 1960–61 season). In 1964, a sister soap was created for General Hospital, The Young Marrieds ; it ran for two years, and was canceled because of low ratings. General Hospital also spawned the daytime series Port Charles (1997–2003) and the primetime spin-off General Hospital: Night Shift (2007–2008). Taped at The Prospect Studios, General Hospital aired for a half-hour until July 23, 1976. The series was expanded from 30 minutes to 45 minutes on July 26, 1976, and then to a full hour on January 16, 1978. [5]

Ever since the late 1970s, most of the storylines have revolved around the Quartermaine family and the Spencer family. From 1979 to 1988, General Hospital had more viewers than any other daytime soap opera. It rose to the top of the ratings in the early 1980s in part thanks to the monumentally popular "supercouple" Luke and Laura, whose 1981 wedding brought in 30 million viewers and remains the highest-rated hour in American soap opera history. [6] [7] The soap opera is also known for its high-profile celebrity guest stars who have included, among others, Roseanne Barr, James Franco and Elizabeth Taylor. In 2007, the program was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME". [8] On April 23, 2009, General Hospital began broadcasting in high-definition television, making it the first ABC soap opera to make such a transition. [9] The serial aired its 14,000th episode on February 23, 2018. [1]

General Hospital became the oldest American soap opera on September 17, 2010, following the final broadcast of CBS' As the World Turns . On April 14, 2011, ABC announced the cancellation of both All My Children and One Life to Live , leaving General Hospital as the last remaining soap opera airing on the network after January 13, 2012. [10] The show celebrated its 50th anniversary on April 1, 2013.

Show history

Origins

General Hospital was created by Frank and Doris Hursley and premiered on April 1, 1963. The first stories were mainly set on the seventh floor of General Hospital, in an unnamed midsize Eastern city (the name of the city, Port Charles, would not be mentioned until the late 1970s). "They had this concept of the show that it was like a big wagon wheel – the spokes would be the characters and the hub would be the hospital," John Beradino (Steve Hardy) later reflected to Entertainment Weekly in 1994. [11]

History

Launched in 1963, the first stories were mainly set at General Hospital in an unnamed midsized Eastern city. The name of the city, Port Charles, would not be mentioned until 1976 by headwriters Eileen and Robert Mason Pollock. [12] Storylines revolved around Steve Hardy (John Beradino) and his friend, Nurse Jessie Brewer (Emily McLaughlin). Jessie's turbulent marriage to the much-younger Phil Brewer (originally portrayed by Roy Thinnes; lastly by Martin West) was the center of many early storylines. In 1964 Audrey Hardy (Rachel Ames), a flight attendant and sister of Nurse Lucille (Lucille Wall), came to town, and was the woman who won Steve's heart.

By the end of the 1970s, General Hospital was facing dire ratings when executive producer Gloria Monty was brought in to turn the show around. Monty is credited with creation of the first supercouple, Luke and Laura, played by Anthony Geary and Genie Francis. The end of their hour wedding on November 17, 1981, was the most-watched event in daytime serial history. [7] During the 1980s, the series featured several high-profile action, adventure, and some science fiction-based storylines. Location shooting at sites including Mount Rushmore in South Dakota; Niagara Falls; Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Big Bear and Avalon (Catalina Island), California; and San Antonio, Texas are some that propelled the story.

After Gloria Monty first left the series in 1987, General Hospital entered into a transitional phase that lasted until Wendy Riche took the position of executive producer in 1992. Under Riche, the show gained critical acclaim for its sensitive handling of social issues. In 1994, Riche started an annual Nurses' Ball, a fundraiser and HIV/AIDS awareness event both on the show and in real life. Later that year, a heart transplantation storyline involves the death of eight-year-old B. J. Jones (daughter of Dr. Tony Jones and Bobbie Spencer) in a bus crash and the subsequent donation of her heart to her dying cousin Maxie Jones. Shortly afterwards, Monica Quartermaine (Leslie Charleson) begins a long battle with breast cancer, which leads to her adopting Emily Quartermaine, the orphaned young daughter of Monica's friend from treatment. General Hospital was also praised for the love story of teenagers Stone Cates (Michael Sutton) and Robin Scorpio (Kimberly McCullough). After a struggle that lasted throughout most of 1995, Stone dies from AIDS at the age of 19 and his death is followed by 17-year-old Robin having to deal with being HIV-positive as a result of their relationship. Sutton received a nomination for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and McCullough won an Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series award. ABC featured an Afterschool Special "Positive: A Journey Into AIDS" revolving around the AIDS story as well as The New York Times best selling novel Robin's Diary.

On Saturday, December 14, 1996, General Hospital aired its one of three primetime episodes, General Hospital: Twist of Fate , which picked up where that Friday's episode had left off. The special centered on Laura's supposed death at the hands of Stefan Cassadine. In 1997, the show's long-rumored spin-off materialized into the half-hour serial, Port Charles. The series' 11,000th episode aired on February 20, 2006. [13] On April 23, 2009, General Hospital became ABC's first regular daytime drama to be taped and broadcast in High-definition television, though the 2008 season of its primetime spinoff General Hospital: Night Shift was in high definition. This is the second daytime drama to move to high definition after CBS's The Young and the Restless . On February 23, 2010, the series aired its 12,000th episode. [14] On December 1, 2011, ABC confirmed that former One Life to Live executive producer Frank Valentini and head writer Ron Carlivati would replace longtime executive producer Jill Farren Phelps and Garin Wolf respectively, though Wolf would remain on as a regular writer. The change took effect on January 9, 2012. [15] The first episode under the direction of Valentini aired on February 1, 2012, and Carlivati's material started airing on February 21, 2012. Several storylines reminiscent of iconic story arcs of the past were created and popular characters returned to the show in order to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the series in 2013. [16] The serial celebrated 13,000 episodes on February 24, 2014, [17] and marked its 51st anniversary on April 1, 2014. [18] Also in January 2014, ABC renewed Carlivati's contract with the soap. [19] [20] The series marked its 52nd anniversary on April 1, 2015, with a special episode revolving around the Spencer family. [21] [22] [23] [24]

In July 2015, it was revealed that Carlivati was fired as Head Writer, with Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante rehired as replacements. [25] On September 16, 2016, Daytime Confidential reported that Valentini, Passanante and Altman re-signed with the show. [26] On June 6, 2017, Passanante announced her decision to retire from the serial. [27] On July 29, 2017, it was revealed through Passanante that breakdown writer Chris Van Etten will be promoted to co-head writer along with Altman as her replacement. [28] On February 23, 2018, the serial aired its 14,000th episode. [1] On July 30, 2019, it was announced that Altman would retire; breakdown writer Dan O'Connor was announced as her successor, joining Van Etten as co-head writer. [29]

Production

John Beradino and Emily McLaughlin celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the show in 1973. 1973 10th Anniversary General Hospital.jpg
John Beradino and Emily McLaughlin celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the show in 1973.

General Hospital has aired on the ABC television network and has been filmed in Hollywood since its inception. The show was filmed in the Sunset Gower Studios from 1963 to the mid-1980s. It relocated in the 1980s to The Prospect Studios.

General Hospital has had a number of different distributors throughout the show's history. From its beginning until 1968, it was a co-production of Plitt Theatres and Selmur Productions. ABC bought the series outright in 1968 and its ownership passed from Selmur to American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., ABC's old separate conglomerate. Ownership of the soap was then passed when the original ABC, Inc. merged with Capital Cities/ABC Inc. in 1985 and it became Capital Cities/ABC, Inc. The show would change hands again when The Walt Disney Company bought Capital Cities/ABC in 1996 and Disney began to program the network and the soap in September 1997 where it remains today.

Production of General Hospital was suspended in March 2020, as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. [30] Production resumed on July 22 of the same year; new episodes began airing on August 3, 2020. [31] General Hospital was Disney's first series to go back into production during the pandemic. [32]

Cast

The 50th anniversary (2012-13) official cast photo of General Hospital.
Front row : Anthony Geary
Second row (l-r): Vanessa Marcil, Maurice Benard, Kelly Sullivan, Leslie Charleson, Laura Wright, Jane Elliot, Brooklyn Rae Silzer, Jason Thompson, Kelly Monaco, Nancy Lee Grahn, Genie Francis, Kin Shriner, Finola Hughes
Third row: Kirsten Storms, Bradford Anderson
Fourth row: Teresa Castillo, Marc Anthony Samuel, Robin Mattson, Jacklyn Zeman, Sean Kanan, Lisa LoCicero, John J. York, Kristina Wagner, Rebecca Herbst, Dominic Zamprogna, Emme Rylan, Emily Wilson, Chad Duell, Sonya Eddy, Ian Buchanan, Lynn Herring
Back row: Jimmy Deshler, Haley Pullos, Drew Cheetwood, Sean Blakemore, Tyler Christopher, Derk Cheetwood, Kelly Thiebaud. GH50th cast photo.png
The 50th anniversary (2012–13) official cast photo of General Hospital.
Front row : Anthony Geary
Second row (l-r): Vanessa Marcil, Maurice Benard, Kelly Sullivan, Leslie Charleson, Laura Wright, Jane Elliot, Brooklyn Rae Silzer, Jason Thompson, Kelly Monaco, Nancy Lee Grahn, Genie Francis, Kin Shriner, Finola Hughes
Third row: Kirsten Storms, Bradford Anderson
Fourth row: Teresa Castillo, Marc Anthony Samuel, Robin Mattson, Jacklyn Zeman, Sean Kanan, Lisa LoCicero, John J. York, Kristina Wagner, Rebecca Herbst, Dominic Zamprogna, Emme Rylan, Emily Wilson, Chad Duell, Sonya Eddy, Ian Buchanan, Lynn Herring
Back row: Jimmy Deshler, Haley Pullos, Drew Cheetwood, Sean Blakemore, Tyler Christopher, Derk Cheetwood, Kelly Thiebaud.
Original cast [33]
CharacterActor
Cynthia Allison Carolyn Craig
Jessie Brewer Emily McLaughlin
Dr. Phil Brewer Roy Thinnes
Angie Costello Jana Taylor
Mike Costello Ralph Manza
Fred Fleming Simon Scott
Janet Fleming Ruth Phillips
Dr. Steve Hardy John Beradino
Roy Lansing Robert Clarke
Priscilla Longworth Allison Hayes
Dr. Ken Martin Hunt Powers
Peggy Mercer K. T. Stevens
Philip Mercer Neil Hamilton
Mrs. Weeks Lenore Kingston
Al Weeks Tom Brown
Eddie Weeks Craig Curtis

Characters

Though the series originally focused on solely the medical staff at Port Charles' General Hospital, and starred John Beradino as Dr. Steve Hardy and Emily McLaughlin as Nurse Jessie Brewer, the series branched out and began to focus more on the people and families of the town of Port Charles rather than those solely in the hospital. [34]

Port Charles is full of "dysfunctional family dynamics...and family drama remains the focal point of this town." [35] The current families on the show include the quarreling and wealthy Quartermaine family, the mobster crime Corinthos family, the middle class Scorpio/Jones family, the aristocratic Cassadine family, and the adventurous Spencer family.

Main crew members

Notable former crew members include Gloria Monty, [36] Jill Farren Phelps, Robert Guza Jr., Charles Pratt Jr., John William Corrington, Lewis Arlt, Lynda Myles, Alan Pultz, Judith Pinsker, Joseph Behar, Stephanie Braxton, Norma Monty, Frank South, Ralph Ellis, Shelley Curtis, Jean Passanante, Hope Harmel Smith, Michael Conforti, Michele Val Jean and Ron Carlivati. [25] [37] [38]

Executive producers

General Hospital executive producers
NameYears
Selig J. Seligman1963
James Young1963–75
Tom Donovan1975–77
Gloria Monty 1978–87, 1991–92
H. Wesley Kenney 1987–89
Joseph Hardy 1989–91
Wendy Riche 1992–2001
Jill Farren Phelps 2001–12
Frank Valentini 2012–present

Setting

Since the series began in 1963, Port Charles, New York, has been the setting for the show. The town exists in the same fictional universe as other soap opera settings such as Llanview ( One Life to Live ), Pine Valley ( All My Children ), New York City ( Ryan's Hope ), and Corinth ( Loving ). The same setting was also used for the show's spinoff Port Charles .

Accolades and recognition

General Hospital's cast and crew have won many awards since 1974 when the Daytime Emmy Awards were created. In 2012, the Creative Arts Emmy Awards were created. General Hospital has won 13 Daytime Emmy's for Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. [4]

In June 2009, TV Guide ranked "Luke and Laura's Wedding" #45 on its list of the 100 Greatest Episodes. [39]

Broadcast

During the 1960s, General Hospital earned decent ratings against the likes of To Tell the Truth and The Secret Storm on CBS, but there was a decline as the 1970s came, especially when NBC's Another World became highly popular. For two years, it also faced CBS' The Price Is Right , already a major hit. After continued mediocrity in the Nielsen ratings, ABC was prepared to cancel General Hospital, but decided to give it a second chance in 1978 when it expanded the show from an experimental 45 minutes to a full hour. However, the expansion came with an ultimatum to the producers that they had six months to improve the show's ratings. Gloria Monty was hired as the new executive producer, and on her first day, she spent an extra $100,000 re-taping four episodes. A miracle occurred thanks to Monty and head writer Douglas Marland; the show became the most-watched daytime drama by 1979, marking a rare instance of a daytime serial's comeback from near-extinction. During the wedding of Luke and Laura on November 17, 1981, about 30 million people tuned in to watch them exchange vows and be cursed by Elizabeth Taylor's Helena Cassadine (Constance Towers).

From 1979 to 1988, General Hospital remained number one in the ratings, competing against two game shows and two low-rated soaps on NBC Texas and Santa Barbara —and Guiding Light on CBS (although Guiding Light experienced a renaissance for a brief period in the middle of 1984, and became the #1-rated soap, briefly dethroning General Hospital from the top ratings spot). For the most part, however, General Hospital continued to triumph, even after the departure of popular actors Anthony Geary and Genie Francis in the mid-1980s. Although The Young and the Restless took General Hospital's place as the highest-rated serial in 1989, General Hospital continued to maintain excellent ratings.

Even at its peak in the 1980s, General Hospital had been pre-empted in at least two markets in the United States. With the show still number one in the Nielsens, WDTN in Dayton, Ohio preempted the series upon joining ABC in January 1980 in favor of Woody Woodpecker and Super Friends cartoons. Later, the station would air such shows as Hour Magazine, Geraldo and Maury in the show's timeslot until September 2000, when the station's new owners, Sunrise Broadcasting (which purchased the station from Hearst Television two years prior), pulled Maury from the station's schedule, due to what it called "community standards", and brought General Hospital back to Dayton. In Vermont and Plattsburgh, New York, WVNY dropped General Hospital from the schedule in the 1980s and would only bring it back in 1995. During that hiatus, General Hospital still aired on Montreal's CFCF-DT, whose signal was decently available in Vermont and Plattsburgh.

Ever since the 1991–1992 season of General Hospital, the show has had a steady decline in ratings. On and off, it would rank between third and fifth place in the Nielsen ratings, with CBS's The Young And The Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful coming in first and second place, respectively. General Hospital remained in between third and fifth place in the ratings during that time, and from late 1991 to 1996 All My Children held the title of ABC's highest-rated soap.

After months of speculation and cancellation rumors, Deadline Hollywood reported on April 11, 2012, that ABC quietly made the decision to keep General Hospital on the air and to cancel instead the lower-rated talk show The Revolution . [40] On June 26, 2012, ABC officially announced that General Hospital would move to the 2 p.m. ET/PT timeslot starting on September 10, 2012, and that the network would give the 3:00 p.m. hour back to its affiliates, as it was the recommended time slot for Katie Couric's new, ABC-syndicated talk show, Katie . [41]

Encore episodes were shown every weeknight on the former cable channel Soapnet, with a marathon on Saturday and classic episodes at 4 a.m. EST and 5 a.m. (3 a.m. and 4 a.m. CST).

Production of General Hospital was suspended in March 2020 as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. [30] The show had banked roughly two months' worth of episodes at that time. [30] By airing repeats on "Flashback Fridays", General Hospital was able to air original episodes through the end of May 21, 2020. [42] This will be followed by several weeks of vintage episode repeats. [42] Production resumed on July 22, 2020 and new episodes began airing on August 3, 2020. [43]

Schedule

General Hospital broadcast history
Start dateEnd dateTime slot
(ET)
Run time
(minutes)
April 1, 1963December 27, 19631:00 pm30
December 30, 1963July 23, 19763:00 pm
July 26, 1976January 13, 19783:15 pm45
January 16, 1978September 7, 20123:00 pm60
September 10, 2012present2:00 pm 1

Notes

ABC stations in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones, and in Alaska and Hawaii follow a Central Time Zone schedule for daytime programming; thus, General Hospital is scheduled by the network to air at 1:00 p.m. in these areas.

  1. ^ In September 2014, General Hospital reclaimed its former time slot of 3:00 p.m. Eastern/2:00 Central and Pacific on ABC owned-and-operated stations in New York City, Philadelphia, Raleigh–Durham, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco and Los Angeles; and affiliate KSAT-TV in San Antonio. [44] [45] [46]

Ratings history

For historical ratings information, see List of U.S. daytime soap opera ratings

Years as #1 series
General Hospital ratings history
Year(s)Household Rating
1979–19809.9
1980–198111.4
1981–198211.2
1982–19839.8
1983–198410.0
1984–19859.1
1985–19869.2
1986–19878.3
1987–19888.1 (Tied with The Young and the Restless )
Highest-rated week in daytime history (November 16–20, 1981)
(Household ratings, Nielsen Media Research)
General Hospital ratings history
SerialHousehold rating(Time slot) NetworkMillions of households
1. General Hospital16.0(3-4pm) ABC17.5
2. All My Children10.2(1-2pm) ABC11.7
3. One Life to Live10.2(2-3pm) ABC11.6
4. Guiding Light7.9(3-4pm) CBS8.2

Parodies and references in other media

The popularity of General Hospital has gained it many parodies and references in other mainstream programs. For example:

Spin-offs and specials

The success of the long-running soap opera has had one sister serial, one spinoff in the United States, and two primetime spinoffs in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Young Marrieds was ABC's first attempt at a sister serial for General Hospital. It ran for only two years, racking up a total of 380 episodes. Despite its moderate popularity, it was aired against CBS's top-rated The Edge of Night , which it could not compete against. The series finale aired on March 25, 1966, with the show's main protagonist contemplating suicide. It ended in a cliffhanger, leaving the audience wondering if the man had killed himself or not. The Young Marrieds was set in the fictional suburb of Queen's Point, which was considered by the writers to be a suburb of Port Charles .

The British television series General Hospital did not feature any characters from the American show, but was modeled after its format. It started as a half-hour program broadcast in the afternoons, which was unusual for British serials that normally aired in prime time. In 1975, it was expanded to an hour-long format and moved to Friday evenings.

Port Charles was a daytime drama that initially featured interns in a competitive medical school program, [50] and was known for having more action actually in the hospital than General Hospital itself. It also included the characters of Scott Baldwin, Serena Baldwin, Lucy Coe, Kevin Collins, and Karen Wexler, all of whom originally appeared as characters on General Hospital. [50] As the show evolved, it tended more towards gothic intrigue, including supernatural elements such as vampires and afterlife. It also switched formats from an open-ended daytime serial to 13-week story arcs known as "books", similar to Spanish language telenovelas.

General Hospital: Night Shift is the second American prime time spinoff of a daytime drama (the first being Our Private World , a spinoff of As the World Turns). Its first season aired from July 12, 2007, to October 4, 2007, on Soapnet, a cable channel owned by ABC. [51] The series follows the nighttime adventures of familiar and new characters around the hospital. As of March 2008, the first season of the series was "Soapnet's most-watched series ever", with ABC Daytime and Soapnet President Brian Frons noting that Night Shift drew more than 1 million new viewers to the channel during its first season. [52]

General Hospital: Twist of Fate was a primetime special that aired on Saturday, December 14, 1996. The episode picked up where that Friday's show had left off. The special centered on Laura's supposed death at the hands of Stefan Cassadine. [53]

On April 2, 1998, General Hospital aired a primetime special in celebration of the program's 35th anniversary. Hosted by Anthony Geary, the show focused and recapped on many popular storylines including Monica Quartermaine's breast cancer, BJ's death, and Stone Cates' battle with HIV. This was the first anniversary special that was broadcast in primetime and that didn't include any of the current storyline. [54] [55]

On April 6, 2013, as part of the show's 50th anniversary commemoration, ABC's newsmagazine 20/20 aired General Hospital: The Real Soap Dish—a retrospective and behind-the-scenes special hosted by Katie Couric. [56]

On September 5, 2014, it was announced that cast member Nancy Lee Grahn would begin to host a companion web series for ABC.com in January 2015, General Hospital Now!, which would feature behind-the-scenes interviews with fellow cast members, as well as panel discussions with comedians who are fans of the show. [57] [58] [59]

On May 15 and 18, 2015, General Hospital aired two live episodes as part of its 52nd anniversary celebration, using the hashtag #GHLive to promote the broadcast on social media. [60]

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Nathan West is a fictional character from General Hospital, an American soap opera on the ABC network, portrayed by Ryan Paevey. Created by head writer Ron Carlivati, Nathan was introduced in late 2013 by Frank Valentini as a love interest for Maxie Jones. In January 2018, Paevey announced he had opted to leave the serial of his own decision.

Nelle Benson Fictional character from General Hospital, an American soap opera on the ABC network

Nelle Benson is a fictional character from General Hospital, an American soap opera on the ABC network. Created by Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante, and introduced by executive producer Frank Valentini, Nelle is portrayed by actress Chloe Lanier, who made her first appearance on August 8, 2016.

References

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Bibliography