General Hospital celebrates 50-year anniversary

April 1, 2013 1:34:27 PM PDT
It's hard to believe that the crew from Port Charles has been around for five decades.

It was April 1st, 1963 when General Hospital made its debut.

John F. Kennedy was president and a gallon of milk cost around 50 cents.

And for the next 50 years, the Emmy-award winning soap and its cast of characters have become part of our families.

Whoever said, 'You can't go home again' was wrong, if home is Port Charles, where the town's General Hospital has been open long enough to celebrate a golden anniversary.

Jackie Zeman is back as head nurse Bobbie Spencer.

Rick Springfield is playing Dr. Noah Drake again, old enough now to have his son on the show.

But no reunion would be complete without TV icons 'Luke' and 'Laura'.

"It's been a whole career. I certainly didn't expect it when I signed on for 13 weeks, but it's been amazing," said Anthony Geary, who plays 'Luke Spencer'.

"We have sort of an unspoken communication going on when we act, and it's great," said Genie Francis, 'Laura Spencer'.

The wedding of their characters was seen by 30 million Americans.

"I grew up with Luke and Laura." said People Magazine editor Kristen Mascia. "I remember watching 'General Hospital' all my life and I think so many people of the millenial generation can identify with that as well. It was huge when we were in high school. It was huge for my parents and it remains a cultural force today."

A new book from People Magazine reminds us that movie stars like Demi Moore got their start on the show, and a genuine superstar was among the soap opera's biggest fans.

"We're doing a scene with Elizabeth Taylor and I'm walking off with her, walking off arm in arm as a camera fades to black and she goes 'Acting is so stupid," said Springfield.

On a more serious note, General Hospital was sometimes the first network TV show to tackle serious issues, like the spread of AIDS.

"They very much responded to what was happening in real life in America and I think by virtue of that, they got even more fans."said Mascia.

The glory years of daytime drama are long past. So many are gone, and yet this one has endured.

'All My Children' and 'One Life to Live' are just two of the soaps that have left the airwaves, and though both of those might be resurrected online, so many others are gone for good: the victim of changing times and different tastes.

Talk shows air in time slots once reserved for daytime dramas, and so many viewers who once watched them at home are now at work in the afternoons.