The Soaps: Tune In Tomorrow

'General Hospital' Looks Back

"General Hospital" recently celebrated a milestone anniversary: 50 years on the air. In honor of the momentous occasion, the show was honored with a special gathering at the Paley Center in Los Angeles. Executive producer Frank Valentini, head writer Ron Carlivati and an array of the show's top stars were on hand to share thoughts and memories of the iconic soap and celebrate its resurgence in the ratings.

Cast members raved about the two men at the soap's helm.

"There's an energy that's never been there, before Frank and Ron," said Jacklyn Zeman (Bobbie). "They respect the past and are propelling us to the future."

Jason Thompson (Patrick) added that Valentini "is the first person there in the morning and the last to leave at night."

As for the show's current success, Finola Hughes (Anna) put it best. "We have great characters on the show and we tell great stories," she said. "People respond to both of those things. If you honor the characters that you have on a show and you make it sexy and cool and fast and fun and sharp and witty, you're going to have an audience."

Carlivati revealed that he'd been a "GH" fan for decades, having begun watching at the age of 10. "I think it was when Laura killed David Hamilton," he shared, adding that he believes his storytelling appeals to viewers because he's writing "from a fan's perspective."

Among the memorable storylines discussed were Luke and Laura's adventures with Helena Cassadine, originally played by film legend Elizabeth Taylor, and Robin being diagnosed with HIV.

Kimberly McCullough (Robin), who was 16 when she began playing out the HIV story, admitted not knowing what it really meant at the time, but understanding how really important it was "not only to entertain, but to make a difference in people's lives."

Anthony Geary (Luke) recalled working with Taylor. "She was so much fun when she first came on," he said, recounting an early scene in which she kept mispronouncing Cassadine. "After messing up 14 takes, she said, 'I'm sorry, folks, I'm just not used to acting.' She had a great sense of humor."

As for other fond memories of cast mates who have passed away, Geary mentioned John Beradino (ex-Steve Hardy), saying that he thinks of him "every single day" when he is on set.

Meanwhile, Jane Elliot (Traci) mentioned her beloved Quartermaine parents, played by the late Anna Lee (ex-Lila) and David Lewis and John Ingle (ex-Edward). "I hate when people say 'It's like a family,'" said Elliot, adding that working with that trio "truly was."

More like The Soaps: Tune In Tomorrow