LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Soap superstar Anthony Geary shocked the daytime community and TV world Friday with the announcement he is leaving ABC’s “General Hospital,” the place he has called home for nearly four decades.
The story was first reported by TV Insider columnist Michael Logan.
Geary, who just weeks ago won his eighth Daytime Emmy for the role of Luke Spencer, rogue/bad guy/good guy/anti-hero, told Logan he will leave when his current contract is up in June.
Viewers will see Geary — who turns 68 later this month — on air for about a month after his final tape date.
Geary told Logan while he is not retiring completely, he is moving to Amsterdam, where he’s had a home for many years. He said, “I don’t like that word ‘retirement.’ It sounds like some guy sitting around the pool drinking mai tais until his heart gives out, and that’s not me. I’m an actor, a showbiz kid. This year marks 50 years for me in the business … and I’m not about to bring that to an end. I will always act. I will always be looking for another project.”
ABC said the door was always open for a possible return.
When Geary was cast as Luke in 1978, “GH” was in danger of being canceled its ratings were that lackluster.
The show’s then producer, Gloria Monty, had nothing to lose and took the tossled-haired, unconventional-looking-for-soaps Luke character — a young mobster slated to die off quickly — and pair him with the show’s then 16-year-old ingenue.
Ratings shot up, young America fell in love with the couple (even though at one point he raped her) and their on-screen wedding (after a tortured and controversial romance to say the least) became one of the most watched weddings in daytime TV and all of TV for that matter. The Luke and Laura and “GH” phenomenon was solidified when the couple appeared on just about every non-soap magazine. (Liz Taylor, who played evil Helena Cassadine, even dropped in for the event due to the fact she was such a Geary fan.)
Could Luke, part of the most popular ever daytime duo of Luke and Laura, likely to go off in the sunset together? ABC recently announced Laura, aka actress Genie Francis, was returning to reprise her role.
Uh, not so fast Luke and Laura fans.
“Genie and I agreed several years ago that the love of Luke and Laura had run its course,” Geary told TV Insider, “They have children together and a very storied history and there’s definitely still love there but I think they’re toxic to each other at this point. She’s been in an asylum. He’s been in an asylum. Life has not always worked out for them.”
Prior to becoming a world-wide sensation as Luke, Geary was mostly cast as creeps and villains on shows like “Mannix,” “Marcus Welby, M.D.,” “The Streets of San Francisco” and “Mod Squad.” He also played a rapist on “The Young and the Restless.”
He also played a pivotal role in a classic episode of “All in the Family” called “Judging Books by Covers”, one in which Archie learned Mike’s arty friend (whom Archie assumed was gay) was actually straight and Archie’s football-playing buddy was gay.