Today, Genie Francis is beloved to soap fans for playing the legendary Laura Webber Baldwin Spencer Collins on GENERAL HOSPITAL, but when she made her daytime debut in the role back in 1977, she had no idea that this teenage girl was destined to become a television icon. “I was terrified,” Francis told Soaps In Depth of her first day on the GH set. “I didn’t know anything about working in that kind of environment! There’s a stage manager who counts you down, and then there’s a silent wave that means ‘action.’ I didn’t know anything about any of that, so when he waved, I waved back! I had no idea what I was doing at all.”
Thankfully, there were plenty of people in the cast and crew who were willing to help the newbie find her footing. “Denise [Alexander, ex-Lesley] and Michael Gregory (ex-Rick) [showed me the ropes],” Francis revealed, “and there was a director named Phil Sogard who took me aside and explained to me what upstage and downstage were. I had people who walked me through all of it.”
And once Francis got her bearings, the rest was history. Although at the time she was hired on GH back in the ’70s, she didn’t expect that there would be decades of drama (and a Daytime Emmy Award) in her future. “They signed me to a three-year contract when I was 14,” the actress admitted, “so I just expected to stay. I knew I had a contract.”
But she never could have imagined the role would stretch over four decades! “Gosh no!” Francis smiled. “And it’s important to say I wasn’t there for all those years. I was gone for quite a few of them, but the character has been with me for 41 years.”
GH fans are thrilled that Laura is back on screen yet again and looking forward to all the drama yet to come. For more on your favorite GH stars, keep reading the ABC edition of Soaps In Depth magazine!
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