Luke and Laura's Altared State
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
NEW YORK -- It's been an eventful 25 years for Laura Spencer since marrying Luke in a fairy-tale wedding seen on television by 30 million people.
She died, and was brought back to life. She killed her stepfather. She gave birth to a son by an adulterous affair, and now that child, Nikolas, is a single dad after his baby's mother died of a virus. Laura's other son, Lucky, is addicted to painkillers. Her daughter, Lulu, recently aborted a child after being impregnated by a stepbrother.
Oh, and Laura spent the last four years in a catatonic state -- waking up just in time to marry Luke again this Thursday on "General Hospital," 25 years to the day after their first wedding.
This is a soap opera, after all. Nothing is easy, including ABC's attempt to relive the show's glory days, which has a bittersweet feel because of the actors' conflicted feelings and the slow decline of daytime drama as an institution.
There had never been a more influential soap opera moment than Luke and Laura's wedding. There never will be again.
"You could walk down the hallway and talk to anyone on our daytime staff, and they could tell you where they were when Luke and Laura got married," says Brian Frons, president of daytime TV for the Disney-ABC Television Group.
Carolyn Hinsey was among the crowd around the television set at her Indiana University sorority house. Laura Spencer -- like the actress portraying her, Genie Francis -- was only 19 at the time and leading a much more glamorous life than the girls in Indiana could imagine, says Hinsey, now editor of Soap Opera Weekly.
The relationship had creepy overtones, given that Luke had raped Laura two years earlier, and yet it captured the imagination. Francis and her TV husband, Anthony Geary, landed on the cover of Newsweek. Elizabeth Taylor appeared on their show. Another fairy-tale bride of the time, Princess Diana, reportedly sent champagne.
"I didn't really understand how big it was," Francis says. "I really enjoyed all my time at work. The hard time was when I was not working. Fortunately, there were not many of those hours."
She was still a teenager, idolized by her peers. Yet, she was lonely.
Geary had an even tougher time.
"It just wasn't anything that I was prepared to deal with as an actor, because I was in daytime," he says. "We were international celebrities but still considered small-screen. People didn't take it seriously, and those that did took it too seriously. It was a very, very odd place to be."