Genie Francis is finally coming back to daytime TV but it won’t be to play Laura Spencer on “General Hospital.” Instead, this Emmy champ will be joining the cast of “The Young & the Restless” this spring as the ex-wife of mob boss Colin Atkinson, a role played by her former “GH” co-star Tristan Rogers.
Francis began her fable run on “GH” in 1976 as a teenager and appeared on and off until 2008. Despite being part of one of the most talked-about storylines ever, it was Anthony Geary, the actor who played her on-screen other half Luke, and not Francis who garnered most of the awards attention.
Over the years, Geary has amassed 14 nominations and six wins (1982, 1999-2000, 2004, 2006, 2008). Francis, who left the show in 1984, returned in 1993 but was not even nominated until 1997. She lost her Best Actress bid to Jess Walton (“The Young & the Restless”).
That year marked an exceptional one for her character as Laura’s marriage to Luke was destroyed by the secret she had been harboring for years — she had a son during the time she was held captive on a Greek island by the Cassidines. mortal enemies of the Spencers. Laura is forced to reveal his existence when their daughter, Lulu, needs a bone marrow transplant.
Francis left “GH” in 2002 and her character was put into a coma. However, she returned for a short stint in 2006, courtesy of an experimental drug that wore off in weeks. During that time, Laura once again marrying Luke on the 25th anniversary of their first fable wedding that attracted a record 30 million viewers. Laura was blissfully oblivious that Luke was already wed to Tracey Quatermaine (Jane Elliot, 1980 Best Supporting Actress). However, she was acutely aware of the passage of time as her daughter was no longer a little girl.
One of the hallmarks of her work over the decades has been an ability to elicit sympathy from viewers. While Laura was written as an almost saintly figure, Francis had a way of making you care about her. However, that innate likeability and charm undercut her stature as an actress. One of her best storylines came in 1998 when she comforted her son’s girlfriend who had been raped. Laura was forced to confront her own rape years ago by Luke, when she was a teenager. While those scenes were so raw, so emotional and free of vanity, she was snubbed once again by the TV academy.
In her years away from “GH,” Francis appeared on other daytime dramas. From 1987 to 1989, she starred on NBC’s “Days Of Our Lives” in a woefully underwritten role. However, she had a plum part on both “All My Children” and “Loving” in the early 1990s. As an incest survivor, Francis delivered a top-notch performance but it was decided she would be more helpful to the ABC lineup if she returned to “GH.” Now, with that show not making better use of her, a newly slimmed down Francis is joining the No. 1 daytime drama and could be back at the Daytime Emmys next year.