) will exit General Hospital later this year. The announcement comes on the heels of weeks' worth of speculation about the actress' future with the show.
According to setside sources, Francis will relocate to Europe to accompany her actor husband Jonathan Frakes of Star Trek: The Next Generation
fame. Frakes is expected to leave for London by month's end to begin work on a new project.
Sources go on to say that Laura will be written off the show's canvas in such a way as to facilitate Francis' return to the show at a later time. Exactly what that ending is, remains to be seen. To avoid leaks on how the "attic" storyline will play out, General Hospital scribes reportedly penned three endings -- and the show will select which one to use at a later date.
The same sources hint that show executives tried a number of different methods to convince Francis to remain with the show. In the end, however, it was Francis who wanted out.
Francis' exit reportedly will not impact her on-screen love interest Anthony Geary
). Geary will begin his annual summer break at about the same time as Francis' exit. Geary's vacation will last a little over a month.
This is not the first time that Francis will be departing Port Charles. The Daytime Emmy-nominated actress joined General Hospital in 1976 and stayed through 1981. The actress returned in 1983 before leaving the following year. Francis then remained away from General Hospital for nearly a decade, returning in October 1993 and remaining with the show through the present.
Francis' final tape date will take place in late August. Her final airdate is expected by late September or early October.