For nearly thirty years, actress Genie Francis has been known as General Hospital's Laura Webber Spencer. But during a recent press junket for a made-for-television movie, the actress took a break from promotion and did something that few other soap stars have ever done publically: She apologized.
In 1981, more than 30 million viewers watched the fairy-tale wedding of Luke and Laura. The event was so big that actors Anthony Geary and Genie Francis landed themselves on the cover of Newsweek magazine. Across the country both men and women were glued to the television screens. But the following year, at the height of popularity for the couple, Francis inexplicably quit the ABC Daytime soap.
"I'm sorry for leaving you so abruptly, for not taking into account the feelings of the people who helped Laura truly take on a life of her own," the 45-year-old actress said in a statement directed to GH fans. "It was the decision of a young, impetuous girl, and the woman she has become asks for your forgiveness."
The apology was prompted by Francis' work on The Hallmark Channel's telefilm The Note.
"Forgiveness and reconciliation are at the core of The Note, and filming it forced me to look inside myself at certain decisions in my past," Francis explained. "Right now I want to reach out to all of my fans and say that I'm sorry. I'm sorry for leaving you so abruptly, for not taking into account the feelings of the people who helped Laura truly take on a life of her own."
Francis would return to General Hospital in 1983, but she would again leave... this time just a year later. It wasn't until nearly a decade later -- in October 1993 -- that the actor returned to the show full-time. Some behind-the-scenes turmoil prompted Francis to once again leave in September 2002.
Four years later, ABC was able to woo Francis back in order to help mark the 25th anniversary of Luke and Laura's wedding. The return was never meant to be long-term, but it did help the long-time soap star tally her first ever Daytime Emmy win. It also helped soap fans to realize how much they missed Francis on the show.
Now fans are wondering when Francis will make another return appearance to General Hospital. Those fans shouldn't hold their breath. According to Francis, ABC execs have shown little or no interest in having her return to the show. This seemingly flies in the face of published interviews by General Hospital head writer Bob Guza, who has said repeatedly that he'd love to have Francis' Laura return.
In the meanwhile, Francis says that she is enjoying life in Maine where she and husband Jonathan Frakes operate a home accessories store, The Cherished Home.