General Hospital's James Patrick Stuart has a childhood connection to exiting Gregory Harrison

Posted Tuesday, May 21, 2024 4:40:04 PM
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As Gregory Harrison ends his General Hospital run, James Patrick Stuart shares a sweet story about a long-ago encounter.

Gregory Harrison just finished his four-year run on General Hospital as his character, Gregory Chase, passed away in his sleep after a battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Although Gregory and Valentin didn't have a storyline together, James Patrick Stuart recalled a 1980s meeting he had with Harrison's wife.

"When I was 11 years old, I rode my bike to a veterinarian in Sherman Oaks, CA to have them look at my ailing hamster," Stuart tweeted the day Harrison's last scenes on GH aired. "In the waiting room, with her dog, was a very beautiful TV actress, Randi Oakes. I recognized her from the show CHiPs. She took a keen interest in me and my hamster and, even though we were complete strangers, she was very encouraging and compassionate to me. I've never forgotten her kindness."

Stuart went on to talk about how excited he was when he learned that he would be castmates with this lovely woman's husband.

"Years later, I was so happy when Gregory Harrison, her husband, joined General Hospital so that I might tell him what a good person I thought she was," he continued. "Delighted to find out they are still married and have raised their children in the beautiful state of Oregon."

At the time, both Harrison and Oakes were making names for themselves in primetime. Harrison played George Alonzo "Gonzo" Gates on the medical drama Trapper John, MD, while Oakes played Bonnie Clark on the Erik Estrada cop show CHiPS. Harrison eventually landed on the primetime soap Falcon Crest, playing Michael Sharpe, but didn't enter the daytime soap world until 2020.

He told Soap Opera Digest that he had been offered soap roles quite a few times, but after Hollywood opened back up following the initial COVID shutdown, GH came calling, and he finally said yes.

"[GH was] the first job offered to me after the pandemic. My agent called to say, 'General Hospital wants to know if you want to do an arc.' [And] I heard myself say, 'Yes! Tell 'em yes.' It was almost like an out-of-body experience because I was just desperate to go do what I love to do. And then after I hung up the phone, I went, 'Oh, my God, what did I just say yes to?!' You know, 'Why did you wait till you were 70-something to test your brain with 30 pages of dialogue a night? What, are you crazy? Are you out of your mind?'"

The gig lasted four years, with Harrison turning in a subtle and heartbreaking performance as Gregory dealt with his ALS diagnosis and eventually passed away after his heart gave out in his sleep.

Was the ALS story on GH heartbreaking to watch? Will you miss Gregory Harrison as Gregory? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.

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