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GENERAL HOSPITAL's 61-Year Legacy: A Storied Timeline

Now that GH has entered year 61, here’s a timeline of the key behind-the-scenes moments that have shaped its legacy as the longest-running soap in TV history.



1963: Created by Frank and Doris Hursley, GH debuts on ABC on April 1. The Hursleys soon take over as head writers from Theodore and Mathilde Ferro. The show’s original executive producer is Selig J. Seligman; James Young replaces him.

1966: The show begins broadcasting in color.

1968: ABC buys the rights to GH.

1971: GH briefly bests AS THE WORLD TURNS as No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings.

1973: The Hursleys’ daughter and son-in-law, Bridget and Jerome Dobson, become head writers.

1975: Tom Donovan takes over as EP. Richard and Suzanne Holland become head writers.

1976: GH expands from 30 to 45 minutes and swaps time slots with ONE LIFE TO LIVE on July 23. Eileen Pollock and Robert Mason Pollock are named head writers. The show’s never-named location is, for the first time, referred to as Port Charles. Time pans the show, sniffing, “If malpractice is this dull, it is worth insuring against.”

1977: Leslie Charleson, currently GH’s longest-running cast member, debuts as Monica in August. ABC programming chief Fred Silverman threatens to cancel GH if it doesn’t boost its ratings by two points within six months. New EP Gloria Monty is given 13 weeks to reverse the show’s fate. The Hollands briefly return as head writers, then are replaced by Irving and Tex Elman, who are thrown over for Douglas Marland.

1978: Monty reports for her first day of work on January 1 and, at great expense, throws out a week of completed shows that she deems inferior. She adds her sister, Norma, to the writing staff. By year’s end, the show jumps from ninth to second place in the ratings. On January 16, GH expands to 60 minutes.

1979: GH hits No. 1 in the ratings. Fitness guru Richard Simmons begins a four-year run as himself. Marland is succeeded by Pat Falken Smith and Margaret DePriest. Peter Hansen (ex-Lee) becomes the first cast member to receive a Daytime Emmy (in the Supporting Actor category).

1981: The Afternoon Delights release a parody/tribute song, “General Hospi- Tale”, which peaks at No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Time declares that GH is “useless to resist. It is everywhere.” Dustin Hoffman visits the set to research his role in Tootsie. Falken Smith quits in August, huffing, “The show is a joke, and I don’t want my name on it.” Monty, with Robert J. Shaw, takes over the writing team; later, Thom Racina and Leah Laiman script the show. Newsweek features Luke and Laura on its cover on September 28. Luke and Laura’s November 16/17 nuptials are the highest-rated soap episodes in history. The show wins its first Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

1982: Multiple GH stars, including John Beradino (Steve) and Stuart Damon (Alan), appear in the soap spoof Young Doctors In Love. John William Corrington and Joyce Hooper Corrington head-write, followed by Anne Howard Bailey, with Gloria Monty.

1984: The show wins its second Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

1985: Falken Smith returns and head-writes with Norma Monty.

1987: Gloria Monty quits. H. Wesley Kenney replaces her. Ann Marcus becomes head writer.

1988: GH loses its No. 1 ratings position to Y&R. Kenney head-writes during the writers’ strike.

1989: Joseph Hardy becomes EP and hires Gene Palumbo as head writer.

1990: Gloria Monty is rehired as EP in December.

1991: Palumbo, Norma Monty and John Whelpley serve as head writers; Monty takes over solo.

1992: Monty is fired; Wendy Riche becomes EP in January. Maralyn Thoma and Bill Levinson become head writers.

1993: Claire Labine is named head writer. The show celebrates its 30th anniversary in April with an on-air party commemorating Steve’s 30th anniversary at the hospital.

1995: The show wins its third Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

1996: Labine exits; Robert Guza, Jr. and Karen Harris take over as head writers. On May 19, lone remaining original cast member John Beradino dies after a battle with cancer. In October, Richard Culliton and Karen Harris become co-head writers. On December 14, GH airs its first primetime episode, GENERAL HOSPITAL: TWIST OF FATE. Disney purchases ABC, becoming the owner of the rights to GH. The show wins its fourth Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

1997: PORT CHARLES, GH’s half-hour spin-off, debuts on June 2. Guza returns as head writer in December after a stint by Janet Iacobuzio and Christopher Whitesell. The show wins its fifth Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

1998: The show’s 35th anniversary is celebrated on April 2 with a primetime special.

1999: The show wins its sixth Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

2000: The show wins its seventh Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

2001: Riche exits as EP, succeeded by Jill Farren Phelps. Elizabeth Korte and Michele Val Jean are co-head writers, succeeded by Megan McTavish.

2002: Robert Guza, Jr. and Charles Pratt, Jr. are named co-head writers. On April 17, GH celebrates its 10,000th episode with a special show centered on Audrey’s 10,000th nursing shift.

2003: PORT CHARLES goes off the air on October 3.

2005: The show wins its eighth Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

2006: Guza becomes sole head writer. The show wins its ninth Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

2007: SOAPnet premieres GH’s primetime spin-off, GH: NIGHT SHIFT, on July 12.

2008: Garin Wolf scripts the show during the writers’ strike. In October, the second and final season of GH: NIGHT SHIFT concludes.

2010: With the final episode of AS THE WORLD TURNS on September 17, GH becomes the longest-running soap on the air.

2011: Wolf is named head writer.

2012: Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati become executive producer and head writer, respectively, in January. When OLTL’s finale airs on January 13, GH becomes the sole soap in the ABC Daytime lineup. The show wins its 10th Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

2013: GH turns 50 on April 1.

2015: Carlivati is relieved of his head-writing duties, with Shelly Altman and Jean Passanante becoming co-head writers.

2016: The show wins its 12th Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

2017: Passanante retires; Chris Van Etten is promoted to co-head writer. The show wins its 13th Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

2019: Altman retires; Dan O’Connor joins Van Etten as co-head writer.

2020: The Covid pandemic suspends GH production from March through July.

2021: The show wins its 14th Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

2022: GH airs its 15,000th episode on June 22. The show wins its 15th Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

2023: On April 1, GH — already the longest-running scripted program on television — becomes the first soap to mark 60 years on the air. The show wins its 16th Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

2024: In January, GH confirms that Van Etten and O’Connor will be replaced as head writers by the team of Patrick Mulcahey and Elizabeth Korte.

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