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ICYMI: Kin Shriner Interview

GENERAL HOSPITAL - The Emmy-winning daytime drama "General Hospital" airs Monday-Friday (3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. GH18 (ABC/Craig Sjodin) KIN SHRINER Credit: ABC

Kin Shriner (Scott, GH) retraced his storied daytime path as a guest on Digest’s podcast, Dishing With Digest.

Soap Opera Digest: What were you doing before your first soap job?

Kin Shriner: I was under contract at Universal Studios, where I did multiple jobs. They put you under contract and they paid you a weekly salary and they could put you in anything that was at Universal. I got to work with Gregory Peck, I got to work with my idol, Raymond Burr; there’s a lot of fun jobs that I got to do as a contract player…. And then I auditioned [for] GENERAL HOSPITAL. I got two shows: August 2 [and] August 4, 1977. And then they were gonna decide what they were gonna do or not do [with the character of Scott].

Digest: Tell us about Genie (Francis, Laura). What are your early memories of her?

Shriner: When Gloria Monty came on [as executive producer] and took the show to an hour and we moved to Desilu Studios, I started working more and more with Genie [and] because she was young, they had to shoot her [scenes] first. So she was always loaded up with, like, a lot of dialogue. Like she’d have four/five scenes with me, four/fives scenes with Denise Alexander [ex-Lesley] and so it was like, “Jeez, she’s got all this work!” And then she had school and she had the teachers. But she was so good and professional and was handling real heavy-duty dialogue and playing stuff … Her father was an actor, so I guess it was in her family. She already had the chops.

Digest: Scotty, as a character on GH, really took off. You were on magazine covers and just like, the hottest thing in daytime. What was that like for you? Did you lose your anonymity? What was the experience like of sudden fame? 

Shriner: Genie and I were down in Fort Lauderdale somewhere in the late ’70s [and] we went to dinner and people came up to the table and said, “Can we get an autograph?” And we said, “Sure.” And then we looked and there was a line of people all the way out the restaurant, down the block, and it was like, “Whoa, we must be doing something right!” We didn’t really know that the show was that popular in the late ’70s until things like that started happening and everybody was starting to watch it. We were just going in five days a week and doing our business…. We were not aware that this was a soap opera that had gone through the roof with everybody. All of a sudden, people were running home from school to watch it. They were running home to watch Genie, who was going through so much. She was really the catalyst of the popularity because kids that would be forced to watch it with their parents all of a sudden said, “Well, that girl’s about my age. What are her problems?” And then her problems became their problems and they were hooked! And then there was a couple of guys; there was me and Tony [Geary, ex-Luke], and later Robert Scorpio. That’s the whole deal. We not only worked every day, but we also hung out every day. We had a roller rink that we used to go to at nights. That was a big thing in those days. Tony used to love to skate. And we all skated and then we’d go in to GENERAL HOSPITAL. I think I taught Genie to roller-skate because we had to roller-skate [on] our honeymoon when we got married.

Digest: You were really living that ’70s dream! I’m just trying to picture that roller rink and how much fun that must have been. 

Shriner: Well, I’ll tell you what, it was more fun than I let on because it was actually an old bowling alley on La Cienega in Hollywood here and then they turned it into a roller rink. When that craze was on, disco roller-skating, they served alcohol. I don’t know what insurance policies [they] had, but there they were. People were drinking kamikaze shots and putting on roller skates!

Digest: A great combination!

Shriner: Yeah. I never broke an arm. I never had any accidents, but other people I think went down. I mean, it was kind of crazy and it was fun and it was a great time. It was right across the street from where I lived. We stayed out way too late and we had to be back at GENERAL HOSPITAL at 7 in the morning. But we were young! Youth was on our side.

Digest: What was your experience on TEXAS [where he played Jeb from

Shriner: It was fun. [Three] or four actors, we all pitched in and we were gonna spend our weekends up in Amagansett up in the Hamptons. The very first weekend I got up there, I was riding a bicycle with my co-star at the time, Caryn Richman [ex-Elena], who ended up going on to become Gidget on the GIDGET series. We were riding bikes, it was Fourth of July, the bike chain snapped, and I went over the handlebars, broke my arm…. They had to put a plate in my hand in this cast. I remember Truman Capote was in the room next to me.

Digest: What!?

Shriner: Yeah! And then next thing I knew, I was back at work and they were like, “Oh, Jeb fell off his horse.” [But] I don’t think TEXAS ever really found itself … I was only there for a year. I was there with Paul Rauch and when Paul Rauch left, another producer came on by the name of Gail Kobe, and I’m not sure we got along too well. She said, “You just wanna go back to GENERAL HOSPITAL.” I said, “Well, that’s not true.” But yeah, I would rather be on GENERAL HOSPITAL than this show! I realized what a blunder I made by going to [TEXAS] in the first place.

Digest: So, then what was it like when you came back [to GH]?

Shriner: Well, I came back [when Scotty crashed Luke and Laura’s wedding] and they stashed me in this trailer, and in the back of the trailer was a guy who comes out and says, “Hello, mate, I’m Tristan Rogers [Scorpio].” And I said, “Oh, yes, Tony spoke highly of you. How you doing?” This was long before social media but yet Gloria really wanted to keep it hidden until I really caught that bouquet and said, “There is no wedding!” So, it was a big hush-hush thing and, you know, instead of me winning the fights against Luke, now he’s winning the fights! I was like, “Oh, now I get beat up instead. I used to beat him up!” But I was back in the game, back on GENERAL HOSPITAL, and the Scotty character became more fun to play because now he had a bit of [an edge], which gave a lot of material for Peter Hansen [ex-Lee]; you know, ’cause it was, “My son is doing the wrong thing all the time.”

Digest: I was a big fan of RITUALS [Shriner’s next soap, where he played Mike from 1984-85].

Shriner: It never had its day, but there was so many odd actors, including Ginger from GILLIGAN’S ISLAND [Tina Louise, ex-Taylor] to George Lazenby from the Bond [movies; he played Logan] to Monte Markham [ex-Carter] to Mary Beth Evans [ex-Dakota; Kayla, DAYS] to Jon Lindstrom [ex-Brady; Kevin, GH]. I mean, there was a lot of different people that came through those RITUALS doors!

Digest: You really have made your way around the dial, [including a stint as] B&B’s prison doctor, Brian Carey, who was in cahoots with Sheila. What do you remember about B&B?

Shriner: I worked a lot with Ian Buchanan [ex-James; ex-Duke, GH] — there’s nobody funnier than him — and Kimberlin Brown [Sheila]. It was a very pleasant experience.

Digest: After B&B, you anchored the GENERAL HOSPITAL spin-off PORT CHARLES along with Lynn [Herring, Lucy] and Jon Lindstrom.

Shriner: Lynn and myself and Jon, we kind of really wanted it to be good and wanted the best and wanted to get stories and really flesh them out because it was like, who gets this opportunity to do a GENERAL HOSPITAL spin-off? But yet it didn’t coincide with what was going on [on] GENERAL HOSPITAL. [It] was a separate entity, even though we used the nurses’ station and people used to drop over to work on it — but they were just guest stars. But it was definitely fun.

Digest: In the mid-2000s, you went back to New York to play a bad guy named Keith Morrissey on AS THE WORLD TURNS. That’s where you first encountered Maura West (ex-Carly), who is now GH’s Ava, and you also became very friendly with Martha Byrne (ex-Lily). 

Shriner: Love Martha Bryne. Love her. We’re still in contact and when she comes to town we always get together. It was a highly enjoyable year of my life, living in Columbus Circle. I was there like five days a week for the first three months. [It] was a lot of work, but it was with the great Michael Park [ex-Jack]…. It wasn’t like, “Oh, man.” It was fun. We made it fun.

Digest: Your most recent return to GH was in 2013, the year the show hit the 50-year mark. And then in 2017, you marked your own 40th anniversary on the show…. What did hitting that milestone mean to you?

Shriner: What’s that old Woody Allen joke? Basically, I felt I’ve been underpaid! But now as I close in on 42 … Believe me, the last two have been the toughest. But when I still get to work with Lynn Herring — I pretty much talk to her every day. We’re very good friends. We love any kind of Scotty/Lucy business.

Digest: So do we!

Shriner: I love working with Jackie [Zeman, Bobbie]. And my beloved Maura West. I had a couple scenes with her on AS THE WORLD TURNS…. I just thought she was the greatest. And when she came to GENERAL HOSPITAL, of course I hightailed it up to Frank’s [Valentini, executive producer] office and said, “If you don’t know what to do with her, you could throw her my way.” By that time it was, “No, we have other plans for Maura.” But I managed to be that guy — Scotty will do anything he can for Ava Jerome. So when I get to work with Maura, another highlight of the day. Or Roger [Howarth, Franco]. Or any of them. There’s nobody I go, “Oh, I’m stuck with them!” I have a lot of fun with the actors that I get to work with.

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