General Hospital’s 50th Anniversary Episode: Some Classy and Surreal Nostalgia

By Marlena De Lacroix a.k.a. Connie Passalacqua Hayman

I just finished watching Tuesday’s General Hospital 50th anniversary episode (which was supposed to air yesterday on the actual April 1st anniversary but was delayed a day because of a pre-emption for a news event preemption earlier in March).  All I can say is — wow!  Was the episode surreal, or what?

Stuart Damon

I mean, quite literally surreal. To keep Monica from kicking Tracy out of the house over her sister-in-law stealing Lila’s Pickle-Lilia relish recipe which belonged to her son A.J.,  some former  key characters appeared in the Quartermaine living room, back from the dead literally.   Succeeding in persuading Monica not to do it were  late husband Alan (Stuart Damon) and her late lover Rick (Chris Robinson).  Both looked as old as Methuselah, but it was so nostalgic and heart-tugging to see them.  Both were fast, fresh and slyly funny as always, even as these two rivals shook hands and made up.

The episode was filled with genuine surprises (how does Frank Valentini keep them so quiet, especially in this internet age?)   The lovely Emily (Natalia Livingston) appeared as a ghost to back Alan up and, on a nice note, saying later she would visit her ex-husband, the now comatose Nicholas.  Also coming as a total surprise was the reappearance of Ethan (Nathan Parsons), whom Luke and Laura found on the Haunted Star.  It was an awkward situation, but in a very graceful heartfelt way, Ethan, Luke’s illegitimate son by Holly, introduced himself to Laura, Luke’s ex-wife and legendary love.

Vanessa Marcil

And the vets kept coming:  Brenda (a marvelous looking Vanessa Marcil) showed up on Sonny’s doorstep and I was shocked when Brenda seemed to want him back.  Even though it came out that she was newly engaged to her other ex, Jax. That would be Jax (Ingo Rademacher, fresh from Dancing with the Stars) who showed up at Carly’s, finally producing their long awaited divorce degree.  All four characters ached with the sense of what if?  As in, what if our old romances had worked out differently.  What a bittersweet feeling for all of them — and for most of us who have been through the similar lost loves in our own lives.

Very sweetly and respectfully for the anniversary, Patrick led a historic tour of General Hospital for new interns, ending up near the nurses’ desk where hung a huge picture of the hospital’s late founder Dr. Steve Hardy — the late great John Beradino, who had been on the show its first day April 1, 1963.  Admiring it was his widow, the newly returned Audrey (Rachel Ames), also a veteran GH actress, who debuted on the show in 1964.

 Everyone at the hospital clapped as Audrey blew a kiss at the portrait of her late husband.   And so do we at such an intelligently written and produced episode which so aptly and in such a classy way  celebrated GH’s exact 50 year anniversary. What did you think?


  1. how long will it last

    Marlena says: The anniversary celebrations? At least through the end of the Nurses Ball, which I think is this and next week.

  2. Episodes like these are where Ron and Frank excell. It is when they get away from this that they fail. Why they can’t keep this up week in and week out is a mystery. Is it me or is it reality-or is it just nostalgia-that soaps used to be like this all the time? Where are the Claire Labines, Michael Malones, Harding Lemays and Douglas Marlands of yesteryear? I saw the episode, and thought it very nicely done, but at the same time, it filled me with a lot of sadness, a sense of loss, for what was once such a thriving form. Not counting the soon-to-be-revived OLTL and AMC, we are down to 4 soaps. 4! When, a decade ago, we had 10. A decade ago, we had several magazines covering the shows every week. We had networks supporting these shows. Now, we get “support” only for milestone events.

    I know, I’ve gone off track, but when something like this is done so very right, it makes me mad and sad, to see all that has gone wrong with the industry. I refuse to give up, because I think there’s a place for intelligent, serialized drama outside of “pay cable” but they just don’t make em like this anymore.

    Marlena says: I feel your sentiments, exactly and have written extensively on the downfall of soaps. For this week, I guess I’m looking at what used to be and celebrating. But its hard not to cry over how good things used to be and wonder what the hell happened.

    • I don’t care about the quantity of soaps. Quality is what matters to me. The four existing soaps are doing okay. However, I could live without Daniel and Jennifer from DAYS. I cringe when I see them. I don’t think much of those performers and they shouldn’t be front and center.

  3. I thought it was beautifully done!!! 10 stars out of 10. It pulled in great storylines and characters and was balanced with emotion, surprises, humor, memories, and hope for stories continuing on or changing! A great respect and nod for the origins of the show with a wrap up to today! Well done by the writers, cast and crew!!! Watched it twice and will watch a few more times! Absolutely LOVED it!!! Can’t wait for more!!!

    Loved your articles on it!

    Marlena says: Thank you so much Heidi! I can’t wait for more either!

  4. For the most part, I LOVED the episode and it was so WONDERFUL seeing Rachel Ames. I cannot believe that lady is an octogenarian. She looks absolutely FABULOUS and so much younger than her actual years. I never understood why Audrey was written off the show After all, she is Elizabeth’s grandmother and Liz always had airtime galore, so Audrey could have been a talk to while working part time at the hospital and dating some dapper man. I would have enjoyed seeing Audrey become friendly with Epiphany. I know, I know. What I want to see is considered old-fashioned and passe. I happen to think old fashioned soap opera can be successfully blended with the new stuff.

    Now, I love me some Monica and Tracy and when the two characters are on screen, I am always treated to energetic dialogue, bon mots and humor. I greatly admired Alan, Rick and Emily, but I could have done without their visit. I don’t care about the ghost of Rick Webber burying the hatchet with Alan.

    Again, the episode was wonderful. It felt like the last show of the series. But thank God, that was not the case.

  5. FrankenRon have been bending backwards to bring the vets here. The nurses ball and Alan. and even Emily. Rick he needed to say who really killed him, if not for the story for the viewersI was very happy to see them all. Whats in pickle lila LSD, causing hallusinations? who knows. Audrey certainly looks great for a women of 83. Nice touch. the clapping.
    Nice work to the actors and tptb. I could have done without Brenda and Jax if they were going to beat that old dead horse,and the slagbeast won again. no thanks.

  6. Ja-Min Kim says:

    While I love all the nostalgic moments from Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati,with all the veterans
    returning but it bothers me that so little focus has been on Dr Steve Hardy and that is disappointing.
    I would have loved to have seen a black & white episode or color episode featuring Dr Hardy,Jessie Brewer,Amy Vining and Luke and Bobbie’s Aunt Ruby.It would have been a nice touch to have rededicated “general hospital” as the Dr Steve Hardy General Hospital,with the dedication being presided over by Patrick,Monica, Steven Lars, and attended by everyone in Port Charles including
    Audrey,Simone,Tom and the now grown Hardy grandchildren.What has been done to celebrate
    the shows 50th anniversary has been nice but it could have been alot better had a little more thought been put into it,after all when the legendary Dr Debakey died,a high school and the local veterans administration hospital in Houston were rededicated in memory of the famed heart surgeon.
    I think Frank Valentini and Ron Carlivati should have solicitied input from Claire Labine and her children
    Matt Labine and Eleanor Mancusi when planning the overall anniversary show after all some of the best years of the show were written by the three of them.

  7. Mama tuned into “Young and the Restless” today (yawwwwn).

    Has anybody else noticed how dull as dirt Dylan (Steve Burton) has chemistry with absolutely NOBODY?!? He’s terrible … and he is still doing that brain-dead robotic acting style he did during his last ten years on “General Hospital.”

    That show, in general, is a mess. Not a hot mess but a mess and makes me appreciate the amazing turnaround “GH” has done over the past year. God bless the hospital!

    Marlena says: I like Y&R! It’s come a long way of late and even better soap is yet to come I think. Comparing GH to Y&R is the very definition of comparing apples and oranges.

  8. I wish ABC would strike a deal with Vlasic to put Pickle Lila on grocery store shelves nationwide. Soaps don’t have the numbers they used to and shows should look for creative ways to augment their coffers. And with the summer coming up, Pickle Lila could hit the marketplace with a coupon for seventy five cents off a 16 ounce jar. All around the country, people will be using a soap opera inspired relish on their hamburgers and hot dogs, deviled eggs and potato salad. The product’s connection with GENERAL HOSPITAL should make it move steadily off grocery store shelves.

    Marlena says: What a great idea, Tess. I’ve always wondered what was so cosmic about Pickle-Lila that it could save ELQ and become a major player on GH, not once but twice. ABC definitely should take monetary advantages of their own soaps. but only if they keep them on the air!

Speak Your Mind