After 37 years on air, news broke that long-time soap veteran Anthony Geary will be departing General Hospital later this year.
In an unexpected move, veteran soap star Anthony Geary announced his retirement on May 5, 2015. Known for playing Luke Spencer on General Hospital, the other half of Luke and Laura (Genie Francis), Geary will be leaving the soap after 37 years.
Don't Miss: Incredible Pokemon Gifts
Fans found out during the show's annual Nurses' Ball, an event aimed at pushing for donations to AIDS charities and foundations. A history that holds a fair amount of Luke's mobster turned renegade history.
Accordiing to ABC 7 in New York, GH executive producer Frank Valentini announced that “Tony recently made his intentions clear that he would vacate his role of Luke Spencer this year, and it was a decision he did not come to lightly.” After 37 years, a body of work that many actors may envoy, including 8 Daytime Emmy nominations.
Starting 1978, the actor has captivated audiences in plots where even Elizabeth Taylor requested a role. And the wedding of a lifetime happened in November 1981, where the entire world watched the event as closely as they had Prince Charles and Princess Diana only months earlier. In 1981, 30 million viewers was nothing to sneeze at, by any means.
The Luke and Laura love story is often referenced as the ultimate romance for television. However, many younger fans may have forgotten the beginning of their romance came from a horrible rape while Laura engaged to Scott Baldwin (Kin Shriner).
As the first super couple of the soap era, Laura and Luke faced problems where they would leave and come back together, due to villain plots (kidnapping Laura to create a Cassadine heir) or star breaks.
They always returned, though.
A 1994 appearance on Roseanne, another ABC product, showed the couple looking advice on how to really communicate. The after credit skit showed the two admitting that surviving a Cassadine interference or two is nothing compared to Roseanne Connor's kids.
Lucas “Luke” Lorenzo Spencer is the fourth most tenured character on the show after Monica Quartermaine (Leslie Charleson), Baldwin, and Spencer’s sister Bobbie (Jacklyn Zeman).
When Francis officially left the main cast in 2002, many wondered how Luke would survive. Marrying Tracy Quartermaine (Jane Elliot) certainly helped and managed to keep one of the most beloved families on the show front and center after facing some pretty limited screen time.
How do fans feel about Valentini saying “Tony felt this was the right time to bid adieu to Luke Spencer, Port Charles and General Hospital"?
As Geary's yearly work breaks snaked into story timelines, viewers became disgruntled. Often taking 5- or 6-week breaks to return home in Amsterdam, fans waited as story lines dragged out and transformed with no resolution on sight.
The latest long break involved back surgery that seemed to plague him long after the procedure was done. ABC 7 spoke with the actor, looking around his dressing room. Geary told the interviewer that he “was in a lot of pain that period" and "starting to worry that I wasn’t going to be able to give it what it deserved.”
No word if the surgery is one reason for the actor’s departure, but General Hospital will be missing a main part of the soap’s history. More and more of the famous characters have been reduced as the newest generation of stars take hold. Thankfully, Luke leaves behind legacy character to continue the push for Spencer domination.
But will this alter the state of the soap’s current and projected story lines?
Even soaps need to tie up loose ends occasionally.
And this year major plot has been a doozy since Luke is suffering from a shattered personality. Michael Logan of TVInsider.com talked about the latest story where Luke suffers from this fractured view thanks to revelations of past actions. Cracking opening Spencer’s mind can be a minefield after almost four decades living in Port Charles.
Similar to Laura Spencer's story about killing a family member, Geary opened up to the journalist on what was hard about playing three characters. "The hardest part, oddly enough, was playing Luke, because he had to be a passive observer of the truth." And Luke is anything but passive since he's constantly looking for action, be it adventure, revenge, or gambling big.
"Most of the time when Luke has killed over the years, he really felt he was removing people from the earth who deserved to be removed, though it wasn't his place to make those decisions," said Geary.
"Luke became like his drunk, abusive father only worse—a marauding dark angel going around spreading as much chaos and misery as he possibly could. It certainly helps clarify Luke's drunken rape of Laura. That was a moment of his father coming through."
Giving up the world of black and white for grey turned out to be a misnomer as well. "The women in distress you save and protect, the men who abuse them you eliminate. But what happens when the protector becomes the abuser?"
The story and portrayal earned him a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series this year.
With Geary closing out on his run with circle back to Laura in some ways, there’s also an off-chance he could return. After all, Francis as shown up occasionally, working around story lines that often make little sense, like Laura’s catatonic state. If Laura Spencer can bounce back and find love and family, so can Luke Spencer.
"The door will always remain open, so don't think this is the last you'll see of Anthony Geary or Luke Spencer,” said Valentini.
Don't Miss: Sam's Club Black Friday 2016 Details
Sources: ABC 7, TV Insider