General Hospital's Anthony Geary to exit the show

Posted Thursday, May 07, 2015 3:19:40 PM
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GH's Anthony Geary set to exit the show

8 Daytime Emmy wins. 30 million wedding guests. These are just a couple of the remarkable statistics that figure into the amazing career of General Hospital's Tony Geary. Now, after 37 years as one of daytime's most iconic characters, Geary has announced that he will exit the ABC soap.

Anthony Geary (Luke Spencer), the winningest actor in Daytime Emmy history and one of television's most iconic performers, has announced that he will be stepping out of the spotlight and into retirement -- just don't call it retirement.

"I don't like that word 'retirement,'" Geary told TV Insider's Michael Logan. "It sounds like some guy sitting around the pool drinking Mai Tais until his heart gives out, and that's not me. I'm an actor, a showbiz kid. This year marks 50 years for me in this business -- a half-century of professional work -- and I am not about to bring that to an end. I will always act. I will always be looking for another project."

While the announcement that he is exiting GH may leave daytime fans saddened, it doesn't come as a surprise. The actor recently revealed that he'd been mulling retirement for some time. In fact, the storyline revolving around Luke's fractured persona, who fans dubbed "Fluke," came about because GH execs knew that Geary was considering an exit.

"It all came about because Frank Valentini, our producer, knew that I was getting a little bored with the show and getting a little bored with playing dad; I never saw Luke Spencer as a family man," Geary admitted of the thrust behind one of the ABC soap's best stories yet. "So [Frank] took me into his room, and he said, 'I know you're getting anxious to leave, so tell me what you've never done on the show in 37 years and what would you like to do?'"

While Luke Spencer will more than likely forever be the role for which Geary is best known, the General Hospital character wasn't the actor's first foray into soapdom.

"I started doing live TV; my first soap was Bright Promise in 1970, I think, and we were live," Geary recalled upon winning his most recent Daytime Emmy last month. "That was the first thing I did, so I love it. I love live theater, I love live shows, and I think it'll be great."

After Bright Promise, Geary landed his next daytime role as George Curtis on The Young and the Restless in 1973. It would be another five years before he landed the General Hospital role that would cement his career in television history. But when Geary joined GH, no one had any idea how well received his character would be: Geary's stint was only slated to last 13 weeks.

The November 17, 1981 wedding of Luke and Laura remains the most-watched hour in soap opera history; more than 30 million people watched the couple say their vows. Last month, ABC announced that Genie Francis (Laura Spencer) would be returning to the show, presumably to help usher Geary off-screen. But don't expect to see Luke and Laura ride off into the sunset together.

"Genie and I agreed several years ago that the love of Luke and Laura had run its course," Geary told Logan. "They have children together and a very storied history and there's definitely still love there but I think they're toxic to each other at this point."

Despite being known for his work in daytime, Geary took a seven-year break to pursue other opportunities. During the daytime hiatus, Geary also found success in primetime, film, and, his first love, the stage. Geary has performed in more than 50 stage productions throughout the United States and was a frequent contributor to ABC Daytime's Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS fundraiser.

In primetime, Geary has made guest appearances on classic TV series including Starsky & Hutch, Barnaby Jones, All in the Family, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Partridge Family, The Mod Squad, Hotel, and Murder, She Wrote.

Geary's break from daytime ended in 1991 when he returned to the fictional town of Port Charles -- but not as Luke. In true daytime fashion, he played Luke's look-alike cousin, Bill Eckert. It wasn't until October 1993 that Geary reprised the role of Luke Spencer.

During his phenomenal run as Luke, Geary has received a staggering 15 Daytime Emmy nominations in the Lead Actor category. He's won eight times -- and he has a chance to add to that record tally because he'll still be eligible for Emmy consideration in 2016 for the work that is currently appearing on-screen. But will he submit himself for consideration. Is eight, as they say, enough?

This is important to me," Geary said of winning his most recent Emmy. "In fact, the older I get, the more important it becomes because it's pretty much a young man's game. You know, they've got that award for young actors. I'm waiting for the award for old, grumpy [actors]. I'd win that one, hands down."

After wrapping things up in Port Charles at the end of June, Geary will return to his home in the Netherlands.

"Ever since I discovered Amsterdam and made it my home, I have found my artistic and social fulfillment there," Geary adds. "One of the first things I will do when I leave GH is go back to my language classes. I want to be so fluent in Dutch that I can pursue film or theater work over there."

• To read a statement from General Hospital's executive producer Frank Valentini, click here.

• You can read Geary's exit interview in its entirety at TV Insider.

What is your reaction to Geary's announcement that he is exiting GH? What is your all-time favorite Luke moment? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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