Roger Howarth wraps up decade-long, three-character run on General Hospital

Posted Monday, November 20, 2023 3:02:13 PM
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After nearly a dozen years at the ABC soap, Roger Howarth's time at General Hospital has come to an end. The actor's on-screen alter ego, Austin Gatlin-Holt, has drawn his final breath.

It could very well be something of soap opera record -- admittedly one that no actor would probably want to hold. Emmy winner Roger Howarth's third General Hospital character has left the building.

Speculation about Howarth's status with GH began to swirl last week when Austin Gatlin-Holt was seen lying in a pool of blood after being shot by an unknown assassin. Over the weekend, fan reaction ranged from devastation over the actor's seemingly imminent exit to shock -- General Hospital wouldn't get rid of a fan-favorite actor, would they?

It appears they would -- and did. Howarth confirmed his exit in a post to his official Instagram account.

“Three things that I know for sure,” Howarth wrote. “1, Daytime fans are lovely and amazing and supportive and dedicated and I am deeply grateful to each sparkly one of them. 2, I enjoyed my time at general hospital and wish the cast and crew the best and continued success. It was a pleasure working with you all. 3, Life is amazing. We just don’t ever know what’s gonna happen. How great! Turn toward the light. Always. Huge thank you to you all.”

Howarth revealed that his contract with General Hospital was not renewed and that Austin's death was needed to help move story along on the show.

"Well, several weeks ago, I got a phone call from somebody I've known for a very long time who I love very dearly [Executive Producer Frank Valentini] telling me that when my contract was up at ABC, I would not be offered a new contract and that the character of Austin would be killed, and that this was something that both wanted and needed to do to move story," Howarth told Soap Opera Digest. "And it took me a minute to kind of adjust, to kind of hear the news; it took a second for me to let that settle in. And then, immediately, I realized how lucky I was to have been able to do something I really love doing for more than a decade with people who I really enjoyed working with. I'm a lucky guy. I had a great run and this was a decision made by people who make these kinds of decisions for a living."

While Howarth has been a fan favorite for three decades, Austin Gatlin-Holt wasn't exactly one of General Hospital's most loved characters. For much of the last two years, Austin has sort of flitted around with little in the way of meaningful story, unlike his two previous roles of Todd Manning and Franco Baldwin.

For his part, Howarth is happy with his work and that of the show's writing team.

"Look, I love being an actor. The actor's job is to get a script, learn the scene, perform the scene. And I always enjoy doing that. There was never a day where I didn't have one moment of absolute joy," Howarth told Digest. "I think that the writers and the producers and the directors work really hard to entertain a really loyal and dedicated audience and I hope that they succeed in thrilling the audience for another 60 years."

In 2012, after the cancellation of One Life to Live, Howarth moved Todd Manning, his One Life to Live character of nearly 20 years, to General Hospital. Unfortunately, a protracted legal spat between ABC and Prospect Park, the company that had licensed All My Children and One Life to Live from ABC for streaming reboots, meant that Todd had to be written out of story after less than a year.

Howarth returned in mid-2013 in a new role, the then-mononymic artist Franco. Franco was a character already in the GH universe. The role had previously been played by James Franco.

Over the next eight years, Franco's character was fleshed out and given a family, and he even found romance. In March 2021, fans were shocked when Franco was abruptly murdered. Fans were assured that Howarth was not leaving the show, but ABC offered no comment on what fans could expect.

Fast-forward a couple of months, and Howarth was back on-screen, this time as Dr. Austin Gatlin-Holt. Austin was a newly created character but one with existing ties to known Port Charles residents. In spite of that connection, Austin never seemed to find traction.

Roger Howarth got his start in 1992 when he landed the role of Kent Winslow on Loving. He also played the role of Guiding Light's Jory that same year. From July 2003 to September 2010, Howarth appeared as Paul Ryan on As the World Turns. He is, however, best known for his work as Todd Manning on ABC's One Life to Live, a role he first stepped into in December 1992.

Howarth won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Daytime Drama Series in 1994 for his work as Todd. He received a Supporting Actor nod for the same role in 1995. In 2004 and 2005, Howarth received Lead Actor nominations for his work on As the World Turns.

So, what's next for the actor?

"This feels like a new beginning to me and I really do believe that all things happen for a reason and I have a great trust in that," Howarth said.

What is your reaction to Roger Howarth's exit from General Hospital? Are you holding on to hope that he might return? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.

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