Anthony Geary's General Hospital goodbye: See the video | EW.com
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Anthony Geary says goodbye to General Hospital -- EXCLUSIVE

The 68-year-old actor sheds tears after playing Luke Spencer for 37 years

(ABC)

It wasn’t his plan to cry, but General Hospital star Anthony Geary couldn’t hold back the tears when current and former cast members like Kin Shriner, Finola Hughes, Kristina Wagner, Leslie Charleson, Lynn Herring and, of course, Genie Francis showed up to bid him farewell on his final day at the ABC soap.

After shooting his last scene before noon on GH’s Los Angeles set, Geary and about 200 members of the cast and crew of ABC sudser packed a soundstage to pay tribute to the 68-year-old actor, best known to fans as the incomparable Luke Spencer. He first joined the ABC soap in 1978.

Executive Producer Frank Valentini treated Geary to a video montage of some of his more memorable scenes over the years, along with several goodbye messages from longtime colleagues like Emma Samms (GH’s Holly Sutton) and fellow ABC celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg and the cast of The Chew. There was even a scene from his very first GH episode opposite Jacklyn Zeman, who played his sister Bobbie. 

“Not having you here is going to be sad for me,” said Maurice Benard, who plays Sonny Corinthos.

“Thank you for putting up with me as a petulant teenager,” said Francis (Laura), a reference to their famous onscreen relationship that brought both actors massive fame. “Thank you for the best acting partnership I’ve ever known.”

Francis also said she was grateful for Geary’s gesture of sending her flowers after they shot their infamous rape scene in 1979. (In the years after that violent act, Luke and Laura embarked on their world-famous romance.)

Later, Geary cracked that he won’t miss watching video of Luke’s wedding to Laura in 1981. (At an astonishing 30 million, the nuptials remain the most-watched episode in daytime history.) “It was 33 years ago, people,” Geary quipped. “For Christ’s sake, let it go.”

But he got choked up over saying goodbye to the place he’s called home for over three decades. He’s earned a record eight Emmys for playing Luke Spencer.

“I’m excited to raise the curtain on act 3, to reinvent myself in my new home to pursue whatever opportunity there may be. It’s  an exciting prospect to me,” Geary told EW exclusively. “They’ve done a wonderful job of wrapping up the character. So this seems like the ideal time to go.”

Geary leaves feeling optimistic about the future of daytime dramas like GH. “It’s enjoying a bit of a resurgence,” Geary said. “It was scary there for two or three years when every thing was being cancelled. The network thought that talk shows should take over because people weren’t going to be interested in soaps. But there has been a resurgence and I think that’s hopeful sign. I don’t believe it’s the end of the medium. Serialization is a great way to tell stories.” 

Geary’s last episode will air later this summer.