Luke & Laura
Daytime's Most Famous Love Story
Twenty years ago this month, all across America, college students skipped class, high school students raced home from school, and workers took a break to watch Luke and Laura's wedding on General Hospital. The ceremony, which took place at the mayor's mansion in Port Charles, with all their friends and family present, aired in two parts on November 16 and 17, drawing in 20 million viewers and making it the most watched event in daytime history.
In The Beginning
It took a while for Luke to imagine that he'd ever win Laura's heart. When they met, Laura was committed to her first boyfriend Scotty Baldwin. Luke's sister Bobbie brought Luke onto the scene because she wanted Scotty for herself. "She turned to her brother because Luke had a history of nefarious activity," explained Anthony Geary (Luke Spencer) in a 1998 televised GH special honoring the show's 35th anniversary. "I was brought in to be Jackie Zeman's (Bobbie) Tonto."
Falling In Love
Neither Spencer sibling was counting on Luke falling in love with Laura. After getting Laura in trouble with her parole officer by tampering with her car, Luke found it more and more difficult to harm this young girl. Bobbie couldn't believe that Luke had fallen for Laura's act. But there was no turning back for Luke. "She represented everything that Luke Spencer could never have," Geary recalled. Luke was unaware that Laura was developing her own feelings for him, even though she would eventually marry Scotty. "The producer at the time, Gloria Monty, instructed me when she first put us together, 'You find him fascinating. He is different and unpredictable,'" recalled Genie Francis, who plays Laura Spencer. "She really instructed me to play the fascination."
Luke hired Laura to work at the Campus Disco, the establishment he managed. One night, a beyond consolable Luke dealt with the reality that he was going to be killed by Frank Smith and his mob organization after he assassinated political figure Mitch Williams. Laura, who stayed late at the disco, tried to help Luke. He played the Herb Alpert song "Rise" and ordered Laura to dance with him. What happened between them that night has been referred to as both "rape" and a "forced seduction." Laura refused to name Luke as her attacker, fearing for his life. As Laura tried to make a go of her marriage to Scotty, Luke found himself fending off the romantic advances of Frank Smith's daughter, Jennifer. Luke agreed to marry Jennifer, after Frank threatened both Luke's life and Laura's. On the day of Jennifre and Luke's wedding, Scotty learned that Laura had feelings for Luke.
On The Run
After a fistfight with Scott, Luke went on the run, and Laura joined him. Luke and Laura hid out in Wyndham's department store. They took a night off from their woes and dressed in formal attire, dancing to the theme "Fascination." Francis recalled, "I had never danced like that before. I was doing my best to fake it, kind of jogging alongside him." Geary remembered, "The fantasy in Wyndham's was really the first time we took the show in high style. It was lushly romantic. She was his angel and he was her hero. For some reason, that's never changed."
Luke and Laura eventually brought down Smith and his associates. "The very first runaway story was so successful that all the other soaps have adapted it," Geary noted in 1996. "It took us about eight months, and for my money, it's never been done as well. It was beautifully laid out."
Luke and Laura suffered a setback when Laura's old insecurities came to the surface and she denied caring for Luke. This setback didn't last long, as Luke and Laura reunited. He proposed to her after being drawn into the first Ice Princess chapter involving the Cassadines and Alexandria QUartermaine.
After saving the world from freezing, Luke and Laura returned to Port Charles and prepared to marry. The ceremony had two crashers -- Helena Cassadine and Scott, who returned just in time to catch his ex-wife's bouquet. Later, Helena's curse on Luke and Laura came to fruition when Laura was kidnapped by the Cassadines and Luke believed that she had drowned.
While Laura was a "guest" on the Cassadine island, she was told that Luke was dead and then was forced to marry Stavros. Later, she gave birth to a son, Nikolas. Meanwhile, back in the United States, Luke had flirted with newcomer Jackie Templeton and then moved on to other relationships with ex-con woman Holly Sutton and federal agent Constance Townley, but they didn't work out because he was still in love with his wife.
When Luke won the mayoral race and moved into the mansion, he couldn't shake an eerie feeling. In reality, Laura had escaped from the Cassadines and made her way back to Port Charles. She attempted to keep her return a secret, fearing for the lives of Luke and her family. Luke, while sipping champagne on his balcony, spied Laura across the courtyard. "Laura!" he cried. Laura begged Luke to pretend that he hadn't seen her and to let her go. "I am never letting you go," Luke raged. Laura explained her ordeal, omitting the existence of her son Nikolas.
Luke and Laura defeated Stavros, who had followed Laura back to Port Charles. Luke resigned as mayor. The Spencers bid their goodbyes and left town to travel the world. Geary and Francis took a much-needed hiatus from the world of daytime. "Genie really came back (in 1983) as a favor to take me away," Geary told Update in 1996. "I was chomping at the bit to get out." It wasn't just for Geary that Francis returned, however. She told People, "They never really gave me an exit. It wasn't fair to me and to the fans."
The duo returned the following November for a short storyline that took place in Mexico, featuring Robert, HOlly, Frisco, and Felicia. At the conclusion, Laura told Luke that she was expecting their first child, a son, who was later named Lucas Lorenzo Spencer, Jr., a.k.a. "Lucky."
At the 1993 Daytime Emmys, it was announced that the adventures of Luke and Laura would continue in the fall. The Spencers (including son Lucky) made a triumphant return to GH. Fans learned that Luke, Laura, and Lucky were living a relatively peaceful life up in Canada. After a bomb went off in Luke's truck, it became evident that Frank Smith wsa once again after them. After sending Lucky to Aunt Ruby, Luke and Laura made their way back to Port Charles. Luke returned just in time to witness the death of his look-alike cousin Bill Eckert (also played by Geary) at the hands of Smith's men.
Luke allied himself with mobster Sonny Corinthos, hoping to end his long-running feud with Smith. Luke emerged the survivor after a deadly face-off with Smith in Puerto Rico. After years on the run, Luke and Laura took time settling back into Port Charles. New writing and producting regimes needed time to identify who Luke and Laura were. In 1996, Geary stated, "If you've been playing a character for 18 years or 20 years as Genie has -- and we've had 25 different writers or more -- there's only one consistent element, and that is the actor playing the part. It's unethical not to fight and say he wouldn't do that."
The Truth Comes Out
While Francis took time off from GH for her real-life maternity leaves, Luke was paired in adventures with Lucy Coe and Felicia Scorpio. When Luke and Laura's daughter Lesley Lu developed leukemia, Nikolas Cassadine came forth and provided a life-saving bone marrow transplant. Luke and Laura's marriage almost didn't survive the revelation that she had given birth to a Cassadine and that she has lied about it, too. Later, Luke and Laura examined what took place at the Campus Disco 20 years earlier when Luke raped her. Lucky could not bring himself to forgive his father and was even mad at his mother. In time, Luke and Laura came to terms with the past and moved on with their lives. The following year, Lucky was presumed dead in a fire. In their grief, Luke and Laura drifted further apart. Unbeknownst to all, Lucky was alive. Cesar Faison and Helena Cassadine had kidnapped him.
Months later, Faison revealed to Luke that Lucky was alive. Luke and Laura teamed up once more to find their son. They succeeded, only to learn that Lucky had been brainwashed by Helena.
Luke continued to be intrigued by Felicia. Laura found herself drawn to Stefan and Scott. Later on, Luke would be accused of Stefan's murder, with Felicia his only alibi. When their one-night stand came out during the trial, the Spencers' marriage struck the point of no return. Earlier this year, Luke and Laura divorced. Helena's curse had finally taken hold! But the evil Cassadine matriarch was not through with Luke just yet. She brainwashed Lucky to administer a near-lethal drug into Luke's system. Luke suffered hallucinations and fantasized that they year was 1979, a time before he married Laura. While supporting Luke through his ordeal, Laura has re-examnined their love. Might the two find their way back to each other once the Cassadine curse is finally lifted? Fans certainly hope so. And so does Geary, who enjoys working with Francis.
A Special Love
"We are profoundly close," the actor has said. "Nothing means more to me than to make Genie laugh when she looks troubled or to have her just touch my arm and say, 'I know honey.' It's a marriage of creativity that's 20 years old; so much unspoken material and love between us. I am so glad we never fell in love in real life, because it could never be this good."
by Michael Maloney
Thank you to Nancy for this article!