State and Maine

GH's Genie Francis tells why she traded in the Hospital for home sweet home

Genie Francis returned to General Hospital this month to honor the 25th anniversary of the most-watched event in the history of daytime television -- the wedding of Luke and Laura. What has been occupying the actress's time while Laura's been asleep at Shadybrook? Read on...

Soap Opera Digest: Was it odd for you to roam the GH halls again considering how much history they held for you?

Genie Francis: The weird thing about this place is that really nothing ever changes. It's kind of creepy [laughs]. It's like a little bubble in which all things stay the same.

Digest: When you left GH in 2002, your family relocated to London, where your husband was directing The Thunderbirds. How did you end up in Maine?

Francis: We were [in London] for two-and-a-half years, and Maine was a place the kids knew. When we took our summer breaks in Londn, we came back to Maine. The house in L.A. was rented and so it wasn't available anyway. There was no job for me in L.A. There was no job there for Jonathan and we thought, "What's the rush? What are we rushing back to L.A. for?" We were happy where we were and we decided maybe it was time to let L.A. go.

Digest: How do like life in "The Pine Tree State"?

Francis: It's great. We have so much natural beauty around us. We live on an active harbor, so watching the boats go by is a beatiful thing. The kids have a lot of freedom. There's no crime in the area. And I did something that I'd always talked about doing, which is to open my own shop.

Digest: We heard that. A home furnishing and accessories store. Tell us about it.

Francis: It's called The Cherished Home. I'd been renovating the space since about this time last year; then from January, I was working on buying product, checking in stock, all that sort of thing. It's an unbelievable amount of work, but it's fun. It has been very creative for me. I actually quite like being in business.

Digest: You've got the knack, eh?

Francis: I do. And I've got some terrific women who work with me who all know more about retail than I do, which is the way to go: Hire people who are better than you and let them teach you [laughs].

Digest: Running a store doesn't leave much time for acting.

Francis: I really don't do much [entertainment] work. I consider myself retired. My husband comes and goes, though. In fact, the last time he worked, he left me on the day the kids got out of school for summer vacation and he came back the day they went back. I wanted to kill him [laughs]. He went to Africa for the whole summer to direct a film [the upcoming The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines]. He went to some place in Africa which would not have been conducive to bring the kids, so it didn't make sense [to join him]. But we had a good summer at home.

Digest: Do you have a lot of fans come into the store?

Francis: I do. The first couple of weeks that we were open, I was swarmed with a lot of fan people who basically didn't want to shop. They wanted to find me, so they'd buy a bar of soap and ask me to sign it, which I did happily. Then after that, there was a switch to the people who really wanted to shop. And then, a really wonderful thing happened. People started coming back with their family and their friends, and it developed into repeat customers, which is a sign that you're onto something.

Digest: Maybe you can combine both worlds and redo the Spencer living room before you go?

Francis (laughs): They've already redone the Spencer living room once. That's good enough for me.

If you'd like to visit Francis's store but can't make it to Maine, check out

by Tom Stacy