The History Of General Hospital's Famed Nurses Ball

As the return of the Nurses' Ball on "General Hospital" kicks into high gear, a teaser promo was posted on Facebook, promising entertainment, thrills, and drama. The Ball has always been full of surprises as the citizens of Port Charles are given a chance to show off their talents. Amazing performances, beautiful gowns, handsome tuxedos, and emcee Lucy Coe (Lynn Herring) ending up in her underwear are all staples of the annual event. It began in 1994 when then-head writer Claire Labine came up with the concept.

The Ball is a fictionalized event that not only gets most of the characters out of their drama-filled lives so they can sing and dance the night away, but it also increases awareness of HIV and AIDS. While no actual money is raised on the show, its goal is to galvanize viewers to donate to the cause in real life. Then-executive producer Wendy Riche had wanted to do an AIDS story that involved A.J. Quartermaine, but Labine later developed the painful love story involving Robin Scorpio (Kimberly McCullough) and Stone Cates (Michael Sutton), and history was made. Stone and Robin fell in love, but Stone became HIV positive, unintentionally giving it to Robin. 

Stone's plight was the catalyst for creating the Nurses' Ball, so let's take a look at the fan-favorite event's history.

The Ball had many underwriters and amazing performances over the years

The Nurse's Ball became an annual event on "General Hospital," and its first run went from 1994 to 2001. Every year, barring one, something would inevitably happen — whether by accident or design — to cause Lucy Coe to end up in her underwear in front of the audience. Lucy emceed each event, and the Ball had several benefactors over the decades, including Damian Smith (Leigh McCloskey), Katherine Bell (Mary Beth Evans), Jasper Jacks (Ingo Rademacher), Stefan Cassadine (Stephen Nichols), and wealthy socialite Amanda Barrington (Anne Jeffreys). In 1994, Stone Cates and Robin Scorpio performed the death scene from "Romeo and Juliet." Stone would later die from AIDS in 1995.

In 1996, mafia don Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) donated millions to General Hospital to create the Stone Cates Memorial AIDS wing in honor of his fallen friend. After Mac Scorpio (John J. York) gave Robin Scorpio a quilt to remember Stone by, she announced she was HIV positive, and Jason Morgan (Steve Burton) whisked her off the stage as she started to falter. Some of the stand-out performances from this era included Ned Ashton's (Wally Kurth) band Eddie Maine and the Idle Rich singing "Somewhere over the Rainbow," Alan Quartermaine (Stuart Damon) singing "It's a Grand Night for Singing," and "Ten Minutes Ago" from "Cinderella," and Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary) and Felicia Jones (Kristina Wagner) singing "Old Time Rock n' Roll," among dozens of others.

The Nurses' Ball returned in 2013

After 2001, the Nurse's Ball didn't return until 2013, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of "General Hospital." Tracy Quartermaine underwrote the Ball's comeback, and fitness guru Richard Simmons had a hilarious appearance where he practically lost his mind over his role as a choreographer — even pushing Lucy onto the stage in, of course, her underwear. In 2014, Mac Scorpio performed with his ventriloquist dummy, Mr. Marbles, and as the bad jokes rolled on, Epiphany Johnson (Sonya Eddy) stormed onto the stage and destroyed the dummy. As Mac mourned the loss, he told Felicia, "My childhood friend was murdered before my eyes." That year also found Lucy in her underwear kissing Scott Baldwin (Kin Shriner) as the curtain opened, revealing them to the audience.

Surprisingly, from 2016 to 2020, Lucy's clothing remained on. Among many notable performances during this era were Milo Giambetti (Drew Cheetwood) and several Port Charles men performing a striptease called Magic Milo and the Magic Wands. And the Ball also showcased the singing talents of Epiphany, Cameron Webber (William Lipton), and Valentin Cassadine (James Patrick Stuart). Singing and dancing abounded until things came to a standstill during the pandemic. The last Nurse's Ball was in 2020, and instead of performances, it was presented as a telethon supporting front-line workers.

After a three-year hiatus, the Nurse's Ball is back, and fans are thrilled!