General Hospital Actors Who Got Their Start On Another Soap

Several cast members of ABC's "General Hospital" have gone on to become well-known celebrities, such as John Stamos (ex-Blackie Parrish), who garnered great success with the hit 1987 sitcom "Full House," and Demi Moore (ex-Jackie Templeton), who starred in the film, "Ghost" (1990), among many others. Former stars like Ricky Martin (ex-Miguel Morez) and Rick Springfield (ex-Noah Drake) would go on to have hugely successful music careers. Soap actors also have their own core fan bases, and even with the dwindling amount of daytime dramas currently on the air, many are still finding work. So, while most of the current "GH" actors are wildly popular among fans, did any of them start out on other sudsers?

The answer, quite simply, is yes. For instance, Cameron Mathison, who plays Drew Cain, and Michael E. Knight, who plays Martin Grey, were on the defunct ABC soap "All My Children" as Ryan Lavery and Tad Martin, respectively. After "AMC" was canceled in 2011, Mathison would join the ranks of several soap stars who made the move to Hallmark, and he has gained great success starring in "The Hannah Swensen Mysteries" series of films with "Days of Our Lives" alum, Alison Sweeney (ex-Sami Brady).

But there are several other "General Hospital" actors who started on other soaps, some of whom have come to represent everything that "GH" is in the minds of fans.

Maurice Benard

Since Maurice Benard is so popular as the powerful mobster Sonny Corinthos, it's easy to forget that he was on another soap prior to his appearance in Port Charles. He starred on the ABC sudser "All My Children" from 1987 to 1989 as bad-boy-turned-good Nico Kelly. Nico had been involved in a few illicit activities including drugs, prostitution, and scams, but when his uncle, Creed Kelly (James Horan), planned to get back at his ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Carlyle (Lisa Eichhorn), by raping her daughter, Julie Chandler (Lauren Holly), it was Nico to the rescue! He and Julie eventually fell in love and eloped, but after she had a miscarriage, their marriage went down the drain. 

Eventually, Cecily Davidson (Rosa Nevin) found that she wanted to get out of her mother's control and have full access to her trust fund. So, she made a deal with Nico, offering him half of her dough if he married her, and they remained married for six months. The two eloped, but they soon found they were like oil and water, and it didn't look like they'd be able to last. They got embroiled in an adventure with Tad Martin (Michael E. Knight), and Dixon Martin (Cady McClain) as they rescued Dixie from the Laurel Hill Sanitarium. Nico and Cecily eventually fell in love and left Pine Valley.

Nico' is kind of a footnote in "AMC" history, but it set the groundwork for Benard to move on to bigger and better things as Sonny Corinthos.

Laura Wright

Laura Wright is the fourth actress to play Carly Spencer on "General Hospital," but her first soap role was as Ally Rescott Alden Bowman on "All My Children" for a brief moment in 1991. Then the character moved over to the ABC soap "Loving," and when the failing soap was retooled in 1995 as "The City," Wright's Ally went along for the ride. After a serial killer managed to wipe out most of the denizens of Corinth, Pennsylvania on "Loving," a bunch of them escaped to a large building in the SoHo section of Manhattan on "The City." Ally was a photographer, as well as a widow, that sought a better life working at a New York modeling firm. The show tried some ratings grabs with supposedly edgy stories that fell flat along with stunt casting Morgan Fairchild as Sydney Chase, but the show was such a failure that yet another mass murderer tried wiping out the cast – this time most of them escaped with their lives in 1997.

Wright would then move on to "Guiding Light" that year, originating the role of Cassandra "Cassie" Layne. She had more success there, lasting eight years as the stripper-turned-hotel owner, and committed probably more crimes in that time than she's done so far as Carly, including stealing, fighting, and drugging people. Wright eventually left the part in 2005 and moved to Port Charles on "GH."

Anthony Geary

Before saving the world as Luke Spencer on "General Hospital," Anthony Geary starred in two soaps: first was the all but forgotten "Bright Promise," created in 1969 by Frank and Doris Hursley, who also brought "GH" to life. Geary played David Lockhart, and the show was centered around the Bancroft College in the town of Bancroft, showcasing the lives of students and faculty alike. It tried to be hip and edgy, reflecting the changing times in which it was made, but sadly it fell back into more banal soap tropes. The show also starred Anne Jeffreys as Sylvia Bancroft (who would go on to co-star with Geary as Amanda Barrington on "GH") as well as featured legendary director Gloria Monty, who would later revolutionize daytime television. 

Geary then had a brief appearance as George Curtis on "The Young and the Restless" in 1976. Chris Brooks (Trish Stewart) had no idea that her medical student beau, Snapper Foster (a pre-"Knight Rider" David Hasselhoff), was having an affair with a waitress. She told Snapper that she didn't want to have sex until their wedding night. However, one evening she met the seemingly kind George at a bar, who walked her home and then did the unthinkable by raping her. This horrific trauma had repercussions on Chris that were felt for years later, and the storyline eerily echoed what was to later come when Luke raped Laura (Genie Francis) on "General Hospital," making their famous wedding very controversial.

Leslie Charleson

Leslie Charleson originated the role of Monica Quartermaine on "General Hospital" in 1977, but before that, she got her start in soaps on the short-lived 1964 daytime serial, "A Flame in the Wind," playing a character named Pam. The show concerned several families that lived in a town called Haviland, and one of the characters, Kate Austen (Kathleen Maguire), was writing a book based on the denizens. 

In 1966, Charleson moved over to "As the World Turns," playing Alice Whipple, whose step-father was a corrupt lawyer named Donald Hughes (then Peter Brandon). Because Alice was so young and innocent, it was her older sister Debbie Whipple who was a troubled, rebellious teen that often took the spotlight. Charleson would then go on to play Iris Donnelly Garrison on "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" in 1967, a sequel to the 1955 film of the same name. Iris was involved in a love triangle with Laura Donnelly Elliot (Donna Mills) and Mark Elliot (David Birney). The show had been created by legendary soap producer Irma Phillips, who was also responsible for the acclaimed sudsers "Guiding Light" and "As the World Turns."

By 1977, "GH" was poised to be canceled, and among the things that ABC president Fred Silverman did at the time to save the show was infuse it with new blood. He asked Charleson to join the cast as Monica, a role she still plays to this day.

Rick Hearst

Before joining "General Hospital" as Ric Lansing in 2002, Rick Hearst played Scotty Banning on "Days of Our Lives" in 1989. Eve Donovan (then Charlotte Ross) tried to break up Scotty and Faith Taylor (Melinda Clarke) by revealing that he was a shady record producer. That didn't work, and the couple left Salem so Scotty could pursue a medical career. In 1990, Hearst went to "Guiding Light," playing Alan-Michael Spaulding — a role for which he would win a Daytime Emmy in 1991. Blackmail, fraud, and ordering henchmen around were Alan-Michael's tools-in-trade, and he had a vicious rivalry with his half-brother, Phillip Spaulding (then Grant Aleksander). 

Hearst then was recast as Matt Clark on "The Young and the Restless" in 2000, arriving in Genoa City with a new face via plastic surgery, and a new name, Carter Mills. He attempted to rape Sharon Newman (Sharon Case), but a car accident landed him in the hospital where he killed himself by yanking out his own breathing tube, framing Nick Newman (Joshua Morrow) for it in the process. Hearst then played Whip Jones on "The Bold and the Beautiful" in 2002, causing trouble for Forrester Creations as well as inserting himself into the love triangle of Ridge Forrester (then Ronn Moss), Brooke Logan (Katherine Kelly Lang), and Taylor Hayes (then Hunter Tylo). His final, awful act before exiting was to give Taylor berries with hallucinogenic properties so that when he had sex with her, she thought he was Ridge.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).