November 20, 1978, marked, in a way, the birth of a legend.
No one knew it when General Hospital began airing its November 20, 1978, episode. Neither the network nor the audience had any idea that the landscape of the daytime drama had been changed forever the moment that Anthony Geary strutted onto the scene as Luke Spencer. But oh, it had… it had.
In the scene, the ne’er-do-well was catching up with sister Bobbie. But they were not back then as close as they would become over the decades that followed. The scars that they obtained being raised on the wrong side of the tracks by aunt Ruby Anderson were right there on the surface. So when Bobbie teased Luke about the dive bar in which he did “business,” he clapped right back. “Look, I don’t tell you how to run your life,” he said, “so don’t tell me how to run mine.”
A conniver in those days, Bobbie believed — naive thing, she really thought — that she could convince her brother that it was natural for her to come to him with a problem that she was having. Trouble was, he wasn’t having any of it. “This is Luke you’re talking to,” he reminded her (and informed us). She’d been in Port Charles for a whole year, and he’d never heard bupkis from her until that day.
Wait, how on earth had he known how long she’d been in town? “Kid,” he replied, “I know everything.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was our introduction to the future soap legend as the one and only Luke Spencer. (You can watch it below.) In a matter of moments, we had a crystal-clear picture of a fully fleshed-out character, one that was bigger than his eventual fro, bigger than Herb Alpert’s “Rise,” bigger even than Luke and Laura, the supercouple of which he’d become the more challenging half.
At the time, Geary was a relative newbie in Hollywood. Though a veteran of Bright Promise and The Young and the Restless, he was not by any means a soap star. Luke changed all that. Frankly, Geary himself changed all that.
Backstage at the Daytime Emmys — he wound up bagging in total a record-setting eight for Outstanding Lead Actor — he might have shed some light on why that was. “Well, I never think about the audience,” he admitted. “I really don’t. I never have. I always think about how I can fulfill the material.
“I love the audience,” he hastened to add, “and they have been very good to me. I am not saying I don’t… but I don’t work for them. I work for the script and for my own sense of ethics of the character. And so far, the audience has been OK.”
By which he did not mean that viewers had always approved of his character’s misbehavior (and that’s putting it extremely mildly). He only meant that they were willing to go along for the ride and see where it took them. “They complain,” he noted. “They did not like Luke raping Laura.”
Ya got that right. “But,” he noted, “that is how [the phenomenon] started.” As a result, “I learned early on you don’t follow the audience, you ask them to follow you.”
With that in mind, we hereby invite you to follow along as we trace the steps that Geary took as Luke. It’s a road that we know well… but as bumpy and exciting as it ever was. Your journey starts with a click on the photo gallery below.
In the Beginning…
When first we met Luke, the rapscallion was enlisted by scheming sis Bobbie to help break up her crush Scotty and his future wife Laura. Luke nailed it… but in the worst way possible.
‘I Don’t Like Herb Alpert Anymore, Either’
Though Luke became so obsessed with Laura that he forced himself on her at the Campus Disco, she couldn’t stay away from him. Whether he was grabbing her arm became irrelevant.
Oh, That’s Cold
On the run with Luke, Laura helped him stop the villainous Mikkos Cassadine from freezing Port Charles and the world. Of course, as if to prove that no good deed goes unpunished…
Something Wicked Their Way Came
Mikkos’ widow Helena (yes, the Elizabeth Taylor back then) not only messed with Luke’s jacket, she placed a curse on him and Laura that didn’t require [bleeping] but also didn’t bode well for their future.
Well, ‘Aisle’ Be
Despite the Helena-shaped shadow looming over them, in the most-watched wedding in daytime history, Laura made an honest man of Luke. Well, as honest a man as ever he was gonna be!
Close But No Cigar
After budding supermodel Laura vanished off the docks of Port Charles, General Hospital floated the idea of pairing him with reporter Jackie (then Demi Moore) and/or her sister, a spare Laura. “Pass,” said Luke. “Same,” said viewers.
If at First Your Wife Disappears…
“Widower” Luke ultimately rebounded in a big way with impish con artist Holly Sutton… only to “die” himself in a game-changing avalanche. Dumb, stupid snow.
When Luke thawed out, he discovered that BFF Robert had married Holly. You know, to help the Englishwoman stay in the country and all. It was cool, though, ’cause it turned out that Laura was no more dead than Luke was. Nobody in Port Charles dies — ever!
After Luke and Laura left Port Charles, theoretically to enjoy their overdue happily ever after, Anthony Geary returned to the soap in 1991 as his former character’s lookalike cousin, Bill Eckert (opposite Carol Lawrence as mom Angela).
All in the Family
Upon Bill’s death, General Hospital picked up with Luke’s life, which at that point included not only wife Laura and son Lucky but little Lulu.
Sleep No More
Returning to Port Charles was not as relaxing as the Spencers might have hoped (or as peaceful as this photo might suggest). Their marriage was rocked by the revelation that Laura had given birth to Stavros’ son — hi, Nikolas — while being held prisoner by the Cassadines.
‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’
Luke had to work hard to establish — and maintain! — a relationship with daughter Lulu (then Julie Marie Berman). The future reporter was nobody’s fool, not even her dad’s.
‘I Don’t Buy Into Lapels, But… ’
Luke’s connection with Lucky was unbreakable. Though the elder Spencer sure put that theorem to the test! Running over Lucky’s sorta-son Jake was harder for Luke to come back from than Jake’s return trip from the dead…
The Other Women
Adrift without Laura, Luke gravitated toward such attractive prospects as nouveau Quartermaine Skye Chandler and the one and only Anna Devane.
Luke finally got an actual chip off the ol’ block in con artist Ethan, his “Wait, where did you come from?” son with Holly.
There was actually nothing whatsoever about the “courtship” of Luke and rich bitch Tracy Quartermaine that was sleepy. But in one another, they seemed to find a kind of peace.
That Way Madness Lies
Repressed memories of his parents’ deaths turned Luke into someone we hardly recognized. And that was before folks caught on and decided it was best that he enter the asylum’s costume contest in Hannibal Lecter drag.
Th-Th-That’s All, Folks!
In Geary’s final General Hospital appearance, he reunited Luke with Tracy, in so doing, allowing us to believe that they lived wackily ever after.
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