'General Hospital' Drops Genie Francis to Recurring Status

Laura Spencer has been demoted. Genie Francis, the star of ABC's General Hospital, has been dropped to recurring status.

Entertainment Weekly reported Monday that Francis decided against signing a full-time contract for another year. However, the 55-year-old Francis has agreed to occasionally return to Port Charles, New York.

Her agent, Arthur Toretzky, told EW that Francis will only return if the story and timing are right. He also hinted that it was not her decision to leave.

"She did not want to leave the show as a series regular," Toretzky told the magazine. "It was not her choice to leave."

Sources for Daytime Confidential reported that executive producer Frank Valentini decided to move the beloved actress to recurring.

Francis debuted on the show in 1977 and became one-half of an iconic pairing with Anthony Geary. They also appeared in one of the most controversial soap scenes in history, when Geary's Luke raped Francis' Laura in 1979.

"When I look back on it I look at it in a different way than Tony thinks of it," Francis told She Knows in 2015. "I think of it more as, they both gave into their passions and I think she did say 'no' at the very last, last moment, and they consummated the relationship anyway. And then what I believe happened is she freaked out because she had committed adultery because she was married to Scotty, and she called it rape. That is what I think happened. It was a grey area where she knew she was playing with fire in a way. I think it was a grey area and she for a long time carried around a sense of guilt about having invited it. Really, at the end of the day, it does fall into the date rape category because I did say no and he didn't listen."

She left the show in 2002, but returned in 2006. She took another extended break in 2008, when she left to join The Young And The Restless. She returned to General Hospital in 2013, with her most recent appearance coming on the Jan. 19, 2018 episode.

Aside from her work on General Hospital, Francis also appeared on All My Children, Murder, She Wrote, The Incredible Hulk and Pretty The Series.

General Hospital is one of only two soap operas still on the air, alongside NBC's Days of Our Lives. The show airs at 12 p.m. ET weekdays.

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Photo credit: ABC / Craig Sjodin