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HomeMOVIES REVIEW'General Hospital' star Maurice Benard on soap opera's 60th birthday -Et

‘General Hospital’ star Maurice Benard on soap opera’s 60th birthday -Et


April 1, 2023 | 8:00 am

On and off screen, loyalty means everything to the “General Hospital” star Mauricio Benard60.

For three decades, he played mob boss Sonny Corinthos on the iconic ABC soap opera, but at first he feared it would be a short job.

“When I started… I had my third manic episode,” Benard, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 22, told The Post.

“So it sticks in my head how loyal and incredible they were to not fire me. If I want to leave or something like that, I always think of that moment.”

Benard has won three Daytime Emmys in her decades on the show, which is the longest-running scripted drama on television.

Saturday celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Viewers first checked in to “General Hospital” on April 1, 1963, and Benard and his co-stars still stir up the love—and the drama—every weekday afternoon in the fictional city of Port Charles, in upstate New York.

The recipe for success is “a lot of hard work” and “fans who are more loyal than any fan in the entire world,” according to Benard.

Maurice Benard and Vanessa Marcil had a lot of drama as Sonny and Brenda in the ’90s.
ABC/Everett Collection

The actor first tuned in to “GH,” as die-hard fans know the show, as a teenager.

“I saw him when he was sick when he was about 13 years old,” he said. “I watched ‘All My Children’ and ‘General Hospital,’ and I ended up on both shows.”

He got his start on “All My Children,” appearing on the now-defunct ABC soap opera as bad boy Nico Kelly from 1987 to 1990. Three years later, he headed to “General Hospital.”

When offered the choice of playing one of two gangsters on the show, dimpled Brooklyn-based Sonny Corinthos or Damian Smith, a nepo-baby mobster, he chose Sonny.

“I said, ‘Oh, that’s a cool name!’”

It wasn’t meant to be a 30-year job.

“It was actually a six-month contract,” said Benard, whose character was initially more of a villain than an anti-hero.

Laura Wright and Maurice Benard in
With Sonny and Carly (Laura Wright), Maurice Benard developed his second super couple “GH”.
ABC via Getty Images

“And then I decided to stay, and I made a few different choices as an actor for the character, and the audience started to like it.”

“General Hospital” reached its highest point in pop culture with the wedding of Luke (antonio gear) and Laura (Genie Francis) in 1981.

Sonny became one half of his own soap opera supercouple later in the ’90s, as the dark and dangerous older man who seduced trust fund diva Brenda (vanessa marcil).

I was initially hesitant about the plot twist.

“I felt like we weren’t ready to be that super couple yet because I thought Vanessa wasn’t that strong as an actress yet,” she said. “So I took Vanessa under my wing, and she worked hard and became an amazing actress.”

Cynthia Watros and Maurice Benard in
After becoming a super couple with Brenda (Vanessa Marcil) in the ’90s (right), Maurice Benard’s Sonny is now romancing Nina (Cynthia Watros).
ABC/Getty Images; ABC/Everett Collection

After Marcil left “GH” to pursue a prime-time television career, moving from “Beverly Hills, 90210” to “Las Vegas,” the Sonny and Brenda era faded.

Still, Benard’s alter ego, who also has bipolar disorder, found super-couple chemistry again with scheme queen Carly, who has been played by a number of actresses, including Sarah Joy Brown, Tamara Braun and currently Laura Wright. .

“But there was one that didn’t work,” he said of Jennifer Bransford, who briefly played Carly in 2005 before she was fired.

But the “GH” love interest that Benard wishes he had but never did is Demi Moorewho played Jackie Templeton on the soap opera from 1982 to 1984.

Demi Moore
Demi Moore played Jackie Templeton on the soap opera from 1982 to 1984.
ABC via Getty Images
Mauricio Benard in
Maurice Benard has been the resident Port Charles mob boss on “GH” for three decades.
ABC/Everett Collection

Still, it’s been a great race.

And after years of being a soap opera heartthrob, Benard, who lives in Los Angeles and has four children with his wife of 33 years, Paula Smith, is coming to terms with his age, including his gray hair.

“Sometimes my hairdresser paints a little more, sometimes less,” he said with a laugh. “It is what it is.”

Just don’t ask him to do any of the torso-baring love scenes he was once known for.

“I don’t want to do that,” Benard said. “I’m a little over that.”

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