13 shocking things you didn't know about Tony Geary

Posted Monday, May 11, 2015 8:13:34 AM
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13 shocking things you didn't know about Tony Geary

From his love of hooker fans to his brief stints in jail, Soap Central dug deep to find 13 facts about General Hospital's retiring icon that perhaps you don't know.

General Hospital's Anthony Geary (Luke Spencer) has always been relatively private, choosing to keep many aspects of his personal life to himself while delicately treading the public spotlight. The actor even goes so far as to spend most of his time in Amsterdam, where he lives relatively unnoticed, despite being a bit of a legend in the United States. Of course, now that he has chosen to officially leave the spotlight (of the soap opera world, at least), fan interest seems to be higher than ever. So Soap Central has put together a list of 13 things that might surprise you about the eight-time Emmy winner -- including his opinion on how he'd like to see Luke leave the GH canvas.

1. He hated filming the iconic 1981 Luke and Laura wedding.

"I don't have a lot of fond memories of that wedding. It was a very uncomfortable day," he recalls. "It was hot. It wasn't a lot of fun. It really wasn't."

There was, however, one saving moment: "We had an antique Model T or something that we drove off in. That was a lot of fun to drive," he says.

2. His favorite fans include hookers.

"Luke has always been particularly successful with certain types of people: hookers, cab drivers, people that work at night, and I like that," he says. "I like that... the kind of dark side of society that appreciates him."

3. He loves to look like absolute crap.

During the 2013 storyline in which Luke was slowly dying of polonium poisoning, Geary wished the soap would take the horrifying reality much further. "When that ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium a few years back -- they think by Putin -- he was covered in gruesome sores. It's a hellish death," he explains. "I really wanted to go there but they wouldn't let me. [Laughs] I do love to look bad."

4. He wasn't at all opposed to the "Luke rapes Laura [Genie Francis]" storyline. In fact, he eagerly supported it.

"I didn't really care," he admits. "I didn't really see the character as lasting this long. I read a really exciting story that had a lot of acting potential and dramatic impact. I've always been one to challenge the audience. I've never been one to coddle and try to give them what they want. I like the idea of challenging and confounding an audience. Being a little bit controversial has always been exciting to me. When I read it back in those days, I wasn't looking for a career in soaps. I was trying to do the job as best I could, day to day. If that meant I was going to go out in a blaze of glory instead of disappearing off the canvas as so many characters do, so much the better. I really looked at it as an opportunity to do something story-wise that was very spectacular. I know they didn't intend for her to fall in love with him after the rape. That came later when they found that the audience, astoundingly enough, had almost as much sympathy for the perpetrator as they did for the victim."

5. His worst (and yet best) fan experience was being mistaken for John Denver.

"There were about eight young ladies, all about college level, who spotted me as I was leaving my hotel [in Rome in the 80s]," he recalls. "They started yelling at me, and the last thing I wanted to do was to be recognized, because I was really enjoying this wonderful city. So when they started yelling at me, I just hustled on down the street, and they started running after me, yelling, 'Hey you, hey, hey, wait a minute!' I was trying to hail a cab and I was really panicked, I don't know why, but it just scared me. And finally I thought, 'Well this is silly.' I was really being ridiculous, so I stopped and turned around, and thought, 'Okay, I'll stop and say hello, maybe take a picture with them, sign an autograph or whatever.' They came running up to me, stopped, and one of them said, 'Oh, you're not John Denver!'" That's a true story. When I admitted I wasn't, they went off most disappointed. How anybody could mistake me for John Denver is beyond me. But they did. I loved that because it really put perspective on the whole thing for me."

6. The scar on his chin is from a Vegas accident.

It's hard not to miss that cute little scar on Geary's chin, which is actually from a miscalculated dance leap from his early days as a Vegas choral boy with acts like Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca.

7. He once produced a children's radio program.

"Right before I joined General Hospital, I was contacted by an L.A. public radio station, KPFK. They were looking for someone to produce stories and radio drama for a children's educational program," he recalls. "It was tremendously rewarding in terms of the magic of transforming a book or story into an audio experience. If something is well written, the reader's imagination produces images and feeling that can rarely be fulfilled in a visual medium like film or TV, but with the right actor's reading, plus music and sound effects, a listener has the opportunity to get in touch with his own pictures and imagination. That can be a beautiful experience, especially for today's children, who are raised with television."

8. He and Genie Francis never discussed business decisions like comings and goings.

"We never really talked about business things -- ever. And I think that's one of the positives of our relationship, is that we kept that, 'Her business is hers and mine is mine,'" he

9. He's terrible at resting and enjoying regular life.

"I'm not good with leisure time and relaxation," he
declares. "Hell, I can't roller-skate without thinking of the Olympics."

(And yes, Geary was once an avid roller skater, for those who are wondering!)

10. He loves Amsterdam for the anonymity it provides him as well as the openness of its people on life's tough issues.

"I have a home in Amsterdam and no one knows me there. The show has never run in Holland and the Dutch have no interest in celebrity anyway, so I've been able to recapture a lot of the time I sort of lost in terms of just being a regular guy, and that's very valuable to me," he says. "Every time I'd go to Europe, I'd go through Amsterdam, because it's a hub. I always stayed there for a few days and I loved the openness of the people. I loved the liberal, truly unapologetic liberal attitudes. It was great to be in a place where intelligent people didn't spend so much time arguing about things like abortion rights, gay rights, and individual rights. But people just assumed that those things were part of the fabric of their society.... I found that this was the place I'd been looking for all my life. So that's where I intend to stay [now that] my job is through."

11. His favorite GH storyline included a cross-dressing hit man.

"There've been so many good ones, but I always remember the very first Luke and Laura runaway as being really special," he says. "It was after the rape and he'd stolen her away from Baldwin [Kin Shriner] and they'd spent the summer together trying to solve the mystery of the left-handed boy and the black book, plus Frank Smith's [George Gaynes/Mitchell Ryan] mob. That story was really special to me. It was full of all kinds of surprises and twists and turns. There was a cross-dressing hit man chasing us. We did a lot of location shots at that time. It was really the high point of General Hospital as far as I'm concerned. We were breaking the mold."

12. He went to jail as a child -- on numerous occasions.

Geary's high school shenanigans in Coalville, Utah, landed him behind bars. "We would divide into army groups and throw water balloons and eggs at each other. By we, I mean the entire school," he shares. "We would burn bridges and burn outhouses. We would often end up in jail for the night. But, it was a big joke, and our parents would come get us out, and smack us one. It was wonderful. If I did what I did in Coalville, today, I'd be in a penitentiary."

13. He hopes Luke's exit is catastrophic.

"I want Luke to die," Geary proclaimed in 2013. "I don't want him coming home for Christmas episodes or the birth of his great grandchildren. I would prefer to have him go out in a blaze of glory and also that it be the climax of a wonderful story that involves the entire community, rather than some inconsequential B plot. Remember how The Bold and the Beautiful got rid of our wonderful Susan Flannery (Stephanie Forrester)? That was a terrific story, really sensational, and you couldn't do it with a better actress. Last time I saw Susan, I told her how much I admired how that was handled, and how she had set the template for those of us who have been on the soaps forever. We ought to go out in a way that gives the audience real closure, rather than just fading off or being sent away on a cruise. It is a very honorable thing to do with a character that is loved and has been part of the fabric of the daytime medium for a long time. But I know the network has a real resistance to that sort of thing.... That's one of the reasons people are loving the great cable shows so much right now -- because characters are in real jeopardy and they really do die. That makes us invest as viewers. It makes us feel. It makes us believe. In soaps, people come back from the dead all the time, to the point where death is just a bus stop... I wouldn't mind being a sacrificial lamb to let the audience believe that characters can really, really die. I think that would be offering the show, and the medium in general, a great gift."


• You can read more about Tony Geary's exit from General Hospital here.

• To read a statement from General Hospital's executive producer Frank Valentini, click here.

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