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The ‘Hot-Headed’ Decision That Changed This Soap Star’s Career In An Instant

"I went a very long distance to prove a point," says Genie Francis. "And it hurt me, too."

You don't have to be a soap opera enthusiast to have heard about the fictional super-couple known simply as "Luke and Laura."

Those two characters, played by Tony Geary and Genie Francis, dominated the "General Hospital" storylines in the late '70s, so it was a shock to many when Genie abruptly left the show at the height of her popularity in 1981. But, as she tells "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" in the above clip, she had a very clear reason for doing so.

As Genie explains, she was only 19 at the time and was admittedly struggling with drugs and alcohol.

 "I ended up one night in the hospital," she says. "The very next day, I was told, 'Gee, I'm sorry, but you're going to have to come back to work tomorrow morning.'"

So, the young actress returned to the set. That's when someone shared with her a comment that changed the course of Genie's career.

"It was an awful moment... I was told, 'You know what they said about you?' I said, 'No, what’d they say?'" Genie recalls. "'They said that it didn't matter if you lived or died because Tony was the whole show.'"

Hurt, Genie had an immediate and rash reaction.

"I just decided, 'Yeah, I don't matter? I'm nothing? OK. Watch this: I'm gone,'" she says.

Genie left "General Hospital" filled with anger. "It was a hot-headed decision," she says today. "I went a long distance to prove a point. A very long distance. And it hurt me, too."

Genie worked on competing soap operas shortly after her departure, but eventually came back to "General Hospital" to reprise the role of Laura 12 years later. Returning to the show, she adds, proved to be a genuinely positive experience.

"It was really, really lovely," Genie says. "I felt that I had gained the respect of my peers."

Catch up with another soap opera super-couple:

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