Sunday, July 21, 2024

A Real Soap Opera: ABC’s “General Hospital” Kills off an Unpopular Character, But Actor Roger Howarth Will Stay


Franco, a one time rapist and bad guy, is no longer alive on “General Hospital.”

On Tuesday, the ABC soap killed off the unpopular character– unpopular among the show’s other characters as well with fans– by shooting him in the heart. Actor Roger Howarth, who’s played the part since 2013, was seen in a pool of realistic blood.

Immediately Twitter lit up with worries that Howarth, who’s been on ABC soaps since 1993, had been fired.

I immediately checked with a couple of insiders who told me, “He’s coming back as another character.”

Indeed, Howarth told Soap Opera Digest later in the day, that Franco was gone but he wasn’t leaving. He’ll be back after a short break.

He said, “I’m really excited. I have great faith in the people who think of these things. I’ve been in good hands so far.”

Howarth played the character of Todd Manning for years on “One Life to Live.” When that show was cancelled, he moved Manning to “General Hospital.” But then, in a soap twist, ABC sold the online rights to “OLTL” to Prospect Park Productions, and Howarth was recast on “GH” as Franco, a psycho artist originally played by James Franco. (Long story there, not worth retelling.)

But Franco carried a lot of baggage. He’d been a rapist, a scoundrel, plotted someone else’s rape, and was despised by the people of Port Charles. Whoever Howarth returns as has to be more popular, and a relief, I would think, for the actor.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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