On Friday, May 21, “General Hospital” will air its long-awaited tribute to the late John Reilly. The actor, who played Sean Donely on the soap off and on since 1984, died in early January at the age of 84.
Within days of Reilly’s passing, the ABC series announced that it would be incorporating the actor’s real-life death into the show’s storyline, with executive producer Frank Valentini saying the actor and his character “was a huge part of the ‘GH’ history and will be honored in an upcoming episode that the writers are working on now.”
In the months following Valentini’s comments, it was revealed today that such “GH” mainstays as Genie Francis, Kristina Wagner, Finola Hughes, Jon Lindstrom, and John J. York will be featured in the special episode, and will also include an appearance by Reilly’s real-life daughter, Caitlin Reilly, who will play Annie, Sean’s daughter on the show.
A description for the episode notes, “While mourning the death of World Security Bureau [WSB] agent Sean Donely, Felicia Scorpio (Wagner), Malcolm “Mac” Scorpio (York), Anna Devane (Hughes), Laura Collins (Francis) and Kevin Collins (Lindstrom) are pulled into a mystery involving Sean’s daughter, Annie (Caitlin Reilly).”
Annie Donely (formerly Anna) last appeared on the canvas in August 2013, played at the time by actress Courtney Halverson. In story, a poisoned Sean teamed up with Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary) to track down the man who extorted millions for a cure. Meanwhile, Annie repeatedly tried to make contact with the extortionist in order for him to give her the medicine her father so desperately needed.
“John Reilly was an incredible actor and a large part of the 58-plus-year legacy that is ‘GH,'” said Valentini in a statement released today. “This episode is meant to honor him and his contribution to the show’s rich history. With so many fan favorites returning, new and longtime viewers will enjoy it. We had a lot of fun filming and I am grateful that we were also able to include his daughter. Viewers will hopefully also enjoy one more surprise return – it is just too amazing to spoil.”
Reportedly, Reilly’s former on-screen love interest, Sharon Wyatt (ex-Tiffany Hill Donely), who resides in Tennessee, was unable to participate in the episode. In a 2011 feature by “Inside Edition,” it was revealed the actress had half of her jaw bone removed after an operation relating to osteonecrosis.