Remembering ‘Port Charles’ 24 Years After Primetime Debut

Julie Pinson, Michael Dietz, Nolan North, Rib Hillis, Lisa Ann Hadley, Port Charles
ABC/Everett Collection | Julie Pinson, Michael Dietz, Nolan North, Rib Hillis, Lisa Ann Hadley ("Port Charles")

Before there was “Grey’s Anatomy” and its premise of first-year residents taking on the world of medicine there was “Port Charles,” ABC’s long-awaited spinoff of its popular daytime drama series “General Hospital” that centered on the trials and tribulations of the doctors, nurses and paramedics at General Hospital. Yes, the premise was twisty considering “GH” took place in Port Charles and “PC” was more about the hospital than its mothership at the time.

Premiering 24 years ago today, June 1 as a two-hour primetime TV movie, the series helped launch the careers of such unknowns at the time as Kelly Monaco (ex-Livvie Locke, now Sam McCall on “GH”), Kiko Ellsworth (ex-Jamal Woods), Marie Wilson (ex-Karen Wexler), Rib Hillis (ex-Jake Marshak), Nolan North (ex-Chris Ramsey), Lisa Ann Hadley (ex-Julie Morris-Devlin) Jay Pickett (ex-Frank Scanlon), Michael Dietz (ex-Joe Scanlon), Julie Pinson (ex-Eve Lambert), Carly Schroeder (ex-Serena Baldwin) and Erin Hershey Presley (ex-Alison Barrington), among a host of others.

The series itself also centered on several denizens who were moved from “GH” to “PC” to help establish the spinoff including Lynn Herring (Lucy Coe), Jon Lindstrom (Kevin Collins) and Kin Shriner (Scott Baldwin). Other veteran cast members from “GH” that appeared on “PC” at one time or another, or multiple occasions for some, include Leslie Charleson (Monica Quartermaine), Stuart Damon (ex-Alan Quartermaine), John J. York (Mac Scorpio), Rachel Ames (ex-Audrey Hardy), and the late Susan Brown (Gail Baldwin), just to name a few.

Daytime vets Michael Easton (ex-Caleb/Michael Morley and Stephen Clay; now Hamilton Finn on “GH”), Thorsten Kaye (ex-Ian Thornhart; now Ridge Forrester on “The Bold and the Beautiful”), Mary Beth Evans (ex-Katherine Bell on both “PC” and “GH”; currently Kayla Brady on “Days of our Lives”) and Debbi Morgan (ex-Ellen Burgess) and even Ian Buchanan (ex-Joshua Temple; ex-Duke Lavery on “GH”) were just some of the well-known daytime actors used to further provide recognition for the series as it fought to compete against “The Young and the Restless” in most markets.

Three and a half years into its run, “PC” devolved from its premise and followed the telenovela format which was, and still remains today, highly successful on such Spanish language networks as Univision and Telemundo. Starting with “Fate” in December 2000, the soap would go on to air 12 story arcs that took place over a 13 week period. The most popular iteration was “Tainted Love” which escalated the relationship between Livvie and Caleb, the mystery man who brought the supernatural to new heights for daytime long before “Teen Wolf” (TV Series), “True Blood” or “Twilight.” The pairing remains one of the most popular daytime couplings of all time.

Despite being nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Daytime Drama Series in 2003, “PC” was canceled and concluded its run in October 2003. ABC ceded its time slot back to its affiliates after programming the half-hour for several decades with the likes of such soaps as “The City,” “Loving” and “Ryan’s Hope.”

“PC” was executive produced by Wendy Riche, who was also still serving as EP of “GH,” from the soap’s debut through December 1999. Julie Hanan Carruthers took over from Riche and remained with the show until its end. James Harmon Brown and the late Barbara Esensten were the longest-serving head writers for the show, joining in November 2000 through the series’ conclusion in October 2003.

The soap was canceled due to low ratings.