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Genie Francis as Laura Spencer
|General Hospital character|
|Last appearance||August 28, 2013|
|Created by||Bridget and Jerome Dobson|
|Introduced by||James Young|
|Book appearances||Robin's Diary|
Laura Spencer (née Williams; formerly Vining, Webber and Baldwin)[note 1] is a fictional character on the ABC soap opera, General Hospital. Laura was portrayed by Stacy Baldwin from 1974 to 1976, and since then has been played by Genie Francis, first from 1976 to 1982, from 1993 to 2002, and again since 2013 (with brief appearances in 1983, 1984, 2006, and 2008). Laura is one half of "Luke and Laura," one of the best-known couples in soap opera history. Although other "supercouples" preceded them, Luke and Laura are the best-known outside of the soap opera realm, and are credited with defining the term "supercouple", which inspired other soap operas to copy the successful formula.
Originally, critics of the soap opera genre panned the unlikely pairing. Laura was raped by Luke causing the relationship to have mixed reviews from the public. However, the duo became wildly popular in spite of the origins of their relationship. They wed on November 16, 1981, with 30 million viewers tuning in. The episode was the highest-rated hour in soap opera history. They were married for two decades and had two children, Lucky and Lulu. Even today, their union still has a presence in Port Charles. On internet message boards, the couple is often referred to as "L&L".
Stacey Baldwin originated the role of Laura in 1974 when the character was introduced as a child. Genie Francis stepped into the role on December 28, 1976 when the character was rapidly aged into a teenager. She continued to play the role until January 15, 1982, when Genie Francis left show and the character was taken off-screen. Genie briefly returned from November 14, 1983 to December 27, 1983 and once again from November 9, 1984 to December 11, 1984. On October 29, 1993, Genie returned full-time to play Laura until quitting on September 6, 2002.
In 2004, Francis inquired about returning to the series, but was told there was not the budget for her. Two years later, she was asked to play a guest series for the 25th wedding anniversary of Luke and Laura. Francis told USA Today that she wanted to return full-time, but again got the response of budgetary concerns. Her guest spot aired from October 26 to November 22, 2006. She returned again from August 25 until November 12, 2008.
On January 8, 2013, executive producer Frank Valentini and Entertainment Weekly confirmed that Francis would again return to General Hospital.  She first aired on February 11 and last appeared on August 28, 2013.
Head writer Ron Carlivati revealed in an interview it was not his choice to write Francis out in 2013. He remarked, "I had to write her character off the show because it's my job, not because I wanted to. [...] As I understand it, Genie came back to us on a short-term contract, which is what both she and ABC wanted. I was given her dates and worked with them the best I could. Genie had made another obligation before she returned to us, one that meant there were several weeks during the summer where she wasn't available to us." Carlivati also made it clear he wanted Francis to remain with the series and would welcome to opportunity to write for her once again, stating: "I love having Genie. I wanted Laura back on GH from the minute I came onto this show. I'm always open to having her back. Contrary to rumor, I assure you nobody got fired. Nobody got thrown under the bus."
Lesley obtains custody of the 12 year old Laura in 1974 but is forced to send her back to the Vinings. Fed up with Lesley obsessing over her daughter, Lesley's husband, Cameron Faulkner pays the Vinings to move Laura away from Port Charles. With the help of Dr. Rick Webber (originally Michael Gregory, then Chris Robinson), Lesley finds her daughter and brings her back to Port Charles; the teen then moves in with Lesley and Rick when they marry. Laura falls for law student, Scott Baldwin and is so distraught when he rejects her that she starts an affair with Rick's friend, David Hamilton. Laura accidentally causes David's death when he rejects her for Lesley. Laura does not remember the incident and Lesley confesses to the murder. When Lesley is convicted, Laura confesses and is sentenced to probation. As her life spirals out of control, Scott and Laura reunite and become engaged on her 17th birthday. After they wed, Laura must get a job to help Scott pay for law school. She ends up working for Luke at the campus disco where he rapes her. Though Laura forgives him, the rape ignites a lifelong feud between Luke and Scotty. Though Laura tries to avoid Luke, they end up together when they start working at ELQ. The duo teams up to stop Mikkos Cassadine (John Colicos) from freezing the world. Realizing how much they love each other, Laura divorces Scott in 1981 and marries Luke shortly after while Mikkos's widow, Helena (Elizabeth Taylor) puts a curse on the couple for the husband's death. Laura's friend, Tiffany Hill (Sharon Wyatt) gets Laura a modeling job as "Ms. Star Eyes," only for her to suddenly disappear after being kidnapped by David Grey (Paul Rosilli) and presumed dead. In 1983, it is revealed that Laura is being held by Mikkos and Helena's son Stavros (John Martinuzzi) who has convinced Laura that Luke is dead. Sick of her son's obsession, Helena reveals that Luke is alive and allows her to escape. A confrontation with Luke ends with Stavros's death. After Luke steps down as mayor, the couple leaves town and ends up in Texas where they welcome their son, Lucky.
The couple's 1993 return coincides with the introduction of their son, Lucky (Jonathan Jackson). They are forced to abandon their diner in British Columbia to escape Frank Smith (Mitchell Ryan). Back in Port Charles, Laura is falsely accused of Damian Smith (Leigh McCloskey)'s murder. Fortunately she is acquitted when her lawyer, Justus Ward (Joseph C. Phillips) confesses. In 1996, Laura must bring her son, Nikolas (Tyler Christopher) to town to save an ailing Lulu. She is also reunited with Stefan (Stephen Nichols) which puts a strain on the marriage when Luke is falsely led to believe that Nikolas is Stefan's son, and that Laura tried to reclaim him in 1984 which led to Lesley's "murder" at the hands of Helena (Constance Towers); however, it is revealed that Helena faked Lesley's death. Laura has a nervous breakdown when Lucky is "killed" in a fire and leaves town to recover. When Katherine Bell (Mary Beth Evans) is murdered, Laura is a suspect and Stefan confesses to protect her. While trying to clear her name, Laura discovers that Stefan knew Helena had faked Lucky's death and she breaks up with him. Luke, Laura and Felicia Jones (Kristina Wagner) team up to find Lucky (Jacob Young) who has been brainwashed by Helena to hate his parents. Upset about Luke's affair with Felicia, Laura borrows money from Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) and buys Deception Cosmetics from Scott, as a way of asserting her independence pitting her against Luke's niece, Carly Corinthos (Sarah Brown). Upon their divorce in June 2001, Laura reunites with Scott. Meanwhile, faces another hurdle when Helena resurrects Stavros (Robert Kelker-Kelly) who begins wreaking havoc on Port Charles. Laura helps Luke regain his memory after he is kidnapped by Helena and they admit their love for one another. Scott and Laura's happiness is short lived and she reunites with Luke. The couple plans to remarry, but Laura suffers a nervous breakdown after uncovering repressed memories of killing Rick's mistress, Theresa Carter (Alicia Arden) and accidentally kills Rick; Scott is forced to have Laura committed when she goes into a state of shock and reverts to her teenage self.
In 2006, a now teenaged Lulu visits (Julie Marie Berman) Laura as she contemplates an abortion. In October 2006, Laura wakes up thanks to the efforts of Patrick Drake and Robin Scorpio (Jason Thompson and Kimberly McCullough) and shares a tearful reunion with Luke, Nikolas, Lucky (Greg Vaughan) and Lulu. Despite Luke's recent marriage to heiress, Tracy Quartermaine (Jane Elliot), everyone agrees to help Laura and Luke celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary with a ceremony. However, Laura's condition quickly deteriorates and she is forced to return to Shadybrook. As she slips back into catatonia, Laura admits that she doesn't believe she killed Rick. Nikolas, Scott and Luke continue to battle over what is best for Laura with Nikolas retaining sole guardianship. Lulu does some investigating and proves that Scott actually killed Rick.
In 2008, an institutionalized Lulu hallucinates Laura's recovery when she must cope with her accidental murder of Logan Hayes (Josh Duhon), Scott's son. When Laura's doctors confirm that her condition has not changed, Nikolas and Lucky realize Lulu is getting worse. When Scott threatens to avenge Logan murder, Laura wakes up to defend her daughter. Scott tells Laura the truth about her last wedding to Luke and they run off to California. Luke thinking they are eloping follows where Scott and Laura end up in a car accident. Luke saves Laura when the car goes over a cliff and they end up at a wooded cabin where they discuss their relationship. Laura eventually goes to Paris, France to stay at the clinic that administers the LS-49 treatment. After telling Luke to move on, Laura boards a plane to France; unbeknownst to her, Scott is on the plane.
In February 2013, Laura resurfaces in Port Charles, witnessing a romantic moment between Luke and Anna Devane (Finola Hughes). Shortly afterward, she pays a visit to Lulu at The Haunted Starr, where Laura tells her that she has seen Lucky overseas. Laura also reconnects with Elizabeth, and in doing so, meets grandson Aiden Spencer for the first time. After discussing Elizabeth's complicated love life, Laura returns to The Haunted Starr, encountering a bewildered Luke. Laura reveals that she is getting married to Scott again. Meanwhile, Lulu and her husband, Dante Falconeri (Dominic Zamprogna) reveal their baby's first sonogram, via surrogate. On the night of Scott and Laura's nuptials, Lulu is abducted by a very much alive Stavros.
Laura was relieved to have her daughter back but her joy was quickly replaced with worry when Lulu did not remember her past life and insisted that Stavros was her husband. After Lulu's return, Laura planned to hold off on her wedding to Scott until Lulu regained her memory. However, Laura changed her mind after she and Luke shared a kiss and realized that the romantic chemistry between them was no longer there. Afterwards, Laura moved forward with her marriage to Scott.
Nikolas arranged a small family wedding at Wyndemere and Laura was thrilled when her mother arrived. Scott and Laura feared their ceremony would not take place after Mayor Lomax was unable to officiate. However, Lesley stepped in and presided over the ceremony. Shortly after the wedding, Laura learned that Luke was gravely ill and she left town to assist him against Scott's wishes. When she returned to Port Charles, Scott asked her for a divorce. Laura begged Scott to reconsider and then she left for Paris to undergo her routine medical evaluations.
- Laura is raised as Laura Vining. Her name is legally changed to Webber when she is adopted by Rick.
- Martha P. Nochimson (2002). Screen Couple Chemistry: The Power of 2. University of Texas Press. p. 408. ISBN 0-292-75579-1.
- Suzanne Frentz (1992). "The Siren Call of the Super Couple: Soap Operas’ Destructive Slide Toward Closure". Staying Tuned: Contemporary Soap Opera Criticism. Popular Press. pp. 136 pages. ISBN 0-87972-537-0. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
- V., Beverly. "General Hospital: Luke & Laura, The Rape". tvfanonline.com. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved September 7, 2007.
- Wolf, Buck (November 16, 2006). "Luke and Laura: Still the Ultimate TV Wedding". ABC.com. Retrieved May 20, 2009.
- Bauder, David (November 14, 2006). "Luke and Laura's Altared State". Associated Press/The Washington Post. Retrieved June 12, 007. Check date values in:
- "Trifecta". Soap Opera Digest. American Media, Inc. November 18, 2008. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
- "Luke, Laura together again". USA Today. October 24, 2006. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
- "Genie Francis returns to 'General Hospital' -- EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly. Lynette Rice. January 8, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
- Logan, Michael (November 11, 2013). "Exclusive: What's Up in Port Charles? General Hospital Scoop From Head Writer Ron Carlivati". TV Guide. Retrieved November 13, 2013.