Wednesday, April 5, 2006


Gloria Monty, a groundbreaking producer who turned the ABC daytime drama "General Hospital" into a pop sensation in the late 1970s, died of cancer at the age of 84.

With more women joining the work force, the traditional audience for soap operas like "General Hospital" was waning when Monty took over the slumping show in 1978.

After directing successful shows such as The Secret Storm, she is best known for taking over the ailing General Hospital with thirteen weeks to turn the show around, or it would be cancelled.

It subsequently became the top-rated US soap for a decade.

She quickly set about reinventing the show to appeal to teens and young adults. Monty added action-adventure and science fiction to plot lines, cast younger actors, quickened the pacing, and had a Broadway designer modernize the set.

Among Monty's boldest -- and most controversial -- moves was a story line in which the characters Luke and Laura began a romance after he had raped her on the floor of a closed disco.

Critics accused Monty of glorifying violence against women, but she appeared unfazed.

Played by Anthony Geary (whom she knew from his stint on her previous series, Bright Promise) and Genie Francis, Luke and Laura became pop icons and their 1981 TV wedding drew a stunning 30 million viewers. A Newsweek magazine cover featuring the couple declared the soap "TV's Hottest Show.""General Hospital" went on to become the No. 1 show for five years and won two Emmy Awards.

One major result of the "Monty Revolution" was the increased pace of the show, effectively doubling the number of scenes in each installment.

Under Monty's watch the show rose to #1 in the ratings, with Luke and Laura's wedding being the highest rated daytime episode in history. Her era consisted of "supercouples" such as Luka/Laura, Frisco/Felicia, and Robert/Holly. She and various headwriters also created the Quartermaine family, Bobbie and Luke Spencer, Robert, Anna and Robin Scorpio, and many others who would dominate the show in the 80's and early 90's.

Monty left the show in 1987 but returned in 1991. Although she had always been known for a tough, dictatorial attitude, her ideas no longer seemed in step with the world of Port Charles. She lured Anthony Geary back to daytime but went along with his demand to play a brand new character, Bill Eckert.
An entire new family, the Eckerts, were ushered in, taking up four to five days a week of airtime while Monty attempted to phase out such stalwarts as the Quartermaines.

The ratings began to suffer serious erosion, and combined with the refusal of stars such as Tristan Rogers, who plays Robert Scorpio, to continue working with Monty, ABC had no choice but to fire her in 1992 and was replaced by Wendy Riche.

Monty produced several primetime thrillers after leaving the world of soaps.

Moonlight Becomes You (1998) (TV) (co-executive producer)
Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1997) (TV) (co-executive producer)
While My Pretty One Sleeps (1997) (TV) (co-executive producer)
Remember Me (1995) (TV) (co-executive producer)
Confessions of a Married Man (1983) (TV) (executive producer)
"The Hamptons" (1983) TV Series (executive producer)
"General Hospital" (1963) TV Series (executive producer) (1978-1987, 1991-1992)
Sorority Kill (1974) (TV)
Screaming Skull (1973) (TV)
"Bright Promise" (1969) TV Series
"The Secret Storm" (1954) TV Series
"The First Hundred Years" (1950) TV Series


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