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General Hospital (1963–1969)

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General Hospital
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Major characters

Storylines

1963–1966

As chief of Internal Medicine on General Hospital's seventh floor, Dr. Steve Hardy had dedicated to his life to healing. Career came first! In the fall of 1963, that decision cost Steve his relationship with his fiancee, Peggy Lowell. Steve didn't have someone to love him, but he had dear friends -- like Nurse Jessie Brewer. Jesse's turbulent marriage to the brash young intern Phil Brewer gave them both plenty to talk about.

Jessie had good reason to be jealous of Phil's "friendship" with Cynthia Allison. She was pretty -- and much younger than Jessie. When Jessie found about their affair, she filed for divorce -- then discovered she was pregnant with Phil's child! With a child on the way, Phil decided to save his marriage. He broke the news to a heartbroken Cynthia, who, on the rebound, married the man she had dumped months earlier, Dr. Ken Martin. Jessie and Phil got back together -- but not for long. The union shattered on July 24, 1964 when Jessie miscarried their baby.

As the painful memories of her marriage to Phil subsided, Jessie began to go out on tentative dates with her lawyer, Lee Baldwin. A lifelong bachelor and recovering alcoholic, Lee was a fixture on the seventh floor of General Hospital where he volunteered as an addiction counselor.

Patients came and went from General Hospital's seventh floor, but few had more impact on Steve and Jessie than teenager Angie Costello, a victim of a terrible car accident with her boyfriend Eddie Weeks. Surgeons worked hours in the OR to stitch Angie's angelic face back together. Now, wrapped in a mummy-like mask of bandages, Angie faced an uncertain future. Despondent, Angie contemplated suicide, but Steve and Jessie talked her out of it. Sentenced to probation for drunk driving, Eddie bitterly rejected Angie and they broke up. However, Angie was pregnant. She gave up the child for adoption. Two years after their tragic auto accident, Angie and Eddie found their way back to each other. Marrying at a Justice of the Peace, the kids decided that they wanted their baby back. When the adoptive mother, Janet Fleming, refused to give up her child, Angie and Eddie kidnapped the baby, but were apprehended. Thanks to the concerned efforts of caring professionals like Steve, Jessie and Lee, the young married couple looked forward to a bright and promising future -- together at last.

Full of eagerness and a zest for life, Audrey March arrived at General Hospital on February 21, 1964 to visit her much-older sister Lucille, senior nurse on the seventh floor. Dr. Hardy happened to be passing by the nurse's station when he caught sight of the pretty blonde stewardess, still dressed in her perfectly pressed blue uniform. The chemistry was instant and unmistakable.

As a high-flying stewardess, Audrey had jetted around the world. It was the perfect job for the fun-loving young woman. She exasperated Lucille, who frowned upon her sister's wild ways. In the early days of transcontinental jet travel, airlines staffed their flights with nurses -- and, like her older sister, Audrey was a registered nurse. But much to Lucille's chagrin, Audrey became a flight attendant on the day she received her nurses' cap.

Intrigued by the handsome Dr. Hardy, Audrey opted to stay in town for a while and when the opportunity to serve as a private duty nurse came up, she grabbed it. Her first patient was Randy Washburn, a well-known junior executive engineer suffering from malaria. At the same time, the blond beauty began seeing Dr. Hardy. Audrey had shaken up the staid Steve Hardy! They fell in love and cautiously planned to marry, but when it came to setting the wedding date, Steve dragged his feet. Audrey became convinced that Steve loved his job much more than he loved her. She convinced herself that she could never be the kind of woman Steve wanted and needed. Meanwhile, Randy Washburn tantalized Audrey with jewelry, exotic vacations -- and a tempting offer to become his wife. Audrey was caught in the middle -- and broke her engagement to Steve and accepted Randy's enticing offer to marry him in the Philippines. However, just before departing, Audrey collapsed. She was diagnosed with lymphoma. Fortunately, radiation treatment arrested the spread of the disease. Steve stood by Audrey's side throughout the ordeal while Randy was nowhere to be found! At Jessie and Lucille's urging, Steve summoned up the courage to once again ask Audrey to marry him. Overwhelmed with joy, Audrey accepted his proposal. In February 1965, Steve and Audrey became man and wife.

Believing Steve was sterile, Audrey secretly prepared to undergo artificial insemination and she became pregnant. But guilt-ridden by her elaborate deception, Audrey finally told Steve what she had done. Betrayed and bitter, he moved out, but they eventually reconciled. Audrey lost the baby in a car accident. Devastated by her loss, Audrey filed for divorce from Steve and left for Vietnam to aid orphaned children.

When Jessie filed for divorce, Phil drowned his sorrows with liquor, then wildly headed straight to Jessie's apartment to win her back -- the only way he knew how - with sex. When Jessie was reluctant, Phil forced himself on her, then quickly left town. Jessie became pregnant, and once again kept her delicate condition a secret from Phil. Lee Baldwin offered to marry Jessie in order to give the baby a name. However, their plans changed drastically when Phil came back to town and pleaded for one more chance. Jessie gave it to him. Jessie gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Nancy Brewer. Though Lee loved Jessie, he gallantly released her from the "burden" of their engagement. However, the baby died from a heart ailment, leaving Jessie heartbroken. After years of misery, Jessie realized that she had to get Phil Brewer out of her life once and for all!

In 1966, Lee Baldwin was heartened by the arrival of a new nurse, Meg Bentley, a widow with a young son, Scotty, and a teenage stepdaughter, Brooke. Scotty was a darling child. But Brooke deeply resented Meg, believing that Meg had "stolen" the affections of her late father. Now, at 17, she had grown hostile, making Meg's life miserable at every turn. No doubt -- Brooke Bentley was a wild child! Meg was engaged to Dr. Noel Clinton, who stunned her by running away with young Brooke. In her grief, Meg turned to Lee. Lee Baldwin became a surrogate father to Meg's young son, Scotty. Meg smiled with deep satisfaction every time she saw Scotty and Lee together. Late in 1966, she married Lee, who happily adopted Scotty. The Baldwins were a family!

1967–1969

After her divorce from philandering Dr. Phil Brewer, Jessie married the kind and compassionate Dr. John Prentice. Though she refused to believe it, Jessie knew the truth: because of his weak heart, John Prentice was a dying man.

Dr. Prentice's twenty-year-old daughter, Polly, resented her father's affection for Jessie. After all, she had always been "daddy's girl" and now there was someone else usurping her number one position. Days later, John Prentice was dead. Steve Hardy and the newly-arrived Dr. Tom Baldwin (Lee's younger brother) soon learned from the pathologist's report that Dr. Prentice died from "the ingestion of quantities of barbiturates combined with alkaloids." Was it suicide or perhaps foul play? Polly Prentice did everything in her power to fuel suspicions that Jessie had killed her father. Polly also provided them with a possible reason for Jessie committing the heinous crime when she intimated that Jessie and Tom Baldwin (who had dumped Polly) were having an affair in the weeks before her father's untimely passing! After Lt. Todd, the chief investigator, determined that Jessie Prentice's fingerprints were on the bottle of the medication that killed her husband she was charged with murder! Tom Baldwin was also charged as an accessory to the murder. After a bitterly fought trial, they were found guilty of the crime and served time in jail until Phil Brewer returned to town and found the evidence to free his ex-wife and Dr. Baldwin.

Grateful for what he'd done, Jessie remarried Phil but soon he was up to his old philandering ways -- with Polly Prentice! When Polly died in a suspicious car accident with Phil at the wheel, he took off -- a fugitive from justice. Months later, in November of 1969, word reached Jessie that a "P. Brewer" had been one of the victims of a plane crash. By now, a new doctor had joined the staff of General Hospital -- and he took an immediate interest in the grief-stricken widow. He was Dr. Peter Taylor, a compassionate psychiatrist. In the months after Phil's "death," Peter Taylor became Jessie's main source of strength and they married - not knowing that Phil was alive!

After a stint in Vietnam, Audrey returned to General Hospital with a divorce from Steve. Determined to prove to herself that she was over Steve, Audrey entered into a loveless marriage with Dr. Tom Baldwin. Night after night, she spurned his romantic overtures. Finally, Tom snapped, forcing himself upon Audrey, who became pregnant. Disgusted, Audrey kicked Tom out of the house, and contemplated charges. Disillusioned -- and pregnant with the child of a man she despised -- Audrey sued Tom Baldwin for divorce, then left town again.

Meg and Lee Baldwin's once-idyllic marriage began to come apart at the seams upon the arrival of Meg's old nursing school friend, Iris Fairchild. Meg grew increasingly jealous in 1967 as Iris, Lee's new legal secretary and Lee spent their days and nights together. Meg confronted Iris, accusing her of having an affair with Lee! For a time, the Baldwins separated, but they reconciled when Lee donated his kidney to save Scotty's life. The crisis brought Lee and Meg back together. Their lives were complicated when Brooke left Noel Clinton and came home.

Lee and Meg's marriage would once again be put to the test when Meg received devastating news about her own health. She was suffering from breast cancer. After undergoing a radical mastectomy, Meg could not shake a deep depression. Overcome with jealousy, she suffered a nervous breakdown. Lee, devastated, was forced to institutionalize his wife.

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