This ‘Star Wars’ Star Was Also a ‘General Hospital’ Actor
When people reveal that certain famous actors got their start on soap operas, the tone seems to be, “Can you believe this? How silly!” However, there is no shame in honing your craft on a soap opera. Just ask Luke Skywalker.
Although soap operas have declined in recent years, with long-running hits like Guiding Light and As the World Turns taking their final bows, some of them have been on the air since long before The Beatles were famous. And the sturdiest war horse of them all is General Hospital, where Mark Hamill had an early role.
What did Mark Hamill do on ‘General Hospital?’
The future savior of Darth Vader was just another working actor when he got the part of Kent Murray on General Hospital. His Star Wars colleagues made light of this when honoring Hamill at the Oscar Wilde Awards ceremony in 2018. Those awards honor actors of Irish descent.
“Who among us can forget how Kent, along with his sister Carol Murray, who were forced to live with their aunt after the death of their father? Just four years later, the nation was thrown into collective confusion when Kent was seen holding a lightsaber,” joked director JJ Abrams about Hamill’s work in 1972, five years before the original Star Wars.
Hamill is hardly alone. While many famous actors have worked on soap operas, General Hospital all by itself has served as a harbinger of many a future success story. Per TV Insider, other actors who appeared on General Hospital include Rick Springfield, Amber Tamblyn, Jonathan Jackson, John Stamos and Demi Moore.
What are other long-running soap operas?
While some soap operas like General Hospital are still going strong, the tides of time have washed many stalwarts away in recent years, including All My Children and One Life to Live – programs that once upon a time seemed like they would run forever and a day. The Week theorized this was because other kinds of TV are drawing people away from soaps, and because soap companies that gave rise to the term “soap opera” don’t advertise on those shows as much as they used to.
Although they have faded, their cultural impact still holds sway. “Soap opera” doesn’t just refer to a show on weekday afternoons. It’s a term used to refer to any sort of melodrama that is endearingly silty. Even the look of soap operas is distinctive, with the motion smoothing of modern TVs protruding what many detractors call “the soap opera effect.”
A few of them are still hanging around, however, including The Bold and the Beautiful, The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives, and General Hospital, which has been on the air for a staggering 57 seasons. The only reason that General Hospital doesn’t hold the top spot yet is because Guiding Light, which ended in 2009, stopped at 57 seasons. And you thought Grey’s Anatomy had been on the air too long.
Mark Hamill mostly does voice work now
The world iconic gets thrown around like so much confetti these days, but Hamill’s role as Luke Skywalker legitimately earns the term. If he did nothing except that, his place in entertainment history would be forever secure.
But Hamill did do more before and after that. These days he spends most of his time off camera and on microphone, having provided voices for everyone from the Joker to Chucky in the recent Child’s Play reboot.
Hamill has also been known to unnerve his fellow Star Wars actors by doing uncanny impressions of them. If Hamill really wanted to bring things full circle, perhaps he could do a voice on General Hospital.