November 28, 2007
Genie Francis Returns To The Tube in "The Note"
It never fails.
As soon as one mentions the name Genie Francis, it's always preceded by the name "Luke" as in, "You mean 'General Hospital's' Luke and Laura?"
The answer, naturally, is "yes" and the conversation proceeds from that point. After all, the marriage of the two soap opera idols, garnered the largest audience in daytime television history.
Matters not that Genie, following her departure from the "GH" screen, has acted in numerous other shows, films and stage. More to the point, she has appeared in additional daytime soaps, yet to the viewing public she appears only to be known for her role as the young, lovely Laura. The fact is, even with her appearances in numerous other roles, when she reprised her character as Laura Spencer on "General Hospital" for a brief stint in 2006, she received her initial Daytime Emmy.
Bless the Hallmark Channel. It has brought Genie back to the screen in an absolutely heartwarming, sensitive and perfect holiday film; one in which viewers should without a doubt remember Peyton, her character's name. Holiday films have an identifiable trademark, which in all likelihood is why networks repeat most of them yearly. "The Note" debuts December 8.
Genie and I recently had an opportunity to discuss her career and her family life away from the various screens and stages.
Without a doubt, Genie Francis is one of the most normal show business personalities I've chatted with. Most are nice, polite and do their best to present a regular guy/gal type front. Genie is the genuine article. She tells it like it is. She's funny, laughs a lot and is a person with whom you like to pal.
Genie's first break into show business came about when her father Ivor (who was a renowned stage actor) decided he wanted to be a film actor. He packed up the family, left Englewood, N.J. and headed to California. He didn't make the cut. However, his daughter Genie decided she wanted to be an actress. Her dad showed her picture to his agent and she was off and running at age 14 and she's been hightailing in the acting world ever since and on her terms.
I initially met Genie during a cast interview for the "North and South" mini-series in 1985. A few years later in 1988 she met and married actor Jonathan Frakes and they are the parents of two children, Jameson Ivor (for her dad) and Elizabeth. They reside in Maine and according to her, she couldn't be happier.
"When we married we moved about and lived in Long Island, vacationed in Hawaii, Mexico and London. When we returned to the East Coast we truly knew we had come home. Our life in Maine is wonderful. I love being near the water, we have remarkable friends, lovely neighbors and we live a normal life.
"I cherish my home. I have had a passion for decorating ever since I was a child and I guess I've read every magazine concerning home décor. My home is a cottage. It has LI wooden floors, high ceilings and it's filled with oil paintings and old ship lanterns. My take on décor here is nautical. We are near the water. As a matter of fact our front room faces the water. We love camping, we are surrounded by nature and my children go to public schools."
I asked about the actress's interest in gardening.
"Tulips. I love tulips. Every fall we plant. There's a program in school here about how to plant and they give prizes. This is a very relaxed place. Everything here is picturesque, even the hiking places.
"We go to antique shows and auctions. We enjoy having old pieces and pictures. It sounds sort of eclectic doesn't it and pretty much masculine? However, my bedroom is very feminine and its décor is in creamy shades."
Are you a cook?
"Not really, although I'm the cook on holidays. I make the turkeys and my family loves my baked apples. I learned how to cook mostly on my own, just by trial and error. Jonathan is the real cook inside and on the grill. But, I can do our fresh fruits."
What about Medifast? I understand you are a proponent of this diet plan.
"I am. I lost 28 pounds on the modified version. The first two weeks were rough, especially if you like to eat, but after the two weeks the pounds melted away. What I like best is that this is a healthy plan and particularly good for diabetics. And I feel great!"
You are now the owner of a country shop, "The Cherished Home" in East Belfast, Maine. Sounds as though you put a hold on acting roles until this holiday Hallmark film.
"Job offers come my way, but our life here is all about family. I knit things for my children and for the shop. I enjoy my shop so much. I get pleasure from meeting people and I even have steady customers. My lifelong dream has been to be a good mother and wife. I've gone from what I called a 'type A' to a 'type B' person. I'm more relaxed and there's no longer pressure on me to constantly work and be away from my home. I'm so much happier now that my career is no longer all-consuming.
"It's easy to explain. We do things as a family. I love to go fishing, even though I've lived in a fishbowl for most of my life. I even put the worms on the hook. We fish in mostly fresh waters, so I guess you can't call me a frilly girl. I love adventure."
Last but not least. If you have any doubts about how normal and natural Genie Francis is, this fact will set you straight: Her favorite food is still peanut butter!!
Job offers come my way, but our life here is all about family. I knit things for my children and for the shop. I enjoy my shop so much.