Nov. 16 and 17, 1981:
Millions tuned in to witness the wedding of Luke Spencer and Laura Webber Baldwin of Port Charles, New York.
This two-day television wedding was part of popular ABC soap opera “General Hospital.”
Since the pair joined the show in the 1970s, the characters had their ups and downs in the fictional upstate New York town. The wedding was a big deal for the daytime soap – so big that movie legend and frequent bride Elizabeth Taylor wanted to be part of it. Taylor was hired to play the role of Helena Cassadine, widow of Mikkos Cassadine. Her character held a grudge against Luke and Laura for the death of her husband and cursed the pair on their wedding day.
To join in the national excitement of nuptials, WEZX Rock 107 and the Station, a nightclub in Wilkes-Barre, co-sponsored a local wedding reception at the club the night of Nov. 17. The reception featured a replay of the wedding episode aired that afternoon, the cutting of a wedding cake and the traditional tossing of the bouquet and garter.
The festivities also included a Luke and Laura lookalike contest held aboard the Station’s double-decker bus because state liquor laws prohibited contests on premises that held liquor licenses.
The six women and six men believing they were the best lookalikes for actors Anthony Geary (Luke) and Genie Francis (Laura) climbed aboard the bus. Judy Zitterman and Thom Welby, both of Rock 107, and Dan Gallagher, Mike Igoe and Paul Douglas, all of WNEP-TV, judged the contest as the bus drove around Wilkes-Barre and Kingston. The bus then returned to the Station so the contestants could join the others gathered at the party.
Laura Kaminski of Mountain Top and David Jones of Wilkes-Barre won the contest, but then questions arose about how the two were selected. Kaminski shared the same first name as the television character she resembled, while Jones worked at General Hospital – in Wilkes-Barre.
Welby said he was unaware of those facts when the judging took place. Gallagher declined to comment on whether the television station would investigate how the contest was judged.
Brian Fulton has been the librarian at The Times-Tribune for the past 15 years. On his blog, Historically Hip, he writes about the great concerts, plays/musicals and celebrity happenings that have taken place throughout NEPA. He is also the co-host of the local history podcast, Historically Hip. He competed and was crowned grand champion on an episode of NPR quiz show “Ask Me Another.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9140; or @TTPagesPast