When ABC stuck a dagger in our hearts by cancelling One Life to Live, General Hospital recruited Emmy winner Roger Howarth to reprise the role he’d played on and off since 1992. As you can see, he was pretty chuffed about it — almost as stoked as we were.
That Way Madness Lies
When legal issues forced Howarth and his fellow One Life to Live alumni to give up their old roles, General Hospital simply assigned him (and the others!) new roles. In his case, he was handed the plum part of Franco, the homicidal — and suddenly very blond — maniac previously played by movie star James Franco.
Kiss and Hell
While Sonny Corinthos took out a hit on Franco — whom he blamed for son Michael’s prison rape — the outcast artist “reacquainted himself” with old flame Ava Jerome and her daughter, Kiki, whom he thought was his. (Spoiler alert: She wasn’t.)
Mind Over Splatter
Eventually, Franco scored a Get Out of Jail Free card by discovering that he wasn’t to blame for his murderous tendencies, a particularly violent brain tumor was. So like, this? Not him at all. Just a brain tumor. That, or maybe he was secretly a (cough) coffee importer.
In 2013, Franco suffered the weirdest of all identity crises when he learned that his biological parents were — and even all these years later, you may want to sit down to read this — Scotty Baldwin and Heather Webber. “Just keep the BLTs coming, kid, and we’ll be fine.”
‘Are You *Hitting* on Me?’
Although Carly Corinthos once ordered Franco gunned down, she wound up kinda liking the guy — to the point that they became engaged just long enough for her to cheat on him every chance she got with Sonny.
Crazy for You
Utterly betrayed by Carly, Franco threw himself so wholeheartedly into a relationship with baby-napper Nina Clay (then Michelle Stafford) that when she was remanded to Shadybrooke, he got himself institutionalized as well. He even smooched her over the cooling dead body of her estranged husband, Silas. Ha — and they say romance is dead!
Against All Odds
If there was one person you wouldn’t expect to fall prey to Franco’s charms, it was Elizabeth Webber. But fall she did, hard. You can’t tell it from this photo, mind you — they look more confused than aroused — but oh, they were smitten kittens. For real, yo!
On a Ring and a Prayer
In 2019, while Franco stood accused of Ryan Chamberlain’s crimes, he slipped a “jailhouse rock” on Liz’s finger, in effect making himself her, ahem, ball and chain. Eventually, though, they managed to get themselves a warm “reception.”
To keep the merciless Shiloh from messing with stepson Cameron’s head, Franco volunteered to be the cult leader’s guinea pig. As a result, he wound up being turned, however briefly, into pal Drew Cain, the lost love of Kim Nero. (Of note: Cameron was way more grateful than he looks here.)
Though Franco managed to get the nefarious Peter August to confess his sins, he wasn’t able to get the recording to the authorities before — dang it! — the villain shot him in the chest, making Liz the least merry widow in recorded history.
The Great Unknown
Franco appeared to be really, most sincerely dead. But Howarth’s run on General Hospital was anything but over. Who would he wind up playing when he returned? “Tune in tomorrow,” said the show. “Or the next day… or the one after that… ”
Austin, We Have a Solution
When Howarth was reintroduced to the canvas, it was as Austin Gatlin-Holt, the heretofore-unknown son of Quartermaine heir Jimmy Lee and a new love interest for Peter’s traumatized babymama, Maxie Jones. Curiously, no one seemed to notice that the doctor was a dead ringer for Franco.