On the Anniversary of Vanessa Marcil’s General Hospital Debut as Brenda, a Look Back at the Character’s Wild Life
The spoiled trust fund baby turned mob moll evolved into a mother and philanthropist.
Vanessa Marcil burst onto the General Hospital scene as the jet-setting, trust fund baby Brenda Barrett on September 18, 1992. It’s hard to believe but that was 29 years ago! To commemorate the anniversary of her very first day as Brenda Barrett, we’re taking a walk down memory lane on her time in Port Charles.
Brenda’s first scene (which can be seen below) was of her barging in on her sister Julia Barrett, who had been controlling her finances. Julia forced her arrival by cutting off Brenda’s accounts in an attempt to rein her in but all Brenda wanted was her money back. However, she ended up staying in Port Charles, even after her sister left town, and befriended Julia’s then-boyfriend Ned Ashton.
From there, Brenda became close with the rest of the Quartermaine clan and had a fling with Jagger Cates. She went on to become a model, owner of L&B records with her best friend Lois Cerullo (she was also good friends with Robin Scorpio), and philanthropist.
Of course, she’s most remembered for her relationship with Sonny Corinthos, which was filled with a lot of love and even more angst. They did get married once, but not before he left her at the altar during a previous attempt at wedded bliss. It was for her own safety, of course, considering he is a mob boss, but still, the betrayal stung and she had a breakdown. Brenda wasn’t so innocent in their relationship either as she once wore a wire to prove everyone was wrong about the man Sonny was. It went as badly as expected when he found out about it.
Though Sonny was Brenda’s great love, she also had a lengthy relationship with Jasper “Jax” Jacks, which ignited the men’s long-standing rivalry, as well as her own with Sonny’s oft-wife Carly Corinthos. Brenda also once married Sonny’s enforcer Jason Morgan, but that was out of convenience. She has a son with the son of the crime lord known as the Balkan and a past with Sonny’s son Dante Falconeri. He helped protect her from the Balkan before he came to Port Charles and even claimed to be her child’s father.
During her last return to Port Charles in 2013, Brenda was engaged to Jax, but that ended when he discovered she met with Sonny in secret. Before she left town, Brenda told Sonny she loved him and asked him to leave with her. He denied her and she left alone.
Despite a devoted faction of fans who have always looked for hints Brenda would be returning to reunite with Sonny, his portrayer recently dashed those hopes. In an interview with Soaps.com on the Daytime Emmys red carpet, Maurice Benard flatly responded, “No,” when asked if Sonny and Brenda would be getting another shot at love any time soon. However, the actor revealed he and Marcil were working together on a project of a different kind. Should that come to pass, he promised, “Fans [will be] crazy.”
Do you still hold out hope Brenda will come home to Port Charles again? Tell us below and then look through the photo gallery of the General Hospital heroine in action.
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<p>In 1992, the daughter of womanizing businessman Harlan Barrett and the “late” Veronica Wilding showed up on the doorstep of older sister Julia, who forced her to enroll in high school if she ever wanted to see a penny of her trust fund. Feisty Brenda complied, but <em>her</em> idea of the three Rs wasn’t reading, writing and arithmetic, it was romance (with musclebound Jagger Cates), rivalry (with his true love, Karen Wexler) and real friendship (with sweet Robin Scorpio).</p>
<p>Brenda knew that older man Sonny Corinthos was as sketchy as an art-class still life; after all, it was he who’d added to frenemy Karen’s list of extracurriculars stripping at the Paradise Lounge. But the heart that Jagger had broken when he’d dumped Brenda nonetheless skipped a beat when the smooth criminal flashed his dimples, and before she could say, “This seems unwise,” the two of them were head over heels in love.</p>
<p>Everyone who cared about Brenda told her over and over (<em>and</em> over) again that Sonny was bad news. She just couldn’t bring herself to believe it; by then, as you can see, the couple even <em>dressed</em> alike! So she decided to prove her loved ones wrong by wearing a wire on her boyfriend. It… um… Wow. It did <em>not</em> go well. Instead of getting to say to her friends, “I told ya so,” Brenda found herself on the receiving end of Sonny’s wrath and, as an added bonus, learning his <em>least</em> favorite word (betrayal). He was still as drawn to her as a moth to a flame, of course. But by the time he was willing to admit it, new wife Lily Rivera was pregnant.</p>
<p>Knowing the importance of family to Sonny, Brenda attempted to give up on the idea of living happily ever after with the godfather-slash-father-to-be by <span style="text-decoration: line-through">eating a pint of Häagen-Dazs and watching chick flicks</span> throwing caution to the wind and tying the knot with rich Australian Jasper Jacks… just as a car bomb was removing from the picture both the don’s wife and unborn child. D’oh! In the aftermath, the widower made it his mission to win back Brenda. And when he failed with normal means — i.e., working the dimples and pointing out that Jax’s actual name was Jasper — he resorted to desperate measures.</p>
<p>To acknowledge the Jackses’ decision to renew their vows at the Quartermaine mansion, Sonny didn’t buy them a toaster or blender or even get them an Olive Garden gift certificate. No, he showed up at the ceremony with a surprise guest: Jax’s “dead” wife, Miranda. And though it would’ve been nice if her ex had bothered to RSVP that he was bringing a plus-one, Brenda smiled and said, “Whatevs. The more, the merrier.”</p>
<p>Of <em>course</em> what the bride <em>really</em> did was take out her own kind of “hit” on the mafioso, in the process damn near knocking the dimples clear off of his smug face.</p>
<p>Eventually, Sonny wore down Brenda, to the point that she put Jax in rear-view and agreed to become made man and wife. But on the day that they were to exchange vows, Sonny realized — “Hey, wait a minute… ” — just how dangerous it was being a (cough) coffee importer. Brooding more than usual, he left his fiancée at the altar and sent his flunky — the bride’s old Port Charles High classmate, Jason <span style="text-decoration: line-through">Quartermaine</span> Morgan — to deliver a message: It was a great ride.</p>
<p>By 1998, Brenda had ping-ponged back to Jax. But because the fates would sooner allow the existence of a calorie-free dessert than let her know a moment’s peace, they chose then and there to reintroduce into her life her “deceased” mother just long enough for the madwoman to speed them over the edge of a cliff to their presumed deaths. (Seriously, how many “deceased” people can one article include? Asking for a friend… )</p>
<p>After being rescued from what could have been her watery grave by arms dealer Luis Alcazar, Brenda was forced to act as a kind of svelte human shield between her possessive “keeper” and her exes, Sonny and Jax. Mind you, she really, truly didn’t want either of them back. Or at least she didn’t <em>want</em> to want either of them back. Or at least… ya know what? Brenda was probably right after all; the only thing she could <em>possibly</em> do to keep from busting up Sonny’s marriage to Carly or Jax’s relationship with Skye Quartermaine was to get hitched to Jason. Yeah, that’s the ticket.</p>
<p>You remember what happened next, right? Alcazar met his maker (courtesy of closet femme fatale Alexis Davis), Brenda and Jason were accused (and acquitted) of the crime, and she shared a passionate kiss with Sonny as an unorthodox method of preparing to remarry Jax (who, upon learning of the lip-lock, took a hard pass on the “I redo”). The mercurial supermodel wouldn’t return to Port Charles again until 2010, with a menacing Balkan in hot pursuit and Sonny as hot for her as ever.</p>
<p>No sooner had Sonny and Brenda <em>finally</em> tied the knot in 2011 than the Balkan put his own spin on clink-boom. This bride made out a whole lot better than predecessor Lily had, but the newly-minted Mrs. Corinthos was soon faced with a terrible dilemma: Since she’d just been reunited with her “late” son, Alec, did she <em>really</em> want to be married to the Mob? Sonny answered that question for her when he shrugged off bullets flying in their direction — “They <em>missed</em>, didn’t they?” — and framed Jax in order to tank his custody case against Carly.</p>
<p>Brenda’s 2013 visit to Port Charles to honor “late” pal Robin at the Nurses Ball was a short one, but she sure packed a lot into it: She not only revealed that she’d gotten engaged to Jax again (must have been his year), she sacrificed their second chance to ask for another one from Sonny (who confoundingly still posed as much of a threat as ever to her and Alec’s health) and faked a one-night stand with Carly’s son, Michael. You know, just to make her see redder than usual.</p>
<p>What will Brenda get up to when she returns to Port Charles — and we all <em>know</em> she will, someday! (Well, probably.) Our money’s on her reconsidering her marriage of convenience to Jason. As portrayer Vanessa Marcil put it in November of 2020, “Yes <em>all</em> day to <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/general-hospital/news/585055/general-hospital-vanessa-marcil-reaction-brenda-jason-hookup/" target="_blank">finally landing Jason</a>. <em>Hot</em>.”</p>
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