On the 27th Anniversary of Rena Sofer’s General Hospital Debut as Lois Cerullo, We Propose a Radical Recast — and a Story to Bring Ned’s Ex Roaring Back to Port Charles
ABC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, Jill Johnson/JPI (3)
The Bensonhurst babe wasn’t kidding when she told her future husband, “I’m precocious.”
By the time Rena Sofer first appeared on General Hospital on December 15, 1993, the ABC soap had already featured a mystery ailment called Lassa Fever, an alien from outer space and John flippin’ Stamos. But…
But it had never seen anything like brash badass Lois Cerullo, a natural born live wire who’d become as well-known for her brashness as for her Brooklyn accent and immaculately-manicured talons.
A Lasting First Impression
When the character made the acquaintance of one Ned Ashton, he was pretending to be a pharmaceutical salesman so that he could check out a hotel incognito. There was no disguising his ’tude, though. Within seconds, he’d suggested that a prescription for headache pills should come with tickets to the concert that was soon to be performed by the rock band that she managed.
Funny, she thought. She hadn’t met many an “impromptu critic” who’d diss a group before they’d even played a single song. At that point, Ned hadn’t realized her connection to the guys. Even when he learned that she was running their careers, he couldn’t believe it — she was so… well, young.
“I’m precocious,” she said.
For the love of Eddie Maine, truer words were never spoken. (You can watch the scene in full below.)
Welcome to Port Charles
What happened next is the stuff of legend. Lois made a pop star of “Eddie,” who soon became a bigamist by marrying not only her but conniving Katherine Bell (perhaps you recall the legendary reveal at the scheme queen’s birthday party?).
Along the way, Lois also formed a record label with fast friend Brenda Barrett, seen here introducing her new pal to the Quartermaines… while also trying to keep her from discovering Eddie’s true identity. (As an added bonus, the clip gives us a glimpse of Jason before the car accident that rendered him Stone Cold; watch it below — he was totes adorbs.)
When Sofer landed her breakout role, she was already a daytime vet, having appeared on Another World as Joyce Abernathy and Loving as Rocky Domecq. But it was most definitely the part of Ned’s third (but who’s counting?) wife that really put her on the map. In 1995, she even won a Daytime Emmy for her work as Lois.
Now, of course, Sofer is in the thick of things on The Bold and the Beautiful, where her Quinn Forrester is called upon to fight her basic instinct to make trouble daily (sometimes twice, three times a day). Come to think of it, Quinn probably would’ve gotten along swimmingly with Lois’ nemesis, Katherine. But we digress…
General Hospital tried to recapture the magic of Lois and Ned in 2004 by recasting Ned’s by-then-ex-wife with Lesli Kay (previously Molly Conlan on As the World Turns). But it was as if a page had been torn out of the book of spells; it worked… just not… entirely.
Perhaps it was because it was so impossible to match the off-screen chemistry that had been sparked between Sofer and future former husband Wally Kurth during Lois and Ned’s heyday. Whatever the case, less than a year after Kay burst onto the scene, her character had left Port Charles once again for New York.
But — and this is a big “but” — that doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be the end of her story.
The Next Chapter
With Lois and Ned’s daughter, Brook Lynn, soon to return to her old stomping grounds — and presumably pregnant — Mom should come with her, if only to make sure that her little girl secures as a husband big-bucks babydaddy Valentin.
By the way, this should not be hard; he seemed pretty damn taken with Brook Lynn after their tryst.
However, what would complicate matters would be Brook Lynn’s reluctance to rope him or any man into marriage for the sake of her kid. She’d refuse to so much as inform Valentin that he should be stocking up on cigars, thus prompting Mom to play matchmaker.
If you thought things sounded complicated before, wait!
The Mother of the Bride
In her efforts to make Valentin see that he’d be a fool not to step up and play papa to Brook Lynn’s unborn child, no matter what rando was the father, Lois would unwittingly come to see that… oh crap. The man she hopes to make her son-in-law is actually charming. And handsome. And enjoys her in a way that no one has since… well, Ned.
But she couldn’t make a play for the guy that she desperately wants to marry off to her daughter… could she? Sure, Brook Lynn says that she doesn’t want to pressure Valentin into a commitment, but that has “Methinks the lady doth protest too much written all over it.”
‘I Do… Not Know What to Do’
Ultimately, Lois would deny her growing feelings for Valentin just long enough to set Brook Lynn strolling down the aisle toward him. As the preacher spoke of love, and what it meant to be truly seen and understood, Lois and Valentin would lock eyes. He was marrying Brook Lynn, but the preacher’s words… they were all about Valentin and Lois.
Would the groom go through with his “I do”? Would Lois let him? Could she?
And the New Lois Cerullo Is…
That’s the story that we would tell to bring Lois back to the canvas. And we know just the actress we’d have playing her, too: Martha Byrne.
We can hear you now. “Martha Byrne? But she was Lily Snyder on As the World Turns — Miss Goody-Goody. She had as much flavor as a Ritz cracker.”
Ah, but the Emmy winner didn’t just play Lucinda Walsh’s straight-arrow daughter, she also played her twin sister, Atlantic City showgirl Rose D’Angelo. And honey, any actor who can nail their dialogue while rocking a headdress that weighs more than any other prop on the set can sure as shizzle handle Lois Cerullo.
Oh, and as for the fact that Byrne has already appeared on General Hospital — as Andrea Floyd, the murderous wife of Port Charles’ former mayor — one word: pshaw. If Sarah Brown could play Claudia Zacchara after Carly Corinthos and Michael Easton can play Hamilton Finn after Silas Clay and John McBain, Byrne can definitely be given a second role.
What do you think, General Hospital fans? Would you like to see Lois return to Port Charles with Brook Lynn? Do you have a better idea for who could play her? Hit the comments with your thoughts, and while you’re here, check out the below photo gallery of soap legends that we need back in daytime, never mind want.