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Jesse Grant/JPI, Jill Johnson/JPI, ABC, ABC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, Howard Wise/JPI

“I couldn’t have known I would play this character on and off over the next three decades.”

When Finola Hughes auditioned for General Hospital, she didn’t think she had a snowball’s chance in hell of being cast as Anna Devane: The character was originally supposed to be American, not English. But there was no denying the future Emmy winner’s star quality, and cast, she was.

Though Hughes was already a stage and screen veteran, daytime was a whole new ballgame for her. Luckily, she had in her corner Tristan Rogers, who plays Anna’s former husband, Robert Scorpio. “When I first started, he was the first person I worked with,” she told Soap Opera Digest in 2020. “He was just really encouraging. Everything I learned, I sort of learned through him.”

THE MASTER OF BALLANTRAE, from left, Richard Thomas, Michael York, Finola Hughes, aired January 31, 1984. ©CBS/courtesy Everett Collection

In 1984’s The Master of Ballantrae, Hughes was plaid to the bone. Heck, so were Richard “John Boy” Thomas and Michael York.

The MVP was quick study, too. In no time, she’d turned Anna into one of the ABC soap’s most popular characters. Of course, when she made her debut on April 10, 1985, she had no idea how long or successful a run lay ahead.

“That day,” she Instagrammed on the occasion of her 35th anniversary with the show, “I couldn’t have known I would play this character on and off over the next three decades and love it so much. I couldn’t have known the extraordinary friends and family I would make. I couldn’t have known the outpouring of love from our dedicated audience…

“Thank you,” she added, “for embracing Anna’s badassery.”

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Oh, c’mon. The chances of viewers not taking to Anna’s badassery were about as slim as those of Sonny Corinthos giving up (cough) coffee-importing or Jason Morgan wearing something other than a black T-shirt.

Nonetheless, on this momentous, anniversary why not celebrate the new milestone Hughes has reached by cracking open the below photo gallery, which traces her steps to and from Port Charles, hitting highlights of Anna’s storylines along the way.