General Hospital’s Maurice Benard Honors the Woman Who Saved His Career When He Quit and ‘Wanted to Be a Preacher’
The ABC soap actor probably never imagined he would go on to become a Daytime Emmy Award winner.
General Hospital vet Maurice Benard (Sonny) recently made a very candid post on his Instagram. Along with a photo with his former producer/director Shelley Curtis, the actor revealed, “I remember when I started General Hospital I quit three weeks into the gig.”
He explained that during that time in his life it had been his third breakdown, having suffered from bipolar, and admitted, “I didn’t want to act again. I wanted to be a preacher.”
However, those behind the scenes, as well as Benard’s wife Paula, weren’t going to let him give up without a fight. “GH and Paula convinced me to go back,” he stated. “I’ll never forget I was in my dressing room with Shelley Curtis crying like a baby on her shoulder.”
Benard has confided in Curtis, “There’s no way I can say a line,” and she looked at the actor who was set to play one of Port Charles’ most legendary characters and said, “We will do it page by page, line by line, word by word, if we have to.”
He went on to finish his post with the advice to “never give up” and listed a few other people he wanted to send a special thanks to for being there for him, including producer Wendy Riche, Vanessa Marcil (ex-Brenda), Wally Kurth (Ned), Rena Sofer (ex-Lois), Steve Burton (Jason), Kimberly McCullough (ex-Robin), Sean Kanan (ex-AJ) and photographer Jim Warren.
More: Did Kimberly McCullough tease a General Hospital return?
We speak for a lot of fans out there — and are so glad you never gave up!
To honor Benard and the character he created, take a look at our gallery below featuring photos of Sonny’s greatest challenges faced over the years.
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<p>Rarely does anyone in town mention that when first we met Sonny, he was running a strip joint and getting underage girls hooked on pills. Well, anyone but Scott, whose daughter, Karen, was one of those girls! Instead, most people — including the local police — ignore the shadier side of Sonny’s halo.</p>
<p>In Port Charles, you’re nobody until somebody’s tried to shoot you. But where Sonny’s concerned, the bullets have hit their mark as often as they’ve missed! Despite having eaten more lead than is produced by a pencil factory in a year, Sonny’s managed to avoid having his name written in that great ledger in the sky.</p>
<p>One of those aforementioned shootings took place on what was to be Sonny’s wedding day. But instead of walking down the aisle to remarry Carly, he raced to save a kidnapped T.J. and wound up taking a bullet which left him in a wheelchair. Proving you can’t keep a (questionably) good man down, he ultimately took a literal stand to protect daughter Kristina from a would-be kidnapper.</p>
<p>We don’t know exactly what illegal activities fund Sonny’s empire, but we know he’s darned good at them! For years, he’s not only kept his family in the style to which it’s become accustomed (translation: He’s rich!), but he’s prevented rivals from selling drugs or running guns in “his” town, at least until the recent arrival of Cyrus Renault. </p>
<p>Discovering that he’s bipolar was, as Dr. Phil would say, a changing day in Sonny’s life. (The same proved true for portrayer Maurice Benard, who writes about his struggle with the disorder in his memoir, <a href="https://amzn.to/2X1An5i" target="_blank"><em>Nothing General About It</em></a>.) It not only enhanced his understanding of himself and his behavior, it made him uniquely qualified to help son Morgan, who shared the same diagnosis before his tragic demise.</p>
<p>Don’t tell current wife Carly, but we suspect a big part of Sonny’s heart will always be with the one who got away, <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/general-hospital/characters/brenda-barrett-corinthos/" target="_blank">Brenda Barrett</a>. Ironically, when their one and only attempt at marriage fell apart, Carly — who, all told, wed Sonny five times — was the one who fought to keep them from divorcing.</p>
<p>The former wives and lovers of Port Charles’ dimpled don have plenty of reason to despise him, yet somehow they don’t. Olivia forgave him for shooting their son, Dante. And clearly, Carly got over that whole shot-her-in-the-head-while-she-was-birthing-Morgan thing! Even Sonny and Ava have occasionally put aside their differences for the sake of Avery, the adorable result of their evening of hate sex.</p>
<p>There’s a poignant irony to the fact that Sonny is struggling to let go of his ailing father, given how many years they spent estranged. Long ago, Mike (then <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/actors/ron-hale/" target="_blank">Ron Hale</a>) walked away from his son without a backward glance, leading to a lifetime of regrets and recriminations. Will Sonny now be able to live with whatever decision he makes where his father’s ultimate fate is concerned?</p>
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