Credit: ABC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection (2), ABC

There wasn’t a mention of it in the weather reports. But make no mistake: A hurricane hit Port Charles on April 5, 1996.

In a way, it all began with a kiss. Back in 1996, Sarah Joy Brown was just coming off a 92-episode run on the kids’ superhero show VR Troopers. She was doing a movie up in Canada and had been chagrined to discover that she had no lines. Like, none. So when her agent asked if she wanted to fly back to L.A. and try out for General Hospital, she said the same thing you or we would: Sure, why not?

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Before auditioning to play Carly Benson, the 21-year-old was given the sides — the material to study. And it was good — like, really good. “The audition scene was incredible,” she told The Locher Room in January 2022. (Watch below.) “It was back in the days when they gave you 10-page scenes. It had peaks and valleys. It was all over the place. It was one of those scenes that you used to watch on General Hospital when they were long and they had everything but the kitchen sink in them.”

Including a kiss. During Brown’s screen test, “I definitely shocked Steve Burton,” who played Jason, she said. “They wanted to see us kiss and have this chemistry, and I grabbed him by the back of his hair, pulled him down to me and laid it on so hard.

“After I finished,” she added with a laugh, “the crew were clapping, and I was like, ‘I think I might get this job.’”

Keeping it, however, would be another matter altogether. On her first day at General Hospital, Brown recalled being given “the worst-ever outfit and shoes in the history of introducing a new character.” Worse, between her screen test and her start date, she’d been to the salon, and her stylist had left her with, in essence, “a buzz cut with some curls on top.

“So i remember that I cried a lot before my first day,” she continued, “thinking I was going to be fired because my hair looked horrifying.” (Aw, see below: It wasn’t that bad.)

Needless to say, Brown did not get fired. In fact, nobody even noticed the wardrobe or the hair, because the daytime newcomer was such a fireball that she burned up the screen. Still, “it wasn’t good for me until there was a moment when the writers came to the table with a real concept of who they had intended for Carly to be,” she said. Once she got that script, everything flipped. “The words were there, the subtext was there… ”

Brown went on to win three Daytime Emmys for her work as Carly and pave the way for both Tamara Braun (now Ava, Days of Our Lives) and Laura Wright to put their own stamp on the now-iconic character. In fact, such an impression did Brown make that seven years after she left Port Charles, she was asked back to breathe life, however briefly, into Mafia donna Claudia Zacchara.

Review Carly’s bonkers life in the below photo gallery, which takes you through Brown, Braun and Wright’s runs in the role.

Video: YouTube/The Locher Room