GENERAL HOSPITAL - Episode “15192” - "General Hospital" airs Monday - Friday, on ABC (check local listings). (ABC/Christine Bartolucci)
Credit: ABC

It is with aching hearts that we share the tragic news that Jacklyn Zeman — best known for her long-running portrayal of General Hospital nurse Bobbie Spencer — has passed away. The much-loved actress had been appearing in the role since 1977.

For many, the news came via Twitter, where the soap’s executive producer, Frank Valentini, posted the somber notice. “On behalf of our General Hospital family,” he wrote “I am heartbroken to announce the passing of our beloved Jackie Zeman. Just like her character, the legendary Bobbie Spencer, she was a bright light and true professional that brought so much positive energy with her to work.”

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In a second missive, he continued: “Jackie will be missed, but her positive spirit will always live on with our cast and crew. We send our heartfelt sympathy to her loved ones, friends and family, especially her daughters, Cassidy and Lacey.

Jackie will be greatly missed, but her positive spirit will always live on with our cast and crew. We send our heartfelt sympathy to her loved ones, friends, and family, especially her daughters Cassidy and Lacey.

Stunned fans immediately expressed their sadness at the news, many sharing that they had been watching Zeman’s performances from the beginning of her decades-long stint… and for some, even longer. “This is so heartbreaking,” tweeted woodstockdad. “I’ve loved her since she was Lana McClain [on One Life to Live]. I feel like we grew up together.”

Ironically, Nurse Spencer was not Zeman’s first go at playing a character named Bobbie: Although spelled differently, she did a one-day stint on the mystery soap The Edge of Night as a woman named Bobbi in 1976. That same year, she would go on to be undervalued as One Life to Live‘s Lana before at last landing the attention-grabbing role of hooker-turned-nurse Bobbie Spencer, sister of the iconic Luke Spencer.

During her General Hospital run, Zeman would receive four Daytime Emmy nominations, and ripped out the heart of viewers during the storyline in which Bobbie’s daughter died in a bus crash and donated her heart to ailing cousin Maxie. To this day, the scenes revolving around this tale remain among the soap’s most memorable. In fact, they were included during a segment of this year’s recently-concluded Nurses Ball which paid tribute to Bobbie. (You can view that flashback-filled segment below.)

Zeman was born on March 6, 1953, in New Jersey. She is survived by daughters Cassidy and Lacey, as well as her grandchildren, Kennedy and Decker. No word as to cause of death or how the soap she called home for so many years will handle Zeman’s passing.

As we take a moment to process this monumental loss, read what Zeman’s co-stars have to say about her here and join us in celebrating these other actors lost far too soon