General Hospital (commonly abbreviated GH) is an American daytime television medical drama. It is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running American soap opera in production and the second longest-running drama in television in American history after Guiding Light. Concurrently, it is the world’s third longest-running scripted drama series in production after British serials The Archers and Coronation Street, as well as the world’s second-longest-running televised soap opera still in production. General Hospital premiered on the ABC television network on April 1, 1963. General Hospital is the longest-running serial produced in Hollywood, and the longest-running entertainment program in ABC television history. It holds the record for most Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series, with 13 wins.
The show was created by husband-and-wife soap writers Frank and Doris Hursley, who originally set it in a general hospital(hence the title), in an unnamed fictional city. In the 1970s, the city was named Port Charles, New York. From its beginning, General Hospital starred John Beradino and Emily McLaughlin, and both actors stayed with the show until their deaths in 1996 and 1991 respectively. They were joined a year later by Rachel Ames who remains to date the longest serving actress on an ABC soap opera, having been continuously on the show from 1964 to 2007. General Hospital was the second soap to air on ABC (after the short-lived Road to Reality, which aired for several months during the 1960–61 season). In 1964, a sister soap was created for General Hospital, The Young Marrieds; it ran for two years, and was canceled because of low ratings. General Hospital also spawned a primetime spinoff with the same name in the United Kingdom from 1972 to 1979, as well as the daytime series Port Charles (1997–2003) and the primetime spin-off General Hospital: Night Shift (2007–2008) in the United States. Taped at The Prospect Studios, General Hospital aired for a half-hour until July 23, 1976. The series was expanded from 30 minutes to 45 minutes on July 26, 1976, and then to a full hour on January 16, 1978.