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FOREVER YOUNG: THE SECRET OF AGELESS SOAP STARS

Posted by 02.12.13

Was there ever a bride more beautiful than Laura Vining Webber Baldwin Spencer?

If you are or ever were a General Hospital (GH) fan, you know exactly who I am talking about. (Even if you have never watched the soap opera, you probably still have a pretty good idea.)

Luke and Laura’s wedding took place on November 17, 1981 in the fictional town of Port Charles where General Hospital is based. It was an event watched by 30 million viewers and remains the highest-rated hour in American soap opera history. (There were more “guests” than Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s nuptials, to put it into perspective for non GH fans.)

And now, Laura returns to the Port Charles canvas once more. Genie Francis, the only actress to ever play Laura, started on the show in the 1970s when she was a fresh-faced, doe-eyed teenager. Now the actress is celebrating her 50th birthday in the same role (albeit with a few more marriages, kidnappings, crimes, and asylum stints under her belt) just as the turns 50.

Think of Laura

Yet “Miss Star Eyes” still looks as gorgeous as she did in 1970s and 1980s–what gives? Do soap stars age? [Caveat: Obviously we are not talking about those unfortunate characters who have fallen victim to Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome (SORAS), the name for what happens when a character grows up overnight literally for plot line purposes. And yes, in a sense all soap stars are eternal. Nobody every really dies in soap land. If so, would we really be welcoming Francis back to Port Charles, again? Even those who do die may appear as ghosts, in flashbacks or are recast as casting directors cross their fingers and hope that magic can strike twice.. but I digress.]

How do the ones who stay on canvas or at least make cameos stay so young looking—especially in high def?

Ft. Meyers, Fl-based facial plastic surgeon and member of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) Stephen Prendiville, MD, says that many actresses and actors—including those on daytime—share great genetics, maintain very healthy diets, exercise religiously, avoid excessive sun exposure, smoking, and other factors which prematurely age, and get adequate sleep.

They also like their spa treatments, and probably dabble in aesthetic enhancements. “Some keep it less invasive with fillers, Botox, and skin tightening procedures such as Ultherapy, Pelleve, or Thermage, and others will inevitably follow the surgical route,” he says.

When asked why soap stars don’t seem to age, Seattle plastic surgeon Richard Baxter, MD, quips: “only their plastic surgeon knows for sure.”

Still, he says that soap stars likely take good care of their skin. “One of the more obvious signs of aging is loss of facial volume, so fillers can be especially helpful without looking ‘done” he says.

And “there is always good makeup and lighting,” Baxter adds.

AAFPRS member Robert Kotler, MD, a facial plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills sees some of these people up close. “When seeing them, either on TV or in staged photos, we are seeing them literally and figuratively in their best light,” he says. “Nobody does glamour like Hollywood. They have been at it a long time and are very good at it.”

Midlothian, VA-based cosmetic surgeon Joe Niamtu III, DMD, adds: “If you have ever been on set of a show, the amount of makeup that people wear is amazing. Also, you are talking about controlled direct lighting and not overhead. People look younger in bright lights. Finally, my guess is that most media people are big fans of cosmetic surgery.“

Say whatever you like, soap stars like Francis, Susan Lucci, Robin Strasser, and Erika Slezak (clearly I am an ABC loyalist, but there are many more on the other networks) embody beauty and glamour—and are as ageless as the soaps they star on. Don’t believe me, tune into GH or log on to one of the newly back-from-the dead One Life to Live and All My Children, which are resuming production on the Online Network.

 

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