Fun in the Afternoon: Best of the Nurses’ Ball

Is there any General Hospital fan out there who doesn’t miss the Nurses’ Ball? From 1994 to 2001, it showcased the best of what GH had to offer while putting a spotlight on the worthy cause of HIV awareness. These days it appears budget issues prevent this kind of event, but sometimes you have put in an investment in order to get a return. We wouldn’t mind them saving money on their quasi-sweeps events by cutting out the fires and explosions budget (and what very little they use for CGI) and putting that toward a Nurses’ Ball redux.

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Incandescentflower: The Nurses’ Ball was unique in that it often mixed comedic moments with the dramatic. I previously highlighted my favorite Nurses’ Ball scene, which was one of the most dramatic moments in the event’s history. So for this post, I’ve decided to focus on the Ball’s lighter side.

I don’t feel it’s necessary to write something about each clip because I enjoy them all for the exact same reasons: 1) the entire cast is involved in a storyline where someone doesn’t die; 2) the performances showcase the multi-talented cast, and are woven into the current climate of the show with backstage scenes and sidelong glances; 3) the cast gets to dress up and show off how attractive they are, and; 4) the acts are just plain entertaining and often hilariously funny.

So without further ado:

Mary Mae & The Pips/Luke and Lucky Hip Hop (1995)

Jailhouse Rock with Lucky, Liz, Taggart and Dara (1998)

Girls Just want to have Fun (1998)

Hey, Big Spender (1998)

Quartermaines Sing I Feel Good (1999)

Footloose with Emily, Juan and Liz (2000)

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Tenillypo: It seems particularly appropriate to look back on the Nurses’ Ball this week, since last Sunday would have marked this year’s Day of Compassion, when all the soaps in the 90s chose to highlight HIV/AIDS awareness. Between Stone and Robin and the annual Nurses’ Ball, however, General Hospital really set a new standard.

I looked forward to the Nurses’ Ball every year because it was a chance to see the whole cast dressed up and having a whole lot of fun. Coordinating that many complex shots must have been a nightmare, but all the actors consistently went above and beyond — especially the indomitable Lynn Herring, who was equally fabulous whether she was giving tearful speeches or losing her dress on stage (every year except for 2000). And unlike those clunky, product placement heavy “Women’s Heart Health” PSAs we get on the show nowadays, the Nurses’ Balls were informative and heart-felt without feeling preachy or heavy-handed.

Like Incandescentflower, I think these clips mostly speak for themselves. But one thing I do want to give a special mention to is Jon Hanley, a recurring, HIV positive character played by Lee Mathis, who succumbed to the illness in real life in 1996 — an unflinching reminder that as fun and flashy as the cabaret and back stage antics were, the underlying cause was deadly serious and intensely important.

I understand why a huge production like the Ball is probably impractical in the current economic climate, but HIV and AIDS still haven’t gone away, no matter how many advances have been made. For a show with such a tremendous history on this issue — and which still has an HIV positive character among the main cast — you’d think they might have been able to set aside a couple of minutes on Monday to acknowledge the date. Maybe have Robin take Emma to visit Stone’s headstone at the cemetery? Or hey– how about show her reminiscing about the event to Patrick and add in some flashbacks? It wouldn’t cost any money and it would delight fans! Win/Win!

In any event, here are a few of my favorite numbers:

Steve Hardy With Casey at the Bat (1994)

Romeo & Juliet (1994)

Lucy Strips for Charity (1995)

If I Only Had a Brain (1995)

Anything Damian Can Do, Lucy Can Do Better (1995)

Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend (1996)

Last Dance, or How Luke Killed Disco (1997)

(starts at 4:00)

Is it in His Kiss? (2001)

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And now, readers weight in!

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4 thoughts on “Fun in the Afternoon: Best of the Nurses’ Ball

  1. I loved watching those. I didn’t get to watch these when they where on because my local ABC took GH off for a little bit and put it back on after this was all over. I wish they would do this again specially since Robin in still on the show and she is living with HIV.

  2. Yeah, it wouldn’t be the same on a limited budget and without Lucy there to MC, but even something would be better than nothing.

    Glad you enjoyed the clips!

  3. I loved the Nurse’s Ball! Is it possible to buy a video of all of the Ball’s? This alone could be a huge money maker ! I know I would buy one…..I am 74 and a longtime fan. Thanks.
    Toni Williams

    • I don’t know of any official collections put out by ABC. I’m sure there are other fans selling homemade DVDs, though. Quality may vary, so buy at your own risk.

      (Also, love hearing from such a longtime fan. That is awesome!)

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