Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Remembering Robin: Saying goodbye to General Hospital’s Kimberly McCullough

When she came to ‘General Hospital’ in 1985, Kimberly McCullough was seven years old and cute as a button. She had long brown hair and big brown eyes and just a smattering of adorable freckles across the bridge of her nose.

When she leaves the nearly 50-year-old soap next week, she’ll be almost 34 – and she’ll have accomplished what very few soap actors ever do: She’ll have grown up onscreen.

When McCullough’s Robin was first introduced on GH I was 10-years-old and already a steady watcher. My mom had introduced me to the city of Port Charles when I was five and she kept me home from kindergarten because she didn’t want to miss Luke and Laura’s wedding.

There isn’t a time I don’t remember watching ‘General Hospital.’ McCullough and Robin were a big part of that.

A few months ago, McCullough announced that she would be leaving the role she has been playing on and off for 27 years. She was upbeat about her departure, saying she wanted to focus on more behind-the-scenes endeavors, like directing.

This was a blow to a lot of fans – myself included – who had grown up with Robin and loved her like she was a member of their own family.

Even though I was three years older than Robin when she was introduced, I was attached to her from the start. I was jealous of her close relationship with her godfathers Frisco and Sean and I laughed at her misfortune in having to suffer through the horrible ‘Casey the Alien’ storyline.

I mourned with her when her parents – Robert and Anna – were presumed dead and she was left with only her Uncle Mac and a handful of family friends to help raise her.
I was wistful when she first fell in love with the incredibly handsome Stone and shocked when I found out she was HIV positive around the time of his death.

I cried right along with Robin when Stone died in her arms and then I slowly began to pick up the pieces of my own shattered heart when Robin let Jason Morgan into her life and they launched an entirely new love story.

When McCullough left GH in the late 1990s to go to school and pursue other projects, I thought for sure that was the last time we’d see her onscreen. After all, McCullough is many things – but she’s not the typical soap actress.

McCullough has spoken openly about her struggles with being “sexy” onscreen. She has lamented being put into the same age group with the incredibly hot Antonio Sabato Jr., Steve Burton and Vanessa Marcil – all actors that were older than her but playing the same high school hijinks.

Despite all that, McCullough managed to not only stand out but shine among her peers, building an incredibly moving friendship between Robin and Marcil’s Brenda and an incredibly sweet romance with Burton’s Jason (which was probably the last time Burton was a viable leading man).

I was actually gratified when the powers-that-be opted not to recast Robin, and instead let her live out her days happy – even if it was off-screen.

Then, in 2001, something interesting happened. I read in ‘Soap Opera Digest’ that McCullough would be doing a couple episodes of ‘All My Children’ to welcome her onscreen mother’s return to soap land. Finola Hughes was bringing her fan favorite heroine Anna back to ABC – albeit on a different soap.

McCullough and Hughes always had sparkling chemistry on screen – think Lorelai and Rory on ‘Gilmore Girls’ – and their brief reunion showcased that they never lost that sparkle.

After a brief return to GH to honor show matriarch Anna Lee’s death in 2004, McCullough returned to the fold full time in October 2005.

Given the fact that she had a popular pairing with Burton in the past, most people thought Robin and Jason would pick up where they left off. Instead, though, GH cast the charismatic Jason Thompson as a new neurosurgeon and love interest, Patrick Drake.

“Scrubs” – as the duo is affectionately called by fans – caught on quickly, marking the third popular couple that McCullough had managed to launch. In six and a half years, the duo have overcame numerous obstacles (her HIV status, his womanizing, mob shootings, an unplanned pregnancy, a stalker, an HIV scare, mob shootings, a crazy Cassadine ultimatum, former boyfriends, and did I mention mob shootings?) but they always came through each obstacle with their love in tact.

That’s what makes next week particularly awful. Robin was just reunited with Anna and we know Tristan Rogers’ Robert is coming back – although if it’s before Robin’s demise I don’t know. I haven’t seen spoilers for that either way.

Robin and Patrick just survived a health scare and now she’s (reportedly) going to die in a mob triggered explosion. Now, some spoilers are saying she’s not really dying and there will be hope for her return in the future, but other spoilers are saying that isn’t so. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

I think the biggest problem for me in all of this is that Robin will go out with a literal bang – another victim of the mob that ate Port Charles (there have been a lot of them). I hope that her death gives Thompson, Rogers, Hughes, John J. York, Maurice Benard and Steve Burton something powerful to work with. I hope that the writers handle her death with dignity and grace.

Since this is GH, though, home of mobsters with a heart of gold, heroines who are actually narcissistic hags and horrific character propping of the umpteenth degree, I’m not sure that’s going to happen.

Either way, with Robin leaving I’m at a loss. I’ll continue to watch the soap – of course – but it will have lost a lot of its magic.

RIP Robin Scorpio Drake.

What do you think? What are your best Robin memories?


Blogger cimrk0101 said...

When I think of Robin I am immediately drawn back to the Nurse's Ball from 1996. The image of Mac embracing her in Stone's quilt, to her haunting speech, and ending with Jason carrying her off the stage having been unable to go on in tears. What a memorable and haunting moment for the character.

February 15, 2012 at 5:47 PM 
Blogger Catherine said...

I think Kimberly McCullough is an amazing actress. She brings out the best in fellow actors in scenes. Kimberly enhances the scenes not take over the scenes. It is really hitting me hard that I won't see Robin. Robin is the heart of GH. Anna and the vets coming back mean nothing with Robin gone. Kimberly shared scenes with most of them.I hope Robin doesn't die so she can come back at some point and reunite with Patrick & Emma. I will continue to watch until GH start to put Patrick (and Emma) with another woman. I saw that when Robin went to Seattle and turned off GH. Insulting was an under statement. Robin is a character rich in history and deserves respect. When Patrick moves on GH ends for me. I hope that down the line Robin and Patrick reunite just like many OLTL people did.

February 15, 2012 at 6:43 PM 
Blogger Amanda Lee said...

Cimrk0101, that scene is linked up above -- with a lot of other wonderful Robin scenes.

February 15, 2012 at 7:46 PM 
Blogger Angie said...

Robyn is my hero she got me though alot in my past now she is gone and part of me is dead to.I hope she come back and be with Patrick and Emma.And have a happy ending.Thats what I want.

February 22, 2012 at 10:50 AM 

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