General Hospital star Jacklyn Zeman dies, aged 70

·3-min read

General Hospital star Jacklyn Zeman has died, aged 70.

The actor, who played Bobbie Spencer on the US series for 45 years, had cancer, her family announced.

General Hospital executive producer Frank Valentini announced the news, writing on Twitter: “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 a true professional that brought so much positive energy with her work.”

ABC Entertainment, the network that airs the series, said in a statement: “Jacklyn Zeman has been a beloved member of the General Hospital and ABC family since she originated the iconic role of Bobbie Spencer over 45 years ago.

“She leaves behind a lasting legacy for her Emmy-nominated portrayal of the bad girl turned heroine and will always be remembered for her kind heart and radiant spirit. We are devastated by the news of her passing, and send our deepest condolences to Jackie’s family, friends and loved ones.”

Zeman joined the show in 1977 as Bobbie, the younger sister of Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary).

Speaking on co-star Maurice Benard’s TouTube series State of Mind in 2021, Zeman said of Geary: “I’m probably closer to him than I would be a real-life brother.”

In 1982, Zeman described Bobbie as “a fascinating perso for me to play”, adding: “I get to do... all the things that most women think about but wouldn’t dare.”

One of Zeman’s most memorable scenes was in 1994 and Bobbie’s daughter BJ is in a school bus accident that leaves her brain dead. Bobbie and then-husband Tony (played by Brad Maule) made the decision to donate their daughter’s heart to her cousin, Maxie, who was battling Kawasaki disease.

‘General Hospital’ Jacklyn Zeman star pictured in the early 1990s (Photolink/Mediapunch/Shutterstock)
‘General Hospital’ Jacklyn Zeman star pictured in the early 1990s (Photolink/Mediapunch/Shutterstock)

Laura Wright, who played Bobbie’ daughter Carly Spencer, posted a series of broken heart emojis. Jon Lindstrom, who plays Kevin Collins wrote, “This is going to take me a minute to process. I can’t believe such a life force as hers has left.”

Born 6 March 1953 in Englewood, New Jersey, Zeman discovered a love for dance as a child and, as a teen, began acting in school productions. After originally being hired for just three days of work on ABC soap One Life to Live, she was offered a contract to join the show.

She played Lana McClain for a little more than one year, and then left for General Hospital.

“I didn’t even audition,” she told a blogger in 2010. Zeman was nominated for four Daytime Emmy Awards for her work on the show.

Outside of soap operas, Zeman worked as a Playboy Bunny to help pay for college and also acted in commercials. She had a role in 1982’s National Lampoon's Class Reunion, appeared in a string of TV movies, including the ABC Afterschool special Montana Crossroads in 1993. She also had a series regular role as Sofia Madison in the crime-drama series The Bay, earning her a fifth Emmy Award nomination.

Zeman final appearance on General Hospital arrived in April 2023 for the wedding of her character’s grandson. The same month, she also celebrated the show’s 60th anniversary by posting a video on Instagram to the fans.

Jacklyn Zeman photographed in 2018 (Mediapunch/Shutterstock)
Jacklyn Zeman photographed in 2018 (Mediapunch/Shutterstock)

“A great, big heartfelt thank you to the very special people who have been watching us and supporting us and keeping us on the air all these years. We love you.”

Zeman is survived by two daughters, Cassidy and Lacey from her first marriage to Glenn Gordon. She was married and divorced two more time to Steve Gribbin and disc jockey Murray Kaufman who went by “Murray the K.”

Additional reporting by Agencies