Jack Wagner Shares the 'No. 1 Thing' “General Hospital ”Viewers Say When They Meet Him (Exclusive)

The actor tells PEOPLE he “used to battle” the popularity that came from playing his iconic character on the soap opera

<p>Frazer Harrison/Getty</p> Jack Wagner in Los Angeles, California in February 2024.

Frazer Harrison/Getty

Jack Wagner in Los Angeles, California in February 2024.

It’s been more than a decade since Jack Wagner last popped up on General Hospital, but fans still excitedly approach him for selfies.

The actor, 64, joined GH in 1984 as spy Frisco Jones, appearing on the show regularly through 1995 and reprising his role for several episodes in 2013. But starring on the soap left a lasting impression on many viewers.

“The No. 1 thing women say is, ‘You don’t understand,’” he tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I used to battle it, because it was so hard for me being in the music business and coming from a soap to be taken legitimately as a singing artist. It took time to let go of that, but now I embrace it. If I can make someone’s day by going down memory lane, it makes my day.”

Being on GH in the ‘80s, when the show was arguably at the height of its popularity, was surreal for Wagner, who was raised in Washington, Mo. by Peter, a car salesman, and Scotty, a stay-at-home mom.

Related: Jack Wagner Says His When Calls the Heart Character's Search for 'Truth' Will Create a 'Lot of Comedy' (Exclusive)

<p>ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty</p> Jack Wagner with John Stamos on 'General Hospital.'

ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty

Jack Wagner with John Stamos on 'General Hospital.'

“It really was incredible how popular the show was in the '80s,” says the actor, who overlapped with John Stamos on the soap for a few months. “It's just unbelievable to be a part of it to kind of launch with that show.”

“It was crazy, because back then, people would join fan clubs, and there would be bags and bags of fan letters,” he adds. “I took it in stride, because it was just sort of the things happened to Tony Geary, Rick Springfield and John Stamos, who were ‘teen idols,’ I guess you would call us, back then.”

Despite his ambivalence about all that adulation, the frenzy fueled his budding music career. He became a bonafide pop star in the ‘80s, with a Top 10 1985 single “All I Need,” which he sang in character on GH before it became a hit and went on to release six albums.

“I would sell concerts out in an hour or two,” he admits.

Related: Jack Wagner Says He'd 'Absolutely Entertain' a Cameo on Melrose Place Revival: 'You Never Really Die on a Soap' (Exclusive)

<p>Ron Wolfson/WireImage</p> Jack Wagner performing on 'American Bandstand' in 1983.

Ron Wolfson/WireImage

Jack Wagner performing on 'American Bandstand' in 1983.

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While Wagner, who currently stars on the Hallmark Channel period drama When Calls the Heart  doesn’t keep up with many of his former castmates, he compares running into them to an impromptu catch-up with an old high school friend.

“It's like you pick up right where you left off," he says, adding, "That's what I would describe it as. It's not like I talk to most of my ex-castmates all the time. But when the occasion happens where we run into each other, it's like... we haven't missed a beat."

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When Calls the Heart airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on the Hallmark Channel. General Hospital airs Mondays through Fridays at 11:00 a.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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