Finola Hughes

Finola Hughes
Finola Hughes

Finola Hughes was born in 1959 in London.   She has carved out a niche in long running television series in the U.S. such as “All My Children” and “General Hospital”.   She starred opposite Joan Collins and Carol White in “Nutcracker” and John Travolta in the movie “Staying Alive” in 1983.

TCM overview:

Starting as a dancer, the British-born Finola Hughes originated the role of Victoria in “Cats” and then made the leap to Hollywood as Laura, the icy Broadway dance diva opposite John Travolta in the sequel “Stayin’ Alive” (1983). She achieved her greatest fame on “General Hospital” (ABC, 1963- ) as superspy Anna Devane, who became a longtime fan favorite and earned the actress a Daytime Emmy as well as a fun cameo in “Soapdish” (1991). Although she notched many non-soap credits, including notable stints as the English stepmother of “Blossom” (NBC, 1990-95) and the spirit of the dead mother of the witchy sisters of “Charmed” (The WB, 1998-2006), Hughes grabbed her biggest headlines when she jumped to “All My Children” (ABC, 1970-2011) as Dr. Alex Devane Marick, twin sister to the beloved Anna Devane, whom she subsequently reprised. She briefly hosted the makeover show “How Do I Look?” (Style Network, 2004- ), wrote a juicy novel about soap operas, and returned repeatedly for a series of guest spots as Anna on “General Hospital.” Although she was most widely known for her soap stardom, Finola Hughes managed to maintain a loyal fanbase and to carve out an interesting and enviable career.

Born Oct. 29, 1959 in London, England, Finola Hughes began her dance training from an early age, joining the Northern Ballet Company after winning the Markova award. After a few small dancing appearances in films, Hughes’s talents caught the eye of Andrew Lloyd Webber, who cast her as the original Victoria the White Cat in the London production of the global smash musical “Cats.” Hollywood took notice, and Hughes booked the female lead in the Sylvester Stallone-helmed “Stayin’ Alive” (1983), the sequel to the blockbuster “Saturday Night Fever” (1977). As Laura, the haughty star dancer in the Broadway musical “Satan’s Alley,” Hughes sparred with star John Travolta as Tony Manero, memorably dismissing him after a one-night stand with an icy “Everybody uses everybody.” Although critics hated nearly every aspect of the film and she herself earned two Razzie nominations, Hughes emerged relatively unscathed and was rewarded with a juicy role on the most popular daytime soap in the history of the genre.

As the glamorous spy Anna Devane, Hughes created a sensation day one of her arrival on “General Hospital” (ABC, 1963- ). Viewers adored the character’s complicated love affairs and intrigue Anna coolly navigated, including tumultuous marriages to fellow spy Robert Scorpio (Tristan Rogers) and mobster Duke Lavery (Ian Buchanan). A soap superstar, Hughes also found time to film guest spots on “L.A. Law” (NBC, 1986-1994) and to parody her overly dramatic persona in a juicy “Soapdish” (1991) cameo. That same year, Hughes won a Daytime Emmy for her “General Hospital” work, and she would also collect several Soap Opera Digest Awards and nominations. Surprisingly, Hughes was fired by the soap’s producer Gloria Monty in 1991, and briefly replaced by another actress. But fans would have none of it and the stage was set for a return by popular demand.

In the meantime, Hughes played a waitress on “Jack’s Place” (ABC, 1992-93) and continued to lens a steady stream of guest spots and supporting roles, including a lengthy stint as a sympathetic stepmother to “Blossom” (NBC, 1990-95) and an appearance as the evil comic book psychic Emma Frost, the White Queen, on “Generation X” (Fox, 1996). She played a seemingly perfect wife on the verge of collapse on the short-lived series “Pacific Palisades” (Fox, 1997) and contributed voices to “Superman: The Animated Series” (The WB, 1996-2000), “Life with Louie” (Fox, 1994-98) and “Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World” (1998). Her soap opera roots came calling, however, and strangely, she joined “All My Children” (ABC, 1970-2011) as neurologist Dr. Alexandra “Alex” Devane Marick, who was revealed to be the twin sister of Anna Devane of the network’s “General Hospital.” Thankfully for “GH” fans, Alex located and rescued her sister, then conveniently left Pine Valley to return to Port Charles so Hughes could solely focus on breathing life back into Anna, who quickly reclaimed her fan favorite mantle, embarking on a slew of new adventures.

Hughes kept her other options open, however, making a string of guest appearances as Patty Halliwell, the deceased matriarch of the Halliwell clan on “Charmed” (The WB, 1998-2006), appearing to provide support, advice and love to her witch daughters (Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano and eventually Rose McGowan). Hughes proved quite the popular figure despite the inherent limitations of playing a spirit, and recurred throughout the hit show’s run. After briefly hosting the makeover show “How Do I Look?” (Style Network, 2004- ), she was eventually replaced. Her fans remained loyal however, and Hughes’ much trumpeted return to “General Hospital” as part of the 2006 May sweeps earned excellent ratings, opening the door for Hughes to continue to make special appearances over the next few years and to pop up on “General Hospital: Night Shift” (SOAPnet, 2007-08). She branched out into writing when, along with Digby Diehl, Hughes penned a successful soap opera-themed novel Soapsuds, which offered up enough bitchy bon mots and over-the-top events to delight readers. The actress continued to earn credits on a variety of projects as varied as the procedural “CSI: NY” (CBS, 2004- ), the gymnastics teen drama “Make It or Break It” (ABC Family, 2009- ) and the well-reviewed romance “Like Crazy” (2011) which also featured Jennifer Lawrence.

By Jonathan Riggs

The above TCM overview can also be accessed online here.

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