Anthony Geary

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General Hospital star Anthony Geary says in a new interview that he plans on leaving the long-running soap opera when his current contract expires, the now 67-year-old actor having played Luke Spencer for the majority of the past three decades.

And it apparently the eight-time Daytime Emmy winner made the decision because he prefers that his real-life demise not come in dramatic soap fashion.

"The people at ABC and at GH have been amazingly good to me, allowing me to live on two continents and treating me, for the most part, extremely well," Geary told TV Insider about his plans. "This show has been a huge part of my life for over half my life and Luke Spencer is my alter ego.

"But I'm just weary of the grind and have been for 20 years. There was a point after my back surgery last year where it became clear to me that my time is not infinite. And I really don't want to die, collapsing in a heap, on that GH set one day. That wouldn't be too poetic."

He played Luke from 1978 until 1984 and then returned to GH in 1993 and never left.

The announcement of Geary's impending exit comes just days after the news that Genie Francis, the Laura Spencer to his Luke, will be returning for an unspecified number of episodes.

Regarding Geary's decision, ABC Daytime told TV Insider, "The door at GH will always be open to Tony and we hope that he will make a return visit at some point, even if just for a few weeks."

General Hospital executive producer Frank Valentini tells E! News in a statement, "Tony recently made his intentions clear that he would vacate his role of Luke Spencer this year, and it was a decision he did not come to lightly. After 37 years on the air, Tony felt this was the right time to bid adieu to Luke Spencer, Port Charles and General Hospital. Anthony is our friend and a part of our television family, but, as difficult as this may be, we understand and respect that this is his choice. Rest assured, Tony has promised to be with us throughout the summer as we have some exciting things in store for Luke. The door will always remain open, so don't think this is the last you'll see of Anthony Geary or Luke Spencer."

So that at least sounds as though his remaining episodes this summer won't involve the kiss of death...

Luke of course has led quite the turbulent life since he and Laura tied the knot in Port Charles in front of millions of rabid viewers in 1981, so we expect his exit to be quite the emotional experience.

Anthony Geary, Genie Francis, General Hospital

Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images

Geary, who said he made his decision this past January, will continue shooting through June and episodes with him will air through July.

Predicting what his exit will entail for Luke's more recent love, Tracy Quartermaine, played by Jane Elliot, Geary promised, "It's going to lead to the most wonderful, ass-kicking performance from her, and nobody kicks ass like Jane."

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