Off The Record
Jacklyn Zeman, a.k.a. Bobbie Spencer of ‘General Hospital,’ Dies at 70 – Cause Of Death Revealed
A nurse on the long-running soap opera “General Hospital,” Jacklyn Zeman (who was nominated for an Emmy for her part) passed away on Tuesday in Thousand Oaks, California.
It was her 70th year on earth…
Her passing at Los Robles Regional Medical Center after what her family described as a “short battle” with cancer.
Ms. Zeman’s role as Barbara Jean Spencer, aka Bobbie, made her one of the longest-running cast members of any soap opera.
She made her first appearance on “General Hospital” in 1977 and went on to participate in approximately 900 episodes of the show, which has followed the lives of people in the medical field and the wealthy business class of the fictional New York State town of Port Charles since its inception in 1963.
After leaving her life as a prostitute and placing her kid for adoption in Florida, Bobbie reinvented herself as a nursing student and competed for the attentions of a law student called Scotty Baldwin.
She was the younger sibling of Anthony Geary’s Luke Spencer, who also starred in the show.
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Ms. Zeman presented Bobbie, a nurse, as a caring individual who had overcome adversity to become the person she is today.
She defended her rough upbringing in one episode, assuring Scotty that she never got anything for free.
“I wanted Bobbie to be bouncy and have a positive aura and energy,” she said in an interview last year with TV Insider. “I wanted her to have intelligence, humor and a love of people. Bobbie came from a dysfunctional background, but she wanted to have kids and be a mother.”
“I wanted the character to be perky,” she explained, “and to come in like a hurricane.”
Ms. Zeman’s work on the show earned her four Daytime Emmy Award nominations, and she was nominated for a fifth award in 2021 for her work on another daytime drama, “The Bay.”
Jacklyn Lee Zeman was born in Englewood, New Jersey, on March 6, 1953, however she spent much of her childhood in Bergenfield.
She was the eldest of three daughters born to IBM engineer Richard Zeman and his wife, a Scholastic magazine employee named Rita (Duhart) Zeman.
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According to her daughter, Cassidy Zee Macleod, she started taking ballet classes when she was 5 years old and eventually relocated to New York City when she was 15 to further her dance career and attend New York University for a semester.
She began her soap opera career in 1976 on “One Life to Live” and then switched to “General Hospital” the following year.
Ms. Macleod, another daughter, Lacey Rose Gorden, two sisters, Lauren Fischetti and Carol Kolb, and two grandkids survive the Calabasas, California-based Ms. Zeman.
She was divorced from her husbands Steve Gribbin, the father of her daughters, and disc jockey Murray Kaufman, aka Murray the K.
The 60th anniversary of the premiere of “General Hospital” was marked in April.
According to Ms. Macleod, her mother made one of her final TV appearances in the show that month, which focused on a nurses’ ball.
A tweet from the show’s executive producer Frank Valentini on Wednesday read, “Just like her character, the legendary Bobbie Spencer, she was a bright light and true professional that brought so much positive energy with her to work.”
Ms. Macleod added that her mother was very proud of her “strong-willed” portrayal of Bobbie, and that she and her sister were able to see firsthand the impact their mother’s role had on others when the nurses who cared for her shared how much inspiration they had drawn from the character.
Ms. Macleod reflected on how many people “she touched” with her words.
Their decision to become nurses was reportedly inspired by her.
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