Kelly Monaco is one lady who has several claims to fame. As a model, she holds sway as a Playboy playmate in the 90s and even clinched the Playmate title for April in 1997. She was also ranked as the number one sexiest cover model of the 2000s decade by Maxim. As a reality TV star, Monaco has served as one of the judges for the 2009 Miss USA Pageantry. She has also participated in about three editions of Dancing With The Stars and even clinched the first place, alongside her professional dancing partner, Alec Mazo, in the year 2005.
Another aspect of showbiz that has felt the special Kelly Monaco touch is the world of acting. The Philadelphia native has featured in a handful of TV and movie projects. She is, however, most famous for her role as the resident vixen, Sam McCall Morgan, on the long-running Soap Opera, General Hospital. Monaco’s time on the drama has made her a fan favorite over the years and earned her accolades.
Kelly Monaco’s Days as a Playboy Model
Kelly Monaco may now be most famous as an actress, but she was a foremost model back in the days, and it was the modeling career that paved the way for her acting career. Born into an Italian family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US, on the 23rd of May, 1976, Kelly Monaco completed her basic education at Pocono Mountain High School. She subsequently bagged the job of a lifeguard and did this for a little while before enrolling at Northampton Community College.
She, however, spent just about two years in college before dropping out to work as a model. Kelly began her career as a model by releasing her stunning pictures to Playboy magazine at the age of 20. She was subsequently recruited as a Playboy model and was associated with the brand throughout the late 1990s. Monaco was named Playboy’s Playmate of April in 1997 and also made several appearances on the brand’s Special Edition Publications. Also, she featured as a cover girl for Maxim, a publication that would later rate her their number one sexiest cover model of the 2000s decade.
Switching to Acting and Emerging as a Star on Port Charles
Kelly Monaco made her acting debut in the TV series, Baywatch in 1997. She appeared in about three episodes of the show and portrayed a model, as well as a rookie lifeguard named Susan. Building upon that humble debut, Monaco scored minor parts in several movies and TV series such as Late Last Night (1999), BASEketball (1998), Welcome to Hollywood (1998), Idle Hands (1999) and Mumford (1999). She then got the first big break of her acting career after she landed a major role on the soap opera, Port Charles, in the year 2000.
Port Charles was an ABC soap that revolved around interns in a highly-competitive program at a hospital in the fictional city of Port Charles. The show transcended the medical field into the supernatural realm and featured the likes of Lucy Coe, Kevin Collins, and Scott Baldwin. Port Charles debuted as far back as 1997, but Kelly Monaco only joined the cast in 2000, portraying a character known as Livvie Locke.
Her character has a twin sister named Tess. She also embarks on two failed marriages, as well as a fling, which results in a pregnancy. Unfortunately, the baby did not survive long enough to see the light of day. Monaco appeared on Port Charles for about three years, during which she scored a Daytime Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actress in a drama series. She later left the drama in 2003, the same year she got her iconic role on General Hospital.
Her 17-year Run as Sam McCall on General Hospital
Kelly Monaco encountered a major milestone in her acting career when she was cast in the longest-running soap opera in America, General Hospital, in 2003. She has been on the series to date and portrays the character of Samantha McCall Morgan. McCall is the daughter that mob boss, Julian Jerome, and attorney, Alexis Davis, had while they were still in their teens. She was thus given up for adoption and ends up in the hands of two professional con artists.
Samantha grows up to become a scheming con-woman but later cleans up her act to a reasonable extent. She also embarks on romantic relationships with the likes of mob bosses, Jason Morgan and Sonny Corinthos, as well as a former Navy SEAL named Drew Cain. These romances result in about three children, namely daughters, Scout and Lila, and a son named Danny.
Monaco has spent about 17 years on the show, during which she has featured in innumerable episodes. Her top-notch portrayal of the bad girl McCall has spread her fame amongst lovers of daytime soaps. It has also fetched her some industry accolades, including a nomination for outstanding leading actress in a drama series at the 2006 daytime Emmy awards, as well as a nomination for best actress in a daytime serial at the 2008 OFTA Awards. Additionally, in 2009, Soaps In Depth named her character on its list of the 20 naughtiest soap opera vixens of the year.
Her Temporary Departure from General Hospital
Ever since she began playing the role of Sam McCall Morgan in 2003, Kelly Monaco has faithfully portrayed that character, and there have never been talks of another actress replacing her. The Philadelphia native was, however, forced to temporarily relinquish the role in July 2020, as a result of the fallouts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The producers of GH had halted the production of new episodes at the height of the pandemic in March 2020. They later resumed shooting around July, but Monaco was asked not to return for some weeks due to exhibiting signs of COVID-19. The actress had experienced breathing difficulties for some time and was asked to embark on a two-week quarantine as a precautionary measure.
She was also asked to take multiple tests, all of which came back negative, either for the disease or antibody. Monaco’s mother later revealed that her daughter’s breathing problems stemmed from difficulty in wearing a mask rather than been positive for the virus. Kelly’s mandatory quarantine meant that she was unavailable for filming, and the producers decided to temporarily cast another actress, Lindsay Hartley, to play her role.
Hartley is a veteran of the soap opera genre and has appeared in soaps such as All My Children and Passions. She would step in for Monaco temporarily and has expressed hope that she would be able to fill the big shoes. Monaco, on her part, is focused on staying well and will be back on set once she is out of the woods.
Did You Know Kelly Was The First-Ever Dancing With The Stars Winner?
Despite her long-term commitment to General Hospital, Kelly Monaco has found time to indulge in other passions such as dancing. Back in 2005, the actress participated in the first season of the famous reality series, Dancing with the Stars. She emerged the winner along with her dancing partner, Alec Mazo, despite being criticized by the judges on several occasions due to her wardrobe malfunction.
Following her strong passion for dancing, Monaco also contested in the 15th and 25th seasons of the same reality series, but she didn’t claim the title. Instead, she took the third position in the 15th season alongside her dancing partner, Valentine Chmerkovskiy.
Kelly Monaco Dated Her High School Sweetheart For 18 Years
The General Hospital star was previously in a long-term relationship with her high school sweetheart named Mike Gonzalez. She and Gonzalez had a very long-term love affair, which lasted for about 18 years before collapsing in 2009. Thankfully, the breakup was amicable and both remain cordial towards each other to date.
Following the end of her relationship with Gonzalez, Kelly Monaco has largely remained single though she did date Heath Freeman for about a month in 2014. Heath Freeman is an actor/producer, who has appeared in some movies and TV series, including NCIS, Bones, Skateland, Warrior Road, Dark Was The Night, Home Sweet Hell, Trust Me, and The Closer.
— Kelly Monaco (@kellymonaco1) October 19, 2017
Monaco was also rumored to have dated her General Hospital co-star and onscreen love interest, Billy Miller, back in 2015. These rumors stemmed from the fact that they are quite close to each other and have been together on several occasions. The duo, however, maintains that they are just close pals, but ardent fans of the show keep on looking for the fact to show that something more is going on between them.