The Benards share how they overcame their troubled past to create a brighter future.
Every week Soap Hub tells its readers that it was a great conversation on GH’s Maurice Benard’s video podcast, State Of Mind, but this week was truly a special episode. Benard sat down and had a frank discussion with his wife, Paula, in his new studio, airing on her birthday, about how they, as a couple, made it through dark times and found joy.
Paula and Maurice Benard: Life Gives You What You Need
When Benard (Sonny, GH) met 16-year-old Paula Smith in the early 80s, neither one of them could foresee a 30-plus-year marriage and four kids. Neither one of them knew that their unique experiences, an abusive home, a mental health diagnosis, and a vulnerability that they rarely shared with others could be exactly what they needed on their path toward healing…together.
The three-time Daytime Emmy Award-winning actor and best-selling author has often referred to his wife as his saving grace. Even the merchandise he sells for his podcast features her encouraging words, “You are stronger than you know.” Yet his wife is a shy and reserved woman, uncomfortable in the spotlight, as the audience can tell when the interview begins. “I love listening to people tell their stories, and being there for people who need to tell their stories, and being here,” she shared in a shaky voice. “I talk a lot in my life, but this is very awkward for me.”
Like the on-screen mobster he portrays, Benard wasn’t letting her off the hook and kept pulling out her story. “My mom had a drug problem,” she revealed. “She was amazing. I loved my mom. I was extremely close to my mom, but she had a drug problem, and the problem overpowered her many times in our life. We lived homeless. We were taken away and placed in a foster home for a couple of years — my brother, my sister, and I.”
Soon, she illuminated more of her troubled past. “I never knew my dad,” the producer disclosed. “It was hard for me because I lived this life that was very, very difficult. But I always felt like there was something there helping me. I had lots of cousins and my brother and sister. They didn’t enjoy the chaos of our life, but they were able to be in it, unlike me. I sat back and was horrified and always scared.”
Benard’s wife credited her love of animals, the church, and a fourth-grade teacher for getting her through hard times and helping her to love and believe in herself.
When The Pieces Fall Into Place
Nobody could have predicted that her upbringing would give the one-time actress exactly what she needed to deal with her husband’s bipolar disorder, but it did. Benard asked his wife why she stayed, and she replied, “I believe that we end up where we are supposed to be. Because I went through so much with my mom and her rage, her personality changes, OD’ing, and things like that, it wasn’t something that I was afraid of or felt like I had to run from,” she continued without missing a beat. “It felt like it was something where I needed to stay and needed to help. I just didn’t even question that.”
The couple spoke of many things during this sit-down, including how they first met, their first impressions, early problems that arose, his parents taking his future wife in when she needed a home, his early days on All My Children, moving from New York to Los Angeles, struggling with money, and how they finally tied the knot.
As chronicled in his memoir, Nothing General About It: How Love (and Lithium) Saved Me On And Off General Hospital, the couple discussed his third and most frightening breakdown, how she handled it, how General Hospital supported his mental health journey, having four children who grew up on the set, inspiring others, and creating a healthy family together. Their epic journey is a can’t-miss episode of State Of Mind!