Acting is just a gig. If a performer is cast as, let’s say, a doctor, it’s not a requirement that that they have any medical knowledge, nor that they even be smart. (That said, Andy Daly can play one anytime.) This is what General Hospital, the near-60-year-old soap that occasionally employs Stephen A. Smith, is finding out the hard way: As per The Hollywood Reporter, they just lost longtime cast member Steve Burton to the vaccine requirements that have become a mainstay of the industry (and have gotten some bewildering pushback). And he’s not even the show’s first one.
Burton made the announcement on his Instagram page, where he revealed the show had “let me go” after his applications for medical and religious exemptions from the vaccine mandate were denied. His reasons for applying were vague; he mentioned “personal freedom” and said, “I don’t think anyone should lose their livelihood over this.”
The loss of Burton comes a day after General Hospital aired the last show featuring Ingo Rademacher, who also departed the show over their vaccine mandate. When news of his departure broke earlier this month, it came the day after his fellow cast members called him out for sharing an anti-trans meme on social media.
Like Rademacher, who had been on the show since 1996, Burton was a General Hospital veteran. He first joined the show in 1991, left in 2012, only to return in 2017. He played Jason Morgan, a character who originated in 1981 and underwent many, often dramatic changes over the decades. During Burton’s tenure alone, been a mob enforcer, a businessman, a restaurant owner, and a coffee importer.
One thing Morgan never was was a doctor.
“Maybe, if one day these mandates are lifted, I can return and finish my career as Jason Morgan, that would be an honor,” he said. What he didn’t seem to realize was that people like him refusing to get vaccinated is what’s going to make the pandemic, and their attendant vaccine mandates, last longer than it should.