There is good news and bad news for GENERAL HOSPITAL fans who were planning on seeing Maurice Benard (Sonny) in person this coming weekend: Event organizers have announced that Benard had a panic attack and did not get on the plane to fly to the East Coast. The actor has rescheduled his appearances in Florida, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey for July 15, 16 and 17 -- and this weekend, co-stars Steve Burton (Jason) and Chad Duell (Michael) will be stepping in on Saturday and Sunday in Benard's place! (Due to scheduling conflicts, Friday's Connecticut event has been cancelled.)
Benard has made no secret of his fear of flying as a result of his bipolar disorder, and when Soaps In Depth spoke with the actor earlier, he wanted to let his fans know that he's ok. "I feel very bad," he says. "I feel bad for the fans who had been planning on this event. I also feel bad for my family because we'd had a whole vacation scheduled around it, in Disney World and New York City."
Although the actor hasn't flown in years, he'd been working himself up over the past several months to conquer his fear and fly the friendly skies -- with his family seated in first class alongside him. However, after his children had boarded the plane headed to Orlando, Benard stepped on board and saw that the aircraft wasn't as large as what he'd been used to and began to feel claustrophobic. At that point, Benard told his wife, Paula, that he needed to get off the plane. Unfortunately for the family, their luggage didn't get off as well and ended up going to Orlando!
"I hope I can make it up to everyone someday," says Benard, who will drive across the country for his appearances this summer. For now, his loyal GH fans are just glad that he's ok!
Tickets to Benard's events will transfer to the July dates, with the exception of Florida, which has been cancelled. If you are interested in seeing Burton and Duell this weekend, tickets are $115 plus tax, and ticket holders for Benard's appearances will be refunded the difference if they choose to not see the actor in July.