Kat Can Do
After scratching and clawing her way to the top, GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Katherine Bell proves she’s just a pussycat at heart.
By Tom Stacy
Soap Opera Digest, December 9, 1997
GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Katherine Bell may be a pillar of the Port Charles community now, but that hasn’t always been the case. Time was when she was pilloried. Let’s trek down memory lane with Mary Beth Evans, and explore the tumultuous history of daytime’s favorite “Kat” woman.
Katherine came to Port Charles a woman of mystery. Going by the surname Crawford, Kat claimed to be an “old friend” of Scotty Baldwin’s (Kin Shriner) late wife, Dominique. Drawn together by their shared loss, the two found comfort in each other. Unfortunately, it was all a con, “She really came to town because she found out that Dominique was her half sister, and she wanted the money Scott had inherited [from Dominique],” admits Evans. Soon, another secret reared its well-coifed head: Katherine had a lover – unscrupulous Damian Smith – with whom she had been involved before she came to P.C. Damian approved of her plan to marry Scott for his money….as long as she didn’t sleep with him. “Damian and Katherine were like Boris and Natasha,” laughs Evans. “They were these bad-guy lovers who fed off each other.”
With dollar signs clouding her perspective, the one thing Katherine didn’t count on was falling in love with Scott. So much for celibacy! “That’s Katherine’s ongoing problem,” the actress sighs. “She goes for the money, then ends up caring for the people and it always backfires. When she things she’s going to find happiness, she doesn’t, and that’s what happened here. She ended up really caring for Scott, and then at the altar [after Lucy told Scott about Katherine’s scheme], when he said, ‘I’m not marrying you,’ she was just devastated and humiliated in front of everybody. She had to start all over again.”
Just a few months later, Katherine became the woman of the hour. Both sides of the ELQ incinerator project attempted to woo her and her .5 percent share in ELQ, including Ned Ashton (Wallace Kurth), who tried to seduce Ms. Bell’s vote out of her. Katherine enjoyed Ned’s generous attentions, unaware that he was secretly masquerading as rock-and-roller Eddie Maine and falling for “Eddie’s” sassy manager, Lois Cerullo. When Kat spotted Ned kissing Lois, she knew she had to move fast. Not fast enough apparently, because when Katherine asked Ned to marry her, he refused. Never one to take no for an answer, “Katherine basically blackmailed Ned into marrying her,” smiles Evans. “Once again, she wanted the money and the prestige and to be accepted in the community, so she blackmailed the Quartermaines and he had to marry her.”
It worked….sort of. After secretly eloping with Lois – thus ensuring that a marriage to Katherine wouldn’t be legal – Ned said, “I do” to Ms. Bell. But before he could extricate himself from his sham of a marriage to Katherine, Lois found out about it. At a birthday party Kat threw for herself, a giant cake was wheeled in, and — surprise! – out popped Lois. “Happy Birthday, Mrs. Ned Ashton…from the other Mrs. Ned Ashton,” Lois chirped. Kat demanded that Ned divorce Lois immediately and remarry her (Ned said no way), while Lois, finding little consolation in the fact that she was the real Mrs. Ned Ashton, dumped her hubby. Before Kat could kick up a fuss, she was poisoned and fell down a flight of stairs, rendering her comatose for weeks. The Q’s faithful butler, Reginald confessed to the crime, but didn’t have to do the time: The Quartermaines rallied around their faithful servant, and A.J. successfully framed Kat for attempting suicide. The police was brought in, and Katherine was furious. “Another backfire,” shrugs Evans.
Katherine began the year as the only person privy to the secret partnership between Damian and Sonny Corinthos, who’d taken over Frank Smith’s gang. At the Outback, Kat flirted with Mac Scorpio (John J. York), which succeeded in making Damian jealous. The tables were turned when Damian took an interest in Lucy Coe (Lynn Herring), and performed with her at the Nurses’ Ball. A miffed Kat turned her attentions back to Mac, who reciprocated in kind. “I think for her, it was a time where she met someone who was truly down-to-earth, a normal guy,” notes Evans. “That relationship really meant a lot to her. I think it still does.” As she and Mac grew closer, Kat leaked Damian’s secrets to her new beau.
Katherine was kidnapped and drugged by Damian and later found herself the prime suspect in his “murder.” In reality, Damian had skipped town and framed Katherine for his “death;” Katherine was arrested, but Mac and Felicia Jones established that Kat had been set up. Eventually, Mac discovered that Damian was still alive. Damian asked Kat to return to him, but she refused. Then, Damian was really killed. Much to her surprise and delight, Kat inherited the bulk of his considerable estate. (“Hallelujah!” exclaims Evans. “That got her out of trying to get every guy in town.”) Why would Damian leave Katherine his money? “I think there was a reason, but I don’t remember what it was!” giggles Evans.
Much to Mac’s chagrin, Kat went on a spending spree, buying a new penthouse and Deception Perfume. Lucy, no head of Jax Cosmetics, used her position to torture Katherine. The sworn enemies vied for the modeling services of Brenda Barrett, and sabotaged each other’s new product lines. Evans reflects on Kat’s relationship with Lucy: “They’ve had a few moments, I think, of caring about each other, but it seems whenever there were those moments, the other person that was giving it got miffed. But there have been a few moments that they felt something for each other.”
Later that year, while scouting locations for a P.R. shoot, Katherine happened upon Nikolas Cassadine at Wyndemere. A smitten Nikolas offered Kat a tour. She was flattered by the young man’s crush, but it made Mac stew. After rebuffing a kiss from Master Cassadine, she went searching for him on Spoon Island to set things with and was accidently shot – by Stefan (Stephen Nichols)!
Katherine was unable to identify her shooter – all she remembered were his kind eyes. A distraught Stefan hovered over his victim; Mac proposed marriage. “I think she felt Mac was just being kind, that he wasn’t ready to get married,” Evans surmises. “And she didn’t know if she’d ever walk again. She didn’t want to burden Mac with that. She had this longing for Stefan, this person she didn’t really know, but she had this incredible connection with him, so she knew she couldn’t marry Mac. She loved him but realized she wasn’t in love with him.”
Unable to live with his guilt, Stefan confessed to Katherine that he’d shot her. She promised Stefan she’d keep his secret if the charges against Luke (Anthony Geary) — who was fingered as the shooter – were dropped. After her release from the hospital, Edward hired Katherine as GH’s P.R. director, which had her working alongside the intriguing Mr. Cassadine. Stefan encouraged Kat’s physical therapy, and the two shared a number of dreamy afternoons together. “Those romantic scenes were great. I really enjoyed those. Stephen and I are really connect and we’re good friends. I think all that helped in the scenes.” (Of course the pair had plenty of practice, having played starry-eyes lovers Patch and Kayla on DAYS OF OUR LIVES.) But Kat abruptly ended their “affair,” knowing Stefan had wife Bobbie to attend to, and became obsessed with walking again. At the Nurses’ Ball, Katherine delighted the crowd by walking onstage with a cane. As Stefan’s marriage to Bobbie disintegrated, Kat tried to keep her distance, but couldn’t.
Meanwhile, fearing Stefan’s judgment had been clouded, his cousin Alexis, plotted to keep the lovebirds apart by hatching a scheme that suggested Katherine’s mother was Stefan’s father’s mistress, and Katherine was actually Stefan’s half sister, Natasha. Alexis’s plan worked: Stefan was convinced he had fallen in love with his half sib. Ewwww!!! Immediately, Stefan set about rebuffing his paramour, claiming he’d never loved her and firing her from GH. Katherine returned to Wyndemere to confront Stefan, and wound up accusing Alexis of turning Stefan against her. After a heated argument between the two women, Kat fell down the stairs and was knocked out. Stefan rushed in and cradled the “injured” Katherine, but — aha! — she was faking. His concern proved to her that he still cared.
Luke and Kath started appearing together in public, which drove Stefan mad with jealousy. (“Tony is great,” enthuses Evans. “He’s such a crack-up.”) Stefan was even madder when he figured out Alexis’s treachery.
With Alexis’s scheme now exposed and Stefan trying desperately to set things straight with Katherine, it looks like a reunion could be in the cards for these star-crossed lovers. “Stay tuned,” advises Evans with a smile.