Roger Howarth shook things up on General Hospital as Todd Manning, just as he did on One Life to Live. The soap veteran now has a second notch in his belt; because of legal difficulties, he is now portraying the role of Franco instead of Todd.
The 44-year-old Howarth is best known for the role of Todd. He made a splash when he played the part on One Life to Live initially from 1992 until 1995.
His story is reminiscent of GH actors Carolyn Hennesy (Diane Miller) and Tristan Rogers (Robert Scorpio) in that Todd Manning was supposed to be a day player part (Rogers was originally signed for six episodes and Hennesy was hired for two days of work). Howarth, with his brilliant smile, energy, and quirky delivery caught on big time, and the producers put him on contract. He won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actor in 1994, and two Soap Opera Digest Awards. However, due to the road the character took, Howarth became increasingly unhappy with Todd Manning.
Soccer and Politics
Roger Howarth was born very near New York City, in Westchester County, in 1968. With a playwright dad, he became interested in theater early on. He divided his time in high school between the drama department and soccer, which he played not only in the U.S. but, under the aegis of the Puma Shoes U.S. National Soccer Team, in Europe and Brazil as well, until he was well into his teens.
Once in college, Howarth majored in political science…for one semester. Then he dropped out of college and joined an acting program at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Connecticut.
A Gifted Talent
Howarth’s soap career began on Loving, in the role of Kent Winslow, for which the producers saw many actors. The role didn’t last long, and he became Todd Manning on OLTL in 1992.
Like General Hospital's Luke Spencer, Todd has a rape in his history. The character began as a heroic type, but then he raped the character of Marty Saybrooke. Over time, this incident made Roger Howarth increasingly uncomfortable, so much so that he left the show in 1995. He returned in 1996, and now, Todd was more of a villain. He left the show again in 1998, returned in 2000, and left in 2003, thought at the time to be for good.
Howarth had other acting opportunities, including during the time he was with One Life to Live, and he took advantage of them. In prime time, he did four episodes of a series, Prey, playing a murderer, and appeared as well as Greg Hetson on Dawson’s Creek for nine episodes.
On stage, his credits include: The White Rose, Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell, Henry IV, Passions, You Touched Me, Mother Courage, and Orestes. On Broadway, he played Philip in The Lion in Winter in 1999, starring Stockard Channing and Laurence Fishburne. After his last sojourn as Todd, Howarth took the role of Paul Ryan on As the World Turns. He was the fourth Paul Ryan, from 2003-2010, and was nominated twice for am Outstanding Lead Actor Daytime Emmy Award.
Will the Real Todd Manning PLEASE Stand Up!
In the meantime, Trevor St. John was playing Todd Manning on One Life to Live, but in a daring move, the writers decided for the last few months of the show to bring back the original Todd Manning -– but not as a replacement! The question for the characters of Llanview would be, which one is the real Todd and which one is the phony? When the two men had matching DNA, the problem grew deeper, and kept viewers on the edge of their seats.
With One Life to Live off the air, its head writer Ron Carlivati and producer Frank Valentini moved to General Hospital and decided that the quirky Todd Manning belonged there too, especially since the character of Starr Manning, his daughter, was there already. Alas, that pairing in Port Charles was not meant to be, with Kristen Alderson now playing a new role, Kiki. However, she is the daughter of Howarth's new character.
As Todd, Howarth did a terrific and often hilarious job in his dealings with Heather Webber (his cell phone announces her as “Crazy Calling”) and Carly Jacks, and spars well with Johnny Zacchara. When Spinelli yelled out “J’accuse!” on a recent episode, Todd sputters, "I’ve been j’accused all over the place!”
Today, as Franco, audiences don't quite know how to take him, and naturally, they're disappointed that Todd could not continue. The role of Franco was created for James Franco, a darker presence, but Howarth's Franco is going for redemption. At least for the moment.
Roger Howarth on the Home Front
Howarth is married to an actress, Cari Stahler, and they have two children.