Michael "Sonny" Corinthos, Jr. and Caroline Leigh "Carly" Benson are fictional characters and a supercouple from the original ABC soap opera, General Hospital. Though they are no longer together, the characters have remained friends and are currently being portrayed by Maurice Bernard and Laura Wright.
Although Benard joined the cast in 1993, Benard left the show on September 24, 1997, and after a brief return in the spring of 1998, Benard has continued to portray Sonny since December 18, 1998.  In 2003, Benard won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for the role. Benard has described Sonny as "unpredictable," and stated that: "You never know from one second to the next what he is thinking, feeling or planning. He's a man in personal conflict who maintains an outward appearance of calm at all times, at any cost." 
Like the character of Sonny, Maurice Benard also suffers from bipolar disorder.  Benard stated, "When I let it be known I was bipolar, we wrote it into the character." During 2006, Corinthos had an onscreen breakdown due to his bipolar disorder. The parallels between the story and Benard's real life expeirences had Benard believing he was having his own "fourth break down," though Benard credits staying on his medication as keeping him grounded. His willingness to integrate his real life medical condition into Sonny's storylines have raised visibility of the disease, leading to Benard appearing on shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss the disease as well as being the spokesman for the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
The name of Michael "Sonny" Corinthos, as well as his occupation, is a reference to The Godfather's characters of Michael Corleone and Santino "Sonny" Corleone. These characters have a sister named Connie Corleone, which is alluded to in Kate Howard's real name, Connie Falconeri. Similarities have also been noted between Sonny and Tony Soprano from The Sopranos and the characters that surround them both.  Vincent Pastore, who portrayed Big Pussy Bonpensiero on The Sopranos, came on the show to portray Maximus Giambetti, father of Sonny's bodyguards Milo and Max Giambetti. 
The role was originated on April 8, 1996 by Sarah Brown, who "quickly became an overnight sensation" and received three Daytime Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Carly. She won for Outstanding Younger Actress in 1997 and 1998, was nominated in 1999, and won again for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 2000. Brown appeared on the cover of Soap Opera Digest 19 times during her run in the role, and won two Soap Opera Digest Awards in 1998 (Younger Lead Actress) and 2000 (Favorite Actress).
In January 2000, it was reported that Brown would be exiting General Hospital when her contract was over in March of that year. Brown's character was put in an important storyline and the show had already lost several of its actors, including Jonathan Jackson (Lucky) and Steve Burton (Jason). Brown agreed to stay for one year and General Hospital began to create an exit in December 2000 if Brown decided not to renew her contract. Gina Tognoni was rumored to replace Brown. Brown decided to stay with the series for a month. "My contract expired today, but I will stay with the show 4 more weeks to wrap it all up for them," she said. "I am not leaving because of money issues or contract issues. I am leaving because my heart is telling me I'm done." She departed the series on April 23, 2001.
Fans protested Brown's departure, and sent emails to Jill Farren Phelps in an effort to get the actress rehired. However, Tamara Braun replaced her on May 2, 2001. In a November 11, 2001 interview with Soap Opera Digest, Braun commented on being a high profile recast: "I really didn't know about the uproar, which was good. But I was informed about it before I started working. I thought to myself, 'Holy guacamole ... I'm going into something here. But all I can do is the best that I can.' I think on some level, a lot of people were waiting for me to fail."
Braun departed the role on April 15, 2005, and on April 18, 2005, Jennifer Bransford assumed the role. Phelps released a statement on the recast: "[The audience] will eventually accept a new Carly, especially if Maurice is determined to make it work." During Bransford's tenure, Shayne Lamas also portrayed the role as a teenager in several flashbacks. On October 5, 2005, Bransford was released from her contract. A representative of General Hospital said, "Jennifer's casting in the role of Carly did not work out. She is a consummate actress and she's good at what she does. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors."
After Bransford's dismissal, rumors began circulating that Laura Wright, known for portraying Cassie Layne Winslow on Guiding Light, was being considered for the role. On November 4, 2005, Wright debuted as Carly. ABC Daytime president Brian Frons stated: "Carly is a complex character, and we are excited to bring Laura's talent, beauty and intelligence to this role." In November 2009, Wright signed another 4 year contract, ensuring her presence in Port Charles until 2013.
After being convinced by his second-in-command, Jason Morgan, to return to Port Charles, Sonny Corinthos starts a relationship with Hannah Scott, a woman who bears a remarkable resemblance to one-time love Brenda Barrett. The two are involved until it is discovered that Hannah is actually an undercover FBI agent whose job is to bring him down and end his ties to the mob. Reeling from this revelation, Sonny begins a downward spiral, certain he is meant to be alone. Jason's girlfriend, Carly Roberts, comes to check on Sonny one night, leading to an explosive, angry, sexual encounter. A literally and figuratively wounded Jason discovers them together and, after much turmoil, decides to step out of the equation
A panicked Carly discovers she's pregnant and tries to convince her husband-in-name-only,AJ Quartermaine, that he is the father. Sonny suspects the truth and demands that Carly and her son Michael move in with him. Just as it seems they are on the brink of having something real, Carly falls down the stairs and Sonny must make the decision between saving his child and a woman he is not yet sure he can live with. Sonny ultimately chooses to save Carly and the two grow closer as they mourn their lost baby on Sonny's private island. After they return, Carly accidentally causes Sonny to get arrested and they get married so Carly can't testify against him. The duo fall in love, but the violence in Sonny's life escalates and he is shot on the steps of the PCPD.
Sonny and Carly reunite and renew their vows in Martinique. After a bomb is delivered to the penthouse, Carly conspires with the Feds to get Sonny out of the mob. A betrayed Sonny cannot forgive her. It looks like they may be over for good as Carly tries to start a new life and a nightclub with Jasper "Jax" Jacks and an injured Sonny winds up under the care of a mysterious white-clad woman named Angel.
Still separated from Carly, Sonny sleeps with his attorney, Alexis Davis — an encounter that Carly witnesses. A distraught Carly winds up driving her car into the river. Her family and friends think her dead and mourn, but are elated when she turns up alive at her own funeral. Despite his indiscretion with Alexis, Sonny and Carly work out their differences and marry for the third time in Martinique. Just when things are looking up for the two, Luis Alcazar comes to town on a mission to get rid of Sonny. A suspicious Sonny fakes his own death and learns that Alcazar's goal is to ensure his claim on Sonny's first real love, the presumed-dead Brenda Barrett.
Carly catches Sonny kissing Brenda on the docks and throws herself into opening a new nightclub. Her friendship with newcomer Ric Lansing takes a twisted turn when they wake up together in a motel. Carly finds herself pregnant again and fears the worst. In a successful effort to save his own life, Ric confesses that he never touched Carly and that he and Sonny are half-brothers. Ric's plans to make Sonny pay for the life he was denied escalate when he locks Carly in a panic room so he can steal her baby. Sonny and Jason search for Carly as Luis Alcazar's brother Lorenzo takes control of Ric's plan and turns it into a plot to take over Sonny's territory. On his yacht, Alcazar begins to soften toward the pregnant Mrs. Corinthos. After she comes home, Carly's empathy for Alcazar drives a rift between her and Sonny. Paranoid due to Alcazar's gaslighting of him, Sonny accidentally shoots Carly in the head while Lorenzo helps her through labor. Carly slips into a coma and can't quite connect with her family after she awakens.
Sonny sees Carly and Lorenzo kiss and turns to salvage diver Sam McCall for some no-strings sex. Carly catches them in bed and begins a romance with Alcazar. A custody battle ensues with Sonny for their boys. While stuck in an elevator in the burning Port Charles Hotel, Alexis Davis reveals to Carly that Sonny is her daughter's real father. Carly keeps the secret as she and Sonny make their way back to one another for the sake of the children. Sonny stashes a pregnant Sam across the hall with Jason. In order to save his best friend's marriage, Jason claims to be the father of Sam's child. The truth comes out and Carly forgives Sonny. Carly's search for her father, federal prosecutor John Durant, proves to be no threat, but when Kristina Davis is diagnosed with leukemia, Carly's lie of omission becomes a matter of life and death. She tells Sonny the truth so that his bone marrow can be tested. Weary after years of lies and drama, the two separate. Carly strikes up a friendship with doctor Steven Webber. Sonny and Alexis put aside their differences as they fight for Kristina's life, but Ric, now married to Alexis and back in the picture, spurs on their rivalry. Tragedy meets miracle when Sam's baby is stillborn and the baby's stem cells save Kristina's life. Carly offers support to Sonny, even testifying at Kristina's custody trial, but the civility doesn't translate into a reunion.
Sonny and Carly remove their wedding rings and declare their marriage over once and for all. Carly now finds herself pursued by Steven Lars and turning back toward her old flame, Lorenzo Alcazar, while Sonny considers learning a little legalese.
In January 2007, Carly and Sonny marry again so she can't testify against him.
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