Who is Billy Miller's co-star Kelly Monaco? From Playboy to General Hospital
General Hospital star Billy Miller passed away on September 17 at the age of 43, following a struggle with 'manic depression.'
A cause of death has not yet been revealed, though reps for the actor claimed he was struggling with 'manic depression' at the time of his death as per TMZ.
Miller joined the cast of General Hospital in 2014, playing Jason Morgan and Drew Cain as a series regular until 2019.
Miller's character Jason was embroiled in an emotional romance Sam McCall, played by Kelly Monaco, capturing the hearts of General Hospital fans - but who is Monaco and how did she achieve TV stardom?
On screen romance: General Hospital star Billy Miller's character Jason Morgan was embroiled in an emotional romance with Sam McCall, played by Kelly Monaco (pictured in 2010)
Taking the crown: Monaco became a celebrity cast member, and the first-ever season winner, on the ABC reality television series Dancing with the Stars in 2005
Who is Kelly Monaco?
Kelly Marie Monaco, who currently resides in West Hollywood, California, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1976 to Albert "Al" and Carmina Monaco.
Monaco is of Italian descent, and is the middle child of five children, including four sisters: Christine, Marissa, Carmina and Amber.
According to IMDb, Monaco was an active athlete and a keen student while at high school.
After her family decided to move to the more peaceful environment of the Poconos, Monaco attended Pocono Mountain High School, where she took some of her first acting classes.
The actress and model participated intensely in speech, debate and theater during high school while being involved in soccer, swimming, track and softball, among other sports.
An avid swimmer, Monaco is reported to have suffered hearing loss during her school years from scuba diving.
After high school, she attended Northampton Community College for two years while working as a lifeguard at a local resort.
Before her acting career, Monaco had been considering becoming a model, prompting her to send her photograph to adult magazine Playboy.
According to IMDb, as a result, she became the Playmate of the Month (Germany) in April 1997.
Throughout her tenure with Playboy in the 1990s, Monaco was also featured in many Special Edition publications of the magazine.
Monaco made numerous cover appearances in other magazines such as FHM and Maxim. Along with her Maxim cover feature in 2005, the magazine also placed her at number 88 on their annual Hot 100 List in May 2006.
In 2009, Monaco was named number one sexiest cover model of the decade.
Throwback: Monaco's high school graduation picture in 1994. The actress and model participated intensely in speech, debate and theater during high school while being involved in soccer, swimming, track and softball, among other sports
Playmate: (Pictured second from right) Before her acting career, Monaco had been considering becoming a model, prompting her to send her photograph to adult magazine Playboy. As a result, she became the Playmate of the Month (Germany) in April 1997
Acting break on General Hospital and meeting Billy Miller
Monaco's television debut came in 1997, when she landed a recurring role on Baywatch until 1998.
IMDb states that Monaco played rookie lifeguard Susan, having worked as a lifeguard in real life before appearing on the show.
In addition to playing the role of Susan, Monaco also served as a body double for fellow Baywatch star Carmen Electra, who could not swim.
Throughout the late 1990s, Monaco also had minor roles in films such as Idle Hands, BASEketball and Mumford.
Monaco then moved on to be cast as two different characters for the ABC soap opera Port Charles, playing Olivia Locke Morley from 1999-2003, and Tess Ramsey from 2002-2003.
Monaco's big break came when she joined the cast of the ABC soap opera General Hospital - featuring her late co-star Billy Miller - in October 2003 to also play two characters: Samantha McCall and Alicia Montenegro.
Mafia enforcer Jason Morgan (Billy Miller) and former con artist Sam McCall (Kelly Monaco) originally met when they were both arrested on General Hospital
According to The List, while there was an undeniable attraction between the two, Sam had a fling with Jason's boss, mobster Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard).
By the time Sam realized she was pregnant with Sonny's child, the don had already rekindled his relationship with his estranged wife, Carly Corinthos (then Tamara Braun).
However, Jason let Sam stay with him so he could take care of her and he pretended to be the baby's father because he wanted Sonny and Carly to be able to reunite, per Soaps.com.
Although the baby didn't survive, this brought Sam and Jason closer, and they would go on to be a super couple on the hit soap.
According to IMDb, Monaco is one of the few actresses to play dual roles on two separate soap operas.
Big break: (Pictured second from right) Monaco's big break came when she joined the cast of the ABC soap opera General Hospital - featuring her late co-star Billy Miller - in October 2003 to also play two characters: Samantha McCall and Alicia Montenegro
Dancing with the Stars
Monaco became a celebrity cast member, and the first-ever season winner, on the ABC reality television series Dancing with the Stars in 2005.
She and her partner Alec Mazo initially faced tough criticism from the judges - with IMDb reporting that she, at one stage, was the the lowest scored celebrity on DWTS.
However, Monaco she maintained a positive outlook throughout the series and brushed up on her skins, which saw her and partner Mazo winning the entire competition.
Prior to her victory, Monaco experienced a wardrobe malfunction, in that the strap on her dress came apart while she was performing a Latin dance number.
In February 2009, Monaco expanded her dancing résumé with a burlesque act directed by Tony Award-winning director Jerry Mitchell, that plays at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
Monaco starred as Bo Peep, a precocious character who discovers her sexuality throughout the show, performing alongside singer and fellow DWTS contestant and Spice Girl Mel B.
Low scores: Monaco and her partner Alec Mazo initially faced tough criticism from the judges on Dancing with the Stars - at one stage, was the the lowest scored celebrity
Reality rekindling: Monaco's General Hospital co-star, the late actor Billy Miller (pictured), paid a visit to support his former onscreen flame during her stint on Dancing with the Stars in 2005
According to Fame 10, Monaco participated in the Feed the Children initiative in 2009, alongside other soap opera celebrities.
As part of the project, she travelled to Kenya to distribute food and supplies to those in need, while visiting orphanages and schools in during that her time there.
She has also worked on the iParticipate program in the past with other colleagues, in which she volunteered to help a school in LA with remodeling.
Who is Monaco dating?
As reported by Fame 10, Monaco was in an 18-year relationship with ex-boyfriend Mike Gonzalez, who wasn’t part of the soap world or entertainment business.
The actress was never photographed with Gonzalez during their time together, managing to accomplish the impossible in Hollywood: keeping their entire relationship under the radar.
Unfortunately, after almost two decades together, the two went their separate ways in 2009.