R.I.P. Donald May, star of Colt .45 and the daytime Perry Mason adaptation The Edge of Night
He played Sam Colt Jr. in the Wild West and crusading attorney Adam Drake. He was 91.
There were 7,420 episodes of The Edge of Night. That is not a typo.
The Edge of Night premiered on April 2, 1956. The initial pitch was a daytime version of Perry Mason. Mystery author and Perry Mason creator, Erle Stanley Gardner was brought in to craft the series. However, Gardner and CBS had a case of creative differences. The network wanted to give Mason a love interest. Gardner was against the idea.
After the beef, Irving Vendig was brought in to helm the show, which became a spin on Perry Mason scrubbed up with soap opera themes. The formula clicked, as the series ran for nearly three decades, on two networks.
The Edge of Night took place in the fictional Midwestern city of Monticello. Keen spotters of skylines might recognize the familiar buildings of Cincinnati in the credits. Procter & Gamble produced the show (there was a reason they were called "soap operas," remember). The show ran mostly around the 4 PM slot, making it a favorite of the after-school crowd. Even after 7,420 episodes, the story was not wrapped up. The series ended on a cliffhanger. Thousands of episodes no longer exist, long ago wiped from the tapes.
The drama centered around Mike Kerr (played by three actors over the years), the Perry Mason clone who was in love with Sara Lane.
From 1967–77, Donald May portrayed crusading legal eagle Adam Drake. It was a meaty role — one 1968 episode was comprised entirely of Drake delivering 42-pages of a closing argument. Near the end of his run on the series, he often teamed with Dixie Carter, who played the assistant D.A.
Prior to The Edge of Night, May had lead roles in The West Point Story, a military drama, and in 1959 assumed the lead role of Sam Colt Jr. in the Western Colt .45. For two seasons, he played Pat Garrison, a reporter chasing down gangsters, in The Roarin' 20s.
May had a string of "What If?" pilots that failed to get picked up. In Dream Wife, from 1965, he played the husband of a psychic, Shirley Jones. "County General" was a backdoor pilot of Bus Stop, hoping to set up May with a medical drama.
Throughout the Seventies, he turned up frequently in primetime, on titles such as Barnaby Jones, The Dukes of Hazzard, Dallas, Falcon Crest, and Fantasy Island.
May passed away on January 28, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 91.