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.

The Everett Collection

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.

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WhiteRook 28 months ago
I recall Donald May as a contract player at Warner Brothers studios. He played a air traffic controler in the movie "The Crowed Sky" where Dana Andrews played a airline Capt. Pilot that collides with pilot Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Fast forward to the movie "Airport '75" where airline Capt. pilot Efrem Zimbalist Jr. collides with pilot Dana Andrews. Also Roy Thinnes is Efrem's co-pilot after his run on the TV series " The Invaders" No flying saucers where seen in the sky or where they??
james_richter 28 months ago
MeTV should create another cable TV channel devoted entirely to old soaps including Darek Shadows.
bagandwallyfan80 29 months ago
I remember watching The Edge
Of Night st ,3:30 pm on CBS
And Dark Shadows at 5pm
On ABC over 20 years ago.
The Edge Of Night and Dark
Shadows were my favorite
Daytime TV shows a long
Time ago. I also liked the game
show called The Match Game
With Gene Rayburn as host and
Johnny Olson as the announcer
and the Theme Song of The Match Game was A Swinging
DARK SHADOWS came on at 4pm NOT 5PM Monday-
Friday on ABC several years ago .
Pluto has a Dark Shadows Channel 535.
Match Game is on several channels BUZZR is one of them Pluto has BUzzr Channel 164 and Game Show Central Channel 167. One of those channels most likely shows it.
Dark Shadows was broadcast on ABC from 1966 to 1971, and because it was a soap opera, it was on every single weekday.
It was picked up in syndication from 1975-1990 by the Sci-Fi channel,
after that it was released to a number of streaming services, where it is presently.
bagandwallyfan80 29 months ago
Mike Karr on The Edge Of Night
Was played by 3 Actors:
John Larkin
Lawrence Hugo
Forrest Compton
(Forrest Compton also played
Colonel Edward Gray on Gomer Pyle USMC)
What was the CLIFFHANGER
On The Edge Of Night when
The show was canceled by
ABC. If Mike Karr and Perry Mason had been Real Lawyers
Mike &Perry probably would
Have been good friends.
The name of Adam Drake
(Donald May)Might have come
From Paul Drake (William
Hopper) on Perry Mason.
JTJB 29 months ago
He was a neighbor and a good guy.
jacko3 29 months ago
Quite a career for Donald May - GOD Bless his Soul ... Amen - Alleluia!
JanineCox 29 months ago
Can’t u guys freshen up the MeTv line up a little? It’s getting boring. I thought that when u replaced Gilligan’s Island with Full House, we was well rid of that silly how but no u are bring it back at 4pm on Sundays, I would rather see the Mary Tyler Moore Show, I love Lucy, Good times, the Jeffersons even the Dukes of Hazzard in that time slot! Where are the Superfans and how come they are not complaining either? Someone needs to get all these superfans together and complain about the lackluster programming of late!
Nala92129 JanineCox 29 months ago
Excellent post! Couldn't agree more!
Andybandit 29 months ago
Sorry to hear about Don May. They should change the line up of the MeTv shows and put all the shows on of the people who passed away, except Full House.
JanineCox Andybandit 29 months ago
I agree with u! It’s turning into Tvland when there are only 4 classic shows and there should be more like there was in 1996 when the channel first started!
MrsPhilHarris 29 months ago
I’d like to see some of the 50s and early 60s episodes but I guess they are lost.
LoveMETV22 MrsPhilHarris 29 months ago
Found two episodes on IA:


In the person's post it said most pre- 1978 episodes were lost? There maybe some others out there somewhere?
cperrynaples LoveMETV22 29 months ago
Yes nearly all CBS episodes were wiped but look on You Tube and you can find most ABC episodes! However, if you want to see Donald May you're out of luck!
LoveMETV22 cperrynaples 29 months ago
Ty. I was just forwarding to MrsPhilHarris. She was interested. I'm not interested but thanks anyway.
MrsPhilHarris LoveMETV22 29 months ago
Oh great! I’ll tune in later. Thanks! 😁
justjeff 29 months ago
Didn't know him... but may he rest in peace...
Snickers justjeff 29 months ago
Same here, didn't know the actor but it's sad when anyone passes.
justjeff Snickers 29 months ago
That's why I can never die... heaven doesn't want me, and hell's afraid I'll take over...

(Anyone who flags this old joke is *definitely* thin-skinned!)
Pacificsun 29 months ago

Well the world of and history behind soap operas is a little more complicated than what this article suggests. True, youth (after-schoolers) *were* attracted to a certain (romance oriented) kind of soap, but that didn't mean they all flocked to The Edge of Night, which was a much more traditional type of storyline aimed at more mature viewers. Of course it didn't mean the Stars (actors) weren't wonderfully handsome and the women, glamorous, attracting their own individual fan bases. But it was the exception rather than the rule. Most classic TV viewers remember the highlighted romance of Luke and Laura and the escapades of General Hospital, (which I believe) did run after school so it could be aptly followed. But, in the day there were a TON of soap operas, aimed mainly for the housewife who usually wasn't a second breadwinner in the family, or the house-bound. And yet, they were looking for a little daytime excitement like a living roman novel.

If truly interested in the genre of Soap Operas be sure to check out the link above as a starting point, and remember that they were a staple of daytime viewing, *mainly* because they were serialized, with the cliffhanger always being on a Friday. Which kept them popular along with (don't forget) all the game shows!

TV has come a very long way since those decades!!
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justjeff Pacificsun 29 months ago
Soap operas actually got their start on radio (such as "Stella Dallas", etc.). By the way, TV viewers and/or critics dubbed Westerns "horse operas"...
Pacificsun justjeff 29 months ago
Very true! TY.
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 29 months ago
Mention to another Opera- " Space Operas" don't want to exclude the genre LOL:
cperrynaples 29 months ago
I remember May fondly! I distinctly remember him having to defend a woman with a split personality and then bringing out her evil side in order to secure an insanity defense! He was killed off in a contract dispute with P&G, who later rehired him for Texas where he met his future wife! Farewell, Adam Drake!
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