Donald May, beloved as Adam Drake on The Edge of Night and Grant Wheeler on Texas, has died at the age of 94 in Chicago.
Donald May, Soap Veteran, Dead at 94
The news of Donald May’s passing was reported by Laurie Noyes on the Facebook page The Edge Of Night The Soap Opera Fans Love. “Don May was a kind and wonderful man and a very good friend to me,” Noyes posted. “Just received the sad news from his family that he passed away peacefully on January 28 at home with his wife by his side. Don was . He is survived by his wife, Carla Borelli-May, and two sons, Christopher and Douglas.”
Born to parents Harry S. May and Leontine May in Chicago, Illinois on February 22, 1927, Donald May attended elementary school in Houston, Texas and graduated from Shaker Heights High School in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended the University of Oklahoma, graduating from that school with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
After a stint in the U.S. Navy, May embarked on a career in acting. His first credit was the host of the ABC military drama The West Point Story from 1956-57. He stepped in as Sam Colt Jr. on the western series Colt .45. After finding regular work guest-starring on Cheyenne, 77 Sunset Strip, Hawaiian Eye, and other series. He landed a series regular role in The Roaring 20s as newspaper reporter Pat Garrison.
But it was his role as Monticello’s district attorney Adam Drake on The Edge of Night that made May a household name among soap fans. While Edge was a mystery/crime series, it also had its share of romances. May’s pairing with Maeve McGuire’s Nicole Travis shot the pair to supercouple status long before that particular term had been coined. You can read Soap Hub’s extensive history of Adam Drake here.
Christopher Schemering wrote in his 1985 tome The Soap Opera Encyclopedia that May performed quite the acting challenge on EDGE. “In November of 1968,” Schemering wrote, “[head writer Henry] Slesar wrote a very unusual episode in which Adam Drake, dramatically summing up his case to a jury, was the only one to speak during the half-hour. Donald May as Adam flawlessly delivered forty-two pages of dialogue.”
Adam was killed off on EDGE but May wasn’t done with soaps. His other serial drama credits include playing the mayor of Llanview on One Life to Live, Raymond Speer on As the World Turns, Earl Foster on All My Children, and, on nighttime soaps Dallas and Falcon Crest, he played the respective roles of Wes McDowall and Brad Newton. May’s last role was in 1993 on an episode of LA Law.
Many soap fans recall Donald May for his run as romantic lead Grant Wheeler on Texas. After the short-lived NBC serial killed off Alex Wheeler, the love of Iris Carrington’s life, Grant was introduced to help fill the void. The series concluded with Grant, having extricated himself from his loveless marriage to wife Judith, reuniting on an airplane with true love Reena Dekker (Carla Borelli).
In a case of art imitating life, May and Borelli’s romance continued after Texas flew off into the sunset. The couple wed and remained together until May’s passing. May had previously been wed to Ellen Cameron, the mother of his sons Christopher and Douglas. Soap Hub sends sincere condolences to May’s family and loved ones at this difficult time.