Donna Love from Another World was one of the most complex characters in all of soap opera history. She was never quite a villainess but one would be remiss to categorize her a heroine.
She certainly preferred to be a lover rather than a fighter but she could scrape with the best of them. Donna wanted a loving husband but she chaffed under the bridle of wedded bliss. Even more, she wanted her (mostly absent) daddy’s approval — which was something that was impossible to achieve.
Perhaps the truth is that a character like Donna Love defies all manner of explanation. However, there is one thing of which you can be certain. The 16 years that Ms. Love was front and center on the NBC sudser – especially when played by the masterful Anna Stuart – were absolutely sublime.
Donna was the firstborn daughter of Reginald and Elizabeth Love. She had a brother Peter and a sister Nicole. In her teenage years, Donna fell hopelessly and madly in love with a stable boy named Michael Garrison and she became pregnant, shaming her family.
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A furious Reginald horsewhipped Michael and threatened him away from Donna. When Donna gave birth to a pair of identical twin girls, Reginald sold one of them and forced Donna to perpetuate the lie that the other was actually her younger sister.
At the first opportunity, Donna fled her tyrannical father and made her way through Europe. She also made the acquaintance of and married Carl Hutchins but the relationship was no love match and it soon ended in divorce.
Best Laid Plans
Haughty and status conscience Donna strongly disapproved of Peter’s beloved intended Sally Frame. Fearing that Sally and her farmhand relations would sully the Love name, Donna encouraged Cecile DePoulignac to make a play for Peter’s affections.
However, it didn’t take Donna long to realize she had invited a cat amongst the pigeons, and she had to suffer silently when Cecile took to blackmailing her. Later, Cecile nearly killed Peter when she doped him with a drug that induced a heart attack – and suddenly doe-eyed innocent Sally looked very appealing as a sister-in-law to be!
When Marley Love battled a potentially fatal blood disease, Donna finally fessed up and told the young girl that they were not sisters but instead mother and daughter. Marley’s life was saved by the timely intervention of her twin sister Vicky, and Donna welcomed her heretofore unknown second child into the family fold.
Blasts From The Past
The year 1986 would prove particularly eventful for Donna. Not only did her former lover reappear – now a wealthy entrepreneur who called himself Michael Hudson – but Reginald was revealed to be alive and well, having faked his death nearly a decade before.
Not only that, he had been keeping Mary McKinnon from her family (she was believed to have died as well) as the two were in love. The elder Love hadn’t mellowed — and re-established his stranglehold on his fractious family, doing his utmost to keep Donna and Michael from reigniting their still smoldering passion.
Reginald failed in stopping them from exchanging wedding vows – even though he had drugged his daughter prior to the ceremony – but he did succeed in driving them apart – and driving Donna insane in the process. All it took was showing the already agitated Mrs. Hudson a picture that purported to confirm her biggest fear.
In the black and white photo John Garrison was holding her twin daughters – he, and not Michael, must be their father. Months later, the paternity pickle was resolved and Donna’s mental health restored – although that miracle was in no way thanks to her psychiatrist, who wound up being unmasked as the serial strangler responsible for killing a number of Bay City’s female residents!
Donna and Michael’s marriage was fraught with tension, and they lived with the black cloud that was Reginald’s presence over their heads. A struggle atop a staircase between father and daughter resulted in Donna falling and losing the baby she was carrying.
Reginald finally met his end during a tussle with Michael but even after that, the Hudson marriage was still in a state of constant crisis. They divorced when Donna nearly slept with John and their second marriage ended when Donna slept with Jake McKinnon and allowed herself to be blackmailed into dropping a custody case that she and Michael had initiated to keep hold of their adopted son Mikey.
In 1993, Donna found herself sexually attracted to Matthew, Rachel Cory’s son, her business partner at the KBAY TV station. The relationship was frowned upon by most of the township considering the fact that Matthew was at least 20 years Donna’s junior. However, Matthew reciprocated Donna’s feelings and the two made love inside a news van when they found themselves stranded in a snow storm.
But Donna ruined any chance of true happiness when she married Matthew without telling him that she had cheated during their engagement with Michael. When her new husband learned the truth, he flew into a rage and had the marriage annulled. It took a few years but in the end, Matthew’s feelings toward his ex softened and they re-established a warm friendship.