He was daytime’s answer to Perry Mason and despite being played by three different actors (John Larkin, Lawrence Hugo, and Forrest Compton), Mike Karr – the defacto star of The Edge of Night – is still fondly remembered as one of the all-time greatest crime busters in soap opera history.
Who Is Mike Karr?
By 1956, idealistic Mike Karr had climbed the ranks of the Monticello constabulary and had achieved the rank of Police Lieutenant. However, he was unsatisfied with his career and was attending night school to earn his law degree.
Upon graduation, Mike accepted an offer extended by the city’s District Attorney to join his stable. After only one year in the position, Mike struck out on his own and opened a private practice specializing in defense.
Over the next 23 years, Mike found himself representing a whole host of accused Monticelloites with charges typically ranging from attempted to pre-meditated murder although he accepted Serena Faraday’s request to help her in a custody suit launched by her ex-husband.
His first case (tried in 1957) was The People vs. Cora Lane, whom Mike proved had been framed for murder by her philandering husband Harry. The defendant was, ironically, Mike’s future in-law but she would by no means be the only family member Mike would defend. In later years he would help exonerate two brothers-in-law and a sister-in-law, all indicted on a charge of homicide.
Just before his graduation from law school (and subsequently his retirement from the police force), Mike was critically wounded after taking a bullet fired by an underworld rogue named Larry White.
Two decades later, Mike was rendered blind when a criminal threw a corrosive chemical in his face. A cornea transplant restored his sight, but he was blinded again by his donor’s daughter who developed an unhealthy obsession with him. Some heart trouble would plague Mike in his later years but he was able to control it through diet, exercise, and medication.
Mike’s boyhood crush on Sara Lane blossomed into a full-blown romance and their love withstood many tests including Mike’s investigation into Sara’s uncle for a variety of criminal activity.
When Mike was felled by Larry’s White’s bullet, Sara agonized over her injured fiancé. After Mike made a full recovery, he and Sara married in grand style and welcomed a beautiful baby girl – Laurie Ann – into their family.
Tragically, the couple would have only five years of wedded bliss on The Edge of Night. In February of 1961, Sara sustained fatal injuries after shoving Laurie Ann out of the path of a speeding Buick.
Second Chance at Love
Mike found it difficult to move on following his wife’s passing so he spent a few years alone, content with his work and status as a single father to his beloved Laurie Anne.
However, Mike eventually found himself drawn to vivacious, flame-haired Nancy Pollock, a straight-shooting reporter who covered the crime beat for her father’s newspaper.
Feeling that he had found a kindred spirit, Mike took tentative steps towards forging a romantic relationship with Nancy. The two broached the topic of marriage and eventually wed in April of 1963.
In the ensuing years, Nancy would prove to not only be the perfect match for Mike on an emotional and physical level but also on an intellectual one. They frequently worked together to try and solve cases with Mike handling the legal end and Nancy using her connections at the paper and her street-level assets.
The Karr marriage was a near-perfect one for The Edge of Night, although the green-eyed monster would occasionally rear its ugly head. Mike initially resented Nancy’s sleuthing with Adam Drake, and Nancy was wary of Mike’s dealings with trampy Nicole Travis.
But there was only one occasion where their union would be truly tested. In the late 1970s, gangster Beau Richardson tried to use intimidation to get Mike to back down from investigating a criminal conspiracy. Nancy, fed up with the threats and fearing for the family’s safety, gave her husband an ultimatum: stop digging or she would leave.
Mike refused to be dictated to by the underworld element so Nancy packed her bags and left. However, in time, peace would be restored and the couple reconciled.
Aside from being a loving father to Laurie Ann, Mike also extended his support to other members of his extended family. He worked tirelessly to get Sara’s wayward brother Jack on the straight and narrow and he welcomed Nancy’s mentally fragile young sister – Cookie – and her nephew Kelly into his home without reservation.
Edge of Night Jailbird
Despite being an upstanding member of society who brought numerous evildoers to justice, Mike actually found himself in a courtroom answering to a charge of murder! Mike initially protested his innocence but when he feared that Laurie Ann was actually the guilty party, he confessed to voluntarily killing Bea Richardson.
Luckily, the truth – that the murderer was really a Mike Karr lookalike named Ray Harper – was outed and Mike was freed. In later years, Mike remained a pillar of the community, until he fell under the spell of Louis Van Dine, hypnotized through his cable box. Eventually, the town — and Mike — were saved and Mike and Nancy were reunited with Laurie Ann.