Guiding Light – Cancellation and Michelle and Danny

NOTE: I’ve noticed several people finding this post by searching for Michelle and Danny Santos on Guiding Light. I want to recommend a blog/website if you are looking for information on them. They have a lot more information there including links to episodes, analysis, catching up with the actors, detailed backstory, and Manny fanfic.

So since I haven’t been able to think, write, or concentrate, what have I been doing? Well, the first night I literally had to stop reading e-mail because I couldn’t make myself understand it and it was giving me a headache I decided that I would look to see if I could find a video online of a recent scene on Guiding Light. I actually didn’t find what I was looking for, but instead stumbled onto a scene featuring Danny Santos and Michelle Bauer Santos, my favorite soap couple ever. I hadn’t seen them since they left the soap in 2005, but that one scene sucked me right back in. Boom! I was back in. (I haven’t had that kind of reaction since I hadn’t seen any Star Wars films for a couple of years and stumbling across Return of the Jedi late one night created an absolute need to watch all 3 of the original movies as soon as possible.) So while I wasn’t fit to do anything else, I watched their old scenes on Youtube. I think part of that was fate because it was announced that Paul Anthony Stewart (Danny) and Nancy St. Alban (the one to play Michelle the longest to his Danny) will be returning to the show on July 2nd.

On a sad note after 72 years on radio and TV CBS has cancelled this venerable soap opera. My family has watched it for 70 of those years and I personally watched from the time I was in the crib. Its leadership in the field included the first core African-American family (the father was James Earl Jones), an early adoption of social issues (like breast cancer) into stories, early adoption of color technology, being first to expand to an hour, and just last year changed from three wall sets to a cheaper production model of permanent four wall rooms with much more shot outside and with handheld cameras. Although last year it was a shadow of its former self, BUT since the return of leading man Grant Alexander  as Philip Spaulding and the reuniting of current star couple Bill Lewis (Dan Cosgrove) and Lizzie Spaulding (Marcy Rylan), plus some great supporting stories, the show is hitting its stride. Now with Danny and Michelle’s return what will sadly be the last days of this venerable show may be some of its best. I hope you all tune in to watch.

For those of you who want to catch up, a short version of the story so far, we travel back to 1998….Mick Santos was a troubled young man with a hatred of hypocrites and a willingness to do anything illegal from muggings to protection rackets to blackmail. The best thing about Mick, although it was all off camera, was his love for his younger brother Danny, who he helped pay his way through college and encouraged him to continue with his education. He also told Danny a highly edited version of his life which included flirting regularly (actually it was kind of perverted sexual harassment) with Michelle Bauer who was actually dating Jesse Blue (a reformed street kid who Michelle taught to read and who was the recipient of Michelle’s late mother’s transplanted heart). After Drew Jacobs (a friend of Jesse’s) caught Mick selling drugs at her club, she had him arrested. When he was released thanks to his mafia connections, he came looking for Drew and found her on a lonely beach waiting for Michelle. Mick started to attack her. When Michelle arrived, she tried to get him off Drew. He grabbed Michelle, saying he’d rather take what Drew owed him out of her instead. He started dragging her toward his car, looking at her as if she was nothing and cracking jokes all the while choking her and implying he’d rape and then kill her. Michelle tried to break away struggling and kicking at him. Drew came to her rescue and hit him on the head with a rock. He turned back to Drew and grabbed her again. Michelle picked up the rock and hit him again. He dropped and both girls ran off terrified he was right behind them, not realizing that they’d killed him. They told Jesse and Bill Lewis about the attack and when they realized Mick was dead, they decided they all needed to stick together and not let Mick’s “connections” find out what they did, so all four of them moved into the apartment above Drew’s club.

The police remained clueless, but then one day a young man all in black with piercing black eyes and a knowing smile arrived. He announced he was Danny Santos, Mick’s brother, and he’s there to find his brother’s killer. Danny quickly formed a theory of the crime (a wrong one, but much closer to the truth than the police ever got). He thought Jesse had killed Mick in a jealous rage over Michelle. He intimidated them to hire him as a bartender at the club and he continued his investigation. To prove his theory he tried to get closer to Michelle becoming her study partner in psychology class and kissing her several times. On Thanksgiving Michelle invited Danny to her meal to try to keep him distracted, but when two little girls disappeared from the party, she accused Danny of kidnapping them, a theory shared by Detective Frank Cooper who was the father of one of the girls, but he had to eat his words when Danny not only found the girls, but saved them from falling. (Ironically, within a few years Frank would be Danny’s best, not related by blood or marriage, friend who the so-called “mobster” would call on whenever there was trouble.)

Eventually Jesse felt Danny was close enough to the truth that he wanted Drew to tell Danny that Jesse killed Mick and Jesse would leave town forever to protect Michelle. However, Drew couldn’t stand the idea of Jesse leaving and thinking Danny really wanted Michelle and wouldn’t really hurt her, she instead told Danny that Michelle had killed his brother in self-defense. This put Danny in an awful position because he didn’t have a choice; he had to kill his brother’s killer no matter the circumstances. Danny found Michelle and drug her down to the beach where it happened to make him believe it was self-defense. She did, but he was still under orders to kill her no matter what. However, gallantly and because since the first time they’d talked he’d felt that he’d seen her soul and that she was someone to be treasured, he decided to use “the family” rule that you can’t ever kill family to save her by marrying her instead of killing her. Danny was always a man of character and his mother had given him a code and by carefully controlling what he knew, at this point, he honestly believed Carmen and the other “Family” members lived by it too. (He was totally wrong on this point. Carmen could care less about any code, although it hadn’t come out yet, she had already killed her husband, but saw the code as a useful way to control Danny and refused to easily give it up. She planned to make him say it was ok to kill Michelle or better yet kill her himself.) They struggled to convince everyone their “arranged” marriage was real. Hardest to convince was Jesse, her boyfriend who she hadn’t even broken up with before marrying Danny. They decided they had to let Jesse catch them in bed at their “special place,” the lighthouse. They kissed and lay entwined before Jesse arrived and even though they didn’t make love, she sold Jesse that they had been together for real. However, Danny and Michelle remembered this moment as one of the first of true intimacy. Another major milestone occurred when Danny and Michelle attended Pre-Cana. Michelle told Danny she’d pass by thinking about Jesse and he practically writhed with jealousy as he listened to her answer questions about her dream future. However, the priest had them read part of their questionnaires aloud and they realized their dreams of the future they wanted were the same, the same type of marriage, the same type of family, and the same type of life. Michelle started looking at Danny differently and the effect of her feeling his body shielding her from a bullet started to sink in. Although Danny doesn’t realize it, after this it’s Danny who always brings up Jesse’s name between them, not Michelle.

During one discussion Danny tells Michelle about his grandparents and how their arranged marriage had turned to love and that even when Danny and Michelle were at each other’s throats they had a connection and asked her to give it a chance. Michelle decides that the only way to get her life back was to become part of the Santos family so she could get information to take it down. She started trying to get closer to Danny and to investigate. Carmen initially wanted a church ceremony as one her many plans in these early weeks to try to get Danny to give up on Michelle or get Michelle to crack. Now Michelle decided that the wedding was the perfect way to get close. She took Danny to her family’s home to tell them about the wedding. Her brother Rick, who was against the marriage as dangerous to Michelle, tells Danny if he really loves Michelle to let her go. When Michelle checks on Danny after Rick left him in her room, he talks to her about how while he might not be the man of her dreams, but he was a man and living so closely with her was starting to get to him and could she please keep an open mind about this part of their marriage (“I am a man” speech – look for it, it’s great). Michelle couldn’t be unaffected. However, it was the church ceremony that truly affected them both. Drew, who knew of Michelle’s plan, said after the ceremony that it all was getting real. Danny and Michelle felt the connection when they said their vows and when they kissed it was anything but obligatory. When they returned to their room, Danny wasn’t pushing, but Michelle said she was ready to be his wife and they started to make love. As Danny talked about his feelings and as Michelle felt herself responding to his advances for real, she got scared and stopped him again. Their connection slowly strengthened although the marriage remained unconsummated (with many close calls), without realizing it they were constantly touching and kissing each other. Drew asked Michelle if she was falling in love with her husband for real telling her “You get a big stupid smile on your face whenever he’s around.” Still to save herself, Michelle was willing, if reluctantly, to sell Danny to the FBI and gave them information on him to lead him into a trap until she overheard him confide to his Abuela that he was in love with her. Suddenly horrified at what she had done, Michelle faked her blindness (which she had endured for a short time the year before) returning to keep Danny away from the FBI trap. However, he believed she’d turned him in and was struggling with what he should do as the code now again demanded her death. He got a reprieve when he overheard a henchman thank his girlfriend for making the call on Carmen’s orders. The next day, feeling closer to Danny than ever and upset by how he was worried about her eyesight, she could no longer let there be a secret between them, she told him that she did call the FBI. Danny feels backstabbed and on one of the worst nights of his life he sends Michelle home with Rick and got drunk and slept with her friend Drew (who was also feeling betrayed and alone over people lying to her about her adoption). Fresh off a dream where Danny killed her for betraying him, Michelle grabs a knife when Danny shows up and he realizes he has to set her free even though he will have to blackmail his own mother to do it and still keep her safe.

Thinking he has lost her forever Danny falls apart and Michelle finds herself no longer fitting into her old life. When she kisses Jesse, she sees Danny’s face. When Father Ray asks her to say for the annulment that she felt nothing for Danny, she can’t do it. In internal turmoil, Michelle tells everyone she is leaving town, but really she went to her and Jesse’s special place, the lighthouse. Danny finds himself drawn there too one night remembering lying there with her and she tells him she came there to think about Jesse, but could only remember lying in Danny’s arms and was having trouble remembering Jesse’s face. Michelle thinks they need to give their marriage a chance, Danny almost relented, but felt that she could never be happy with his life and he pushed her away. After agreeing to leave town to get some distance from Michelle, Danny overheard his mother on the phone plan to kill Michelle and rushing to rescue her, he crashed his car, but the report of it got the cops to save Michelle and she ran to Danny’s side. Unable to resist each other any longer, they finally decide to try. Although Carmen discovered his night with Drew and temporarily caused a further estrangement, it’s short lived because by now they know they can’t live without each other.

An attempt on Carmen’s life draws Danny back to the “family” and he tries to stay away from Michelle to protect her, but she finally can’t stand to be apart anymore and insists on staying with him regardless of the danger (“even if there were a thousand guns, I’d want to face them down with you”). Danny still tries to get her to go someplace safe, but Danny learns quickly that Michelle makes her own decisions and he can’t control her. Her brother Rick wasn’t nearly as quick on that point and tried to break them up by having Michelle committed for a Psych Eval saying her decisions made her a danger to herself. Danny tried everything to get her out and finally broke her out and Rick admitted he had wrongly had her committed. The next day Danny threw her a surprise wedding, just for themselves to renew their vows for real at Laurel Falls.

Although they were happy together, Danny’s tendency to not tell Michelle things to try to protect her, his continued draw to the “family business,” Michelle’s tendency to jump to the worst assumption about him, the return of her meddling birth mother, Danny’s slowly realizing that he must risk the danger and destroy an ever expanding circle of the mob to keep his family safe, and Carmen’s efforts to break them up (faking an attack on her life, framing Michelle for a murder Carmen herself committed, framing Danny for killing Carmen, trying to kill Michelle several more times) continued to cause them problems. Although they broke up several times, they always got back together quickly because they just can’t bear to be apart and unlike pretty much every other couple on the show, while they had 6 weddings (4 legal marriages, 2 vow renewals), they were all to each other. Eventually they had 2 children (Robbie and Hope) to whom they were devoted, active parents, but maintained their deserved nickname “the tactile twosome”, always touching and caressing each other, and always looking to “christen” new places. They always had to fight for the life they wanted and while they had a tendency to make the same mistakes, they actually slowly learned not to make them (again unlike many other soap couples) and their marriage got stronger with each reunion, until they left town to get a fresh start near her father’s (Dr. Ed Bauer) current home in California. Danny’s cousin Father Ray (the only Santos currently left on the show) declared at their last wedding, a few days before they left the show in 2005, that they finally had it all figured out and this time it would be forever.

Michelle: “Looking back I wouldn’t do a thing differently because Danny’s worth it. It’s like we’re on some kind of a journey. Sometimes he loses direction, sometimes it’s me, but we’re supposed to be traveling together. I know that in my bones, sometimes it’s the only thing I do know, but I am sure, so wherever we end up together I know that’s where I want to be.

Marah: ”But you and Danny are from such different places.”

Michelle: “Not on the inside. Growing up I had the life he always wanted and now I want to make sure he has that life and that’s the life I want to give our child so no matter what it takes to bring Danny back [I will].”

Although there are more complete versions of individual episodes, the best overall set of highlights of the couple is on Youtube courtesy of Freckles337.

Click on see all under playlists to see all 4 Manny (Michelle + Danny) Clips playlists. They start with “Manny Clips – PAS & BJLG” for Paul Anthony Stewart and Bethany Joy (Joie) Lenz and then continue through 3 parts of PAS & NSA for Nancy St. Alban after she took over the role.  Many people don’t like Nancy’s version of Michelle as well, but I think the real problem was that she didn’t get Michelle right away, but once you get to the following exchange in the New York hotel scenes I think she had her and continues well from there:

Michelle: Tell me what I ever did to make you think so little of me.

Danny: What? I don’t…

Michelle: What makes you think that I’m such a coward that I can’t face the same things that you do.

Danny: I don’t think you’re a coward.

Michelle: I’d follow you into hell and pull you right back out.  I’m not giving up on you, Danny.


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Sarah Uthoff - Trundlebed Tales

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+, LinkedIn , SlideShare, and . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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