Actor HistoryFrank Runyeon
Episode Tenure: 962-1818
Airdates: May 26, 1988 to October 14, 1991
Relatives Dr. Arthur Donnelly (father)
Dr. Heather Donnelly (sister)
Michael (namesake nephew)
Relationships Julia Wainwright (one-night stand)
Laura Asher (lovers)
Greta MacAdams (flirtation)
Nikki Alvarez (engaged; deceased)
Cassandra Benedict (dated)
Flame Beaufort (affair)
Brief Character HistoryMichael Donnelly was a cop-turned-priest at the same mission in Goleta where the late Mary Duvall, Mason Capwell's first love, had worked several years before. Mason, accused of killing Mark McCormick, suspected there was a connection between this mission and Mark's death, so he went undercover at the mission. He soon began to suspect Michael of Mark's murder. Just then, an explosion ripped through the church and Mason was presumed dead.
Mason's fiancιe, Julia Wainwright, refused to accept his death. Disguised as Sister Rebecca, she infiltrated the mission and ended up befriending Michael. Soon, Mark's true killer turned out to be Sister Agatha. She was put in the loony bin, but not before revealing to Michael that Mason was alive. Michael told Julia the news and helped her in the search for Mason. At the same time, he had to fight his un-priestly feelings for Julia. Later, when Julia's wedding to Mason went up in smoke, she turned to Michael for comfort.
Meanwhile, Michael was visited in his confessional by the infamous "video rapist." He and policeman Cruz Castillo tried to catch the rapist the next time he came in, but it backfired. The rapist kidnapped Julia in revenge. Luckilly, Michael found and rescued Julia. Following this traumatic experience, the two made love. The next morning, they agreed that what happened was a mistake. Still, Michael left the priesthood.
Michael was shocked when Ethan Asher, the new DA, arrived in town with his wife, Laura. Years earlier, when Michael was a Boston cop, he had been romantically involved with Laura. In the line of duty, Michael accidentally shot Laura's son, Jamie, after the boy was kidnapped by criminal Leo Mitchell. Now, eight years later, Michael and Laura came to terms with the past and even had a brief affair. Leo Mitchell came to Santa Barbara around the same time and wanted to avenge the death of his brother, which he blamed on Michael. Leo was killed, but his body disappeared. Michael was thrown in jail on suspicion of murder. Once Leo's body was found, the bullet in his body didn't match Michael's gun, and Michael was released. He felt betrayed by Laura when she turned out to be the real killer.
Michael briefly dated ex-nun Greta MacAdams, but that didn't go anywhere. He then joined the Santa Barbara police force and fell in love with an undercover cop by the name of Nikki Alvarez. Later, the two were kidnapped to an island, where they were held prisoner by drug lord Kirk Cranston. Cruz was able to save them. Back in Santa Barbara, Michael proposed to Nikki and she accepted.
Before the wedding could happen, Nikki was tragically killed in a bombing of the Blue Sky Brigade office. Michael was shattered by Nikki's death and anxious for revenge. He almost killed Harland Richards, the man responsible for the bombing. Later, Michael was hired by Minx Lockridge to find her long-lost daughter. Michael discovered that sneaky Cassandra Benedict was Minx's daughter and dated her for a short while. He then had a brief affair with Flame Beaufort. Eventually, Michael disappeared from the canvas without explanation.