In 1978, in an effort to smear state senate candidate Don Craig's public image, gossip columnist Arlene Harris ran an unflattering story about him and his relationship with Marlena Evans and her trouble-making twin sister Samantha. Realizing he was now a public figure, Don moved out of Marlena's gatehouse. Nonetheless, the two became engaged.
When Don's former girlfriend Lorraine Temple saw Don's picture in the paper, she flew to Salem to tell him about Donna, the daughter he never knew he had. This caused some friction between Don and Marlena, but they got over it. Then Lorraine brought the girl to town and contacted Harris, who broke the story of Don's past affair and his illegitimate child. Marlena stood by him through all the negative publicity. After Lorraine left Salem, Donna stayed with her father but had trouble adjusting to her new life.
Don and Marlena's wedding came to a halt when Marlena had to leave the altar to talk to someone who was threatening to jump from the roof of the building. When the would-be jumper turned out to be Donna, Don rushed to the scene as well. He was injured pulling his daughter to safety. Luckily, he survived after emergency surgery, even though an adverse reaction to medication left him temporarily deaf. His persistent personal problems knocked Don out of the election. Donna went into counselling with Laura Horton and eventually went to live with Tom and Alice Horton.
Donna began dating Pete Curtis, a distant cousin of Neil Curtis. After a few weeks, she was spending nights and weekends with him while lying to Alice about her whereabouts. When she became pregnant and confronted Pete, he told her to get an abortion. When Donna refused, Pete left town. Soon after, Donna stole some pills from Tom and she disappeared as well. Eventually, she returned to Salem. Don threatened to send her to Juvenile Hall as a wayward minor. When Donna explained that she was pregnant, Don finally told her for the first time that he believed she was his daughter. He pulled out a birth certificate he had hunted down when Lorraine first told him her story. Don postponed his marriage to Marlena to focus on Donna's problems. By December, after Don found Pete and confronted him, Pete returned to Salem with the promise to marry Donna.
Early in 1979, Donna had a miscarriage and was taken to the hospital where Don and Pete had another confrontation. Pete said good-bye to Donna and left Salem to go back to school. Months later, it became clear just how much the entire experience had disturbed Donna. She gave Tom and Alice some small but expensive pieces of jewelry as gifts. A few weeks later, she stole a ring from Chez Julie and gave it to Marlena as a birthday present. When Steven Olsen, Julie's brother, recognized the piece, Don confronted Donna. She promised to clean up her act and make money baby-sitting.
Samantha visited Salem a few times that year and took Donna to Los Angeles for a visit. When the teen returned to Salem, she was star-struck and talked about becoming an actress. She called a photographer about modeling. The photographer, Terry Gilbert, who worked for the ruthless loan shark Earl Roscoe, was soon taking topless photos of Donna and tried to convince her to pose completely nude. When she refused, Earl had the photos doctored and superimposed Donna's head onto another model's nude body. All this was going on while Don was getting back into politics, vowing to break up a pornography ring that was operating in Salem.
In 1980, not long after the death of Don and Marlena's infant son D.J., Don got a nude photo of Donna in the mail. When Donna showed her father her actual modeling portfolio, he was convinced the nude shot must be a faked composite and confronted the photographer, who denied any knowledge of it. Meanwhile, trying to generate a new look, Trish had Terry take new promotional photos for her. Trish knew he had taken the photos of Donna and had bought the negatives from him, but Terry secretly held on to a "screen test" Donna had made. In a few days, Don met with Earl, who wanted $3000.00 for the film, which Don paid. After one of his clients, Lester Hall, told Don about porno theaters showing films to minors, Don considered using Donna's picture as an example in his political campaign agains pornography. Don was stunned when the mayor told him to back off his cleanup campaign.
Donna left Salem shortly thereafter to live with her Grandmother Craig and has not been heard from since.
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