Michelle Bauer is another legacy character that went through several recast from her birth in 1985 until the final episode in 2009. And while each subsequent Michelle brought a little something to the role two aspects of Michelle’s personality were constant. She had the Bauer strength and Maureen’s goodness of heart.
So without further ado The Manny Faces of Michelle Bauer…
1. Anna Tendler. She portrayed baby Michelle from 1985 until 1987. She was conceived after Ed Bauer had a one night stand with Claire Ramsey. However, motherhood didn’t sit too well with Claire’s aspirations and she began neglecting Michelle. The situation would come to a head when Claire tried to smother Michelle with a pillow in 1986. Ed and his wife Maureen decided to fight for, and were eventually granted, custody of young Michelle. An event that would shape young Michelle forever.
2. Rachel Miner. She played Michelle from 1989 to 1995 and, in my opinion, she was a great young Michelle. While Claire may have failed as a mother, Maureen more than made up for it with Michelle (whom she loved like she was her own flesh and blood). As a result Michelle’s childhood was not only safe and secure, but loving as well. Unfortunately in 1993 Michelle’s happy childhood would be shattered when Maureen died in a tragic car accident. Maureen and Michelle were very close and her mother’s death was devastating to the little girl. But that grief was compounded by Michelle finding out the cause of Maureen’s accident, Ed’s affair with Lillian Raines. You couldn’t help but sympathize with the young girl and Rachel Miner played the role beautifully. During this time was also the beginning of Michelle’s friendships with Ben Reade and Bill Lewis, friendships that would last into their adult years.
3. Rebecca Budig. From 1995 to 1998. Some people liked this Michelle, others did not. Personally I was a little of both. In 1996 Ed left town to return to his work in Africa (and wouldn’t be back until 2002) and left Michelle in the care of her brother Rick (who was older but not altogether wiser). Like most teenagers Michelle wanted independence and pushed boundaries in her relationship with Jesse Blue, but was ultimately sweet in nature. In my opinion the best part of Rebecca Budig’s tenure as Michelle was the relationship with bad boy Jesse and Michelle dealing with going blind. I was a big fan of Michelle and Jesse. They were sweet, had chemistry, and I am a sucker for a bad boy with a heart of gold. I would have kept loving them except Rebecca Budig left the show which brings me to…
4 (Bethany) Joie Lenz from 1998 to 2000. Among fans, Joie Lenz is often times considered the best Michelle. Joie was originally cast as a teenage Reva during the awful Reva Clone story and was cast a year later as the new Michelle Bauer. She had tons of personality and spark, and brought Michelle into adulthood. While her version of Michelle and Jesse were “okay” they didn’t even compare once Danny Santos came to Springfield. Joie Lenz and Paul Anthony Stewart simply shined together! I never jump couples but once Manny made their debut there was no way I couldn’t root for them. Joie Lenz was great at playing the conflict between true love and family, made even more complicated due to the Santos’ being a mob family.
5. Nancy St. Alban. She played Michelle from 200-2005 and again in 2009. When Joie left the show she left large shoes to fill, which ultimately fell to newcomer Nancy St. Alban. Joie Lenz’s Michelle was more dramatic whereas Nancy St. Alban’s Michelle was more mature and subdued. But the Manny magic was still there (although different) and Nancy St. Alban made the role her own. A few attempts on her life by her mother-in-law Carmen, confronting her father over his abandonment, her friendship with Marah Lewis, and an AWFUL amnesia storyline were some of the high lights from her years on Guiding Light. The best part of the amnesia hell storyline was Maureen’s visit from the great beyond which can be seen here. Although Michelle, and Manny, were lost to the budget cuts in 2005 the writers at least had the good sense to bring them back for the finale.