As previously reported in the casting news, Mark Hapka is joining the cast as Nathan Horton this summer. According to reports, his first airdate will be Wednesday, June 17. Nathan is Maggie’s grandson who is a first-year intern at University Hospital and will live with Maggie, thus crossing paths with Melanie. He is the son of Pete Jannings and Melissa, Mickey and Maggie’s adopted daughter. One question, however, still remains: When did Pete and Melissa even have a son?
If we take a look back at Pete and Melissa’s history, they never did have children together, so this is obviously a rewrite in history. Pete Jannings, played by Michael Leon from 1983-1986, was a rebel from the wrong side of the tracks and was involved in a gang called the Vipers. He kidnapped Melissa Anderson after she caught him stealing food from Shenanigans. They grew closer and she didn’t press charges. Afterwards, Pete and Melissa began seeing each other and had a very on-again, off-again turbulent relationship. After Melissa briefly left town in 1985, Pete began seeing Ivy Selejko and got her pregnant, resulting in a child whom they named Charlie. Pete and Melissa finally married on Valentine’s Day in 1986 in a double ceremony with Mickey and Maggie, but unfortunately their marriage fizzled when Melissa became dance partners with Lars Englund and fell for him. Pete also had some shady dealings with none other than Victor Kiriakis. Pete and Melissa divorced later that year and Pete left town with Ivy and Charlie. He hasn’t returned to Salem since then.
Unfortunately for Melissa, her dancing career ended after she injured her leg, and so did her romance with Lars. Melissa eventually fell for Jack Devereaux even though he was still in love with Kayla, but she dumped him at the altar after she found out he was only using her to win a Senatorial election against her father, Mickey Horton. Melissa left town and headed for Europe in 1988.
Melissa returned in 1990, but this time Camilla Scott had taken over the role. She returned to Salem to warn her cousin Jennifer against getting involved with Jack Devereaux and soon became singing and bedroom partners with Jen’s ex, Emilio Ravirez. However, Emilio accidentally crashed through a window and fell to his death after a fight with Melissa. She was on the verge of a romance with Detective Brian Scofield, but the short-lived relationship fizzled and she moved to Nashville with sister Sarah in 1991.
Lisa Trusel made brief return appearances as Melissa on the show in 1994, 1996, and in 2002. Melissa returned to Salem in 1994 for her grandfather Tom Horton’s funeral and in 1996 for Bo and Hope's wedding, during which time the actress was pregnant in real life, so the show just wrote it in as Melissa being pregnant. Melissa never did disclose the name of the father, so perhaps Pete and Melissa somehow reconciled offscreen. We already know that it’s not at all uncommon for DAYS to rapidly age characters, also known as soap opera rapid aging syndrome. Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how the show is writing in Nathan and the circumstances under which he was conceived. Melissa returned to town in 2002 for Zack’s christening. It has been assumed that Melissa now goes by the last name of Horton.
Incidentally, Lisa is married to former co-star David Wallace (ex-Tod Chandler), whom she met on the set of DAYS. They have four children together: Ryan Elizabeth, Benjamin, Emma, and Joseph.
This isn’t Mark’s first appearance on DAYS. He played a teenage Johnny DiMera in the October 25, 2007 episode, when Lucas had nightmares about how the twins would turn out being raised by different fathers. He also appeared in the October 7, 2008 episode as Johnny, when Sami had nightmares about how her son would turn out being raised by the DiMeras. Nathan has also worked on Ghost Whisperer as Zach, and has made guest appearances on Cold Case and Hannah Montana.
Best of luck to Mark Hapka in the role, and hopefully the explanation of how he came to be will give the Pete and Melissa fans some closure. If we’re lucky, Nathan might even mention that he has a half brother named Charlie. Let's see how well the writers have done their homework on this one. I have to give kudos to the writers for bringing in a new character who actually has familial ties to Salem even though Nathan isn’t biologically a Horton. However, I wouldn’t count on his parents’ names being mentioned too much. After all, Nick’s parent’s, Joshua and Jessica Fallon, were barely mentioned during Blake Berris’s three-year run on the show.
Updated June 13: Somebody must've alerted the writers of the history, because the June 23, 2009 issue of Soap Opera Digest now states that Nathan Horton is Melissa's son, and "his father is unknown at this point."