|BANNING, Laurel (Charla Delaney Benton)
Portrayed by: Kristen Jensen (1993); Felicity LaFortune (1993-96)
Family: Michael Delaney (Brother); Lily Benton Montgomery (Daughter)
Marriages: Denny Benton; Jackson Montgomery; Trevor Dillon
Charla Delaney Benton was desperate. The tuition bill for her daughter's,
Lily Benton, special school for children with autism was due. She needed
money, a lot of it, and fast. "Laurel Banning" was one of her
many assumed identities that she had created not only to embezzle money
for her daughter, but to escape her abusive ex-husband, Denny Benton.
Laurel began working at the Mason Foundation. She became good friends with the foundation’s chair, Natalie Dillon. It pained Laurel to steal from her, but she needed the money. When she learned her deception was about to be uncovered, Laurel went on the run. In hot pursuit, Natalie got in a fatal car accident.
Because of the national attention around Laurel's crime, Denny found Laurel and confronted his runaway wife. Laurel and Denny got in a heated confrontation over Lily. When Laurel told Denny that Lily was not his child, he attacked her again. She grabbed a bookend and landed a fatal blow on Denny's head. Jackson Montgomery discovered Laurel looming over Denny’s dead body. Jackson helped Laurel dispose of the body. They then went on the run until they could exonerate her. A surprise witness testified that Laurel acted in self-defense. Laurel thought she loved Jackson. After their rash marriage, he adopted Lily.
Back in Pine Valley, Laurel wanted to make amends with the Dillons. Timmy Dillon had fallen into drugs while grieving for his mother. While on an LSD high, he wandered into the middle of a crowded street. Laurel pushed him out the way of an incoming car, saving his life. Trevor Dillon, Natalie’s husband, reached out his hand in gratitude.
1994: Jackson and Laurel’s marriage had a rocky start because of Jackson’s hefty work schedule. Laurel spent her days caring for Trevor’s children, Timmy and Amanda Dillon. That was of course until Trevor met Jane Cox. Jane was strangely protective of Trevor’s children, especially Amanda. Laurel confided her apprehensions with Jackson, but he brushed them off.
Laurel's investigation into Jane’s life revealed that she was none other than Janet Green, Trevor’s psychotic sister-in-law, and Amanda’s biological mother. Somehow, Janet had figure out that Laurel knew the truth and she cut the breaks in Laurel's car. Laurel got in a car accident that left her paralyzed when she tried to warn Trevor. Jackson met her at the hospital. There, she confided everything about Janet to him. Luckily, Jackson was able to stop Trevor from marry Janet in the nick of time.
Jackson admitted that he had a one-night stand with Erica Kane, his ex-fiance. Laurel and Jackson amicably divorced.
1995: All the time Laurel was spending with Amanda and Timmy brought her and Trevor together. Knowing no one would love his children as much as Laurel did, Trevor proposed to Laurel. On the day they were to marry, Janet made a surprise entrance at the church. In her hands was a bomb. But upon seeing Amanda standing with Laurel, she ran out of the church to disarm it. Laurel watched helplessly as a lightning bolt struck down an unsuspecting Janet. Laurel and Trevor breathed a sigh of relief thinking that Janet was finally dead.
Laurel welcomed her little brother, Michael Delaney to Pine Valley. He was a teacher at Pine Valley High School. Laurel was the only person that knew his secret: he was gay. When Laurel confided in Trevor, he freaked out. Michael had taken Timmy and Jamal Cudahy on a camping trip. Trevor insisted that Timmy come home. He did not want Timmy left alone with Michael.
1996: Michael sued the Pine Valley School Board when he was let go because of parental concerns over his sexuality. Laurel was her brother’s staunches supporter. They made an appearance on The Cutting Edge to talk about discrimination in Pine Valley.
Unknown to everyone at the studio, a drunk Jason Sheffield was lurking in the rafters with a gun. Jason’s little brother Kevin Sheffield, a student of Michael's, came out as gay. Jason wrongly blamed Michael and was intent on making him pay. But because of his state of mind, he missed Michael and instead shot Laurel in the head. She was rushed to the hospital, but there was nothing any of the doctors could do. Laurel was dead.