Apparently, both times the rumors were true. Lowry, who has played Jake since 1996, will make his final on-air appearance in March 16th. ABC had asked that the actor remain on the show until a replacement could be found, but it's reported that Lowry refused to stick around. The ABC casting departure searched high and low for a new Jake, but came up empty. A source at ABC then said that Jake would leave town and return down the road --- when they could cast a new actor in the role. Now it's been revealed that when Lowry leaves this week --- Jake's gone for good.
In 1999, Lowry agreed to stick with the show when the writers agreed to explore Jake's relationship with his brother, Tad (played by Michael E Knight) in greater detail. This time around, there was nothing that could be done to make the actor reconsider his decision to depart. Lowry has said that he wants to branch out from daytime television. He's expected to move out west and try out for a primetime gig.
Lowry isn't the first actor to play Jake Martin. Strangely, though, the previous two actors to have tackled the role were also named Michael. Michael Braniard played then-Joey Martin from 1988 to 1991 and then again as brief cameos in 1994 and 1995. Before that, Michael Scaleri had the role for most of the eighties, starting in 1983 and ending in 1988.