Bill Hayes, the longtime star of NBC’s soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” died Friday at the age of 98.
Hayes has portrayed Doug Williams on the daytime soap since 1970, five years after the series’ debut. He met his real-life wife, actress Susan Seaforth, on the series, which is set in the fictional town of Salem, Illinois.
Hayes and Seaforth married in 1974. Two years later, the characters in the series got married. That same year, the duo also appeared on the cover of Time magazine in a cover story about the popularity of daytime soaps.
“I’ve known Bill for most of my life, and he embodied the heart and soul of ‘Days of Our Lives,’” said executive producer Ken Corday. hearts and the stories we tell both on and off screen.
Hayes’ character was one of the longest-running characters on the series and is now produced by Sony Pictures TV. The mainstays of the show, the couple have faced a multitude of cases, from Doug’s unstable ex-wife to an exploding oven and multiple serial killers.
Hayes earned two Daytime Emmy nominations for his work on the series in 1975 and 1976. Hayes and Seaforth-Hayes won lifetime achievement awards from the Daytime Emmy Awards in 2018.
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Hayes’ career began in the early days of network TV when he starred in Olsen & Johnson’s “Fireball Fun-for-All” in 1949 and later worked on Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows.”
Born in Harvey, Illinois, singer and dancer Hayes made her Broadway debut in 1953 in the Rodgers & Hammerstein tune “Me and Juliet.” SoapCentral.com. He has also performed national tours of stage musicals such as “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Student Prince,” “Anything Goes,” “Camelot” and “The Pajama Game,” according to SoapCentral.
In 1956, Hayes had a pop hit with his rendition of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” popularized by actor Fess Parker, who played Crockett on the daytime Disney series from 1954 to 1955.
By 1970, Hayes was a divorced father of five. His role as a formerly incarcerated hustler turned nightclub singer in “Days” turned out to be such a good fit.
In 1984, the couple left “Days” after their characters’ running time became shorter. Seaforth Hayes returned to the show in 1990, without Hayes. Hayes made occasional appearances in Salem and performed onstage throughout the remainder of the 1990s. Hayes also earned a doctorate in education from West Virginia University.
In 2003, Hayes and Seaforth Hayes returned to the series, although both characters were assumed to be dead by viewers.
Michael Maloney contributed to this report.