Bill Hayes, star of the NBC television series “Days of Our Lives,” died Friday at the age of 98.
Hayes has played the character Doug Williams on the daytime soap since 1970, five years after the show debuted. 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, their characters on the show married. That same year, the duo also appeared on the cover of Time magazine in a cover story on the popularity of daytime soap operas.
“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. “Although we mourn and miss him, Bill’s indelible legacy will live on in our hearts and the stories we tell, both on screen and off.”
Hayes' character was one of the longest-running characters on the series, which is now produced by Sony Pictures TV. As mainstays of the show, the couple faces many trials, ranging from Doug's troubled ex-wife, an exploding furnace and several serial killers.
Hayes received two Daytime Emmy nominations for his work on the show in 1975 and 1976. Hayes and Seaforth-Hayes received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmy Awards in 2018.
Hayes' career began in the early days of network television in 1949 when he starred in Olsen & Johnson's “Fireball Fun-for-All” and later worked on Sid Caesar's “Your Show of Shows.”
Born in Harvey, Illinois, Hayes is a singer and dancer who made his Broadway debut in Rodgers and Hammerstein's “Me and Juliet” in 1953. According to SoapCentral.com. He has also toured nationally for musicals such as “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Student Prince,” “Anything Goes,” “Camelot” and “The Pajama Game,” according to SoapCentral.
In 1956, Hayes had a hit with his rendition of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” a song made popular by actor Fess Parker, who played Crockett on the Disney-produced series that aired during daytime from 1954 to 1955.
By 1970, Hayes was a divorced father of five children. The role he played as a formerly incarcerated con artist turned nightclub singer in “Days” proved a good fit.
In 1984, the pair left “Days” after their characters' air time dwindled. Seaforth Hayes ended up returning to the show in 1990 without Hayes. Hayes appeared sporadically in Salem and performed on stage 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 viewers assumed both characters had died.
Michael Maloney contributed to this report.
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