Bill Hayes, an actor and singer who, along with his real-life wife, Susan Seaforth Hayes, appeared on NBC’s Days of Our Lives as the beloved first couple of daytime television, passed away on Friday in Los Angeles, according to a representative from the show who spoke to The Hollywood Reporter. He aged to 98.
Before he became famous for his work in soap operas, Hayes was a regular on the famous live television variety show Your Show of Shows, which was hosted by Sid Caesar. In 1955, he had a song called “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” that was the most popular song in the United States.
Additionally, he collaborated with Florence Henderson, who would go on to become a member of the Brady Bunch, in a nightclub act. Together, they were known as “The Singing Sweethearts,” and they sang about Oldsmobiles in television ads, with many of them performing live.
Bill Hayes, Longtime Star of ‘Days of Our Lives,’ Dies at 98 https://t.co/BGe1FVAmSf
— Variety (@Variety) January 13, 2024
When Hayes joined Days of Our Lives in February 1970, he was cast in the role of Doug Williams, a con artist and lounge singer. It had been fifteen months since Seaforth Hayes had joined the program, and she had already played the role of the spoilt heiress Julie Olsen Banning Anderson Williams.
On October 12, 1974, the performers tied the knot, and on October 1, 1976, their characters tied the knot (for the first of three times!) in an episode that was broadcast on October 1. For the first time ever, they said their genuine wedding vows during their first television ceremony.
Once, Hayes was quoted as saying, “In 1974, Susan and I got married in my living room with sixteen people in attendance.” At the time of Doug and Julie’s wedding in 1976, there were sixteen million people in the world.
It was only logical that Doug would marry Julie’s mother, Patricia Barry, who would later pass away in a sad accident, and have a daughter with her. This daughter would later become Julie’s half-sister. The broadcast wedding took place after Doug had passed away.
When he and Seaforth Hayes became the only soap opera stars to appear on the cover of Time magazine, they created history both individually and collectively. On the cover of the magazine, which was published on January 12, 1976, the headline read, “Soap Operas: Sex and Suffering in the Afternoon.”
After a disagreement on the storylines of Days of Our Lives in 1984, Doug and Julie “went on a cruise” and left the town of Salem. This occurred at the same time that the performers left the show.
Since that time, they have spent the subsequent many decades appearing on and off the show, and viewers are always happy to see them show up again. In September of 2022, the couple even made it to Peacock, which was the location where the show was moved.
At the Daytime Emmys, which took place in April 2018, they were presented with a lifetime achievement award.
In a statement, the executive producer of the show, Ken Corday, said, “I have known Bill for the majority of my life, and he embodied the heart and soul of Days of Our Lives.” Despite the fact that we are in mourning and will miss him, the indelible legacy that Bill left behind will continue to live on in our hearts and in the stories that we tell, both on and off the screen.
Hayes received his degree from DePauw University in 1947 with a major in English and music. Prior to that, he had enlisted in the Navy Air Corps and served for two years. During that time, he received training to become a fighter pilot.
When Hayes’ younger brother became ill with strep throat and was unable to try out for a role in the national touring production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, which was just a few weeks after its incredible run on Broadway, Hayes rushed on a train to Chicago and auditioned in his place at the Shubert Theater. A job that paid $70 a week for approximately four months was awarded to him.