Bill Hayes, the longtime star of the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” died Friday at the age of 98.
Five years after the show's debut, Hayes played Doug Williams in the first daytime series in 1970. He met his real-life wife, actress Susan Seaforth, in the series set in the fictional Illinois town of Salem.
Hayes and Seaforth married in 1974. Two years later, their characters got married on the show. That same year, the couple appeared on the cover of Time magazine on the popularity of daytime soaps.
“I've known Bill most of my life, and he embodies the heart and soul of 'Days of Our Lives,'” said executive producer Ken Korte. “While we will mourn and miss him, Bill's undying legacy will live on in our hearts and in the stories we tell, both on and off screen.”
Hayes' role is one of the longest-running characters in a soap produced by Sony Pictures TV. As pillars of the show, the pair faced many trials, from Doug's depressed ex-wife, to an exploding oven and several serial killers.
Hayes received two Daytime Emmy nominations for her work on the show in 1975 and 1976. Hayes and Seaforth-Hayes received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the 2018 Daytime Emmy Awards.
Hayes' career began in the early days of network TV in 1949, when he starred in Olsen & Johnson's “Fireball Fun-All” and later worked on Sid Caesar's “Your Show of Shows.”
Born in Harvey, Ill., Hayes, a singer and dancer, made her Broadway debut in 1953 in the Rodgers & Hammerstein tuner “Me and Juliet.” According to SoapCentral.com. He also did national tours of stage musicals such as “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Student Prince,” “Anything Goes,” “Camelot,” and “The Pajama Game,” according to Soap Central.
In 1956, Hayes had a pop hit with “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” made famous by actor Fess Parker, who played Crockett in the Disney-produced series that aired from 1954 to 1955.
By 1970, Hayes was a divorced father of five. The role of ex-prison con artist turned nightclub singer on “Days” was a perfect fit.
In 1984, the couple left “Days” as their characters' airtime dwindled. Seaforth Hayes returned to the show in 1990 without Hayes. Hayes made sporadic appearances in Salem and performed on stage throughout the late 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 presumed dead by viewers.
Michael Maloney contributed to this report.