Days of our Lives star Bill Hayes has died at the age of 98, and the soap world is mourning the loss of another legend.
Bill played the role of Doug Williams on the hit Peacock soap for 53 years, popping up in Salem for the first time back in 1970.
The publicity department for Days broke the news of his passing late Friday night.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of our beloved Bill Hayes,” said a spokesperson for the show.
The statement acknowledged Bill as one of the longest-running characters on the daytime drama before ending with a note about his wife of nearly 50 years, Susan Seaforth Hayes.
“One of the longest running characters on Days of Our Lives, Bill originated the role of Doug Williams in 1970 and portrayed him continuously throughout his life. He and his wife, Susan Seaforth-Hayes, remained the foundation of the Williams-Horton family spanning more than 50 years,” ended the statement via People magazine.
Days of our Lives star Bill Hayes dead at age 98
Bill lived a full life, including his time on Days of our Lives. However, he had a fantastic career before landing the role of a lifetime on the daytime drama.
After completing his first year at DePaul University, Bill joined the Navy, where he became a fighter pilot and fought in World War II. Bill earned the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal during his time in the Navy.
The Days star returned to DePaul University to finish his degree after his time in the Navy, where he graduated with a degree in Music and English.
Along with being a talented actor, Bill was also a singer and got his start in Hollywood on the variety show Your Show of Shows with Sid Caesar. Bill even had a song, Ballad of Davy Crockett, on the Billboard Hot 100 list.
It was his time on Days, though, that Bill will always be remembered for, not just because of his portrayal of Doug.
Bill Hayes as Doug Williams on Days of our Lives
As much as fans love Bill as Doug, it was his on-screen and off-screen romance with Susan, who plays Julie, that catapulted him to soap stardom. Bill and Susan began dating shortly after he joined Days of Our Lives, and their characters became a couple.
They were married in 1974. Susan and Bill were the only soap couple to make the cover of Time magazine as their on/off-screen romance was featured.
Susan and Bill each received Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Awards in 2018. They are the only soap couple to receive the award simultaneously.
Bill came and went from the daytime drama a few times, first leaving in 1984. He returned for short stings throughout the 1990s before returning full-time in 1999.
In 2021, Bill helped kick off the possession story on Days when the Devil possessed Doug to get to Marlena (Deidre Hall).
The last time Bill and Doug were on-screen was for the annual Horton family Christmas ornament hanging tradition in December. In light of his death, fans have reflected on the end of the episode that had Doug and Julie looking back on their lives together as well as the Horton family.
Beloved legend Bill Hayes has died at the age of 98. The soap world has lost a great actor. Our thoughts go out to Susan, and Doug’s five children, whom he shared with his ex-wife, Mary Hobbs.
Days of our Lives airs weekdays on Peacock.