Days of Our Lives Star Bill Hayes Dead at 98

Bill Hayes, who played Doug Williams on the soap opera Days of Our Lives on and off for five decades, has passed away.

By Corinne Heller Jan 13, 2024 6:22 PMTags
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The soap opera world has lost a legend.

Bill Hayes, who played Doug Williams on Days of Our Lives on and off for five decades, has died. He was 98.

The actor passed away Jan. 12, a rep for the show said in a statement to E! News. "It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of our beloved Bill Hayes," the message said. "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."

Days of Our Lives Executive Producer Ken Corday also paid tribute to Hayes. "I have known Bill for most of my life and he embodied the heart and soul of Days of our Lives," he was quoted as saying. "Although we are grieving and will miss him, Bill's indelible legacy will live on in our hearts and the stories we tell, both on and off the screen."

Bill was born William Foster Hayes III in Harvey, Ill. in 1925. He began his onscreen career in the late '40s when he starred on Olsen & Johnson's Fireball Fun-for-All.

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In 1952, he appeared in the comedy film Stop, You're Killing Me and three years later, as he continued acting, he also found success as a singer with a popular recording of "The Ballad of Davy Crockett."

Scott Legato/Getty Images for Corday Productions

Bill made his debut as Doug, a night club singer and con artist, on Days of Our Lives in 1970. He played the character on and off until this past December and turned an onscreen romance into a real one: On the set of the series, he met Susan, who has played Julie Olson Williams since 1968.

 The two married in real life in 1974 and their characters tied the knot on the show two years later.

Herb Ball/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

"October 1st, 1976 is a contender for the best day of our lives," Susan wrote on the couple's Instagram page last October. "In a perfectly beautiful wedding, we shared our on and off screen love with the fans of Doug and Julie. Saying those vows 'to love and cherish' and keeping them, for 46 years has been easy. Bill Hayes IS Prince Charming and I am the luckiest, happiest, most honored of wives."

Last June, the two celebrated Bill's birthday on the Days of Our Lives set with other members of the cast and crew.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, in addition to Susan, Bill is also survived by his five children from his previous marriage to Mary Hobbs, as well as 12 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren.

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