Bill Hayes, Beloved “Days of Our Lives” Star, Passes Away at 98

On the adored sudser, the actor portrayed Doug Williams in over 2,000 episodes. The cherished daytime TV performer Bill Hayes, who spent more than 50 years playing Doug Williams on Days of Our Lives, has passed away. He was 98. “It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of our beloved Bill Hayes,” a spokeswoman for the Peacock soap confirmed to EW in a statement. No reason for the death was stated.

Bill Hayes’ Musical Journey and the Chart-Topping “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”

Bill Hayes, Beloved "Days of Our Lives" Star, Passes Away at 98

Executive producer Ken Corday remarked, “I have known Bill for most of my life, and he embodied the heart and soul of Days of Our Lives.” “Bill’s unforgettable legacy will live on in our hearts and the stories we tell, both on and off the screen, even though we are grieving and will miss him.”

Hayes, who was born in Harvey, Illinois, in 1925, had a successful career in both theater and film. A superb singer, he made his television debut performing on Olsen & Johnson’s 1949 comedy series Fireball Fun-for-All before getting a recurring role as a vocalist on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows in the early 1950s. After making his Broadway debut in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Me and Juliet in 1953, he went on to star in several theater musicals throughout the years, such as Anything Goes, Camelot, and Bye Bye Birdie.

On the popular soap opera Days of Our Lives, Hayes created the character of Doug Williams, a former con man who is now a lounge singer, back in 1970. Over the following 53 years, Doug would appear in over 2,000 episodes, making him one of the longest-running characters on the program.

Bill Hayes, Beloved "Days of Our Lives" Star, Passes Away at 98

The story arc of his character, in which Doug fell in love and started dating Julie Olson (Susan Seaforth), was one of the most well-liked plot lines in the series during the 1970s. Outside of the camera, Hayes and Seaforth developed their love affair, which resulted in marriage in 1974. Two years later, their supercouple personas followed them down the aisle, getting married on the program and even inspiring a 1976 Time cover story about the popularity of soap operas.

Over the following fifty years, Hayes and Seaforth would leave and rejoin the series. For their contributions to the sudser at the Daytime Emmy Awards in 2018, they were both given Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Hayes was an accomplished actor as well as a talented singer. He went on to top the Billboard charts in 1955 with his rendition of the hit song “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” which was featured on the ABC television series Disneyland. Since then, other singers have recorded the song, including Mary Wilson, Tim Curry, and They Might Be Giants.

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