Bill Hayes, longtime star of ‘Days of Our Lives,’ dies at 98

Actor played Doug Williams on NBC soap opera since 1971
Bill Hayes of "Days of Our Lives."JPG
Posted at 3:53 PM, Jan 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-13 17:08:27-05

Bill Hayes, a mainstay on the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives” for 53 years, has died. He was 98.

The actor’s passing was confirmed in an email on Saturday to CNN from his agent Gregory David Mayo, who said Hayes died "peacefully" on Friday morning "surrounded by family including his wife, Susan Seaforth Hayes." No cause of death was provided.

Hayes played Doug Williams on "Days," husband to Julie Williams, who is played on the show by his real-life wife Seaforth Hayes. His character was also father to Hope Williams (Kristian Alfonso) –- one half of the legendary "Days of Our Lives" supercouple Bo (Peter Reckell) and Hope.

Hayes first appeared on the daytime soap opera in February 1970, going on to appear in over 2,100 episodes of the show. His last appearance as Williams was on the December 22 episode last month.

The show debuted in 1965.

"It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of our beloved Bill Hayes," the show wrote in a statement to CNN on Saturday. "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" executive producer Ken Corday shared, "I have known Bill for most of my life and he embodied the heart and soul of 'Days of our Lives.' 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."

Other television credits for Hayes include "Matlock" and "rasier." In the 1950s and 60s, he also appeared in TV movies of popular musicals "Kiss Me, Kate," "Once Upon a Mattress," and also played John Brooks in the 1958 TV movie "Little Women."

"Bill Hayes meant the world to me – he is simply the best that a person could ever hope to be,"Mayo added in his statement. "He was not only a client, but a trusted friend and mentor. Bill will indeed be missed."