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Bill Hayes, 'Days of Our Lives' star, dies at 98

"Beloved 'Days of our Lives' actor Bill Hayes dies at 96; met wife Susan Seaforth on set, made history together."

Bill Hayes portrayed the character of Doug Williams on the daytime soap opera "Days of our Lives" since 1970, just five years after the show first aired. It was on the set of this fictional Illinois town of Salem that he met his real-life wife, actress Susan Seaforth.

The couple was married in 1974, and two years later, their characters were married on the show as well. In the same year, they appeared on the cover of Time magazine in a feature story on the popularity of daytime soap operas.

Executive producer Ken Corday paid tribute to Hayes, saying that he embodied the heart and soul of the show. He also mentioned that although they are grieving and will miss him, Hayes' legacy will continue to live on in their hearts and the stories they tell, both on and off the screen.

Hayes' character was one of the longest-running on the soap, which is now produced by Sony Pictures TV. Throughout the show, the couple faced numerous trials, from Doug's deranged ex-wife to exploding ovens and even serial killers.

Hayes received two Daytime Emmy nominations for his work on the show in 1975 and 1976. In 2018, both Hayes and Seaforth-Hayes were awarded lifetime achievement awards from the Daytime Emmy Awards.

His career began in 1949 when he starred on Olsen & Johnson's "Fireball Fun-for-All" and later worked on Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows." Born in Harvey, Illinois, Hayes was a singer and dancer who made his Broadway debut in 1953. He also toured nationally in stage musicals such as "Bye Bye Birdie," "Student Prince," "Anything Goes," "Camelot," and "The Pajama Game."

In 1956, Hayes had a pop hit with his rendition of "The Ballad of Davy Crockett," a song made popular by actor Fess Parker. By 1970, Hayes was a divorced father of five children, and the role of a formerly imprisoned con artist turned nightclub singer on "Days of our Lives" proved to be a perfect fit for him.

After their characters' airtime diminished in 1984, the couple left the show. Seaforth Hayes returned in 1990 without Hayes, who then made sporadic appearances in Salem and performed on stage throughout the rest of the 1990s. He also earned a doctorate in education from West Virginia University.

In 2003, both Hayes and Seaforth Hayes returned to the series, even though their characters had been presumed dead by viewers.

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