‘Days of Our Lives’ star Bill Hayes dies at 98; played Doug Williams since 1970

‘Days of Our Lives’ star Bill Hayes dies at 98; played Doug Williams since 1970

Bill Hayes, a mainstay on the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives” for over 50 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.

“Days of Our Lives” stars Bill Hayes, left, and Susan Seaforth Hayes accept the Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2018 Daytime Emmy Awards. The couple was married in 1974. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Archives)

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 Dec. 22 episode last month.

“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.”

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Hayes and Seaforth Hayes married in 1974; their characters married on the show in 1976 — then married two more times in the course of the daytime drama.

The actor also had a No.1 hit: According to the Los Angeles Times, “His popular version of the catchy song ‘The Ballad of Davy Crockett,’ written for the ABC series ‘Disneyland,’ topped the Billboard charts in 1955.”

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Other television credits for Hayes include “Matlock” and “Frasier.” In the 1950s and 60s, he also appeared in TV movies of popular musicals “Kiss Me, Kate” and “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.”