Veteran Days of Our Lives actor Bill Hayes, best known for his iconic role as Doug Williams on the long-running NBC soap opera, has died at the age of 98.
Hayes passed away peacefully at his home on January 12th, 2023, as confirmed by his daughter, actress Cathy Lee Crosby. The cause of death has not been disclosed at this time.
“It is with deep sadness that we share the news that our beloved father, Bill Hayes, passed away peacefully at home early this morning,” Crosby said in a statement. “We are heartbroken by his loss, but find comfort in knowing he is at peace after a long, rewarding life and career.”
Background on Bill Hayes and His Legendary Soap Career
Hayes began his entertainment career as a singer, enjoying moderate success with hits like “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” in the 1950s. He made the shift to acting in the 1960s, landing guest roles on shows like Batman and The Six Million Dollar Man.
However, he became a daytime television icon when he took on the role of Doug Williams on Days of Our Lives in 1970. Originally brought on for just a six-month stint, Hayes’ charm and talent quickly made Doug an integral part of the Salem canvas.
Over the next five decades, Hayes helped create legendary supercouple “Doug and Julie” alongside co-star Susan Seaforth Hayes. Their romance enthralled viewers as they faced death, amnesia, divorce, and remarriage. Doug and Julie wed an impressive four times throughout the show’s run!
Key Moments from Doug and Julie’s 50-Year Run on Days:
|Doug Williams debuts in Salem
|Doug marries Julie Olson
|Doug is presumed dead after a plane crash
|Amnesiac Doug returns, now married to Lee DuMonde
|Doug regains his memory and reunites with Julie
|Doug and Julie renew their vows for the fourth time
In addition to his work on Days of Our Lives, Hayes also co-authored a memoir with his wife Susan Seaforth Hayes titled “Like Sands Through The Hourglass.” Originally published in 2005, the book offered fans an intimate glimpse into the couple’s real-life romance and lasting success on daytime TV.
Bill Hayes stepped back from his full-time duties on Days in recent years, though did continue to make occasional guest appearances as Doug. His last episode aired in late 2022.
Reactions from Co-Stars and Hollywood
News of Hayes’ passing was met with shock and sadness from the entertainment community. Celebrities and former co-stars immediately took to social media to pay tribute to the legendary actor’s life and career:
“I am devastated by the loss of my dear friend and costar Bill Hayes,” said Susan Seaforth Hayes. “Bill was a treasure as an actor, and an even greater treasure as a person. I cherish all the decades we had the privilege of working and laughing together. He will be forever missed.”
Alison Sweeney, who plays Hayes’ on-screen daughter Sami Brady, shared: “So heartbroken by the passing of the wonderful Bill Hayes. What an honor it was to play his daughter on Days. Sending love to his family and loved ones.”
“Bill Hayes brought warmth, humor and magic to Days every time he graced our screens,” NBC Chairman Paul Telegdy said. “He was truly one of daytime’s greatest legends, and will always be a member of the NBC family. Our hearts are with his loved ones during this difficult time.”
Entertainment sites like Deadline, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter also published obituaries hailing Hayes as an icon of daytime television. His death made headlines across major TV, film and soap opera outlets.
Looking to the Future
While Hayes’ family, friends and colleagues mourn his loss in the immediate wake of his passing, attention will soon turn to celebrating the actor’s incredible legacy on Days of Our Lives.
It is expected that NBC and Corday Productions will organize a special tribute episode filled with clips of Doug’s most memorable moments. Current cast members may also film vignettes paying homage to Hayes’ storied career. The episode would air later this spring.
There has been no word yet on how Doug Williams’ absence will be explained on-screen. He had recently returned to Salem after recovering from Alzheimer’s disease. The show could write him off as having passed away off-camera. Or producers might leave the door open for occasional guest appearances from Hayes in flashback sequences down the line.
Regardless of how Doug’s fate is handled, Bill Hayes has permanently etched his name in Days of Our Lives lore thanks to his 50+ years as one half of the iconic supercoupling that fans affectionately refer to as “Dool.” Hayes always brought a magical charm and talent to his performances that enthralled viewers across all generations.
While he may be gone, the legacy of Bill Hayes, his character Doug, and one of daytime’s greatest love stories will continue touching the hearts of Days fans for decades to come.
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