Bill Hayes, renowned for his portrayal of Doug Williams on NBC's iconic soap opera "Days of Our Lives" and celebrated as a versatile entertainer, passed away at the age of 98 in Los Angeles, leaving behind a legacy that spanned decades in television history.
A representative from the show confirmed his passing to The Hollywood Reporter. Before captivating millions as a soap opera icon, Hayes had already made a name for himself in the entertainment industry. He gained prominence on Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows," and in 1955, he topped the charts with “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”.
Alongside Florence Henderson, who later starred in "The Brady Bunch," Hayes formed a duo known as “The Singing Sweethearts,” charming audiences with their musical performances, including live commercials for Oldsmobile.
Iconic TV Romance
Hayes joined "Days of Our Lives" in February 1970 as the charming con artist and lounge singer Doug Williams, just over a year after his future wife, Susan Seaforth Hayes, had started on the show. Their real-life romance blossomed into marriage on October 12, 1974, and this love was mirrored on-screen with their characters marrying in 1976, an event that attracted 16 million viewers.
Their union marked a significant moment in television history, as they became the only soap opera stars to appear on the cover of Time magazine in 1976. Their departure from the show in 1984 followed a dispute over storylines, but they continued to make appearances over the years, delighting fans each time they returned.
Their last appearance was on Peacock in September 2022, following the show's transition to the streaming platform. In an interview with TV Guide in 2011, Seaforth Hayes praised her husband for his zest for life and broad perspective, attributing these qualities to their enduring happiness.
The couple was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Daytime Emmys in April 2018. Hayes' career encompassed various genres and formats, from his hit single "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" to performances in Broadway musicals and appearances in films and television shows.
He was a familiar face on popular shows like "The Interns," "Matlock," and "Frasier." Alongside his entertainment career, Hayes shared his life and experiences through a joint autobiography with his wife, a work of historical fiction, and a website dedicated to soap opera secrets.