Bill Hayes will soon be celebrating his 50th anniversary of playing Days of our Lives' Doug Williams, and the NBC soap opera is set to honor the actor and his Salem alter ego in a very special way.
According to Soap Opera Digest, fans should prepare themselves for an extremely emotional and sad February Sweeps storyline that will result in Doug going down memory lane and remembering when he first came to Salem a half century ago.
"I think it's important to honor the actor and the character and the longevity, and also for the fans that have watched that person for so many years," says the soap's head writer, Ron Carlivati, about why he penned the upcoming anniversary special.
While most of the details surrounding Hayes's upcoming storyline are being kept under wraps, it reportedly involves a death in Doug's family. At the moment, that person remains a mystery -- but one candidate could be his wife's cousin, J.J. Deveraux (Casey Moss), who is said to soon be leaving Salem. Fans can rest assured that the person set to die is unlikely to be Doug's wife, Julie (Susan Seaforth-Hayes), as the soap opera just recently had a storyline in which the character nearly passed away after a heart attack.
Hayes joined Days of our Lives in February 1970 and made his first appearance as white-collar criminal Doug in a jail cell opposite Bill Horton (Edward Mallory), who was serving a sentence for killing Kitty Horton. Doug learned all about Salem via his conversations with Bill and eventually moved to the town when Susan Martin (Denise Alexander) offered him money to have an affair with Julie, whom she wanted away from Scott Banning (Mike Ferrell/Robert Hogan). Susan eventually came to her senses and called off the deal, but it was too late -- Doug had moved to Salem, gotten a job as a singer at Sergio's, and fallen in love with Julie.
The rest, as they say, is history -- but it's a 50-year history that includes the reveal that Doug was an orphan named Brent Douglas; a marriage to Addie Horton (Patricia Barry); the birth of Doug and Addie's daughter, Hope (Kristian Alfanso); a heart attack; a return from the dead after being "murdered" by the Salem Stalker; and, of course, a roller-coaster romance with Julie (who happens to be played by Hayes's real-life wife).
Due to DAYS' advanced taping schedule, the NBC soap opera taped Hayes's 50th anniversary episodes in the summer of 2019. An on-set photo of the celebration includes actors Lamon Archey (Eli Grant), Billy Flynn (Chad DiMera), James Reynolds (Abe Carver), Deidre Hall (Marlena Evans), Casey Moss (J.J. Deveraux), Galen Gering (Rafe Hernandez), Matthew Ashford (Jack Deveraux), Kate Mansi (Abigail Deveraux), Greg Vaughan (Eric Brady), Arianne Zucker (Nicole Walker), Vanessa Williams (Valerie Grant), Camila Banus (Gabi Hernandez), and Bill and Susan Hayes.
As DAYS fans may recall, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences honored Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth-Hayes with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the Daytime Emmy Awards in 2018. To read more about that and for a detailed history of Bill Hayes's acting career, click here.
What do you think about Bill Hayes having played the role of DAYS' Doug for 50 years? How would you like to see the soap celebrate the actor and character? Who do you think will die during February Sweeps? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.