Bill Hayes, Days of our Lives' Doug Williams, has died at age 98

Posted Friday, January 12, 2024 10:12:09 PM

Bill Hayes, a star of stage and the long-running soap opera Days of our Lives, died on January 12 at the age of 98.

Bill Hayes, the multi-talented performer best known to daytime fans for his role as Doug Williams on Days of our Lives, died Friday, January 12, at the age of 98.

According to a statement from Hayes's agent Gregory David Mayo, Hayes died “peacefully... surrounded by family.” No cause of death was provided.

"I have known Bill for most of my life, and he embodied the heart and soul of Days of our Lives," DAYS executive producer Ken Corday said in a statement. "Although we are grieving and will miss him, Billís Bill's indelible legacy will live on in our hearts and the stories we tell, both on and off the screen.î"

Born William Foster Hayes III on June 5, 1925, in Harvey, Illinois, Hayes served in the Navy Air Corps before completing his degree in music and English at DePauw University in 1947. His showbiz career launched when Hayes decided to audition for a musical in Chicago.

Hayes began his career at NBC on radio as host of NBC-Radio Monitor for a year. He was a national spokesman for Oldsmobile for four years and burst onto the early national television scene in Olsen & Johnson's madcap series Fireball Fun-For-All. From there, he was tapped by producer Max Liebman to be a featured singer on Your Show of Shows starring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. In the 90s, Bill starred on TVs Matlock, Hooperman, and Cop Rock. His major films credits include the Warner Brothers farce/musical Stop! You're Killing Me and Otto Preminger's The Cardinal, and in the award-winning film Wrestling with God. In addition to these highlights, his career was interspersed with variety performances with Kate Smith, Ed Sullivan, Perry Como, Milton Berle, Ernie Kovacs, Jo Stafford, Jack Paar, Bing Crosby, and the Bell Telephone Hour.

Hayes made his Broadway debut in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Me and Juliet in 1953. He took Bye Bye Birdie on its one-year national tour. He also toured with Student Prince, Anything Goes, Camelot, On a Clear Day, and Pajama Game in addition to the New York City Center revival of Brigadoon. Hayes's list totals over 87 musicals and 28 plays, and he played at theaters in nearly all 50 states!

Hayes made his soap opera debut in 1970 as Doug Williams, Bill Horton's prison cell mate. Doug was in prison for a white collarwhite-collar crime, and during his conversations with Bill learned all about Salem, and after getting out of prison, Doug headed to Salem. During his five-decade tenure on DAYS, Hayes received two Daytime Emmy nominations, Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama Series nods in 1975 and 1976.

It was on the then-NBC soap that Hayes met actress Susan Seaforth. The two were married on October 12, 1974. In 2005, the couple published their joint autobiography, Like Sands Through the Hourglass. On April 29, 2018, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences presented Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Hayes is also survived by his son William Foster Hayes IV.

To read some of the many tributes from the daytime community, please continue reading here.

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