Days of Our Lives star Bill Hayes dies aged 98

Actor Bill Hayes, best known for his long-running role of Doug Williams on Days of Our Lives, has died at age 98.

A statement from his representatives shared to ET confirmed that the actor died on Friday (Saturday in Australia), though the cause of death is not known.

“It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of our beloved Bill Hayes,” the statement read.

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Bill Hayes on October 30, 2015 in Woodstock, Georgia.

“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.”

Ken Corday, executive producer of the beloved show, commented on the actor’s contribution to the soap over the last five decades.

“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.”

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Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes in Days of Our Lives

Hayes first took on the role in 1970, soon after meeting and falling in love with his wife Susan Seaforth-Hayes who also played his wife on screen. The pair were known widely as the first couple of daytime television.

The actor consistently portrayed Williams until 1984, then again from 1986 until 1987. After his run he continued to make recurring appearances as the character. His last appearance on the show was in the December 22 episode last month, appearing in over 2100 episodes in total.

He was nominated for the Outstanding Actor, Daytime Drama Series award at the Daytime Emmy Awards in 1975 and 1976. In 2018, he along with his wife Seaforth-Hayes were awarded with Lifetime Achievement Awards at the 45th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards.

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LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 07:  Actors Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes attend the Days Of Our Lives' 50th Anniversary Celebration at Hollywood Palladium on November 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Days Of Our lives)

Upon accepting the award, the couple made a joint acceptance speech detailing their gratitude for their roles and fan’s support.

Days is a show about stories of the heart,” said Seaforth-Hayes. “It’s about love stories and Billy and I are thrilled to think that our love story and some of our performances are considered worth remembering.”

Hayes added, “When we meet the fans all across the country, often their eyes will well up with tears at the memories, for our show is as cherished as a family album and we are part of their family. It’s been wonderful for us. It’s truly gratifying.

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“Let us continue giving our viewers the romance that they love so much plus something more. Let us create dramas that make our audience not only laugh and cry, but think and feel and know that we care about what they’ve been going through in their own lives,” he concluded.

The actor is survived by wife Seaforth-Hayes, their five children, 12 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren.