Home Longtime soap-opera TV actor Bill Hayes of ‘Days of Our Lives’ fame dies
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Longtime soap-opera TV actor Bill Hayes of ‘Days of Our Lives’ fame dies

Rebecca Barnabi
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“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” 

For more than 50 years, soap opera fans heard the words that introduced “Days of Our Lives” and saw actor Bill Hayes bring character “Doug Williams” to their screens.

Hayes, 98, died “peacefully” Friday morning surrounded by family and wife, Susan Seaforth Hayes, who portrayed “Julie Williams,” wife of Hayes’ character. His death was confirmed Saturday to CNN by Hayes’ agent. A cause of death was not provided.

Hayes’ character was father to Hope Williams, portrayed by actress Kristian Alfonso, half of the “Days of Our Lives” supercouple “Bo” and “Hope.”

Hayes appeared in more than 2,100 episodes of the NBC daytime soap opera. His last episode was on December 22, 2023.

“It is with a heavy heart that we share the passing of our beloved Bill Hayes,” the show wrote in a statement to CNN. “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.”

Hayes was also seen by TV fans in “Matlock” and “Frasier.” He appeared in TV movies in the 1950s and 1960s, including “Kiss Me, Kate” and “Once Upon a Mattress.” He was “John Brooks” in the 1958 TV movie “Little Women.”

“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,” “Days” executive producer Ken Corday said.

Hayes’ agent Gregory David Mayo said the actor “meant the world to me — he is simply the best that a person could ever hope to be. He was not only a client, but a trusted friend and mentor. Bill will indeed be missed.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.