If you ask 100 people who don’t watch soap operas to name a soap opera, at least half of them would says Days of Our Lives. It is one of the most popular and famous soap operas of all time. We decided to take a trip down memory lane to see what the members of the cast from the 1960s have been up to since the show started and also take a look at some interesting facts from throughout the history of the popular daytime soap.
It is One of the Longest-Running Shows in TV History
When you think about just how long this show has been on the air, it’s kind of amazing. For a show that debuted all the way back in 1965 to still be on the air and going strong in 2016 is nearly unheard of. While, of course, the cast has changed, the legacy of this long running show has lived on.
It Was Almost Canceled After a Few Seasons
That’s right, almost 50 years of history almost never came to be. That is because the first three years of the show were not very good in terms of ratings. And these bad ratings almost got the show canceled but then, very rapidly, the show turned it around.
Frances Reid Was the Longest Serving Cast Member
And with a show that long running, you would expect multiple generations of actors to come and go. And for the most part, you would be right. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Of these exceptions, most notable is Frances Reid, who debuted on the show and stayed until 2010.
Reid Appeared on the Show Until She Was 95
That is not a typo. Frances Reid appeared on Days of Our Lives until 2010, when she was 95 years old. In total, she spent around 45 years on the popular TV series. And if she hadn’t have passed away in 2010 at 95 years old, she would have likely been on for even a longer stretch of time.
The Show Covered Topics Other Soaps Would Never Touch
Part of the reason this show was miles ahead of other soaps is because they would tackle issues other shows wouldn’t. Things like artificial insemination and interracial couples led a lot of people to call it the most daring TV drama of its time. Producers never shied away from a controversial topic.
The Show Has Some Famous Fans
When a show is this long-running and monumentally popular, they pick up their fair share of fans. No one would argue if you stated this soap opera has millions and millions of fans. But of these millions, a lot of celebrities are big fans of the show, including Julia Roberts, Thurgood Marshall, and Brian Keene.
Nadia Bjorlin’s Pregnancy Became Part of the Script
Many women are terrified to tell their employer that they are pregnant, for fearing the worst, like being replaced while on maternity leave, but when Days of Our Lives actress Nadia Bjorlin (who plays Chloe Lane on the show) became pregnant and told the crew they were all smiles. One writer’s eyes lit up. “I can really use that,” he told her. The writers ended up working the pregnancy into the script, and so her character Chloe Lane became pregnant, too. The only downfall was that after Nadia gave birth, she had to wear a fake belly on set, as her character was still pregnant!
Maree Cheatham Broke the Soap Opera Mold
When you were branded as a soap or drama actor (especially in the early days), it was rare to branch out to other genres often. A lot of soap stars would bounce from show to show and drama to drama throughout their career. However, Cheatham is actually probably best known for her comedy work, despite being a soap star for nearly a decade.
Edward Mallory Married a Co-Star
While a lot of employees tend to want to keep work and personal lives apart, show business doesn’t do that very well. Tons of stars date and marry other stars, and even the set of Days of Our Lives had this take place. Edward Mallory married Susanne Zenor and the two were married until Mallory’s death in 2007.
The Show Has Had a Very up and down Lifespan
While its longevity and notoriety obviously meant the show was a net success throughout its lifespan, it wasn’t always expected to be a hit. The show had numerous periods where it had low ratings and was not in a good spot for renewal, but also had other times where it was clearly the best and most-watched soap in town.
The Show Airs Almost Every Single Weekday
It is hard to argue that any show has aired on TV sets more than Days of Our Lives. Not only has the show been on for decades and decades, but it has been shown almost every single weekday in that period. This show has dedicated fans that will completely work their day around the showing of the program.
Its Time Slot Has Changed over the Years
While most shows maintain a consistent time slot throughout their career, Days hasn’t really stuck to that standard airing format. Although a lot of stations have maintained its 1:00 pm start time, others have moved it to 2:00, and some have moved the show to 3:00.
John Lupton Was a Longtime Actor before Days
While a lot of guys and gals have gotten their starts on soap operas, Lupton did not. In fact, before Lupton was a star on Days of Our Lives, he was a popular actor in both film AND TV and even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is definitely most recognizable these days for his work on the show.
John Clarke Acted on the Show for Nearly 40 Years
While he may not have been on the show for as long (or until as old) as Frances Reid, John Clarke was on the series from 1965-2004. This is an impressive tenure and not only that, he was also outstanding during his tenure, even picking up one of the show’s Emmy awards for his role.
The Series Moved from 30 to 60 Minutes
This was a pretty strange move, as most shows remain the same length throughout their entire tenure, even if they are ultra popular. But after cries from the fans and the massive popularity of the show pushed them, NBC agreed to make the show an hour from 1975 onward. That’s five hours of TV that need to be produced for every single week!
Only One Person Has Been on the Show in All Six Decades
While a lot of actresses and actors have been on the show for decades and decades, only one has the distinction of being on the show each and every decade the show has been on air which are the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, 2000s, and 2010s. Her name is Susan Seaforth Hayes and she played Julie Williams on the soap.
Despite Being Around for Over 50 Years the Show Hasn’t Won Many Emmys
With the show recently celebrating 50 years on the air (and being on top of the heap for a lot of those years), you would expect them to have a boatload of awards. But as it turns out, it doesn’t have nearly as much as you’d think. This is likely because of how competitive the soap opera space is every single year.
Both Clarke and Reid Have Won Lifetime Achievement Awards
Not only are John Clarke and Frances Reid two of the most famous and longest tenured Days stars, they are also the most award-winning. While each has won a regular Emmy, they were also both recipients of the Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement, putting them on a short list of stars to be honored.
This Show Was the First Soap to Have a Permanent Outdoor Set
Back before the show’s outdoor set was constructed, most scenes were shot inside a regular, indoor studio. But Days was the first show to ever make a permanent outdoor set for scenes, called Salem Place. The set was complete with a movie theater, a cafe, and even a clothing store.
A Number of Famous People Have Acted on the Show
While we have largely been looking at the original cast of the show, there has been a ton of big stars who have acted on the show throughout its 50+ year history. Alison Sweeney, Ashley Benson, and others have been on this show and went on to become huge icons.
The Show Has Had Nearly 13,000 Episodes
Of all the impressive figures and facts that have been talked about, this is perhaps the craziest. There have been nearly 13,000 Days of Our Lives episodes aired, and this number will continue to grow as it is still on the air. That’s a whole lot of soap opera watching opportunity.
Lisa Rinna’s Lip Surgeries
Back when she was 24 years old the gorgeous actress who played Billie Reed on Days of Our Lives elected to get plastic surgery on her lips, having them injected with silicone. Throughout her career, she was known for her lips, but at 47 years old, she decided to get them reduced. She went back to the plastic surgeon where they removed as much silicone as they could. While she’s appeared on several lists of celebrities who have regretted undergoing plastic surgery, she stated, “I never had a career before I had the lips,” she says. “So my lips have had their own career.”
They Shoot Episodes Fast
It should come as no surprise that filming a 30 or 60 minute TV show episode takes a lot longer than 30 to 60 minutes. Depending on the show, it can take a few hours, or even a few days. About the set of Days, actor Robert Scott Wilson once said, “We shoot almost 150 pages of work a day. Most shows that you watch in prime time that are one-hour episodes, it takes them seven to 10 days to shoot one episode. We shoot seven and a half episodes in one week.”
And They Work Long Hours
Just because they shoot the episodes quickly doesn’t mean they don’t work long hours. In fact, actor Robert Scott Wilson (who plays Ben Rogers) reports that days on set are often over 12 hours long. He says, “I can be here from 7:30 in the morning to 7:00 at night. It depends.”
The Cast Has Always Been Full of Beautiful People
Three members of the Days of Our Lives cast have been named one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People. These actors are Michael Easton (who played Tanner Scofield) in 1992, Hunter Tylo (who played Marina Toscano) in 1993, and Galen Gering (who played Rafe Hernandez) in 2000. And of course, they aren’t the only three beauties who starred on the show.
The Lucky 13
The number 13 has plenty of superstitions attached to it. Many view this number as unlucky, but others have reclaimed its significance and see it as lucky. On the set of Days, actor Joseph Mascolo only sees 13 as lucky. Why? First, he was born on March 13. What’s more, his name has 13 letters in it, and so does his character’s name, Stefano DiMera.
The Actors Love Fan Events
What’s better than going to work every day and doing a job you love? Hearing from the people who love the work you’re doing, too. At least, that’s what some of the actors on Days report. Eric Marstolf, who plays Brady Black, said to ETonline about fan events, “One of my favorite things to do is to watch great grandma come up, grandma, mom, mom’s daughter, and sometimes mom’s daughter’s daughter. You literally have four or five generations standing in line for your autograph, and you understand the generational power of this show.”
This Actress Was Fired on Her Birthday
Christie Clark, the actress who played Carry Brady on Days of Our Lives, was fired from her role on December 13, 1990. The significance of this date? It was her birthday. Also, here’s one instance in which the number 13 isn’t so lucky after all. After she was fired, Tracy Middendorf was hired as the replacement Carrie.
Actors Have Little Time to Prepare
Like we discussed, the episodes are shot at breakneck speed. Because of this, sometimes the actors only have the night before to prepare for their scenes the next day. Sometimes this isn’t an issue if it’s a scene that they feel comfortable with. But for the more dramatic scenes (of which this show has many) this short preparation time can make things challenging. Actress Jen Lilley (who plays Theresa Donovan) said about this, “You have one night or maybe a few hours tops to prepare 20 scenes. You can’t drop the ball.” And she’d know. Once she had to hit Jon Black on the head with a fireplace poker.
Continuous Drop in Ratings
In 2016, there have been many reports of fans voicing their disapproval of the direction the show’s storyline has been taking. In fact, they have not only been saying this, they have been proving their disapproval by not watching the show altogether. Because of this, ratings have been steadily dropping. Keep reading to find out what this means for the show.
Canceled in 2016?
That’s right. NBC recently revealed the news that the decades-long run of soap opera Days of Our Lives may be soon coming to an end. In July, it was reported that the show had 2,188,000 viewers. This might seem like a lot, but it was lower by 167,000 than last year’s ratings. Do you think the show should be canceled or renewed?
We already know that when Nadia Bjorlin (who plays Chloe Lane on the show) got pregnant, they writers decided to work the pregnancy into the show. But this didn’t happen for all the show’s pregnant actors. There were at least two instances of real-life pregnancies being covered up on the set of Days of Our Lives. Keep reading to find out more about one of the pregnancies that was hushed up.
Mary Beth Evans’ Hidden Pregnancy
When Mary Beth Evans (who played the role of Kayla Brady on Days of Our Lives) shot her first love scene with Stephen Nichols in 1987, she was six months pregnant with her son Daniel. However, this fact was kept out of the show by using some tricky camera angles and all-around TV magic. It cannot have been easy to film this kind of scene, for the first time ever, while very pregnant!
Is the Reputation for Being Too Dramatic Unfounded?
Actor Bryan Dattilo thinks so. And his opinion shouldn’t be thrown away lightly, as he has been playing Lucas Horton for 22 years. About the show’s reputation he said, “I think it has an old stigma of being over the top and not being a real drama, and the story lines overshadowed the acting in the past, but if you look at it in the last eight to ten years, I don’t see that. I see the best place for acting that I’ve seen on daytime.” High praise, Datillo!
A Clean-Shaven Surprise
When shows have been on as long as Days of Our Lives, fans come to expect their favorite characters to look a certain way. So when they make changes to their appearances, it usually causes a shock wave throughout the fan base. And this definitely happened when Peter Reckell (who plays Bo Brady) appeared on an episode in 1986 without his usual beard. Of course, it made more sense when it was explained that he’d broken out of jail, was on the run, and needed to adopt a new identity.
One Set on the Show Has Never Changed
The show has been on for over 50 years so obviously, many of the sets (like many of the actors) have come and gone. However, one set that was in the debut episode is still intact to day. And the set in question is the Horton foyer and living room. The wall color was changed at one point (the walls used to be green) but the rest of the set remains the same as it was 50 years ago.
Steve Johnson’s Glass Eye
Just like fans were shocked when Peter Reckell lost his beard, they were quite stunned when Steve Johnson (played by Stephen Nichols) stopped wearing his usual eye patch and got a glass eye instead in 1989. To make the eye that was supposed to be glass look different, and well…fake, actor Stephen Nichols wore a contact in one eye.
Keeping It in the Family
Besides being on for many generations, Days of Our Lives has employed members of the same family for generations as well. There have been multiple families who had more than one member on the show. For example, sisters Deidre Hall (who played Marlena) and Andrea Hall (who played Samantha and Hattie) were both on the show. The same goes for sisters Camila Moore (who played Gillian and Grace) and Cary Moore (who also played Grace).
Actor Drake Hogestyn’s claim to fame is that his character had more identity switches than any other character in soap history. He first debuted on Days of Our Lives in 1985, and went on to portray roles such as The Pawn, John Stevens, Forrest Alamain, Father John, Ryan Brady DiMera, and of course, his most famous role John Black. He was let go from the show in 2008 due to budget cuts.