The Untold Truth Of Days Of Our Lives

NBC's longest-running drama series, "Days of Our Lives," turns 57 years old in 2022. The show, which began as a 30-minute serial, expanded to one hour in 1975 and quickly became one of the most popular and iconic shows on television.

Living in the fictional town of Salem, the bigger-than-life characters have been put through experiences so unbelievable that fans and critics have, at times, shown their displeasure online. And yet the "DOOL" watchers remained faithful, and in 2008, they panicked when rumors swirled that the show was being canceled. Thankfully, as SoapCentral reported, a deal was reached to extend the show. Another brief scare happened in 2019 when TVLine learned exclusively that the show released their entire cast from their contracts and filming was put on hiatus. But like The Phoenix, "Days of Our Lives" rose again and resumed taping. Even amidst the pandemic, "Days" prevailed and even had a spinoff series called "Beyond Salem" that started releasing in September of 2021 as well as a December release that year with a holiday movie called "A Very Salem Christmas."

Over the years, "Days of Our Lives" has raked in the accolades, including a number Daytime Emmys, as well as A-list super fans, including superstar actor Julia Roberts. But even super fans of the show may not know every fun fact about the series. Keep reading for the untold truth of "Days of Our Lives."

DOOL has the best nicknames

Okay, this one's a no-brainer if you're a super fan of "DOOL" but how can we not mention the endearing way the writers present these characters by giving them some memorable — and super appropriate — nicknames? Let's start with a traditional one: Marlena Evans Black (Deidre Hall) is a psychiatrist who goes by the moniker of "Doc." And then there's Isabella (Martha Madison), the daughter of Marlena and John Black (Drake Hogestyn), who's been called "Tink," "Belle," and "Izzy."

Debutante Hope Williams (Kristian Alfonso) first blushed over rebel Bo Brady (Peter Reckell) in 1983, and it wasn't long before he dubbed her "Fancy Face." Oh, and he also named a boat "Fancy Face." Bo's sister, Kayla (Mary Beth Evans), also fell for a bad boy named Steve "Patch" Johnson (Stephen Nichols). His nickname is a reference to the patch he wore after losing an eye in a fight with Bo. Before Chloe Lane (Nadia Bjorlin) blossomed into a beautiful woman, she was the frumpy "Ghoul Girl" kids teased. 

And of course, the most iconic nickname of all belongs to Stefano "The Phoenix" DiMero (Joseph Mascolo). 

Doug and Julie got married in real life

Susan Seaforth Hayes and Bill Hayes have been on "Days of Our Lives" since 1968 and 1970 respectively. They play Doug and Julie Williams, a "supercouple" both on and offscreen. As Bill Hayes told Mental Floss in 2011, "In 1974, Susan and I got married in my living room with 16 people. In 1976, when Doug and Julie got married, we had 16 million people." That same year, as Variety recounted, Time featured Bill and Susan on the magazine's cover with the headline "Sex and Suffering in the Afternoon." Per We Love Soaps, the publication also dubbed them "Daytime's First Royal Couple."

But their characters' love story was no onscreen fairytale. Julie's mother was married to Doug, making him Julie's stepfather for a short time. Her mother even had his baby, the unforgettable "Fancy Face," Hope Williams Brady (Kristian Alfonso). But Julie's mother died after saving newborn Hope from oncoming traffic. 

Bill and Susan's love story wasn't fraught with so much angst and turmoil. Almost 50 years later and the acting duo are still loving the show and their life. They've even worked with their grandson on a website to provide "secrets" to being and staying in love, including tip #1: "Kiss your lover every day." And in 2018, they kissed when they each received the Lifetime Achievement Emmy.

Some major stars have appeared on DOOL

With more than 14,000 episodes under its Daytime Emmy-winning belt, it makes sense that "Days of Our Lives" has seen a lot of actors come and go over the years, some more famous than others. One of the biggest names to come from the show is Jensen Ackles, known for his roles in "Supernatural" and "Smallville." Ackles had a three-year stint playing Eric Brady from 1997 to 2000. During Ackles' time on the show, LeAnn Rimes appeared as a teenage runaway named Madison. Rumors swirled that the two were dating, even though Ackles was linked to Jessica Simpson at the time.

"Pretty Little Liars" star Ashley Benton played Jack and Jennifer Deveraux's daughter, Abigail, from 2004 to 2007. Working on the soap was a bit of a crash course for the young actor. "I thought we'd do a couple of takes here and there, but you only get one take," she told Cosmopolitan UK. "So it made me learn to memorise my lines quickly."

Mila Kunis, known for her role Jackie on "That 70s Show," broke into television with her very first role on "Days of Our Lives." After years of doing commercials, she was cast as a young Hope Williams in a 1994 flashback scene. "Baywatch" babe Pamela Anderson popped up on the show in 1992 as a character named Cindy. Oh, and may we not forget chat show legend Kathie Lee Gifford, "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak, and veteran actor Francis Fisher all had spots on the soap.

LGBTQ representation has been a part of the show for decades

If you're a superfan of "Days of Our Lives" or even just up to date, you know that as of May 2022, the show has three same-sex couples in their storylines: married couple Will (Chandler Massey) and Sonny (Freddie Smith); the controversial pairing of Craig (Kevin Spirtas) and villain Leo (Greg Rikaart); and Allie (Lindsay Arnold) and Chanel (Raven Bowens), two characters who are exploring their bisexuality. On a March 2022 episode of the "Dishing With Digest" podcast, Bowens shared that she didn't think twice about taking on this storyline. She explained, "I feel like it's necessary. I feel like inclusion is mandatory."

And this representation is nothing new for "Days of Our Lives." According to Soaps, Sharon Duval (Sally Stark) told Julie Williams (Susan Seaforth-Hayes) that she was bisexual in an episode that aired back in 1974. In 2001, the character of Harold Wentworth (Ryan Scott) was openly gay, but probably the most memorable character came in 2011 when Freddie Smith joined the cast to play Sonny Kiriakis. He befriended Will Horton, who was confused about his sexuality at the time. Not only did Sonny guide Will through the process, but the two fell in love and viewers fell in love with Will and Sonny. The fans weren't the only ones pleased with these performances. Chandler Massey, who plays Will, won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actor in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Smith won it in 2015.

Stefano DiMera died a dozen times

It might have taken Stefano DiMera 17 years to get to Salem, but when he did, things were never the same. Played the majority of the time by Joseph Mascolo, Stefano is considered one of the most recognizable faces in daytime television and one of the greatest villains in soap history. And no matter how many times the good guys took him out, he always found a way back. Though there's some debate surrounding his death count, the general consensus is that it was at least a dozen times. Whether it was his limo going over a cliff, getting trapped in a fiery blaze, a car explosion, or being shot, The Phoenix always rose to fight again. Even the creators couldn't keep Stefano down. In a 2006 interview with The Television Academy Foundation, producer Ken Corday said, "Those times, the '80s and '90s, where Stefano reigned terror and hell on Salem, are over. We've maximized." Yet the very next year, The Phoenix showed up in Salem.

In December 2016, Joseph Mascolo died. In 2019, Stefano returned in the form of character Steve Johnson (Stephen Nichols). Stefano's personal mad scientist, Dr. Rolf (William Utay), had implanted Steve with Stefano's "essence," which basically meant his A.I.

Suzanne Rogers is about to hit a major milestone

Most viewers of daytime soaps understand the revolving door of actors/characters that exists for various reasons, but some characters, like Maggie Horton, stand the test of time. Suzanne Rogers joined the cast of "Days of Our Lives" in 1973 as Maggie, a farm girl with a spinal cord injury. Like most the "Days" characters she's been through a lot, including alcoholism, attempted murder, and murder— we'll get to that later. 

In 1984, Rogers had to leave the show due to her diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis, a rare muscular disease that affected her facial muscles. When she returned a year later, she asked that her diagnosis be written into the show for Maggie in order to spread awareness of the disease. When her character's husband died in 2010, it was an opportunity for the show to create a winning combination in the pairing of Maggie with Victor Kiriakis (John Aniston), villain and rival to Stefano (Joseph Mascolo).

When she celebrated her 40-year anniversary on the show in 2013, she told TV Source she'd enjoyed working with her new scene partner. "I have got to tell you, the past five years, and being with John Aniston and that whole storyline, has been a hoot," she said. "He is lovely and funny and we just click really well, it has been nice and I have [been] having the most fun I have ever had right now."

Roman Brady has a lot of twins in his life

Roman Brady (Josh Taylor) is one of "Days of Our Lives" resident good guys and part of the prominent Brady clan. Working as a detective, he was brought on the show in 1981 to protect Marlena (Deidre Hall) and the two soon became one of daytime soaps super couples. In 1984, Marlena gave birth to twins, Sami (Alison Sweeney) and Eric (Greg Vaughan). Unfortunately, it wasn't smooth sailing for Roman and Marlena — this is a soap, after all — and when he took comfort in the arms of Kate Roberts (Lauren Koslow), little did he know the union would produce yet another set of twins. Originally believed to be aliens — yes, aliens — two naked strangers wandered out of the woods during a meteor shower in Salem and were first referred to as "The Gemini Twins" (Alexis Thorpe and Eric Winter). And in 2007, Roman's daughter Sami gave birth to twins. 

Deidre Hall happens to be a real-life twin, which came in handy when the show wanted to do a doppelgänger storyline. As Hall told Slice, "In soaps, it's not possible to do [doppelgängers] without a lot of trick photography and there's no time for that, so Ann Marcus, who was then writing the show, found out that I had an identical twin and said, 'How fast can we get her here?'"

Alison Sweeney and Greg Vaughan have played love interests

The famous — and sometimes infamous — dynamic duo of twins Sami (Alison Sweeney) and Eric (Greg Vaughan) is just another reason "Days of Our Lives" has such life-long fans. Though Eric can't seem to make up his mind about the priesthood, he has always been the "good brother," who makes the world a better place. Sami, of course, has always looked out for number one. And no matter what dirty deeds she's committed her brother is always there for her. And, she's returned the favor at times. Of course, like any siblings the two have had their share of arguments but there's no doubt about their strong bond as brother in sister.

Greg Vaughan took on the role of Eric in 2012 after having just worked with Sweeney on a Hallmark movie called "Second Chances." In the flick, Sweeney and Vaughan play love interests. This gave some viewers pause as they weren't sure they would be able to handle this fictional romantic pairing after seeing the two play siblings on "DOOL." One poster on the Soaps.com message boards said, "I'm never going to watch this movie. I just can't get past that!" But on a "Days" Facebook page, a viewer wrote, "it was kinda weird at first cause they play twins on Days but they're great and I forgot all about it once I got watching the movie."

Drake Hogestyn has played seven roles

When Drake Hogestyn joined the cast of "Days of Our Lives" in 1986, he didn't even have a name. Known only as "The Pawn," his character was an amnesiac covered in bandages. He decided to go by the name John Black until it was later discovered that he was Marlena's (Deidre Hall) presumed-dead husband Roman (Josh Taylor). For years, Hogestyn lived as Roman Brady, even going back to the police force, until — you guessed it — the real Roman came back to Salem.

While searching for his real identity, the mystery man went back to being called John Black. John's investigation had him uncovering more scenarios about his past. One being he was the love child of Stefano's father (James Scott) and a nun named Colleen Brady (Shirley Brady). Supposedly, he was given up and adopted by another Salem villain Vivian Alamian (Louise Sorel) and for a brief time he went by Forrest Alamain. By this time, viewers' heads were spinning. In a 1995 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Hogestyn said he was just as confused as the audience, elaborating, "I keep a scoreboard in my dressing room. It tells who I know, the alleys I've been down, the women I've been with."

Renouncing the Alamain name, John returned to Salem and eventually ended up back with Marlena. Of course his identity crisis still wasn't over and at one point he even discovered he'd once been a man of the cloth. His priesthood would later come in handy.

The DOOL and Friends connection

Whether you were a fan of "Friends" back in the day or still stream it today, you're probably familiar with the character Dr. Drake Ramoray, aka the character Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) played on "Days of Our Lives." And during one of his "Days" scenes, Kristian Alfonso appeared, playing her character Hope. And when Dr. Ramoray gets killed off, he falls down an elevator shaft — the same way Jack Deveraux died on "Days."

Is your brain spinning yet? Half a dozen "DOOL" stars appeared as guests on "Friends": Matthew Ashford, who plays Jack Deveraux, and Kyle Lowder, who plays Rex Black, appeared in the episode where Joey throws a cast party on the roof; when Joey was up for a "Soapy" award, Alison Sweeney appeared as an actor; Roark Critchlow, who played a doctor on "Days," also showed up on the sitcom.

Jennifer Aniston, who played Rachel, has a famous father on the soap: John Aniston, who plays Victor Kiriakis. Did her dad ever appear on "Friends"? Not quite, but as Newsweek noted, there was a significant nod to him in the episode titled "The One with Monica and Chandler's Wedding: Part 2." The sign of another wedding read "Anastassakis Papasifakis wedding"; Anastassakis is John Aniston's original given name.

The time jump that shook the genre up

Jack Deveraux (Matthew Ashford) and Jennifer Horton (Melissa Reeves) are another "Days of Our Lives" supercouple who've made it through everything the writers have thrown at them. And they are at the center of one of soap's biggest events: a one-year time jump.

In November 2019, Jack and Jennifer once again reunite and plan to marry. But on the wedding day, Jennifer gets pushed off a terrace by Princess Gina/Hope (Kristian Alfonso) and goes into a coma. Of course Jack would sit by her bedside for as long as it took, but writers had something better in mind. Jennifer would wake from her coma — two days later according to real time — to find out a full year had passed and many changes happened in Salem. 

While speaking with TV Insider about the jump, head writer Ron Carlivati explained it was an opportunity to take some stories in a completely different direction, shake things up. He said, "So we thought, 'Wow, wouldn't it be fun that all of that stuff has happened and the audience is thrown in at once, and then we slowly peel back and reveal what happened." And with Jennifer the only one who didn't live through it, she could learn along with the audience through storytelling and flashbacks.

DOOL loves wedding crashers

Who doesn't love a beautiful wedding? Soap operas are filled with them. But fans of "Days of Our Lives" don't hold their breath waiting for the "I do." Probably the most memorable wedding crasher moment came in 1984 when, as Soap Opera Digest recounted, Bo Brady (Peter Reckell) stole a motorcycle and kidnapped Hope (Kristian Alfonso) before she could marry Larry Welch (Andrew Masset). Then in 1990, when Jennifer (Melissa Reeves) was to marry Emilio (Billy Hufsy), Jack took a page from the Bo notebook and used a firetruck to whisk Jennifer away.

Two weddings got interrupted in 1997: One between John Black (Drake Hogestyn) and Susan Banks/Kristen DiMera (Eileen Davidson), and another between Sami (Alison Sweeney) and Austin (Patrick Muldoon). Sami attempted to wed Lucas (Bryan Dattilo) in 2005 but it was crashed by Lucas's mother. Of course, Sami, never willing to give up, headed to the altar with Lucas again in 2007. And you better believe the wedding was also interrupted.

As far as weddings go, the residents of Salem don't exactly have the best success rate, but somehow reviewers never lose faith in true love. And hey, disastrous wedding moments are all part of the fun, right? As "DOOL" actor Lindsay Arnold told TV Source, "Like when Rob [Scott Wilson] and Victoria [Konefal] had their wedding on the show and everything blew up, after that I was like, 'I want to be blown up at my wedding.'"

Some fans think DOOL goes too far

In 1994, Marlena (Deidre Hall) became possessed by the devil. At the time, viewers were shocked, and when the demon reemerged some 30 years later, fans on social media spoke up. When the "Days" Instagram account shared a photo of Doug (Bill Hayes) in spooky contacts in September 2021, the comments rolled in. "Please tell me this devil BS is going to be over soon," wrote one fan. Another said, "You jumped the shark, please end the suffering."

Speaking of suffering, in 2003, numerous "Days" characters died horrible deaths — including one by poisoned donut — at the hands of the Salem Stalker. It was later revealed that everyone was alive and living on Melaswen Island (New Salem spelled backward). Fans weren't sure whether to applaud with relief or boo with outrage. In a Television Academy Foundation chat, producer Ken Corday called it the ultimate April Fools' joke.

Other "out there" storylines include Sami (Alison Sweeney) disguising herself as a man called Stan 2005, and the show brought in a male actor to portray Sami's alter ego. These days, the series has taken identity theft even further. Thanks to advanced "technology," Kristen DiMera (Eileen Davidson and Stacy Haiduk) can impersonate almost any character on the show. Not only does her voice sound the same but no one seems to notice the height difference when she's wearing the "mask." In 2022, fans had enough, with one saying on Twitter, "Omfg Kristin has a Kate mask!!! 😂😂😂 Just stop it!"