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Days of Our Lives (DOOL), has the honor of being one of television’s longest-running scripted programs worldwide. The American daytime soap opera roped viewers in from its 1965 inception, and continues to keep them locked onto the ins-and-outs of life in Salem—a sleepy little American town—where everything can change in an instant. Much of the storylines revolve around the Horton, Brady and DiMera families, and fans know and love (or hate) these characters like old friends (or enemies). How much do you know about the daytime soap and its cast?

1. Then and Now

Back when Days first started, it was just a daily half-hour show with a cast of seven characters. Now it’s an hour-long daytime drama with over 40 cast members to keep track of.

Days cast
Cast Of Days Of Our Lives
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2. Whose Voice Is It Anyway?

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” If you’re not familiar with this iconic phrase, fans of DOOL have already turned their backs on you as a heathen. The series’ accompanying music is just as memorable, in a comforting retro kind of way. As for the voice however, from 1965 to March 1966, Ed Prentiss said the phrase with a little addition: “Days of Our Lives, a new dramatic serial starring Macdonald Carey.” Carey starred as patriarch “Dr. Tom Horton” from 1966 to 1994 when he passed, but his voice is still heard in the opening title sequence and half-point break today.

Macdonald Carey center.

3. Marlena’s Real Life Drama

One of the most beloved characters on the soap opera is “Dr. Marlena Evans” played by Deidre Hall. While Marlena tried to keep out of the grasp of bad guys onscreen during the years (including a dance with the devil himself!), in her personal life Hall was fighting another battle. For two decades she tried to have a child, attempting numerous medical procedures—one of which sent her into a near-coma—to do so. She was tortured emotionally and physically, yet she and husband Steve Sohmer never gave up. Finally in 1992, their son David Sohmer was born via a surrogate, and later his younger brother Tully Sohmer was also brought into the world the same way. She and her husband (who was her fourth) divorced in 2006.

Marlena possessed by the Devil
Deidre Hall Hallmark
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4. Wedding Bliss

Don’t you love celebrity relationships that last? Bill Hayes “Doug Williams” and Susan Seaforth Hayes “Julie Williams,” were married in a beautiful ceremony on the show, and since 1974 were married in real life as well. DOOL is no stranger to long-awaited weddings and one that skyrocketed the soap to the #1 spot on the Nielsen Rating Chart, was “The Love Story of Patch and Kayla” episode, where the two are married. It wasn’t quite GH’s “Luke and Laura,” but it was a big deal for Days.

Doug and Julie DOOL
Patch and Kayla wedding

5. Say It Ain’t So Bo

“Bo Brady,” the sexy hot-head played by Peter Reckell, left the show a few times over the years. Fans raved about the missing dark-haired heartthrob, and begged producers to bring him back, but it was Reckell who kept away. Turns out he didn’t like the way the show and storyline were going, so when new head writers Josh Griffith and Dena Higley explained their vision to him, his interest piqued. “They called me up, and just talking to them, I knew that they had history with the show, that they were trying to do something for the 50th anniversary that would tell people that, hey, Salem’s back. The Days of Our Lives that you fell in love with is back. I just had a lot of faith in them.” He came back to the show much to fans’ delight in September 2015 only to die in Hope’s arms a few months later. Is it ever really the end on DOOL, though? They’ve certainly brought characters back from the dead before, so anything is possible.

Bo Brady dies
Peter Reckell LA
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6. Fans Love that Patch

“Steve Johnson” with his edgy eye-patch was a hit with DOOL fans. In 1989, the character got a glass eye to work undercover and wore a contact lens just to differentiate the faux eye. However, viewers didn’t like this one bit. The plot fizzled, Steve sustained another eye injury, and the trademark patch was back!

Patch from DOOL

7. Deja Vu for Sami

“Sami Brady” wasn’t Alison Sweeney’s first gig on Days. Six years prior to taking on that feisty role for over twenty years, she popped into Salem in a 1987 flashback scene as a youthful “Adrienne Johnson”. “Adrienne Johnson” was played by Judi Evens, who had played “Nurse Beckie” back in 1978 and who later played “Bonnie Lockheart” before flipping back into “Adrienne” mode yet again. It can be confusing on the soaps, but fans are usually forgiving.

Sami Brady

8. John’s Fired And Rehired!

“John Black” played by Drake Hogestyn, had a couple of intense facial expressions that always let fans know something big was about to go down. Throughout his run, his character’s identity has been switched from “The Pawn” to “Roman Brady” to “John Stevens” to “Forrest Alamain” to “Father John” to “Ryan Brady DiMera” to “John Black.” Phew! Despite all this, in 2007 he was fired in order for show-runners to find more money in the budget. For years the show was in ratings’ purgatory, but when it received a two-year pickup and things started to look up, Hogestyn was also picked back up to reprise his character as Marlena’s long-time love interest. You never know when he’ll go in and out that revolving door.

Deidre Hall & Drake Hogestyn
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9. We Interrupt This Program…

Haven’t seen your favorite show for a week, or maybe two? Well when you consider that DOOL episodes have been taken off the air a whopping 330 times since the show started to air, you might find it a little easier to wait a little while for your soap to air again. It’s customary for series to be preempted for major events, especially those that are long-running. In the case of DOOL, some of these have been for funerals (various presidents, Michael Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr), major sporting events, assassinations (Anwar Sadat, and Robert F. Kennedy), major trials, war news coverage, presidential inaugurations, and more.

Cast Of DOOL
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10. Diabolical DiMera Comes To Town

Fans of the intrigue and suspense found in the daily lives of everyday residents of Salem, soon became pretty wise to who was behind all the bad juju. It was “Stefano DiMera” of course. Played by Joseph Mascolo, Stefano was an affluent European businessman who for some reason decided to come live in Salem, of all places. It wasn’t long before his mob-like persona and ties to the criminal underworld got under the skin of many of Salem’s residents, and when he started kidnapping fan sweetheart Marlena—repeatedly—he became the target on every fans’ hit-list. There’s no limit to what this villainous character has done or will do. The character was last killed off in January 2016, and as Mascolo is now 87, this death is probably final (but you never know on Days!).

Stefano DiMera

11. Stefano Has Nine Lives

Still on the subject of Stefano, if you wondered why he’s nicknamed “The Phoenix” the reason behind it is pretty poetic. This character has died so many deaths cats should be taking notes. He’s been in car crashes, explosions, Marlena shot him, he suffered a stroke, and so much more, yet somehow he always rises from the ashes. Always. So don’t be surprised if the character makes a comeback at some point.

Stefano Dimera

12. Who’s Horton This Week?

Who’s had the most actor changes in the show? If you said “Dr. Mike Horton,” give yourself a congratulatory pat. This character was replaced sixteen times since 1968, and during that time, he’s also the one to be most aged or de-aged, placing him somewhere in his 50s at last guess. Actors who’ve had a go at being the good doctor include: Wesley Eure (June 6, 1974 to January 16, 1981), Michael T. Weiss (August 8, 1985 to March 1, 1990), and the last ever Mike Horton, Roark Critchlow (April 27, 1994 to November 19, 1999, and June 23 to 28, 2010).

Mike Horton
Roark Critchlow
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13. Lots Of Firsts on DOOL

DOOL can claim many firsts. In 1977, real life sisters Deidre and Andrea Hall, playing Marlena and “Samantha Evans”, were the first twins to ever appear together in a soap opera. In 1980 the series was the first to portray Sudden Infant Death Syndrome on television when Marlena’s son “D.J.” died. 1995 saw Marlena possessed by the devil with only John Black to fight for her soul, and in 2014, Will Horton (Guy Wilson) and Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith), had the first gay wedding on the show.

Will and Sonny on DOOL
Days Of Our Lives Cast
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14. The Soapy Fountain Of Youth

They say kids grow up fast, but it can be lightening speed on the soaps. In order to accommodate new storylines, writers use Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome (SORAS), so an infant or child actor can be aged quickly enough to use them in a way more necessary to the plot. Many of the show’s young adult characters would be much younger if SORAS was out of the picture, but instead they were aged to adults often in the space of a year. At least it makes sense in doggy years.

aging DOOL kids

15. But Some Things Go Slower

Soap opera kids may age fast, but some take a long time to gestate. Case in point, Vivian Alamain’s pregnancy with Philip Kiriakis played out for 13 real months!

Vivian on DOOL

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