The Soaps' Hottest Lovers
January 12, 1976
When Susan Seaforth Hayes was four, she played the soon-to-be-orphaned child named Trouble in "Madama Butterfly" in Los Angeles. It was a prophetic debut. At 32, Susan is still jerking tears. For seven years, she has been the troublemaking Julie of DAYS OF OUR LIVES whose voluptuous cleavage and lustrous black eyes get her every guy in Salem except the one she really wants —Doug Williams. Fate has kept Julie from Doug— a torture that regularly throws her into despair and hysteria. For her performance, however, Susan rates nothing but hyperbole. Says Joan Blondell: "I don't know anyone but Sarah Bernhardt who could sustain all that suffering so long."
Susan is the diamond in the crown of DAYS OF OUR LIVES which also boasts the brightest writers and the best acting. Susan is strongly tipped to win a daytime Emmy. If she does not, it will mean she is too good. Explains Writer Patricia Falken-Smith: "It's tough for a Jezebel type to win." Susan never really stops being Julie: "I find myself dreaming the way she would." Of Doug, no doubt. Of course, the reason may be that Bill Hayes, who plays Doug, is right there beside Susan. A year ago, they were married in real life, much to the writers' delight. "It was a natural for us," says Falken-Smith, who promptly heated up the love scenes. In fact, it was the script that brought the couple together. Emotionally exhausted from a messy divorce that left him to care for five teen age children, Bill arrived on Days in 1970 looking only for a friend. "But then," explains Susan, "we started to do love scenes. That was just about the ball game."
Hayes, 50, started out as a pop singer. In 1955, he launched the bestselling "Ballad of Davy Crockett." Meanwhile, Susan was growing up as a second-generation soap actress in Los Angeles. Her mother, Elizabeth Harrower, was a veteran of dozens of radio serials. Susan played a villain on LASSIE, trying to poison the popular collie. Recalls Susan: "A few boys threatened to beat me up." Later she graduated to small parts in soaps, but her career was stalled by the politicization of her love life. She was dating a right-wing newscaster and campaigning hard for Barry Goldwater. "I was suddenly controversial and found it hard to get work." When she finally landed the role of Julie in 1968, she was overwhelmed: "It was the most thrilling day of my life. I had been accepted."
Bill and Susan each earn $75,000 a year. Most evenings they just stay in their Spanish-style home in Burbank and study their scripts. Says Bill:
"The real Susan is a quiet homebody who loves to bake cherry pies."
The couple have a nightclub act they plan to take around to colleges. Bill sings "The Look of Love," his theme song on DAYS, and Susan has a patter number called "I Enjoy Doing the Soaps." They are mobbed when they appear in public. Fame is fun for Bill, who loves his female admirers.
Says he: "They treat me as if I were Robert Redford."
Susan, however, has a reservation: "Most of the men in this country don't even know I exist."