We Love Soaps: I am talking to beloved and legendary Hayes. My mother was watching DAYS OF OUR LIVES when I was in the womb. Everything stopped in our house when DAYS came on. In fact the day of Doug & Julie’s first wedding in 1976, we had a huge party for it.
Susan Hayes: Did she send pictures? So many people sent pictures.
Bill Hayes: Some people took pictures, they were wearing hats...
Susan Hayes: They had wedding cake.
Bill Hayes: Everything was all on doilies, it was very fancy.
We Love Soaps: It was such a treat for us, and those are some of the best memories I have growing up. I’m also a therapist, and one of the reasons I love doing these interviews is because I believe daytime soap operas have the power to promote mental wellness and healing. One of the ways you two have been part of that is watching Doug and Julie survive every obstacle that came their way. Deaths, trauma, violence, their own psychological problems to be together. I think this is a very powerful message the soaps used to tell. That we can survive the obstacles in our lives, we can overcome adversity.
Susan Hayes: That used to be one of the main reasons tuned in, it was problem solving. Problems that were likely to occur in their lives that grew out of their own emotional stories. When you get into stories of great fantasy, that isn’t quite the way you handle it. I remember where Kristian [Alfonso, as Hope] was lowered into a vat of boiling oil and ignited. That’s not the sort of thing that happens every day in everyone’s life. But loving and giving and doing and raising children and the dynamic of male/female, that’s the essence of our kind of storytelling.
Bill Hayes: How interesting of you to say soaps are helpful in that way. I don’t believe I’d ever thought that way. But it’s a wonderful concept, it’s a wonderful idea, I think that’s true.
Susan Hayes: Our characters do give good advice.
Bill Hayes: And we, Bill and Susan, have a relationship that’s very close to Doug and Julie’s relationship. It’s easy for us to portray that. We wrote a book about four years ago, and much of it is about relationships. You put it so well, I’ve got to rethink that.
We Love Soaps: The idea is that these people go through some of the worst things that can happen. But they never sit around and go, “Why me, poor me, I’m going to give up.” I remember Julie being in a coma after being shot by someone Lee had hired. And I remember thinking, “Wow, after everything she has been through, she is fighting so hard to come back to her family, to live. She never gives up.” I think that was a powerful message soaps would send out at that time.
Susan Hayes: Also, as a screenwriter, self-pity doesn’t play out very well. So the key you are unlocking is that they soldier on. In our hard economic times, with all the dramatic changes the world is going through, to sit back and get out of the battle and say “Oh dear me, poor me,” is not going to work anymore. It’s just not what life is about. You’re defeated if you allow yourself to pity yourself. There’s no drama in it, there’s not fun in it, there’s no life in it. And our shows are about life.
Bill Hayes: It’s very close to reality when we’re working. Can you imagine what Susan had to go through a few years ago when the part of Doug was killed off?
Susan Hayes: It was horrible.
Bill Hayes: They didn’t tell us ahead of time that those characters were coming back.
Susan Hayes: It was the destruction of our whole family. We were on vacation in China, we got a telephone call from Ken Corday in our hotel in China, in Xian. He said, “We’re putting you back on the show. And we knew something had happened to Suzanne Rogers [Maggie] on the show.” I said, “Is it to kill us?” He said, “Well, yes...one of you.”
Bill Hayes: “One of you and it’s not you.”
Susan Hayes: So that was an enormous wound which had kind of healed over by the time we got back to California to do the shows. But it was real agony for everyone who was involved in that whole period. I can remember members of the crew bursting into tears over those deaths.
Bill Hayes: Yes, that’s how deep it was. And Kristian Alfonso and I have a very close relationship. It’s like she’s my daughter. Not only is she Doug’s daughter Hope but she’s like my daughter. Can you imagine her feelings saying goodbye to her father? It was so real.
We Love Soaps: I remember that when Doug was “killed off,” that was when we started to get the idea something was fishy.
Susan Hayes: I don’t know what it could have been honey because he was lying in the coffin for several days in the Horton living room. I thought, “If it’s dummy it sure looks real to me.” Bill was actually in the box. It was a child sized coffin, it was a big squeeze for him to get in. They said, “Okay hold your breath....okay, still dead!” It was awful!
We Love Soaps (to Susan): It seemed for so long you had not been given dramatic material on the show, yet this story line gave you a chance to do a lot of work.
Susan Hayes: I had a lot of play, that part was wonderful.
Bill Hayes: And we did have one magnificent scene written for us. After Doug had died, Julie went to pray in the chapel. A light appeared, Doug walked out, and they had a scene to say goodbye, to say all those things that you want to say someone who is died. It was beautifully written, and it was so moving to play that.
Susan Hayes: But moving forward in time, we seem to be alive, we seem to have a couple of shows to do. We’ve done the Christmas Eve show. Doug is advising Hope, Julie is running her mouth off to everybody, so maybe we’ll have a future together again, I hope so.
We Love Soaps: How are you two different from your characters?
Susan Hayes: I don’t know because we share the same jewelry. I wear my own jewelry on the show, I think I’m very much like her.
We Love Soaps (to Bill): How are you different from Doug?
Bill Hayes: I don’t know, we’re awfully close. He’s made some decisions that Bill would not have made.
Susan Hayes: Bill Hayes never went to jail. That’s how you’re different. Bill never got caught!
To see the complete video of this interview please press here.
Plus feel free to catch up on other videos from the Day of DAYS event...
- Day of DAYS is Here! (Photos)
-Day of DAYS: Suzanne Rogers & Molly Burnett
- Day of DAYS: Casey Deidrick & Jay Kenneth Johnson
- Day of DAYS: Shelley Hennig & Mark Hapka
- Day of DAYS: Peggy McKay & Louise Sorel
- Day of DAYS: Wally Kurth & Nadia Bjorlin
- Day of DAYS: Crystal Chappell
- Day of DAYS: James Reynolds, Renee Jones & Terrell Ransom Jr
- Day of DAYS: Taylor Spreitler & Dylan Patton
- Day of DAYS: Lauren Boles
- Day of DAYS: Eric Martsolf & Lindsay Hartley
- Day of DAYS: Lauren Koslow & Bryan Dattilo
Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He is re-imagining a world without "shoulds" at www.shouldless.com.