Days of Our Lives: Surprising Facts About America's Favorite Soap Opera
For more than 50 years, Days of Our Lives (DOOL) has captivated audiences around the globe with drama, romance and mystery. Fans have fallen in love with the Horton, Brady, Kiriakis and DiMera families. But what you see on-screen is only half of the story.
Behind the scenes, there is just as much romance and drama as there is on the show. Keep scrolling to learn some surprising facts you may not have known about Days of Our Lives.
The Show Has Come a Long Way Since It Premiered
DOOL was created by real-life husband and wife duo Betty and Ted Corday. When the show premiered in 1965, each episode was only half an hour long. After 10 years on the air, they made the shift to hour-long episodes in 1975.
Steve Johnson Wasn’t Supposed to Stay in Salem
Fan-favorite Steve Johnson, a.k.a. Patch, is one of the most iconic characters on the show, but producers didn’t always see him this way. Patch was originally slated to be a recurring character. He was written in as a troublemaker and thug who would only appear in a few episodes.
Days Made Soap Opera History
One of the most common tropes across the soap opera genre is the evil twin. Guess which ground-breaking TV show was the first to feature real-life twins in this type of storyline? Yep, you guessed it: Days of Our Lives.
The Same Faces Pop Up Over and Over Again
Over the years, Drake Hogestyn has played seven different characters on Days of Our Lives. The actor has played more characters on the same television show than any performer in not just soap opera but also television history.
Bryan Dattilo’s Audition Was Shocking for Everyone Involved
Bryan Dattilo may have gone a bit overboard during his audition for Lucas Roberts. He was paired with Christie Clark (Carrie Brady) to perform a scene. Although they knew each other from an acting class, they were about to become a whole lot closer.
Sami Wasn’t Alison Sweeney’s First Role
Alison Sweeney is most well-known on the show as Sami Brady. She debuted in this role in 1993, when Sami Brady and her twin brother Eric re-appeared on the series. Sweeney continues to play Sami to this day.
It’s Long-Running History Was Almost Cut Short
Today, Days of Our Lives enjoys the title of longest-running soap on NBC. The record previously belonged to Another World, which premiered in 1964. When the show was canceled in 1999, the torch was passed to Days. However, its legacy was almost cut short.
The Shooting Schedule Is Extremely Intense
Although everything looks polished on TV, behind the scenes of a soap opera, everything is much more hectic. Since the show airs five days a week, the shooting schedule is incredibly intense. The actors and production team rarely have any downtime.
Steve Johnson’s Eyepatch Was Almost Lost Forever
Who would Patch be without his eyepatch? This was a question that the writers were dying to answer. After a knife fight with Bo Brady, Steve lost his left eye and had to wear an eye patch. There was a time on the show, however, when Steve’s eye patch was replaced with a glass eye.
A Man Once Played Sami’s Character
In 2005, Alison Sweeney went on maternity leave to give birth to her first child. Even so, the show had to go on. During her absence, DOOL made the bold choice to recast her character as a man. They hired Dan Wells to play Stan, Sami’s male alter-ego.
The Hectic Schedule Takes a Toll on Some Actors
We mentioned how intense the shooting schedule was before, but it can pose a serious challenge to the actors on set. The number of scenes they have to memorize can be overwhelming.
The Nickname “Sweetness” Came From the Sweetest Place
People around the world go weak at the knees when they hear Patch call Kayla his "sweetness." DOOL fans of all ages dream of hearing that phrase themselves. But where did this adorable nickname come from? The origin story is just as sweet.
Only Two Things Remain the Same After All These Years
Throughout the decades, a lot has changed on Days of Our Lives from the characters to plot points. This even includes the set, which today bears almost no resemblance to how it looked in the first episode. However, there are a few things that have remained constant over the years.
Even Big-Name Celebrities Love the Show
People from all walks of life love DOOL, including some well-known public figures like Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Monica Lewinsky and Julia Roberts. Back in 2004, Roberts was named in Entertainment Weekly as a "Days devotee" while she was discussing the series’ most peculiar plot twists.
Frances Reid Wasn’t the First Alice Horton
Most fans know and love Frances Reid as the incomparable Alice Horton. However, she wasn’t the production team's original choice for the role. In the unaired pilot episode of Days of Our Lives, Alice was played by Mary Jackson. Jackson is best known for her role as Emily Baldwin in The Waltons.
Patch And Kayla’s First Love Scene Wasn’t What It Seemed
Back in the ’80s, Patch and Kayla were everyone’s favorite couple. Fans watched with bated breath as their romance grew and culminated in an intimate love scene. Though this episode was one to remember, all was not what it seemed on set during the filming.
DOOL Is Unexpectedly Family-Oriented
While the show focuses on the lives of four families in Salem, it’s shocking to learn that they are just as family-focused off-screen as they are on-screen. The casting department loves to hire the family members of its original cast members.
There Was Almost a Spin-Off
In 1991, the network had planned a spin-off series called Manhattan Lives. The project even enticed Deirdre Hall (Marlena Evans Black) to return to Days and serve as an executive producer on the new show. Instead, Another World was renewed, and the spin-off was canned indefinitely.
The Story of the Kami Portrait Is Surprisingly Sweet
The famous portrait of frenemies Sami Brady and Kate Robert made a splash when it first appeared on the show in 2014. It’s so notorious that it even has its own nickname: Kami. Though they may hate each other on the show, the two work well together in real life.
The Romance Doesn’t End When the Cameras Stop Rolling
When you have to act like you’re in love with someone five days a week, it’s hard to keep your feelings from spilling into real life. That was true, at least, for Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes, who played Doug and Julie Williams on the show.
The Cast Has a Lot of Musical Talent
After spending so many years together, it’s clear that the cast has become one big, happy family — a family that apparently loves to sing together. During the DOOL 50th anniversary party, many of the current and former cast and crew took to the stage to perform and entertain their colleagues.
The Show Was Parodied on Friends
The hit NBC show Friends featured a fictionalized version of Days of Our Lives. There were a series of episodes where Joey Tribbiani (an aspiring actor portrayed by Matt LeBlanc) was cast as Dr. Drake Ramoray on the soap. Some actual Days cast members appeared in these episodes, like Alison Sweeney, Kristian Alfonso, Roark Critchlow, Matthew Ashford and Kyle Lowder.
Stefano Had an Interesting Nickname on Set
Joseph Mascolo had one of the most fascinating characters in Days of Our Lives history. He played Stefano DiMera, a character who died on the show countless times and always lived to share his story. This is how he got his nickname, the Phoenix.
This Actress Was a Major Fan Before Landing a Role on the Show
When Marci Miller joined the show in 2016 as the new Abigail Deveraux, she had enormous shoes to fill. No one knew that better than Miller, who was herself a long-term fan of the show. She even remembers watching the show with her mom when she was a child.
Things Aren’t Always Spick and Span on Set
Although the set looks clean, behind the scenes, it’s a whole other story. In an interview with Eclipse Magazine in 2009, cast members Eric Martsolf and Lindsay Hartley said that James Scott had the messiest dressing room at the time. Later on, Scott fessed up to the mess but revealed that he had a good excuse for it.
An Original Scene Was Filmed for a Different TV Show
The global reach of Days knows no bounds, as evidenced by a piece on the HBO show Last Week Tonight. In September 2015, the host of the show, John Oliver, reported on Syrian migrants seeking safety in Europe. He showed an interview with Noujain Mustaffa who said that she had learned English by watching DOOL.
The Actors Like Some Storylines More Than Others
Much like any other job, actors prefer some tasks and storylines to others. Your favorites on DOOL are no different — they don’t always love their storylines or what they are asked to do. But they still find joy in their work, and sometimes, they do get to do what they love.
Some Actors Change, but the Characters Stay the Same
Recasts are par for the course when it comes to Days of Our Lives. Sometimes, a character is just too good to let go of when one actor doesn’t want to play them anymore. It’s common enough in DOOL that fans usually take it in stride.
It’s Not Always Fun and Games on Set
Though most days on set are fun, there can be some scary times, too. In an Entertainment Tonight interview, Jen Lilley (Teresa Donovan) explained that since the shooting schedule is so intense, actors are expected to perform perfectly during the first take.
Susan Hayes Sets the Gold Standard for All Soap Actresses
If there’s one actress who is synonymous with Days of Our Lives, it’s Susan Hayes. You may remember her as the stunning Julie Williams. During her many years in the industry, she has set the standard for all other soap actresses.