Since its premiere on November 8, 1965, Days of Our Lives has made its mark as one of the most popular dramas in daytime history – still thriving, and in the fall it celebrated its 55th year on the air. Here are 10 facts about the NBC soap.
All About Days of Our Lives
1. In Living Color
Days was the first daytime drama to premiere “in living color,” as was announced back in 1965. All previous soaps had begun their runs in black and white.
2. Standing Strong
Only one set remains from the show’s debut episode: the Horton foyer and living room. It was originally painted a mint green shade that the powers-that-be believed would have fit matriarch Alice’s tastes.
3. Still Alice
Speaking of Alice, while Frances Reid is synonymous with the role, she was not the original choice to portray her. Mary Jackson, who later played Emily Baldwin on The Waltons, actually appeared in the show’s pilot. However, producers opted to recast the pivotal part with Reid, who aired in DAYS’ first episode and continued until her death in 2010
4. Double Trouble
In 1977, Days pulled another soap first. Deidre Hall’s real-life twin, Andrea Hall Lovell, was cast as Marlena’s onscreen twin, Samantha. A rivalry story between the two siblings resulted in Samantha having Marlena committed to a mental institution and taking over her life.
5. The Great Outdoors
DAYS created a permanent outdoor set back in 1992, and, yes, that was a first for daytime, too. “Salem Place” was erected on the back lot of the show’s Burbank Studios complex. It featured a movie theater, Java Cafe, and a clothing store called Ballistix.
The soap made history, and its ratings skyrocketed when head writer James E. Reilly scripted a devil possession plot for Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall) in 1995. The longtime heroine not only levitated but also had eyes that glowed yellow and spoke in an eerie voice courtesy of special effects. The wild tale culminated with then priest John Black performing an emergency exorcism.
7. Brazen Recast
DAYS made history again in 2005 when actress Alison Sweeney went on maternity leave and the show decided to recast her role – with a male actor. Dan Wells took over as Sami Brady for six months, when the character went undercover as Stan to exact revenge on her many enemies.
8. Prime Move
The daytime drama went primetime on January 10, 1992, at 8 pm with a one-hour special. Days of Our Lives: One Stormy Night, which focused on the plights of Jack and Jennifer, Bo and Carly, and John and Isabella during a torrential downpour, would be the first of three special episodes DAYS would ultimately air at night.
9. Who’s That Guy?
DAYS features a character that has had more identity switches than any other in the genre’s history: Drake Hogestyn’s John Black. Since his 1985 debut, he’s gone from The Pawn to Roman Brady to John Stevens to Forrest Alamain to Father John to Ryan Brady DiMera to John Black.
10. Double Duty
Three actors on the soap have starred on DAYS, while simultaneously appearing on primetime shows. In 1986, Deidre Hall (Marlena) divided her time between DAYS and Our House, while Josh Taylor (ex-Chris/Roman) did double duty on the soap and sitcom, Valerie. Alison Sweeney (Sami) worked two jobs when she became the host of The Biggest Loser in 2007.