Days of Our Lives
Days of Our Lives (seen on the show's title card as Days of our Lives but is cited with a capital O in Our in the majority of publications) is a long-running American soap opera. It debuted on November 8, 1965, and can still be viewed weekdays on the NBC network and around the world. Originally, the show had the Hortons as its core family. The serial is set in the fictional village of Salem.
The first episode
The first episode revolved around teenager Julie Olson (first played by Charla Doherty; since 1968 the role has been played by Susan Seaforth Hayes) stealing a mink stole from Bartlett's Department Store. She lied about her last name, telling the store detective that her name was Julie Horton. As a result, her grandfather, Dr. Tom Horton (Macdonald Carey) and his son (Julie's uncle) Mickey (then John Clarke) were called down to the police station to resolve the matter. At home, Dr. Tom's wife Alice (Frances Reid) was lamenting the reality of all her children leaving her; her daughter Marie (at that time played by Maree Cheatham) was going to be married to Tony Merritt (Richard A. Colla).
In the beginning, when the story did not revolve around either Tom or Alice, the love lives of their five children were put on display. Their daughter Addie, married to Ben Olson, had much trouble raising their rebellious daughter Julie as well as their son Steven. Tom Horton, Jr., presumed dead in Korea, came home with a disfigured face and a new identity. Unknowingly, his sister Marie fell in love with him. When they learned of each other's true identities, Marie was so ashamed that she went to live in a convent. Tom and Alice's other children, Bill and Mickey, fought over the affections of lovely Laura Spencer, played by Susan Flannery.
Since then, the show has moved from its roots in telling stories revolving around the Horton clan. The show extended to an hour in 1975, giving the show more time to develop new characters. At the time, the popular characters were Dr. Neil Curtis (Joseph Gallison), Dr. Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall), and Don Craig (Jed Allan). Days courted controversy when the first interracial romantic pairing was seen on daytime television. David Banning, son of Julie Olson, first fell in love with Valerie Grant, a black woman from a more middle-class part of Salem. The relationship was not to be, however, as there were many roadblocks. His former girlfriend Brooke Hamilton (Adrienne La Russa) tried to kill herself in an attempt to gain his sympathy and love. When that didn't work, an old fling, Trish Clayton (Patty Weaver) announced that she was pregnant with his child. He married her for the baby's sake, and the pairing of David and Valerie were over.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Julie reformed due to her marriage to the much older Doug Williams (Bill Hayes), a lounge singer. Doug and Julie had a rough time getting together, as Doug had once married her mother Addie (at first he was only using her for her money, but then they fell in love, even though he still loved Julie). Addie's bout with leukemia cemented his bond to her, and after she went into remission, she bore him a child, named Hope (Addie was over 40 during her pregnancy; women giving birth late in life was a plot element generally left undiscussed in the early 1970s). Not long after, Addie died; she was hit by a truck as she pushed her young child to safety, but even then, Doug and Julie were not free to be a couple. Julie was trapped in a loveless marriage to Bob Anderson, and although she did not want to be wed to him, he gave her security. Eventually, Doug was fed up and went back to his ex-wife Kim. En route, Doug was involved in a car accident and Julie rushed to his side. Julie was divorced quickly and the two were married within weeks (in tune with the viewers' collective clamor to have the characters finally wed).
In an example of Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, her child from a previous marriage became of legal age by the time her character was supposed to be just 26 years old. She became a grandmother by the time she was in her mid-thirties.
In the 1980s, the show became most famous for its supercouples, the most popular being (but not limited to) Bo and Hope Brady (Peter Reckell and Kristian Alfonso), Patch and Kayla Johnson (Stephen Nichols and Mary Beth Evans), and Shane and Kimberly Donovan (Charles Shaughnessy and Patsy Pease). As the show moved into the 1990s, the pairing of John and Marlena Black (Drake Hogestyn and Deidre Hall) proved to be very popular.
In the 1990s, storylines drifted away from the traditional due to new stories from head writer James E. Reilly. One of his first acts was to have one of the show's heroines, Dr. Carly Manning (Crystal Chappell) be buried alive by evil Vivian Alamain (Louise Sorel). Some of his other storylines included having another one of the show's heroines, Marlena, possessed by the devil, which although controversial, garnered the show a ratings increase, and a new generation of soap viewers. In a bizarre turn of events, good girl turned evil Kristen Blake (Eileen Davidson) ended up playing four other roles in addition to the one she was originally hired for.
In the 2000s, Greta von Amburg (formerly known as Swamp Girl, played by Julianne Morris) learned of her mother's death, which meant she would be crowned princess of her country. In a bizarre turn of events, she and her love interest, Austin Reed, were transported into a "virtual Garden of Eden". The story was panned by soap columnists and viewers alike as too "out there", even for a show like Days.
A major storyline of the 2003-2004 season was the Salem Serial Killer, which claimed 9 victims and was revealed to be Dr. Marlena (Deidre Hall). However, the victims have been revealed as alive and are all trapped on an island replica of Salem, named, appropriate enough, Melaswen (New Salem spelled backwards).
The serial was satirized on the sitcom Friends when one of the principals, Joey Tribbiani (played by Matt LeBlanc) got a job as Dr. Drake Ramoray on the show. All storylines shown on Friends (with guest shots by Days of Our Lives stars) were fictional and did not represent what was really going on in the soap opera itself. Joey's fictional stint on the show ended when he angered the writers, and his character was killed by being thrown down an elevator shaft.
Days of Our Lives has one of the most iconic opening sequences in television history. Almost completely unchanged since the show's debut in 1965, the titles show an hourglass, as time slowly trickles to the bottom. In 1972, the current title lettering was introduced (before then, the show's title was in generic caps), with the focus not on the entire hourglass, but on the bottom, with the time trickling away. In 1993, a computerized version of the visual was made, with completely redone sound effects and music. In this version, the hourglass starts focus at the bottom-half, overlooking the dawn. As the sun rises, the focus is zoomed out, and the audience sees the entire hourglass.
Current Cast Members:
- Kristian Alfonso (Hope Alice Williams Brady)
- John Aniston (Victor Kiriakis)
- Matthew Ashford (Jack Harcourt Deveraux)
- Kyle Brandt (Phillip Kiriakis)
- Jason Cook (Shawn Douglas Brady)
- Bryan Dattilo (Lucas Desmond Roberts)
- Judi Evans (Bonnie Lockhart)
- Farah Faith (Mimi Lockhart)
- Bill Hayes (Doug Williams)
- Drake Hogestyn (John Black)
- Deidre Hall (Dr. Marlena Evans Black)
- Brody Hutzler (Patrick Lockhart)
- John Ingle (Michael "Mickey" Horton Sr.)
- Renee Jones (Lexie Carver)
- Lauren Koslow (Kate Elizabeth Roberts Brady)
- Kyle Lowder (Brady Black)
- Thaao Penghlis (Count Anthony "Tony" DiMera)
- Martha Anne Madison (Isabella "Belle" Black)
- Heather Lindell (Jan Britney Spears)
- Peggy McCay (Caroline Brady)
- Justin Melvey (Dr. Colin Murphy)
- Rhasaan Orange (Thomas Edward Kramer "TEK")
- Frank Parker (Shawn Brady)
- Julie Pinson (Billie Holliday Reed Brady)
- Peter Reckell (Beauregard "Bo" Aurelius Brady)
- Melissa Brennan Reeves (Jennifer Rose Horton Deveraux)
- Frances Reid (Alice Greyson Horton) Original Cast Member
- James Reynolds (Abraham "Abe" Carver)
- Suzanne Rogers (Maggie Simmons Horton)
- Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie Olson Williams)
- Alison Sweeney (Samantha "Sami" Gene Brady)
- Josh Taylor (Roman Augustus Brady)
- Alexis Thorpe (Cassie Brady)
- Eric Winter (Rex Brady)
- Aridenne Zuker (Nicole Walker Kiriakis)
Recurring Cast Members:
- Ashley Benson (Abigail "Abby" Johanna Deveraux)
- Steve Blackwood (Bart Biederbicke) DiMera Bulter
- Tanya Boyd (Celeste Perrault)
- Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe Lane)
- Christopher Gerse (William "Will" Roberts)
- Chase & Tyler Johnson (Theo Carver)
- Ron Leath (Henderson) Kiriakis Butler
- Garrett, Spencer & Mitchell Gray (Issac "Zack" Beauregard Brady)
- Mandy Musgrove (Chelsea) Abby's Friend
- Patsy Pease (Kimberly Brady Donovan)
- William Utay (Dr. Wilhelm Rolf) DiMera Doctor