Q: I have heard it is hard to work with your spouse. Have you ever encountered problems working together? I’m sorry for asking a personal question, but I was curious. Melissa B.
A: Susan Seaforth Hayes: Thank you for this personal question. I’ve never encountered difficulties working with my husband. I don’t encounter difficulties going to bed with him, making dinner for him, doing his laundry, cleaning the house or traveling.
Bill Hayes: That’s a good question. Susan and I met working on DAYS OF OUR LIVES. I started early in the year, and then in April, [then-Head Writer] Bill Bell put us in a scene together. It was one episode. Susan and I met in the studio, on the set. Bill Bell liked what he saw. He took us out of the storylines we were in and created a new storyline for us. We worked a lot together. I would rather have a scene with Susan than with anybody else. I have never experienced difficulty working with my wife. I know that happens to a lot of people, but not me.
Q: Susan, now that Valerie Grant is back, would you like to see Julie’s son, David, or David’s son, Scott, return? A.Y.
A: Seaforth Hayes: Of course, I would like to see all of Julie’s male relatives return [laughs]. I would love to see Scotty again, and to also see who would be cast. I’d love to see Julie’s brother, Steve, return to the show. I’ve often felt that Julie has a closet full of interesting male relatives, so that’s something I would look forward to.
Hayes: Richard Guthrie [ex-David] was in and out for several years. He’s the one we worked with mostly.
Seaforth Hayes: And also Gregg Marx [ex-David].
Hayes: Yes. They were both fun.
Q: Bill and Susan, which one of you realized first that you were in love? L.S.
A: Seaforth Hayes: I always say, “Billy, remember I loved you first.”
Seaforth Hayes: I think I fell in love with Bill before he was able to fall in love with me. He was recovering from a divorce that he did not instigate. So he had a lot of time to just come back to himself and start a new chapter in his life. It’s always been my opinion that I fell in love first.
Hayes: However, I believe that Bill fell in love with Susan long before he could admit it.
Seaforth Hayes: Oh, that’s nice to hear [laughs]!
Hayes: I didn’t want to say, “I love you” to someone else. I didn’t want to be involved with someone else. It took me a long, long time to get over the divorce. When I finally did, Susan and I just melded together.
Q: I have a question for Bill Hayes. Would you like to see Doug more involved in Hope’s life? Karen H.
A: Hayes: Yes, I would love to see more of Doug involved in Hope’s life on camera. I think the viewers are deeply interested in how Doug counsels Hope. Hope and Doug have the most wonderful relationship. I know the viewers enjoy that and enjoy seeing them together.
Seaforth Hayes: During many of the long hiatuses Doug and Julie have had away from the show, when they were cruising, according to past writers, the first thing the fans would say when they saw Bill Hayes and Susan Hayes was, “Why aren’t you taking an interest in your daughter? Hope needs you. She needs your advice and counsel.” We’re moving in that direction now and I’m very excited about it.
Q: Do you ever watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind just to see the classic clip of you from DAYS? Jack H.
A: Hayes: Of course. That’s the best part in the show!
Seaforth Hayes: It was a brilliant movie and we had no idea we were chosen to be in such a wonderful film. We were also mentioned in Crocodile Dundee. Not such a wonderful movie, but it was certainly memorable when one Aussie was asking another one, “What’s going on with Doug and Julie today?” That was kind of a thrill, too.
Q: How is the show different from when you first started? Jason G.
A: Hayes: When I started it was in 1970. The show was 30 minutes long, and now it’s 60 minutes. The cast was smaller before it expanded to an hour. There were fewer stories that could be told. It was long enough ago that people’s attention span seemed to be longer than it is today. When I was first on, we would do an entire seven-minute act on the show with just two people talking. People find that very dull today. There is more action today and probably a little more sex. The singing was a wonderful part of our show back then. There was Doug’s Place, and several actors on the show were singers. We’re precluded from singing on the show today because of the cost of the songs. What used to cost maybe $200 or $300, today the license to do a song is maybe $15,000 to $20,000. There’s just not a budget to do that. I’m sorry about it.
Seaforth Hayes: Yes, the tempo of the story has picked up tremendously. There is more violence in the storylines than there used to be. DAYS tries to be contemporary with what’s happening in the world, and the world has become more violence-oriented in their entertainment offerings. But all in all, we’re still here after 51 years, so whatever changes were made must have been the right ones.
Q: When DAYS fans see you in real life, what is the question you’re most often asked? Donna V.
A: Seaforth Hayes: “What’s going to happen next?”
Hayes: Which we can’t answer.
Seaforth Hayes: We try to put them on to something else by asking what storylines or actors do you enjoy the most or, “What do you want to see happen next?”
Hayes: Mostly, they talk about what’s happened with our characters through the years. They’ve seen it all and remember it all. They know as much about the story as we do.
Seaforth Hayes: This is the big payoff of being on a long-running show, that you’re widely known, but more important, you’re loved. If they love the show, they’re going to love all the actors on it. You walk into a room with all this bonus of affection and intimacy coming at you. It’s the greatest thing about being a soap opera actor.
Q: I think Bill is a wonderful singer. Does he ever sing “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” on the set? James M., Lancaster, CA
A: Hayes: Oh, yes, all the time, but only backstage.
Seaforth Hayes: We were just in Indiana, at Bill’s alma mater, DePauw University, and they did a special event built around Billy. A bunch of kids jumped on the stage with him. They gave him another coonskin cap, and they all sang “Davy Crockett” with him. It was wonderful.
Q: Mrs. Susan Seaforth Hayes, which of the two characters did you find more challenging to portray, Joanna Manning from Y&R or Julie Williams from DAYS? Cassie H., Chicago, IL
A: Seaforth Hayes: I enjoyed the years on Y&R because it was such an excellent show. [Y&R Co-Creator] Bill Bell had originally cast me as Julie when he was head writer at DAYS. When I was on an extended hiatus because I had been fired from DAYS, he picked me for this wonderful character, Joanna. At that time, my mother [Elizabeth Harrower] was writing for him, so she was writing my scenes [on Y&R]. Joanna had a difficult relationship with her daughter [Lauren], rather like mine with my mother. However, DAYS has been my life. On the show, I get to be married to Bill — as Doug — and I also have a big family there that I’ve known for decades. I love DAYS OF OUR LIVES and I hope it goes on forever. Also, hats off to Y&R. I love the show and the actors. I watch them both.
Hayes: I want to tell you a story about Susan working at Y&R. We were on a trip, going through Germany on our way to Berlin. We got a phone call from YOUNG AND RESTLESS asking, “Would Susan please come home and do two episodes?” They shot them in two days.
Seaforth Hayes: But they could not change the schedule of those two days. I asked, “What if I can’t make it?” They said, “Well, we’ll recast the part.” I said, “No! I’ll come home early [laughs]!”
Hayes: She got up in the morning and flew home. Went to tape two episodes of YOUNG AND RESTLESS.
Seaforth Hayes: I got a telephone call from NBC saying, “We need you to do a promo for one of our new books. Can you do it?” So I rushed from the laundry room of my house, did the promo, was driven to the airport and got on the airplane — it was 5 in the afternoon — I flew back to Berlin.
Hayes: Flew all night!
Seaforth Hayes: And there was Billy and my agent, who was living in Berlin at the time. They picked me up and we took the bus back to our hotel. It was a whirlwind!