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Full of Life: Drake Hogestyn Interview

When it comes to surprises, Drake Hogestyn has weathered many as DAYS’s John Black. He’s played a mercenary, a priest and a thief to name a few. But in his wildest dreams did he ever envision portraying the son of legendary film and television star Dick Van Dyke?

“Never,” he concedes. “I thought we were pretty much done with that, with the Yo Ling thing,” says Hogestyn, referring to the previous version of his character’s paternity. “Dick’s a good buddy, but for it to turn around like that? That’s something I can hang my hat on. I’m very blessed and proud and grateful.”

Dick Van Dyke, Drake Hogestyn


Living Legend: Hogestyn was delighted when gym pal Dick Van Dyke (ex-Timothy) turned into his on-screen father. 

Hogestyn, who was instrumental in securing Van Dyke’s guest spot on DAYS, is a longtime pal of the comic actor. “I’ve known Dick for 40 years, ever since I moved into Serra Retreat,” recounts Hogestyn of the Malibu Canyon area. “He lived right on down the lane and puts on the greatest Halloween display. I’d take my kids down there in a wagon, all that stuff…. Then I started a gym in Malibu called Malibu Health and Rehab, maybe in 1992. I was the financier behind it. Dick came in one day humming [“High Hopes”] and doing a soft shoe. Three or four people started singing the song. The thing is, he is so full of optimism. We would share stories. He would keep up with what I was doing.”

On one of Van Dyke’s gym visits with his wife, Arlene, “He came up to me and said, ‘I’m so damned bored. I can’t get any work, and all my friends are dead. Is there anything I can do on your show?’ ” recalls the actor. “I said, ‘Well, let me ask you one question. Are you really f**king serious?’ Arlene said, ‘He is. He totally wants to put a soap opera on his resumé.’ ”

Without further ado, the whole thing was set in motion when Hogestyn ran into head writer Ron Carlivati at the Day of DAYS fan event last November. “I said, ‘Hey Ron, let me tell you a little story about an old man I work out with at the gym,’ ” relays Hogestyn, who recapped his conversation with Van Dyke. “Arlene called me a week later and said, ‘Oh, my gosh. We’re in negotiations with DAYS.’ Then, about a month later, [then-Co-Executive Producer] Albert Alarr called me and said, ‘I don’t know how you did it, man. We signed Dick. We’re going to write this amazing story. We’re going to pick up from Yo Ling. We’re going to write a twist.’ ”

Namely, having Van Dyke turn out to be Timothy Robicheaux, John’s real father. It’s a twist and an experience Hogestyn won’t soon forget. “Let me tell you, we’ve had film actors come in here before and be totally overwhelmed by the amount of work in a short period of time,” notes Hogestyn. “And that was back in the day when we were here all day working on one script, [doing] dry block, camera block, dress rehearsal, tape … Now, we go out on the floor and sometimes we don’t even block the stuff. Dick was sitting there, kind of looking around and taking it all in. All of a sudden they started that countdown, and I swear to God it was like this, ping! There was this glint in his eyes. He turned into Dick Van Dyke, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang [star]. All that wrapped into one. He was right on point with everything. It was amazing. I was so proud of him.”

However, working opposite Van Dyke wasn’t easy. “The whole time it was really hard to stay focused, at least for me, because I was just admiring him,” admits Hogestyn. “Then the story started unfolding, and it was stunning. All the pieces started falling into place so quickly. I mean, within one show.”

Hogestyn got to add a special piece to the big reveal episode. “Do you hear that?” he asks, jingling something into the phone. “That’s my dog tags. I’ve been wearing them for eight years, since that storyline with Tobin Bell, just as this is my identity, who I am. John Robicheaux. Whether [Yo Ling] was good or bad, and he was totally evil, he was still a part of me. The writers didn’t know that I was still wearing these things. So I’m the one who put that in, when I pulled those dog tags out during the scene with Dick and said, ‘This is you, buddy.’ ”

Another scene that stood out for Hogestyn was Van Dyke’s final one with his newly found family. “When we went to the house, and there were introductions with everybody — Martha [Madison, Belle], Eric [Martsolf, Brady] — Dick was so gracious. He didn’t even want to leave. Then everybody came out. People wanted to take pictures with him. He loves people. He loves Hollywood. Dick just sat there on the couch, and everybody came up and took pictures. That was the one time that the studio stopped for him, because usually [Producer] Randy Dugan is looking at the watch. Time is money. But everybody realized that they were in the presence of Hollywood royalty. That this is an icon. I don’t use that word, but this is something special that happened at DAYS OF OUR LIVES.”

Hogestyn, of course, has had other memorable moments during his tenure at DAYS; namely, that another film and television legend — Shirley Jones (ex-Colleen) — was once cast as his character’s presumed mom. “Have I been blessed or what?” he asks with a laugh. “Seriously. At some point I’ll write a book. People have been talking about different stories they hear here, and are like, ‘You’ve got to put it in a book.’ She was a delightful woman, although I didn’t get to sit down and talk to her much, but she was my mother, when I was Ryan DiMera.”

Deidre Hall, Drake Hogestyn


Dynamic Duo: “I think John and Marlena represent the kind of marriage that people would always like to have,” says Hogestyn of his longtime partnership with Deidre Hall. 

When the soap isn’t bringing in Hollywood legends for him to work with, Hogestyn is content interacting with a pair of daytime legends who have been on the DAYS canvas for decades — his on-screen best friend, Stephen Nichols (Steve), and TV wife, Deidre Hall (Marlena). “I’m working a lot with my buddy Stephen, and I’m getting a great kick out of that,” he raves. “Stephen and I are cut from the same cloth. He’s got a dressing room next to mine. Whenever we’ve got scenes together, we can run lines and rehearse. We’re both of the same mindset, which is just really studying at home. When you come in, you’ve already got it down cold. Then it’s a matter of, ‘What do we want to make of it? What point do we want to hit? Let’s drive it up to make it as paramount as we can make it.’ And you want to get it right the very first time, because, once again, Randy’s there looking at the stopwatch.”

Hogestyn shares the same camaraderie with his other longtime scene partner, Hall. “The thing is, we complete each other’s thoughts when we’re working together,” he professes. “We might not be on the dialogue exactly, but we know what the process is. We pick up on each other and keep those moments going, if we’re not right on the line. You might have to make adjustments on the fly. That’s what’s comfortable about working with Deidre. We know each other so well, that we can do it. There’s trust and comfort.”

Hogestyn’s real life marriage has thrived through the test of time, too. Wed to his wife, Victoria, since December 31, 1986, they’re still happily together and living their dream life in Malibu. “Victoria will watch Hallmark movies where they always kiss at the end, and I will watch a baseball game upstairs. We don’t have a Smart TV. We don’t have a million channels. And now you have to buy everything, if you want something. I don’t get it. I don’t need it. I’d rather read a book. And Victoria and I walk around the beach. It’s really cool. It’s all good.”

Drake Hogestyn

Courtesy of DrakeHogestyn/Instagram

Clan Jam: In 2019, Hogestyn posted this shot of his family: (from l.) son-in-law Christopher and daughter Alexandra, son-in-law Tommy and daughter Whitney, wife Victoria, daughter-in-law Danica Stewart (ex-Jessica, PASSIONS) and son, Ben (ex-Lucas, GH et al).

Although their kids — Rachael, Ben, Whitney and Alexandra — are all grown and have moved on with their own lives, the Hogestyn family remains “so tight,” says the actor. “I’m so proud of that. It’s all because of Victoria. She’s so articulate and what she says resonates with everybody. She’s been such a great mother to all the kids. They hang on every one of her words. She talks to them all day long, and all four kids are always texting each other.”

Recently, the clan got together to celebrate a major milestone, Hogestyn’s 70th birthday, which he marked on September 29. “The kids all wanted to go to Vegas. They said Lionel Richie is going to sing ‘Hello’ to you in his concert. But I don’t do Vegas,” declares Hogestyn. “Fortunately, I worked all five days that week. I had told them that earlier. Two of my daughters [Whitney and Alexandra] live down in Orange Country. I said, ‘Whitney, you’ve got the spread there with the outdoor [area] that looks like some sort of a resort. We’ll just do something there. I’ll spring for all the food and everything.’ They brought in a guy that does a rap Benihana type of thing. He was funny as hell. We had all the kids there. Rachael flew in with her son, Graham. Avery, my oldest granddaughter, is in a private boarding school in Connecticut. She couldn’t make it, but the other four grandsons were there.”

With a full life off screen, Hogestyn has a lot to be thankful for. And he’ll be seen more frequently in Salem soon, in an upcoming storyline that will revisit Steve and John’s connection as Patch and The Pawn. “They kind of rewrote the past a little bit. It’s a great story,” he previews. “It’s interesting. It’s challenging. It’s emotional. It’s second-guessing. It’s questioning yourself. I don’t know who was writing this, but I just can’t stand up and applaud enough. They lobbed us a bone, and I’m really appreciative. There were a couple of weeks in a row where we worked every day. That hasn’t happened in forever.”


Just The Facts

Happy Birthday: He marked his 70th birthday on September 29.

The Name Game: He was born Donald Drake Hogestyn.

Hails From: He’s a native of Fort Wayne, IN.

We Are Family: Married wife Victoria on December 31, 1986. They have four children: Rachael, Ben (ex-Lucas, GH et al), Whitney and Alexandra, and six grandchildren, Avery, 15, Graham, 13, Thomas Drake, 4, Jackson Cole, 2, Mason, 2, and Reese, who is a baby.

Welcome To Soaps: Hogestyn made his daytime debut on January 24, 1986.

Gray Matters: Having a 16-year-old grandson (Tate) on DAYS got Hogestyn thinking. “Hell, I must be 97 now,” he muses. “See, there’s a reason why I quit coloring my hair. Come on. John’s grandson, Tate? He’ll have kids pretty soon, and I’ll be playing a great-grandfather.”

Hot Stuff: Hogestyn won the Soap Opera Digest Award for Hottest Male Star in 1994 and 1995.