Soap stars to reflect on decades at ‘Days of Our Lives,’ sign books Sept. 15 at Barnes and Noble

MORGANTOWN — Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes have starred in several West Virginia Public Theatre shows through the years. But those roles are not the ones that get the veteran actors recognized just about everywhere they go with what Susan said is the typical response — “a warm embrace and a shriek.”

The pair met and fell in love on one of TV’s longest-running scripted shows, “Days of Our Lives,” where they continue to portray daytime’s original power couple, Doug and Julie Williams.

“It’s my 50th year on the show, but [Bill’s] a piker, he’s only done 48 years on the show,” Susan said, laughing.

In April, they both took home Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

On Sept. 15, Bill and Susan will talk about their decades spent on the soap opera as part of an event at Barnes & Noble, where they’ll also sign copies of their books, the memoir “Like Sands Through the Hourglass” and historical novel “Trumpet.”

“We’re definitely looking forward to the appearance,” said Bill, who earned his doctorate in education at WVU in 1998 and has family ties to the state. “We love coming to West Virginia.”

Even among the dedicated bunch who love operas, Susan said, “West Virginians are super fans.”

And the couple has spent enough time here to know.

“The theater has kept us coming back,” Susan said. “I’ve done six shows with my husband, and we’ve had some wonderful roles.”

Ron Iannone, founder of West Virginia Public Theatre, asked Bill and Susan to act in “I Do I Do” in 1986 for Lakeview Theatre, as it was called then. This was a year after they were featured on the cover of Time magazine.

Iannone will recount that story Sept. 15, as he, too, will be on hand signing his books, “School Ain’t No Way,” “A Not So Normal Family” and others.

“Ron’s such a great guy,” Bill said. “He’s teaching at WVU and all the great theater he’s given to the people of the area, what a wonderful gift.”

Iannone is a professor in the university’s College of Education and Human Services and earlier this year announced he’s returning to WVPT.

However, a theater gig may not be in the cards for the couple at the moment.

The shooting schedule for “Days of Our Lives” is more rigorous these days than in the past.

“We used to work 50 weeks, now we work two-thirds of that, doing more in less time,” Susan said. “And the quality must remain the same. Everyone works terribly hard, and we still enjoy it.”

In addition, she and Bill are also in the midst completing a follow-up to “Trumpet.”

The original story, set during the Regency period in London, centers on aspiring actress Elizabeth Trumpet. The sequel brings her to Charleston, South Carolina.

“Historically, Charleston was a huge city,” Susan said. “It was an economic engine with a lot going on. We’re looking forward to completing the story. … And it’s great for the marriage. It’s another creative link.”

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