Daytime soap operas are such a cultural mainstay that they predate television. Starting out on radio, they got their name because many of their early sponsors were soap manufactures. Even in those early days, the episodes were broadcast in the daytime and usually with five episodes per week. In the late 1940s, the entertainment format made the jump to television where many shows would remain on the air for decades. One particularly revered series that has survived on the airwaves for more than fifty years is Days of our Lives.
First airing on November 8th, 1965, Days of our Lives is often considered one of the most groundbreaking shows in the soap opera format. By the 1970s, it became well known for tackling themes and stories other soaps were not ready to portray. Later years dabbled in supernatural themes, which disappointed some long time fans, but also boosted the show’s ratings.
Even to those who are not fans, soap operas have become famous for their sometimes outlandish story lines with various twists and turns, with Days of our Lives being no exception. However, sometimes the more fascinating stories are told behind the camera, through the real lives of the actors and the staff who produce the serial.
Here 15 Dark Secrets Behind Days of our Lives.
15. Bryan Dattilo: Criminal Mastermind
It’s natural for any actor to want a piece of memorabilia from a shooting location, a physical representation of all the good times they had on a certain set. For Bryan Dattilo, this means using his five finger discount.
In a recent interview, Bryan confessed to possessing some sticky fingers, and that one of the items he stole was Sami Braday’s Bra. While he was careful not to get caught, the props department eventually caught on since they keep track of every item they use. Like any criminal mastermind, Dattilo keeps all of the hot items in his garage to impress guests with.
14. The Show Was Almost Cancelled In 2008
No show is on the air for fifty years without running into some rough spots. While Days has cemented its legacy in daytime television, the years and changing times have not always been kind to it. In fact, had it not been for a last minute salvation, the serial would have seen its last episodes air in 2009.
The latter half of the last decade was not easy an easy one for television, and soap operas were no exception to the turmoil. In 2007, NBC heavily foreshadowed the show ending within the next couple of years because of declining ratings. Fortunately for fans, the show was saved at the last minute and renewed for an additional eighteen months in November 2008.
13. It’s Hanging By A Thread
Television may be going through a golden age, but when a new era arrives, old shows have trouble keeping up. Days may have survived the tumultuous times TV went through ten years ago, but its days on daytime television may be numbered.
In prior years, the legendary show would be renewed for several years at a time. After the show came close to cancellation in 2008, the renewals have been for much smaller periods of time. Most recently, the show was renewed in February 2017 for an additional year, though at the time of this article it is unknown if it will be given a renewal for 2018.
12. Actors Fired To Lower Production Cost
With declining ratings comes declining resources. Sometimes corners need to be cut in order for such a long running show to stay on the air. For Days, this meant unceremoniously axing several long time actors from the soap opera in 2012.
The unlucky actors to be given the boot included Matthew Ashford, Christie Clark, Patrick Muldoon, and Sarah Brown. While Sarah Brown was a relative newcomer on the show, having been there for only a year, some of the other performers had been involved for more than a decade.
Fans were understandably alarmed by this, particularly because some of the long time characters were brought back just the year before as a part of the reboot only to be taken out of the show once again. Unfortunately, the actors weren’t the only victims of the cutbacks
11. Headwriters Fired After Reboot
The serial was given a reboot in 2011 in an attempt to boost ratings and bring back fans who had parted ways with the families of Salem. While it was a strong effort, even bringing back fan favorites who had long been absent, it was met with a lukewarm reception from fans and critics alike.
As a result of the still plummeting ratings, the headwriters in charge of the reboot, Marlene McPherson and Darrell Ray Thomas Junior, were let go in 2012, less than a year after they started their work. What’s more is that they were replaced by Chris Whitesell and Gary Tomlin, two writers who were previously fired when the reboot occurred.
While layoffs and crew shakeups are par for the course in the television industry, the way this situation was handled makes the executives in charge of the show seem indecisive about which direction they want it to go.
10. The Work Is Grueling
A prime time drama may produce anywhere from twelve to twenty four episodes in a season. This type of shooting schedule is intense, but it’s nothing compared to the amount of work the cast and crew of Days of our Lives has to do in order to produce five hours of television a week.
Everybody on the set, from the actors, writers, producers, and crew must work at their top efficiency in order to get the episodes finished on time and ready for the airwaves. For the performers this means memorizing all of their dialogue in one night (and in some cases a few hours) for shooting the very next day, where scenes are shot without the help of cue cards.
9. Casting Craziness Happens
With a more than fifty year history, Days of our Lives has seen more than its fair share of casting shakeups. The most interesting of these has to come from the story between Wayne Northrop and Josh Taylor playing the character of Roman Brady.
Wayne Northrop originally played retired police commissioner Roman Brady from 1981 to 1994, with a small break in the middle where the character was portrayed by Drake Hogestyn. When Northrop left in ’94, Josh Taylor came in to fill his shoes as Brady. However, Wane eventually returned to the show in 2005, but with Josh Taylor still playing Roman Brady, the actor had no choice but to play a different character.
8. Bryan Dattilo Needed To Change His Look
Bryan Dattilo is not an unattractive man, and his dashing looks have undoubtedly been the topic of many fans’ daydreams. However, when he was first cast in the role of Lucas Horton, producers required him to enhance two aspects of his appearance – teeth and height.
Bryan became involved with the soap opera in 1993 and was first asked to fix his teeth with braces. After straightening out his chompers, he was provided with lifts to use during filming to make him appear taller. The effect works on screen, but the technique of walking in lifts also gave him two huge bunions.
7. No Success In Europe
Certain entertainment formats may be less popular in different parts of the world for any variety of reasons. Different cultures means that certain shows don’t resonate with an audience from a particular country. Unfortunately for Days of our Lives, the trials and tribulations of the Horton family and their associates did not interest audiences in the United Kingdom.
So far Days has been on UK television three times. The first was a five year stint from 1994 to 1999, then a quick one year run in 2000, then again from 2007 to 2010. In all cases, the show was pulled from the air because of low ratings.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why the soap opera has not found success across the pond. Whatever the case, its disappointing to any English fans who only periodically get to check in with the residence of Salem.
6. Mary Beth Evans Body Double
One of the biggest draws of Days are the steamy love scenes and the melodrama that surrounds them. It also helps that many of these actors are total heartthrobs. Mary Beth Evans is a particularly beautiful cast member, but she did have a good reason to use a body double for her first love scenes with Stephen Nichols.
At the time of filming these scenes, Mary Beth was six months pregnant while her character was not with child. Shooting love scenes without some television magic would be nearly impossible, so they did use a body double for the necessary shots.
Fans shouldn’t be too disenchanted with this revelation, as love scenes (or the watered down television equivalent) are only the culmination of a carefully developed relationship between two characters building up and reaching a final climax. As any successful couple will explain, the journey is more important than the finale.
5. Bryan Dattilo’s Audition
The ability to communicate the intimacy between two characters is essential to successful daytime television. Sometimes an audition for such a show will require two actors to kiss to prove that they can properly demonstrate this. For Bryan Dattilo, this part of his audition for Days got out of hand really quickly.
Bryan’s audition partner was Christie Clark and things got pretty intense once they had to kiss. According to Bryan, Christie introduced tongues into the equation which forced his hand (or in this case, tongue) and they both began going at each other’s faces as if they were longtime lovers.
4. Budget Cutbacks
It’s no secret that daytime television is not as popular as it once was. Previous entries mentioned how budget cuts resulted in actors and writers losing their jobs, but there have also been consequences that show in the episodes themselves. One notable example of this can be seen in Lauren Koslow’s character, Kate Roberts.
Kate Roberts is a women who likes to flaunt her wealth through the clothes she wears. In previous years, there was enough money for wardrobe to buy new clothing for the character for each appearance. However, following the cutbacks in recent seasons, the crew has been unable to splurge in the same manner.
To remedy this problem, the people in charge of wardrobe have resorted to clever accessorizing to make one outfit seem like a new one in a different scene. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.
3. Lauren Koslow’s Embarrassing Moments
With such an insane shooting schedule, it’s not uncommon for the people working on the show to make mistakes. For Lauren Koslow, these mistakes manifested themselves in two particularly embarrassing moments.
When Lauren was just starting her tenure as Kate Roberts, she wasn’t quite acclimated to the work method daytime television utilizes. Because of this, she ended up leaving the set early once only to get a call back saying she was needed back on set. The second, more scandalous moment comes from when she had to take off her jacket while filming. Instead of only removing the jacket, her blouse became undone. Fortunately Days doesn’t air live, so she did not become the Janet Jackson of daytime television.
2. Actor’s Get Frustrated With The Stories Sometimes
The story arcs on Days of our Lives are no strangers to outlandish revelations. Sometimes these twists are so ridiculous they shatter the audiences suspension of disbelief. In extreme cases, the actors themselves get fed up with the storylines and may even cause them to leave the show altogether.
In 2006, Melissa Reeves left the show after appearing as Jennifer Horton since 1985. One of the principle reasons for the departure was the actress’s frustration with the writers repeatedly killing and reviving her onscreen husband, Jack Deveraux. Matthew Ashford, who plays Jack, sympathized with the move stating that “at a certain point it becomes too unreal.”
Melissa did eventually return to the daytime series in 2010 and still appears in episodes to this day. Steady acting gigs on television are hard to come by and enduring peculiar plot developments is a small price to pay to maintain one.
1. Deidre Hall’s Parental Problems
Dr. Marlena Evans is perhaps Deidre Hall’s most well known role. Throughout her more then thirty year tenure on the show, she has received numerous accolades and even three Daytime Emmy nominations. Despite the success on daytime television, the actress struggled with one issue for almost twenty years; infertility.
While it may sound like a melodramatic story arc for a soap, Deidre’s inability to have children was a great source of stress for her and even cost her two marriages. She tried in vitro fertilization and surgeries to help her bear a child through the magic of science, but to no avail.
Fortunately, Deidre did become a mother in 1992 and again in 1995 using a surrogate. Audiences were even treated to a dramatic retelling of her story in Never Say Never: The Deidre Hall Story where the starlet plays herself.
What other scandalous secrets do you know about Days of our Lives? Let us know in the comments!
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