Bill Hayes (born William Foster Hayes III in Harvey, Illinois in 1925) is an Emmy-award winning American actor and former singer. He gained lasting fame as an actor on the daytime drama series Days of Our Lives as the character Doug Williams, a role he has been playing since 1970. Hayes started his career as a singer, having appeared on the variety show Your Show of Shows, and the Rodgers and Hammerstein play Me and Juliet. During the popularity of the TV series Davy Crockett three songs were inspired by the show, and titled “Ballad of Davy Crockett.” Hayes’ version was the most popular and successful, having reached the top of the Hot 100 chart in the 50s music era. Another oldies music item, “Wringle Wrangle” was his other only Hot 100 single, scraping the Top 40 chart.
William Foster Hayes, popularly known as Bill Hayes, was born June 5, 1925 in Harvey Illinois. In 1947, Hayes graduated with a double major in music and English at DePauw University. During summer months he also began his career as a singer. He later married Mary Hobbs in the same year but filed a divorce in 1969. They have five children.
Hayes singing and recording career
Hayes became a household name when he was appointed to be a regular featured singer on Your Show of Shows, a 1950’s television series of comedian Sid Caesar. He also had appearances in numerous Broadway musicals and plays which included a starring role in Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Me and Juliet in 1953.
In 1955 during peak of the Davy Crockett craze, along with other two versions (renditions by Fess Parker and Tennessee Ernie Ford) of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” Hayes recorded his own version of the song. Among the three versions, Hayes’ version was the most popular, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained there for five weeks. The song was also a big hit in the U.K., reaching #2 on the UK chart. He had lesser-known songs which included “The Tea Berry” as well as covers of “High Noon” and “Wringle Wrangler” which was the only other song which entered the Top 40, peaking at #33 in 1957.
Hayes’ acting career
In 1970, Hayes’ acting career started when he played the role of a convict-turned-lounge singer Doug Williams on the long-running television soap opera, Days of Our Lives. In 1974, Hayes married his co-star Susan Seaforth. The reel-and-real-life couple became so popular that they were even featured on Time magazine’s front page.
Hayes maintained his role of Doug Williams until 2004 when his character was killed off – this was done by the show as a way to reduce its budget. However, in a plot twist, Williams was found to be alive and living on a tropical island. In early 2010, he appeared on his 2000th episode of Days of Our Lives , a proof of his (and his character’s) longevity in the show.