Days of our Lives is an American soap opera which has aired nearly every weekday since November 8, 1965 on the NBC network in the United States, and has since been syndicated to many countries around the world. It also broadcasts on SOAPnet weeknights at 11PM ET/PT. The series was created by husband-and-wife team Ted Corday and Betty Corday along with Irna Phillips in 1964, and many of the first stories were written by William J. Bell.
Days is the only remaining serial on NBC's daytime schedule, and the only daytime program other than the Today Show and Early Today, both NBC News productions.
With the cancellation of Guiding Light which aired its scheduled final episode on CBS on September 18, 2009, Days of our Lives became the third longest-running soap opera in the United States, after General Hospital, which premiered April 1, 1963 followed by As the World Turns, which premiered on April 2, 1956.
The Cordays and Bell combined the "hospital soap" idea with the tradition of centering a series on a family, by making the show about a family of doctors, including one who worked in a mental hospital. Storylines in the show follow the lives of middle and upper-class professionals in Salem, a middle-America town, with the usual threads of love, marriage, divorce, and family life, plus the medical storylines and character studies of individuals with psychological problems. Former executive producer Al Rabin took pride in the characters' passion, saying that the characters were not shy about "sharing what's in their gut."
Critics originally praised the show for its non-reliance on nostalgia (in contrast to shows such as As the World Turns) and its portrayal of "real American contemporary families."By the 1970s, critics deemed Days to be the most daring daytime drama, leading the way in using themes other shows of the period would not dare touch, such as artificial insemination and interracial romance. The January 12, 1976 cover of Time magazine featured Days of our Lives's Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes, the first daytime actors to ever appear on its cover. The Hayeses themselves were a couple whose onscreen and real-life romance (they met on the series in 1970 and married in 1974) was widely covered by both the soap opera magazines and the mainstream press.
In the 1990s, the show branched out into supernatural storylines, which critics immediately panned, as it was seen as a departure from more realistic storylines for which the show had originally become known. In 2006, when asked about his character, Jack Deveraux, "coming back from the dead"—for the third time—actor Matthew Ashford responded, "It is hard to play that because at a certain point it becomes too unreal...actors look at that and think, 'What is this — the Cartoon Network'?"
Days, in addition to receiving critical acclaim in print journalism, has won a number of awards, including a Daytime Emmy for Best Drama in 1978 and a Writers Guild of America, East Award for Best Drama in 2000. Days actors have also won awards: Macdonald Carey (Dr. Tom Horton) won Best Actor in 1974 and 1975, Susan Flannery (Laura Horton) won Best Actress in 1975, Suzanne Rogers (Maggie Horton), Leann Hunley (Anna DiMera), and Tamara Braun (Ava Vitali) won Best Supporting Actress for respectively 1979, 1986, and 2009 and Billy Warlock (Frankie Brady) won Best Younger Actor for 1988.. In 2009, Darin Brooks (Max Brady) took home the Emmy for Best Younger Actor, and Tamara Braun (Ava Vitali) won for Best Supporting Actress the show's first acting victories in over 21 and 23 years, respectively
As with other soap operas, Days ratings have declined since the 1990s. In January 2007 it was suggested by NBC that the show "is unlikely to continue [on NBC] past 2009." In November 2008, in an eleventh-hour decision, it was announced the show had been renewed and now will be on the air through September 2010. The 18-month renewal was down from its previous renewal, which was for five years. The show has made somewhat of a come back in 2009, with ratings increases that have continued as the year progressed.
Alternate titles Days, DOOL, (acronym) or Cruise of Deception: Days of our Lives
Creator(s) Ted Corday
Senior cast member(s) Frances Reid
No. of episodes 11,211 (as of November 18, 2009)
Executive producer(s) Ken Corday and Gary Tomlin
Head writer(s) Dena Higley and Christopher Whitesell
Distributor Corday Productions, Inc.
In Association With Sony Pictures Television (Columbia TriStar Television 2001 until 2002, Columbia Pictures Television 1974 to 2001, and Screen Gems until name change in 1974)
Running time 30 minutes (1965-1975)
60 minutes (1975-present)