This year Days Of Our Lives celebrates 45 years on the air, by commencing HD broadcasts on Days of Our Lives’ 45th Anniversary-November 8, 2010.
Days Of Our Lives first aired as a 30 minute daytime soap opera on 8 November, 1965, moving to its current one hour format on April 21, 1975. It is the second longest running daytime soap opera in the United States-the longest running daytime drama being General Hospital.
Though Days of Our Lives has changed during its 45 year history, mostly to remain relevant to today’s audiences, there are a number of threads that run through the entire 45 year history of the soap opera.
When Days Of Our Lives premiered, it revolved around the Horton family. Headed by Alice (Frances Reid) and Tom (MacDonald Carey), the Horton family also consisted of five grown children: Bill, Mickey, Tommy, Marie and Addie.
The private and professional lives of these core characters, their partners and children would form the basis of Days Of Our Lives storylines through the 60’s and much of the 70’s. Though, the Horton’s are still very much the premier Salem family, their numbers have dwindled over the years. The Horton family is currently represented by Maggie Horton, Hope Brady, Jennifer Horton Devereaux and Nathan Horton (he is the son of Maggie’s adopted daughter Melissa).
Many of the original Horton’s had impressive runs on Days of Our Lives. Some still appear today after almost 45 years of Days of Our Lives episodes.
Most notable, for longevity, is Frances Reid, who portrayed matriarch, Alice Horton, from the show’s first episode until Christmas 2007 when she became too unwell to continue appearing as Alice Horton.
Frances Reid passed away in February of this year, but due to another major Horton characters death-her onscreen son Mickey-Alice ‘died’ in May of this year. Many of the Horton clan alumni returned for cameo appearances in Days Of Our Lives tribute and farewell to Frances Reid and Alice Horton.
Since Alice’s death, Maggie Horton (Suzanne Rogers) has stepped into the Horton Matriarch role, providing love and relationship advice to the younger generations of the Horton family and their friends. Suzanne Rogers has appeared as Maggie Horton for 36 years, since her debut in 1973 as a paralyzed love interest for an amnesiac Mickey Horton.
Mickey, Tom and Alice’s son, was also a source of continuity for the ever changing Days of Our Lives. Actor John Clarke played the role of Mickey from the first episode in 1965 until he retired early in 2004.
And you never quite know when Julie and Doug Williams will breeze into Salem for a visit with Hope Brady. Julie Olsen Williams is another character from the show’s inception, and is both Hope Brady’s half sister (they share a mother – Addie Horton) and step mother (Julie is now married to Hopes father Doug Williams, who was married to Hope’s mother Addie Horton, before his marriage to Julie).
Unique amongst soap operas, is Days of Our Lives loyalty to its original opening credits. The opening narrative: “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives” has been used almost since the show’s inception. The voice is that of MacDonald Carey who portrayed the Horton family patriarch, Tom Horton, until his death in 1994, from lung cancer.
Though Days of our Live celebrates its 45th year anniversary with more Brady’s, and DiMera’s in the cast than Horton’s, there are still many reminders that bind present day Salem to its origins on November 8, 1965.
Tune in for the 45th anniversary episode on November 8, 2010, Days of our Lives is the fourth daytime soap to commence HD broadcasts and given the estimated seven figure price tag in converting to the HD format it is seen as a vote of confidence that Days of Our Lives will be around for a while. NBC’s last daytime soap opera has been plagued by cancellation rumors, for years, but this upgrade, and a contract renewal to September 2011, should keep rumors at bay, for a while anyway.
Days Of Our Lives airs in most markets at 1pm on NBC – In HD from 8 November 2010.
Days of Our Lives Characters: Supercouples
Days of Our Lives Pays Tribute to Alice Horton and Francis Reid ( includes a Horton Family Who’s Who)