Former Days Of Our Lives Stars Who Have Tragically Passed Away

From its hazy halcyon days of the '60s to its shoulder-padded power couple dynamics of the '80s, "Days of Our Lives" has been a fixture of our TV screens for well over half a century. The drama between the Bradys and the Hortons has captivated fans the world over, with the show becoming one of the longest-running soap operas of all time. There have been numerous bizarre storylines, including fiendish serial killer rampages (or so we thought), body swaps, and characters rising from the dead.

In a move that angered fans, Peacock picked up the series in 2022 after 57 years on NBC. But the show is still going strong and was renewed for two more seasons in 2023, which will see it reach a seminal 60 seasons. Currently, Suzanne Rogers, who plays formidable matriarch Maggie Horton, is the longest-serving living cast member. "It doesn't feel like 40 years because I've enjoyed every moment," she told The Spinoff in 2015. "I think that's the trick to any job — if you enjoy what you're doing, it will just fly by." Sadly, however, her longevity has come at a price, as Rogers has outlived many of her peers. 

Having been on the air for almost 60 years, we have lost far too many of the show's beloved stars. Get the Kleenex ready as we take a look at former "Days of Our Lives" stars who have tragically passed away.

Cody Longo

Cody Longo was the third actor to play Nicholas Alamain on "Days of Our Lives," following in the footsteps of Victor Webster and Erik von Detten. He joined the cast in 2011, appearing in eight episodes before departing the show.

In addition to the long-running soap, he appeared in "Make It or Break It" and on Nick at Nite's "Hollywood Heights," in which he acted alongside A-lister James Franco. He was also a musician specializing in soul-pop. In a 2012 interview with Teen Vogue, Longo discussed his hopes for the future as an actor and a musician. "A dream role would be to play Maverick... That movie is just so amazing," he enthused. "On the singing side, I want to sell out Madison Square Garden." But these dreams would never materialize, as Longo faced several legal and personal troubles.

In 2013, he was arrested for a DUI and made to undertake alcohol education classes. His rep told TMZ that it was an anomalous misstep for the star. "Cody takes it very seriously, as his focus is music and acting," they insisted. But the legal woes did not end there. In 2020, he was charged with sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl. He accepted a plea of misdemeanor assault the following year. After years of substance misuse, he died of accidental alcohol poisoning in 2023 at age 34. "Cody was our whole world. The kids and I are shattered and beyond devastated," his widow, Stephanie, told People.

Frances Reid

One of the OG "Days of Our Lives" stars, Frances Reid, debuted as wholesome matriarch Alice Horton in 1965. She was initially supposed to be on the show for a brief run but ended up having a blast as Alice, becoming a firm favorite among fans and the cast and crew. "In the old days, she might go up and forget a line, and the things that would come out of her mouth would kill the crew," executive producer Ken Corday told The Hollywood Reporter (via the Los Angeles Times). "We'd have to take five while they howled." Having endured all manner of twisted storylines — including surviving a serial killer hellbent on culling the elderly population of Salem — Reid finally retired from the role in 2007. She was honored for her work with a Lifetime Achievement Emmy.

Away from her much-loved stint on the hit soap opera, the veteran actor enjoyed an illustrious career. She began acting in the 1930s, making her first onscreen appearance in the 1937 thriller "Reported Missing!" She starred in acclaimed films such as John Frankenheimer's 1966 Sci-Fi classic "Seconds," alongside Rock Hudson, and "The Andromeda Strain" in 1971.

In 2010, Reid, the last surviving original "Days of Our Lives" cast member, died at 95. "From day one until she taped her last scene, Frances epitomized the past, present, and future of the show. Frances was truly one of a kind," Corday said in a statement, per Entertainment Weekly.

Greg Plitt

Fitness model and personal trainer Greg Plitt played Henderson on "Days of Our Lives" from 2007 to 2008. In an interview with Iron Man Magazine, he discussed how he transitioned from muscle man to Tinseltown star. "A friend called and told me Robert De Niro was casting a movie and that I should call my agent and try to get them to see me," he recalled. "I told him I didn't have an agent... I made up an agency number using my cell phone number... then got a reading, and the next thing I knew, I got booked for a scene with De Niro and Matt Damon in 'The Good Shepherd.'"

Plitt combined his dual passions of bodybuilding and acting when he was cast in the DC superhero flick "Watchmen" in 2006, playing the muscular CGI version of Billy Crudup's Doctor Manhattan. "Basically, they created a mold of my body on the computer so they could do whatever they wanted to with it," he explained.

The star's life and career were cut tragically short in 2015. While attempting a dangerous stunt in Burbank, California, where he attempted to outrun a train, Plitt fell onto the tracks and was struck by a speeding locomotive. He was 37. Speaking to the Associated Press, his close friend, Warren Coulter, said the incident was a rare oversight for Plitt. "It was just a freaky moment where something got out of control... It was just a mistake," he said.

Nick Benedict

Nick Benedict was famed for playing Curtis Reed on "Days of Our Lives" from 1993 to 2001. The soap opera villain was at the center of a number of contentious storylines involving abuse, incest, and extortion. Though he gained notoriety as the odious Curtis, he was beloved by those who worked with him. "I just remember Nick just being a very nice man, and very nice to work with, no problem," fellow actor Eric Braeden told Michael Fairman TV.

Benedict had a career spanning six decades, appearing in TV shows such as "Ironside," "The Dukes of Hazzard," and "Knots Landing." Additionally, he appeared on another popular soap, "All My Children." Benedict was more than happy with his soap opera-oriented career trajectory and was just pleased to be able to act for a living. "If I never did anything but daytime television, I would be happy," he told Hi-Desert Star (via Soap Opera Network). "I would not consider myself less of a success."

In July 2023, Benedict underwent emergency spinal cord surgery and was left paralyzed from the neck down. His wife, Ginger, became his primary carer and left her bartending job at Jake's Steakhouse to provide him with needed support. A GoFundMe was set up to help cover medical costs. On his 76th birthday, he died from complications of his illness. "Nick Benedict's birthday was July 14," Jake's Steakhouse wrote on Facebook. "He went to be with the Lord this day. Please pray for Ginger."

Rhonda Stubbins White

A graduate of Tisch School of the Arts, where she was a classmate of A-lister Alec Baldwin, Rhonda Stubbins White played Lady Vi on "Days of Our Lives" in 2000. In addition to starring in the hit soap, her résumé included appearances in classic TV shows such as "Homicide: Life on the Street," "The West Wing," and "Charmed." She was also praised for her performance in the 1993 HBO mini series "Laurel Avenue," which focused on the struggles of a working-class African-American family in Minnesota.

On the big screen, she had a supporting role in Wim Wenders 2004 anti-war film "Land of Plenty" alongside a young Michelle Williams. More recently, Stubbins starred in Tyler Perry's TV series "Ruthless" from 2020 to 2022, with her final episodes airing posthumously.

In 2021, White died of ovarian cancer at the age of 60. She had been diagnosed with the disease just six months earlier. "It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my dear friend Rhonda Stubbins White," her friend, Todd Baker, wrote on Facebook. "She was an amazingly talented woman, full of positivity and energy, and grounded by her faith. We were all fortunate to have known her and shared her short time on this earth." The actor's manager, Valerie McCaffrey, told Fox News that she had completed filming on "Ruthless" while in the throes of cancer. "She had an amazing experience on ["Ruthless"] and was on a resurgence in her career," McCaffrey said.

Frank Parker

Famed for playing Grandpa Shawn Brady on "Days of Our Lives," Frank Parker was adored by his co-stars and fans alike. Although Parker joined the series in 1983, playing Shawn until 2008, he initially auditioned two decades earlier for an entirely different role. In Maureen Russell's book "Days of Our Lives: A Complete History of the Long-Running Soap Opera," Parker explained that he originally had his heart set on playing Bill Horton, a part that ultimately went to Ed Mallory. "I went in, and I read for it," he recalled, "and they said, 'Really good, but I think you might be a bit too young.' So I told them, 'There is a buddy of mine out here from Pittsburgh. He is a really good actor: Ed Mallory.' And they laughed."

In 2008, Parker began suffering from health issues and retired from acting. Subsequently, he said goodbye to Grandpa Brady, a character he had played for 25 years, with the patriarch making one final sacrifice to save his son's life before dying of oxygen deprivation.

In 2018, Parker died of complications from Parkinson's disease and dementia. He was 79. Peter Reckell, who played Bo Brady, paid tribute to his onscreen father. "I always looked forward to working with Frank, I knew it would be an emotional, powerful, exhilarating day," Reckell tweeted. "That's why I got into acting in the first place. He wore his heart on his sleeve, my heart hurts as I write these words. Miss you Pop."

Joseph Mascolo

Joseph Mascolo gained notoriety for playing the villainous shady businessman Stefano DiMera on "Days of Our Lives." Although he portrayed the character from 1982 to 2017, he briefly exited the show in 2001 due to a dispute with the producers, who wanted Stefano to have a reduced role on the series. "My contract is up in May, and I tried to negotiate in good faith," Mascolo wrote on his website (via Soap Central). "Usually, one expects some give and take, but the powers that be are adamant." However, he returned to the series in 2007.

Elsewhere, he appeared on "The Bold and the Beautiful" as Massimo Morrone and "General Hospital." He was also a talented clarinet player, telling Soap Opera Digest that his father encouraged him to pursue a wide variety of interests, from boxing to ballet. As such, he confessed that he was initially hesitant to star in a soap opera but agreed to the role as long as he could make Stefano a multifaceted and exciting character. "The majority of actors on soaps act like they're on soaps," his co-star, Thaao Penghlis, told the outlet. "They just run through the motions. And I can honestly say that when Joe came onto the show, the level of acting rose considerably."

In December 2016, Mascolo died of complications from Alzheimer's. He was 87. His final appearance on "Days of Our Lives" aired posthumously, along with a tribute to the sadly departed star.

Peggy McCay

Best known for playing "Days of Our Lives" matriarch Caroline Brady from 1983 to 2016, Peggy McCay was an acting vet with a career spanning almost seven decades. Although she devoted much of her career to playing Caroline, she also starred in over 100 TV shows and movies, including the 1957 adaptation of "Uncle Vanya," the 1962 sitcom "Room for One More," and, more recently, the 2011 film "Let Go" alongside Kevin Hart and Gillian Jacobs. A vegetarian, she was also a passionate activist for animal rights organizations such as the Elephant Sanctuary and the Humane Society.

In an interview with Soaps, McCay discussed her unusual career trajectory from soap operas to Broadway, then back to soaps. "I was extraordinarily young when I got my first daytime contract," she explained. "And I didn't really know what a soap opera was because I didn't listen to them and had no idea the nature of them... I did that for a short time, and then I left because I had a dear friend, Marcel Marceau, and he said you must do Chekhov ('Uncle Vanya')." For her depiction of Caroline, McCay was nominated for Emmy Awards multiple times, but it was her performance in "The Trials of Rosie O'Neill" that finally won her a gong in 1991.

After a long and illustrious career, McCay died in 2018, aged 90. "She was like a real grandmother to me... You are deeply missed Peggy! #RIPGrandmaCaroline," tweeted Jen Lilley, who played her granddaughter, Theresa.

Antony Alda

The half-brother of acting legend Alan Alda, Antony Alda (sometimes credited as "Tony Alda") joined the cast of "Days of Our Lives" in 1990, playing Johnny Corelli. Chatting to Soap Opera Weekly in 1990, Alda said he knew he would score the part due to a series of strange coincidences (via Jason47). At the time, he was acting in a play when the producer said she had a friend who was also on "Days"; that friend was George Jenesky, who ended up playing Alda's brother on the show. Subsequently, he was thrilled to be joining the long-running soap. "I couldn't have drawn a better character myself," he enthused. "I've played a lot of outsider roles over the years... With Johnny, you never know what the hell he can get into. He likes the challenge of what he does. He enjoys playing with people's heads. It's almost like the reason you become an actor."

He starred on the soap until 1991, thereafter appearing in films such as "Driving Me Crazy" (1991) and "National Treasure" (2004). He also featured in numerous stage productions. In a 1990 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Alda said he was disinterested in the trappings of being a nepo sibling and wanted to gain recognition on his own merit. "People think you got the part because of your name," he mused.

In 2009, Alda died at the age of 52. His cause of death has not been publicly disclosed.

John Aniston

John Aniston, the father of America's sweetheart, Jennifer Aniston, was a mainstay of "Days of Our Lives," which he joined in 1985. He gained recognition as the villainous millionaire mob boss Victor Kiriakis, though the character softened with time, eventually morphing into a benevolent, albeit strict, patriarch.

Victor was famed for his signature mustache, which Aniston insisted the character ought to have. "Actually, when the part of Doug Williams came up, I auditioned for the part, and they asked if I would shave my mustache, but I was hesitant," he told Glamour. "Finally, we agreed I would shave my mustache. And then they didn't give me the part. I was p****d!" He won three Soap Opera Digest awards for his performance as Victor. In addition to the soap, Aniston was featured on TV shows such as "Kojak" — which starred Telly Savalas, his BFF and godfather to his daughter –"Diagnosis Murder," and "The West Wing."

Aniston died in November 2022, aged 89. His final appearance as Victor aired posthumously, along with a tribute to the late star, which poignantly sees him reflecting on his own mortality. Although John and Jennifer Aniston once had a strained relationship, they reportedly reconciled and became very close two years before the former's death. On Instagram, Jennifer penned a heartbreaking message to her father. "I am so grateful that you went soaring into the heavens in peace — and without pain... I'll love you till the end of time," she wrote. "Don't forget to visit."

Quinn Redeker

Acting vet Quinn Redeker appeared on "Days of Our Lives" from 1979 to 1987, playing Alex Marshall. The actor had a blast depicting the comically devious character. "When Alex first came on, he killed a couple of people," the actor said (via The Hollywood Reporter). "But [the producers] decided they kind of liked me, and they let me start doing the comedy. I started joking it up a bit."

Additionally, Redeker appeared in films such as "The Candidate" (1972) alongside Robert Redford, "The Midnight Man" (1974) with Burt Lancaster, and Oscar-winner "Ordinary People" (1980). He was also a prolific writer and came up with the iconic Russian roulette scene from "The Deer Hunter" — an idea that almost got scrapped due to reservations from director Michael Cimino. "There I was on Beverly Boulevard pleading with Cimino to keep [that] in," Redeker said in a 1987 interview, per The Hollywood Reporter. "He was never interested in that." Thankfully, the scene was ultimately kept in and remains one of the most memorable in cinematic history.

After a career spanning almost seven decades, Redeker died of natural causes in 2022, aged 86. Tributes poured in from colleagues, with his "Days of Our Lives" co-star Wally Kurth sharing moving recollections in an Instagram comment. "I ran into him at a coffee shop years ago where he was working away on his laptop... writing a screenplay," Kurth wrote. "So passionate and animated. I wished I could have worked with him more as an actor."

Linda Carlson

Linda Carlson appeared on "Days of Our Lives" in 1989, playing Dr. Elaine Schaefer. The soap was by no means the only credit to her name. She started on Broadway in the early '70s and scored a supporting role on "Newhart" in 1985. On the big screen, she starred in the '90s classic "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid" as the nosey neighbor. In 1993, she portrayed Aunt Pearl in "The Beverly Hillbillies" movie and starred as Judge Beth in "Murder One" in 1995.

Away from the cameras, she was devoted to philanthropic endeavors. Carlson founded the Abbott-Carlson Scholarship, which aids women and children from marginalized communities. "I like to work with organizations that service an at-risk community," she told The News-Times. "My idea was to see these kids — who are done with high school — to see them through college. I know that for economic security, a college education is crucial." In addition to acting and activism, she wrote numerous articles for The New York Times.

Carlson died of the degenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2021, aged 76. "I met Linda while I was working for the Village," her colleague, Leslie McCarter, wrote on Legacy. "It's been a while since we last spoke, but I always remember her kindness and generosity to the young ladies I serviced. She will be greatly missed and leaves an amazing legacy." Her family requested that donations be made to the Village for Children and Families or the ALS Association.

Jay Pickett

From 1991 to 1992, Jay Pickett played the dashing Dr. Chip Lakin on "Days of Our Lives." In keeping with the soap opera medical theme, he also starred on "General Hospital" and its spin-off "Port Charles." On the big screen, he appeared in the horror film "Rumpelstiltskin" (1995) and true crime fare such as "The Boston Strangler" (2008) and "Bundy Legacy of Evil" (2009). Shortly before he died, Pickett did an interview with the Idaho Statesman in which he reflected on his life and career. He also poked gentle fun at being typified by his soap opera actor status.

While filming the movie "Treasure Valley" in 2021, which he also wrote, Pickett died unexpectedly on set. He was 60. His cause of death was believed to be a sudden heart attack. "Everyone present tried as hard as they could to keep him alive," director Travis Mills wrote on Facebook. "Our hearts are broken and we grieve for his family who are so devastated by this shocking tragedy."

At the time of his passing, he had also completed work on the Western "Catch the Bullet" alongside Peter Facinelli. Chatting with Us Weekly, Facinelli reflected on what it was like to work with the much-loved acting vet. "He was really such a great guy, and what a beautiful soul, what a tragic loss. He passed away doing what he loved, passed away while he was shooting," he said, poignantly adding, "The beauty about the film is his performance will live on."

Philece Sampler

As the duplicitous and enigmatic Renée DuMonde, Philece Sampler left an indelible mark on the "Days of Our Lives" universe, which she joined in 1980. Infamously, she met a harrowing end at the hands of the Salem Slasher in 1983. In an interview with AfterBuzz TV, Sampler admitted that Renée's death shocked her, and she was given less than a month's notice that she was being dropped from the show. "I don't remember if I cried or not," she recalled. "I think I was in such shock... But what I would like to say, that I was proud of myself for, is I didn't leak it at all. I could have easily called Soap Opera Digest... and said, 'Guess what, they're killing off Renée!'"

Thereafter, Sampler, who had over 200 TV and movie credits to her name, starred in "Another World" as Donna Love from 1987 to 1989. Moreover, she was a prolific voice actor, lending her name to multiple English dubs of anime shows, most notably "Digimon" and "Demon Slayer."

In 2021, Sampler died unexpectedly just a few days before her 68th birthday. Journalist Nelson Aspen, a close friend of the actor, confirmed on Instagram that the cause of death was a heart attack. "She gave 1000% to anything she did," he wrote. "In a fickle business like Entertainment, I'm proud that we stayed so close right up to the very end of her life. Cherish your loved ones every moment, folks."