The Truth About Doug And Julie Williams' Relationship Off Screen

As one of the longest running soap operas on television, "Days of Our Lives" has a fanbase spanning generations. Created in 1965, the show's dramatic chronicles of the Hortons and Bradys, amongst the show's other fictional families, have brought in numerous awards and nominations — as well as plenty of over-the-top storylines. After 56 seasons of love affairs and scandal, the show has been renewed for two more seasons, The Hollywood Reporter notes, earning the fictional American town of Salem a permanent place in our consciousness.

Of the extensive list of characters and residents of Salem, Doug and Julie Williams (played by Bill and Susan Hayes, respectively) are one of the most popular couples on the show, which is probably why they've been on-screen since 1968, according to IMDb. After multiple weddings, partners and affairs, the two finally chose each other — reappearing every now and then to remind viewers what true love looks like in a script. However, they've managed to set a romantic ideal off-screen, too.

Susan and Bill Hayes have been married for over 50 years — but they almost didn't meet

Susan and Bill Hayes have been playing the star-crossed lovers for over 2,000 episodes — but we'd like to think they employed method acting. The actors, who met on the set of "Days of Our Lives," have been happily married to each other in real life for over 50 years. "Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes were the original super-couple of daytime drama, and we all have been so fortunate that they remain perennially vibrant and endearing as a couple to this day," executive producer Ken Corday told Variety.

Their real-life love story was just as fateful (but not as dramatic) as their on-screen one. In fact, the two would've never met if Bill Hayes didn't take the role; he admitted he was reluctant to work on a daytime soap in their joint memoir (via Fame10). And even when they did end up on the show, they were both working on different storylines. It was only after head writer Bill Bell decided there was something between the two that their iconic love began. As Susan Hayes told WeLoveSoaps, "[Bill Bell] was a great believer in setting up a couple that needs to be together and never ever allowing them to be together. He told us that he would never have allowed Doug and Julie to marry."

If you miss Doug and Julie on the show, you may want re-watch NBC's recent virtual "Days of Our Lives" fan event — both Susan and Bill Hayes attended, according to Soap Opera Network.