John Aniston Days of our Lives

Image: NBC; Jill Johnson/JPI

Days of our Lives’ villain turned lovable grandfather.

Days of our Lives John Aniston celebrates his 87 birthday today, July 24. Aniston is known for his long-running role as Greek tycoon Victor Kiriakis on the NBC soap opera. On the show, Victor was born in Greece and built his fortune there before coming to America seeking to further his empire. Aniston was actually born in Chania, Crete, Greece in 1933 as Yiannis Antonios Anastasakis. He was brought to the United States when he was only two years old, and his father anglicized his name. Aniston’s parents operated a restaurant in Chester Pennsylvania, and Aniston went on to graduate with a degree in theater arts from Penn State University.

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Aniston has three children, his most famous being Friends’ star Jennifer Aniston with his first wife, Nancy Dow. He also has a step-son, John T. Melick, from Nancy’s prior marriage. Aniston’s son Alexander Aniston was from his second marriage to Sherry Rooney Aniston, his co-star he met while playing Eddie Aleata on Love of Life. Prior to joining Days of our Lives as Victor, he played Martin Tourneur on Search for Tomorrow from 1980 until 1984. He’s also guest-starred on a number of shows including Cold Case, Mad Men, Star Trey Voyager, and Diagnosis Murder.

Believe it or not, Victor Kiriakis was not Aniston’s first role on the NBC soap opera. In 1970 he played the minor character of Eric Richards. After departing and working on other shows he returned as Victor in 1985. Victor was originally a far cry from who he is today. A ruthless Greek businessman with connections to organized crime, he went head to head with Salem’s most ruthless villains at the time, including Stefano DiMera (Joseph Mascolo), Alex Marshall (Quinn Redeker) and Larry Welch (Andrew Masset). Over the years Victor’s character evolved, as any good soap opera character does, and he became less ruthless in crime and turned to more legal business ventures instead. The love of his children and a long-lasting friendship with one of the great loves of his life, Caroline Brady (Peggy McCay), helped soften him over the years. Now a lovable father, grandfather and husband to Maggie Horton (Suzanne Rogers), his bark is worse than his bite. Residents of Salem have more to fear from his stinging insults than anything else.

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Still, when push comes to shove, Victor is more than capable of reaching into his pocket of nefarious tricks. Recently he and his nephew Xander Kiriakis (Paul Telfer) believed Maggie had killed Adrienne Kiriakis (Judi Evans) while driving drunk, an accident that also led to the death of Maggie’s daughter Sarah Horton’s (Linsey Godfrey) newborn child. To spare Maggie the pain of knowing the truth they let Will Horton (Chandler Massey), who believed his texting and driving caused the accident, take the fall. They also switched Victor’s grandson Brady Black’s (Eric Martsolf) newborn daughter with Kristen DiMera (Stacy Haiduk) with Sarah’s dead child, leaving Brady and Kristen to believe their baby had died.

Browse through our gallery below of Victor’s other misdeeds, his loves, and his family. Then be sure to sign up for Soaps.com’s newsletter to have the latest news delivered to your inbox.