days-mashup

NBC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection (5)

In all these years, a whole beach’s worth of sand must have passed through the hourglass.

Back on November 8, 1965, NBC had great expectations for Days of Our Lives when it premiered the new half-hour soap from the husband-and-wife team of Ted and Betty Corday. But those expectations had to be lowered, quickly and a lot. 

Though in the first episode, incorrigible teenager Julie Olson (originally Charla Doherty) attempted to get not only her parents’ but viewers’ attention by doing a little shoplifting — you can watch her try to wriggle out of hot water in Episode No. 2 below — the fledgeling daytime drama sank immediately to near the bottom of the ratings heap. There it stayed, too, for three long years, cancellation always looming overhead, until kaboom!

Glory Days

Lightning struck in the late 1960s with the story of Laura Horton (Susan Flannery, years before she became Stephanie Forrester on The Bold and the Beautiful). The audience was riveted watching her try desperately to keep husband Mickey from learning that she’d been raped by his brother. (In fact, Mickey’s son was his nephew.) So popular did the show become that it was expanded to an hour.

In the decades that have followed, Days of Our Lives has struck pay dirt with countless other plots, from the love affair of Doug and Julie (played by real-life marrieds Bill and Susan Seaforth Hayes, who assumed her role in 1968) to the possession and repossession of Dr. Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall) to the bad boy/good girl pairings of Bo Brady (Peter Reckell) and Hope Williams (Kristian Alfonso), Steve Johnson (Stephen Nichols) and Kayla Brady (Mary Beth Evans), and Ben Weston (Robert Scott Wilson) and Ciara Brady (Victoria Konefal).

days-anniversary-mashup-nbc-ec-2-jj

More: Soaps’ greatest supercouples, ranked [PHOTOS]

We’ve Only Just Begun

“I’m blessed,” headwriter Ron Carlivati told Soaps.com in 2020, “to have so many cast members who’ve been around for so long. I still get to write for Doug and Julie, and Marlena and John, and Steve and Kayla, and Maggie and Victor.

“These are legacy characters who are central to the show,” he adds. “But then we also have their children and grandchildren. We now have Sami’s daughter [Allie] on the show, and she’s sort of picking up the torch. We’re trying to grow those generations.”

And grow, they will, so long as the show maintains one relationship in particular: the one that it has with its audience. So Carlivati’s message to you is a simple one: “Thank you,” he says. “Without the fans watching and being so devoted to the show, there is no show.

“I want to thank them for sticking with us year in and year out. It’s their love of the show,” he concludes, “that stokes the furnace and keeps the engine moving.”

More: Days of Our Lives’ greatest characters, ranked [PHOTOS]

In honor of Days of Our Lives’ momentous anniversary, we’ve compiled a massive photo album that will walk you down Memory Lane, revisiting all — or at least a lot — of the stories and characters you’ve loved most over the years. Just click below and dive in, and when you’re done, drop us a comment with your favorite Days of Our Lives plot of all time.