On the 35th Anniversary of Wally Kurth’s Days of Our Lives’ Debut, Stroll Down Memory Lane, From Justin’s ‘Insane’ Beginnings to… Well, His Also Pretty Crazy Middle and Totally Unpredictable Future
Few characters get the chance to grow as much as this one.
Take a look at Wally Kurth’s very first scene as Days of Our Lives‘ Justin on February 3rd, 1987, and you’ll be hard pressed to recognize the respectable Kiriakis family man of today. Oh, Kurth looked very much the same, of course, as he rolled around in bed with Justin’s beautiful Parisian paramour, but there’s no way that Justin would have ever cared about putting in a days’ work as Salem’s D.A.
It was a hell of an introduction, as Justin bid his lady friend adieu by tossing her an expensive bracelet and saying he’d warned her he was going to leave once he graduated. Before he left, he put in a phone call to a place she had never heard of, “a quaint little hamlet called Salem.” Oh, and he suggested that maybe it was time for his lady love to get back to her husband.
Twitter account ThoseWereTheDays managed to dig up the scene for your enjoyment.
— ThoseWereTheDAYS (@Daysofour_Lives) November 8, 2020
One of the reasons his first scene was so insulated was because, Kurth explained to Soap Opera Digest in a recent issue, he’d been hired last minute. It was so last minute, in fact, that the show had him come in to shoot on a Saturday — for the first and last time!
“It was only maybe a week, maybe even less than a week, that it aired,” he noted. “It was insane.”
But that first scene was an important one. It pretty much encapsulated Justin’s early template as a womanizer who reveled in the high life that being a Kiriakis afforded him. There was plenty to go around back then. When Justin first showed up in Salem, he and Victor were quite close, as they were the only family they had.
Justin’s parents were dead and Bo had yet to learn that he was Victor’s son. No one else was around, so the two Kiriakis men were like father and son. Though Victor didn’t always approve of Justin’s lifestyle. Or his choice in women.
Marriage was a minor inconvenience for Justin — something made clear, as we noted, from his first scene. And it’s something he happily ignored while carrying on an affair with the very much married Angelica Deveraux (played, at the time, by Jane Elliot, who went on to play mom Tracy to his Ned on General Hospital!).
Still, as much as he enjoyed the ladies, Justin fell for Adrienne practically from the start. That particular romance, though, was always volatile. The two were married within the year, but she never approved of his ties to the illegal side of the Kiriakis business, and Victor didn’t approve of her.
The stress of it caused her to miscarry, and it just got worse when Justin blamed Adrienne for intentionally losing their child. Which is, if we’re being honest, a really vile thing to say. Justin had some growing up to do. He was clearly a far cry from the reliable man he is today, more interested in reveling in his family’s lucrative corruption than putting bad guys in jail.
“As human beings, we change,” Kurth told Digest, “and we look at the world through different lenses as we get older, and I feel so lucky that I am able to bring those real changes that happened to me to my characters. And hopefully, my characters have evolved just like I have.”
And evolve he has — though not beyond recognition. His third marriage to Adrienne ended in 2015 because he still hadn’t figured out how to keep it in his pants long enough to avoid an affair in Mumbai. But hey, at least that meant that he and Adrienne could round things out evenly afterwards with four marriages and four kids.
Yes, four kids.
Sonny’s got a half brother, Alexander, from his dad’s affair with Angelica, and adopted twin siblings, Joey and Victor. Last we saw, they all moved to Texas just before Sonny was born in 1991. After that, Sonny seemed to be the only one Justin and Adrienne paid much attention to. Alexander who?
These days, Justin’s married to Adrienne lookalike Bonnie. His and Adrienne’s fourth marriage came to an end when she sadly fell victim to Salem’s infamous time jump in 2020. Justin’s not the womanizing ladies’ man of his youth anymore (at least as far as we can tell), but he’s been a steady presence in Salem for the past 13 years. And that, Kurth told Digest, is thanks to the fans.
“I can’t say anything other than just thank you for watching,” he said of the Days of Our Lives audience. “I am just really grateful that they are still watching and somehow letting the powers-that-be know that I play a character they are interested in and care about and want to see more of.”
Before you head out, why not take a moment to check out a gallery revisiting the life of the Kiriakis patriarch himself, Justin’s Uncle Victor. His life’s been full of family, romance and corruption — they just don’t make ’em like they used to.
<p>When he burst onto the Salem scene in 1984, Victor Kiriakis got into a bidding war with Shane Donovan over a picture taken by Kimberly Brady. Victor wasn’t just an admirer of good photography, though; he also ran a drug and pornography ring. He quickly became involved with Kimberly and then coerced her into having sex with him in order to spare the life of her true love, Shane.</p>
<p>Alas, Kimberly wasn’t the first Brady with whom Victor was enamored. He had a long-ago affair with matriarch Caroline, which, unbeknownst to anyone but Mama Brady, resulted in the birth of son Bo. Despite them being blood-related, it didn’t stop the cop from trying to take his biological father down for his many crimes or Victor from trying to kill his own son and marrying his significant other, Carly Manning.</p>
<p>No family member has been safe from Victor’s wrath, as evidenced by his drugging nephew Justin Kiriakis, causing him to become impotent. Justin gave as good as he got, though, and hired a hooker to seduce and Uncle Vic. Ah, family.</p>
<p>Bo wasn’t the only child that Victor discovered was his later in life. Though his relationship with daughter Isabella was rocky at best, her death prompted him to try and become a better man. He may have gone legit business-wise, but Victor didn’t exactly become squeaky-clean.</p>
<p>Victor had another child, this time one he actually knew about, but of course, there was a twist. Philip Kiriakis was born to Victor and Kate Roberts through in-vitro fertilization, but instead of her carrying the baby, rival Vivian Alamain stole the embryo and implanted it in herself. She then orchestrated a wedding between herself and Victor and tried to kill Kate. All in a day’s work for good ol’ Viv.</p>
<p>After Kate left him to die in a fire, Victor understandably kicked her out of his life. He then moved on to a very tumultuous marriage to Nicole Walker. When he attempted to blackmail her into leaving town — and dumping his grandson, Brady (then Kyle Lowder) — Nicole retaliated by enlisting Jan Spears, who electrocuted him. His “demise” was just one of many, however, as Victor turned up <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/news/days-of-our-lives-melaswen-island-reveal-anniversary/" target="_blank">alive and well on Melaswen Island</a>.</p>
<p>Victor is the patriarch to many a Kiriakis, but he does have his favorites. Well, his favorite, singular: son Philip. When Victor found out Belle Black’s baby was actually his grandson Shawn’s and not Philip’s, as everyone believed, the conniver kept that crucial information to himself. However, like every other secret in Salem, it eventually came out, and Philip took off for the Marines, where he was injured so badly that Dad had to pay for reconstructive surgery (which has since been miraculously undone).</p>
<p>Among his other attempts at protecting his son, Victor asked Bo to erase an incriminating recording of Philip threatening murder victim Paul Hollingsworth, kidnapped Stefano DiMera during a war with the that diabolical dynasty, and married Vivian to protect Philip’s then-wife, Melanie Jonas. Victor sure can be a softie when he wants to be.</p>
<p>Victor’s marriage to Vivian hit the skids when he fell for Maggie Horton. As to be expected, Vivian didn’t take it well and set out to kidnap her husband’s latest love. Brady turned the tables on her, though, and threw her into the sarcophagus in which she’d intended to trap Maggie. Though the scheme queen ultimately escaped, Maggie and Victor still eventually managed to get married.</p>
<p>With nephew Xander’s help, Victor orchestrated a baby switch between Sarah Horton’s child, who died, and Kristen DiMera and Brady’s very-much-alive infant. It was all in the name of love, though his grandson didn’t exactly see it that way. You see, everyone wrongly believed that Maggie had caused the accident that led to the tot’s death, and Victor didn’t want his wife to blame herself for killing her own granddaughter. But when the truth came out, Kristen repaid Victor for his act of “kindness” by stabbing him in the gut.</p>
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