Wally kurth Days anniversary mashup
Credit: NBC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, Howard Wise/JPI, Paul Skipper/JPI, Jill Johnson/JPI

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.

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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.

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!).

John Aniston, Wally Kurth, Victor, Justin, JPI, DAYS

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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?

Freddie Smith, Judi Evans, Wally Kurth, Sonny, Adrienne, Justin, DAYS, JPI

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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.