Bill Hayes as Doug Williams on Days of Our Lives
Credit: Chris Haston/NBC

We should all be as youthful as the beloved Salem vet.

When Days of Our Lives’ Bill Hayes turned 97 on June 5, you can be sure there was nobody singing his praises louder than the soap’s executive producer, Ken Corday… who happens to be a very big fan.

“He is just warm and wonderful,” says the exec of the actor who has played Doug since first the character was introduced back in 1970. “He pops onto the set and is just affable and friendly and has that same great rhythm and tone we’ve all come to know and love. The man you see on screen is very much the man Bill is off screen.”

days of our lives doug julie bill susan seaforth hayes

Right down to their choice in life partners, with Hayes’ wife Susan Seaforth Hayes looking enough like Doug’s true love Julie that they might be mistaken for twins!

As for the secret to Hayes’ longevity? “I think he owes it to three things,” muses Corday. “His faith is very, very deep. His love for his wife is very, very great. And he is an eternal optimist.”

In short, “He’s one of the good guys. And because he puts it out there like that, it comes back to him.”

And while traits like loyalty, faith and love might be easy for the rest of us to emulate, Corday adds one final quality to the list that might not prove quite as simple to master: “He’s also a hell of a good tap dancer!”

More: Soaps’ longest-serving actors [PHOTOS]

In honor of Hayes — whose role in the success of the soap he’s called home for decades can never be underestimated — why not take a stroll through the history of Salem via the photo gallery below? And make sure to hit the comment section to wish the man of the hour a very happy birthday!