Top 10 Longest Running Soap Opera Stars
“I intend to stay as long as possible.”
Soap operas have long been a staple of daytime television, and while there aren’t quite as many shows as there used to be, there are still a few iconic series that have stood the test of time.
While General Hospital will soon be celebrating its 60th airing anniversary and The Young and the Restless recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, numerous actors have actually been there since the beginning. These popular soap stars have stuck with their show for decades — and they want to stay as long as possible.
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10. Bill Hayes – 40 years
Bill Hayes has played Doug Williams in Days of Our Lives since 1970. Although there have been some gaps in the years he has been on the soap, Doug has been part of the cast for a combined 40 years. He even married his co-star Susan Seaforth Hayes. Looking back, Bill says he had no idea what he was getting himself into when he joined the cast.
“At that point, I had never seen a soap opera. I knew absolutely nothing about soap operas and it took me two minutes to realize how great they were. The actors in ‘Days of Our Lives’ were so amazing… “They were so good, I just couldn’t believe it! I thought maybe I could last a year and I’ve done close to 2,100 episodes,” Bill called in 2017.
9. Kate Linder – 41 years old
Kate Linder has played housekeeper Esther Valentine on Young and the Restless for over four decades. When she first appeared on the series in 1982, she was only scheduled to play a small role in one episode — and her character didn’t even have a name. As she expanded her role, her co-star played Jeanne Cooper started calling her Esther and it stuck. A nationwide contest was then held to help choose a surname. Since then, Kate has been a permanent member of the cast and continues to play that role to this day.
“It’s really incredible for me. I mean, my goodness. Getting started on this show and being a part of The Young and the Restless for so long is amazing. And I love saying 40+ years… I absolutely love what I do, I love the show and I’m honored to be able to bring Esther to life. It’s given me so many opportunities to give back and I’m absolutely thrilled and honored,” said Kate soap headquarters.
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8. Deidre Hall – 41 years old
Over the past 41 years, Deidre Hall has played Marlena Evans in thousands of episodes of Days of Our Lives. Looking back, Deidre thought she had no chance of getting the part considering she’d auditioned for many other famous actresses — and when she got the part, she actually turned it down!
“I was so confident that despite all those recognizable faces I saw at the audition, they wouldn’t have picked me. But in my logical mind I said, ‘You must have dealt with 10 actors who turned it down, that must be it.’ something is wrong with it.’ So I declined too, and then she called me back two weeks later and said, ‘What’s wrong with that part?’ I said, ‘I love that part. I just thought I wasn’t someone they specifically thought of at first.” She said, “You were their first choice.” So I took it and it’s been over 40 years,” she said Weekly closer.
7. Doug Davidson – 42 years old
Doug Davidson is one of the longest serving cast members on The Young and the Restless, having joined the series in 1978. Since then he has portrayed Paul Williams in thousands of episodes and took home the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
In 2018, it was revealed that Doug’s contract was not renewed and he would only do so Return as a recurring character. Although he was still considered a cast member, there was drama behind the scenes and Doug has not appeared on the series for several years. He has decided not to appear in the series’ recent 50th anniversary episode and hopes he can Tell the fans exactly what happened soon.
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6. Eric Braeden – 43 years old
Eric Braeden joined the cast of The Young and the Restless as Victor Newman in 1980 and has never left! Although he admits he wasn’t sure about his role at first, he was able to help the writers Give more depth to the character and quickly began to love the job. Now, at the age of 81, Eric doesn’t seem to be retiring anytime soon.
“I feel very loyal to ‘The Young and the Restless,’ very connected to Victor, and very connected to the audience that has supported us over the years,” he said People. “I intend to stay as long as possible.”
5. Jackie Zeman – 43 years old
Jackie Zeman has been part of the cast of “General Hospital” since 1977 and has been an active part of the series for 43 years since her role as Nurse Bobbie Spencer.
Zeman died in May 2023 at the age of 70 after a brief battle with cancer
Pondering why her character had stood the test of time, Zeman previously said she believes it has to do with Bobbie’s ability to connect with so many people.
“So many of Bobbie’s stories — the abusive marriage that led to her hysterectomy, her daughter’s death at the hands of a drunk driver — resulted in people stopping me in the street and saying, ‘It happened to me too, and you got me really helped.’ “Make it through,” Jackie said TV Insider. “Yes, we’re mainly here to entertain, but we’re also relevant. The people who watch ‘GH’ connect with us like we’re family and I’m so proud of that! What we do is important.”
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4. Melody Thomas Scott – 44 years
Melody Thomas Scott joined the cast of The Young and the Restless in 1979 as Nikki Reed – later Nikki Newman. She has become one of the longest-running members of the series, appearing in thousands of episodes. However, Wann Melody says that when she initially signed up, she had no idea the show would last over 50 years.
“I don’t think any of us really stopped and thought, ‘Oh man, can we reach 50?’ That’s never part of our brain. We just don’t think like that. And we are actors. What job for actors takes a year? Only very few. It’s really a blessing that it’s taking this long for all of us,” she called.
3. Susan Seaforth Hayes – 44 years old
Susan Seaforth Hayes has played Julie Olson Williams on Days of Our Lives for an impressive 44 years. Since joining the cast, she has been nominated for six Daytime Emmys and in 2018 she and husband Bill Hayes received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“There aren’t many actors who have been lucky enough to play the same role at this level for so long. It used to air 14 soaps and now it’s four,” said Susan digital journal. “I’m probably the oldest on the show in terms of airtime right now. Bill joined a year and a half later and it was a magical time and the magic hasn’t let up. I think we got the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ because the magic didn’t wear off.
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2. Leslie Charleson – 45 years old
General Hospital star Leslie Charleson has played Monica Quartermaine on the show for 45 years. Looking back, Leslie says she was only on the show for three years, but it ended up being something much more. Thankfully, Leslie says she really enjoys the role of Monica because of her versatility.
“Whenever I’m reminded of 45 years, I think they’re talking about someone else because I honestly don’t know where it’s gone. I’ve only signed up for three years.” [years initially], but I guess it’s because of Monica and because she’s fun to play. I could never keep up the busy schedule they have if I didn’t love what I do. Here you go. Thanks, Monica!” Leslie said Soap Opera Digest.
1. Suzanne Rogers – 48 years old
Suzanne Rogers took on the role of Maggie Horton in Days of Our Lives in 1973 and hasn’t looked back! Although Suzanne was killed in the series, she returned and has remained the star of the series for the past 48 years.
“Fans love the families on ‘Days’ and they’ve been so loyal for 55 years. I was at a Costco a few years ago and this handsome guy stopped me and said, ‘I know who you are.’ I said, “Are you doing that?” He said, “Well, Ward 51 is watching you every day!” “He was a fireman! That’s why we have the most loyal fans. They all invest. I think we need to invest in something other than all the sadness of the world today,” Suzanne soap center.