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Days Of Our Lives Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

At this point, "Days of Our Lives" is basically an institution and remains one of the longest-running shows on television. The NBC daytime soap opera that started out by focusing on a family of doctors has been airing pretty much every weekday since 1965, giving us such memorable television storylines as the reign of terror instigated by the Salem Strangler, the proliferation of supercouples like Bo and Hope and Patch and Kayla, a showdown between Stefano and Roman that led to the latter's fall of a cliff, and Marlena being possessed by a demon. And that's just the tip of the iceberg in the town's version of Salem.

With so much history dating back so far, the show has also featured dozens of accomplished and up-and-coming actors — and not all of them have survived to this day, unfortunately. Many of the people the show first turned into household names are no longer with us, including behind-the-scenes talents like 22-year director Joseph Behar, who died Monday (via Hollywood Reporter). 

So, walk down memory lane with us as we remember a few of the "Days of Our Lives" folks that you may not know have passed away.

Frances Reid played the Horton matriarch from 1965-2007

Like many actors of her era, Frances Reid started her career on the stage. Born in 1918 (via Film Reference), she was already an accomplished performer both on Broadway and on television by the time she became the original Alice Horton on "Days of Our Lives" in 1965. She had even been a regular on two soap operas already: "As the World Turns" and "The Edge of Night." Her character, Alice Horton, wife of Tom, had five children and spent her days as a housewife and a hospital volunteer, a businesswoman, a moral compass, and a pillar of the community. However, she also committed a few crimes ... and maybe faked her own death in the name of helping her children and grandchildren, as life in Salem is never boring.

Reid died at the age of 95 on February 3, 2010. She had not been seen on "Days of Our Lives" since 2007, although her character was referred to and was still considered part of the action — just not seen. Alice Horton died a few months after her real-life alter ego. At the time, "Days" producer Ken Corday said in a statement (via Entertainment Weekly): "From day one until she taped her last scene, Frances epitomized the past, present and future of the show. Frances was truly one of a kind. Her class cannot be matched and her shoes cannot be filled ... we will miss her all the rest of our days."

Macdonald Carey played patriarch Tom Horton for more than three decades

Like his co-star Reid, Macdonald Carey already had a name in the movie business when he became the central cast member of "Days of Our Lives. He was actually known as "King of the Bs," alongside "queen" Lucille Ball, for the way he made his career in the 1940s on. He was born in 1913 and starred in numerous B-movies, following a start on Broadway and in radio. In the 1940s he served in the military but also worked as a contract player for Paramount. Later he was lent out to Universal and 20th Century Fox productions, then moved into television shows. In The New York Times, he was quoted as saying TV is "where the security as well as the money is now." It's likely he found both as kindly matriarch Tom Horton, along with recognition — he received two Emmys for Best Actor in a Daytime Drama Series as part of the soap.

His character, Tom Horton, eventually became Chief of Staff at the Salem hospital. He also suffered a heart attack and discovered that his marriage to wife Alice was invalid, but they remarried. His is the voice you hear at the beginning of the credits, when he says, "Like sands through an hourglass, these are the days of our lives." 

When Carey died on March 21, 1994, of lung cancer (via the Washington Post) Horton also died, off-screen, the following June. 

Joseph Mascolo played villain Stefano DiMera during the show's peak in the 1980s, and kept returning

There are few soap opera villains as memorable as Joseph Mascolo's Stefano — just say the single name and anyone who watched TV during that era knows exactly who you're talking about. Feuds, baby switches, murders — he did all that, supposedly in the name of family. Although he was off and on, Mascolo's evil antagonist caused trouble for more than three decades on "Days of Our Lives" from 1982-2016, and Stefano DiMera was such a compelling villain that the series resurrected him in the form of Steven "Patch" Johnson in 2019 (he got a chip implanted in his head that made him channel Stefano). The guy doesn't stay dead. 

Unfortunately, that isn't true in real life (via Legacy). 

Born in 1929, the actor started out in the theater before making the move to television. He appeared in shows like "Baretta," "Bronk," and "Kojak," along with movies like "Jaws 2" before discovering his soap-opera villain side. Following his first stint as Stefano, he moved to other soaps, too, starring in "Santa Barbara," "The Bold and the Beautiful," and "General Hospital." 

Mascolo died on Dec. 8, 2016 at age 86 after battling Alzheimer's disease. And he may have played one of television's most memorable archvillains, but he was beloved on set. Corday said (via Hollywood Reporter), "The smile on Joe's face is something we'd all come to find comfort in, and he will be sorely missed. His larger-than-life presence, kind heart and unwavering positivity has impacted us all for decades and will live on in the memories of his many fans."

Peggy McCay played the Brady matriarch from 1983-2016

Peggy McCay joined the cast of "Days of Our Lives" in 1983, as the soap was shaking things up by adding a couple of other families to the mix. McCay played the matriarch of the Bradys, Caroline. Eventually, the Bradys became the second-most important family on the show. McCary was replaced by other actresses in 1984 and 1985, but then returned and played the character all the way until 2016 — well, except for that bit in 2003 and 2004 when everyone thought she'd been dispatched by a serial killer. 

The family-oriented character had her troubles, such as her passion for an ex-flame crime lord, Victor Kiriakis, and a heart attack in 1994. It didn't help that her kids and their progeny were all going through drama as well: Caroline even rose from the dead in 2019 to help one of her great-grandkids out (a stand-in was used). In later years, Caroline developed Alzheimer's disease, too, and McCary appreciated how they were writing her in that era — with a sense of humor. "It is a quality, really trying to find the humor in life, even with the bad things that happen. And I am so appreciative that is how they are writing it. It is wonderful," she told Soaps.com.

McCay, born in 1927, also started out in theater, studying with the famous Lee Strasberg before moving on-screen. One of her biggest early roles was with the soap "Love of Life," where she played Vanessa Dale, but she also appeared in shows like 1957's "Uncle Vanya," "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "Maverick, "77 Sunset Strip," "General Hospital," "Gunsmoke," "Barnaby Jones," "How the West Was Won," and many more. She died on Oct. 7, 2018 at the age of 90, about two years after leaving "Days," of natural causes (via Deadline).

Frank Parker was Grandpa Shawn Brady from 1983-2008

Sadly, it only makes sense that the family heads on "Days," with their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, are the ones that are no longer with us. The next on this list is Frank Parker, who played Caroline's husband, Shawn Brady, and father of their three biological children, plus two adopted and Bo. The character was portrayed as an Irish immigrant who may have had underworld ties in his youth. He opens the Brady Fish Market, but has a heart attack after the business is destroyed. He and Caroline re-opened the business as a pub, which has been a social center for their family. Their family has a feud with the DiMeras.

Parker, born in 1939, guest-starred in shows like "The Mod Squad," "Lost in Space," "McCloud," "S.W.A.T.," "Wonder Woman," "Quincy M.E." and the original "Battlestar Galactica," but is really best known for his "Days of Our Lives" role, which started in 1983. He left the show in 2008 with a heroic ending: his character, on a sabotaged plane, gave up his oxygen mask to save his son Bo (Peter Reckell), who had been previously revealed to be VIctor Kiriakis' progeny. People reported that his exit was due to declining health. 

The actor died on Sept. 16, 2018 at age 79, from complications due to Parkinson's and dementia (via The Reporter). His obituary said, "Frank was a people person; he touched many lives and was loved by everyone. He could light up a room with his singing voice and was known to burst into song at any moment. He was a ham and loved the spotlight."

John Clarke was Mickey Horton, son of Alice and Tom, from 1965-2004

John Clarke played Alice and Tom Horton's middle child, Mickey, from the show's beginning all the way to 2004. Lawyer Mickey, who never seemed to win a case, went through some stuff — like when he found out his son Michael wasn't his, or when he had an affair with his secretary Linda Patterson, who attempted suicide when he wouldn't leave Laura. He had a stroke, a heart attack, got amnesia, divorced Laura, started a relationship with Maggie, had a mental breakdown, got kidnapped by Stefano ... and that's just the early years. Clarke played the role for 39 years, but after 2004 other actors took it on until Mickey was killed off by a heart attack in 2010.

Clarke, born in 1931, is another actor who is really best known for "Days of Our Lives." He guested on shows like "The Twilight Zone," "The Loretta Young Show," "Gunsmoke," and "Death Valley Days" in his early career and had a regular role on "The New Breed" for one season in the early 1960s, and his movie work included small roles in "Judgment at Nuremberg" in 1961 and "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World" from 1963. But he really focused on "Days" for most of his career. 

In a 1998 interview with Soap Opera Digest, the actor noted, "I look back and think, 'Why did I stay?' but the Cordays [co-creators Ted and Betty, Ken's parents] were super people and the show was so well organized and Mac Carey and I hit it off; we were very close. I really enjoyed playing his son. That was the sort of family he engendered among us with Frances [Reid] and Ed Mallory [ex-Bill]: It grew and became an extension of reality. To us it wasn't acting; it was a real experience, and that kind of working is very rare in this business."

Clarke died of complications from pneumonia on Oct. 16, 2019 at the age of 88 (via Hollywood Reporter).