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Monday, November 14, 2022

John Aniston, Days of Our Lives’ Beloved, Irascible Kiriakis Patriarch, Dead at 89

We’ve lost a true legend.

As Days of Our Lives fans were celebrating the return of Day of Days this past Saturday, what none knew but those closest to him was that the legendary John Aniston had passed away just the day before on November 11, 2022.

His daughter, actress Jennifer Anniston shared the news on Instagram Monday morning along with touching photos of the two of them throughout life.

“You were one of the most beautiful humans I ever knew,” she wrote. “I am so grateful that you went soaring into the heavens in peace — and without pain. And on 11/11 no less! You always had perfect timing. That number will forever hold an even greater meaning for me now. I’ll love you till the end of time.”

 

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Of course, while for many folks out there, Aniston may be the father of a Friends star, for daytime lovers, he’ll always be the curmudgeonly, occasionally dangerous, but still somehow lovable (except maybe when he was ripping on Xander) Victor Kiriakis.

That, though, wasn’t Aniston’s first daytime role — or even his first role on Days of Our Lives! Acting, you see, was something that was almost in Anniston’s blood. He graduated from Penn State University with a Theatre Arts degree, and though he took a slight detour after college to serve in the United States Navy, it didn’t take long for him to start making a career out of what he loved.

He landed his first television role in 1962 at the age of 29 as an officer on 87th Precinct. For the next eight years, he’d go on to a string of television appearances on the likes of Mission: Impossible and I Spy before landing his first daytime gig as Days of Our Lives’ Dr. Eric Richards. Check out that first daytime appearance in Days of Our Lives‘ tweet farewell below.

It didn’t last long, and that could have been the end of his soap career, but it seems daytime must have gotten into his system because in between primetime appearances, he stopped by Love of Life in 1975 and then, in 1980 landed his first major role, that of Search for Tomorrow’s Martin Tourneur, one of heroine Mary Stuart’s love interests.

He stayed there until 1984 and then, just a year later, in July of 1985, he began playing Victor — and he kept it right up until his death.

It was, we could clearly see, the role he was born to. Victor, like John, was Greek-born, but emigrated to Salem as a child. The head of the Kiriakis clan, though, didn’t stay in the United States. No, he went back to Greece to build his fortune thought… unscrupulous means. OK, fine, he was a mobster.

It didn’t take long for the Kiriakis family to become one of Salem’s most powerful clans, the perfect foil to the DiMeras who had set up shop in the town back in 1982. Victor, though, while villainous, was never quite the supervillain that Stefano was. But, oh, those two could go at it, along with their families, their companies…

For the most part, though, the Kiriakis family has always had slightly more of a moral compass than their rivals, and though Victor had plenty of blood on his hands, it was hard not to love him. Just ask Maggie. She just celebrated her 11th anniversary with the man, three days before Aniston’s real life death. Though we know Victor will still be around for a little while as the show catches up with reality, we still can’t help but be happy we got to see that before the news.

Aniston may be gone, but neither he, nor Victor or their legacies will be forgotten. As the show wrote in their farewell tweet, “Our hearts are broken over the loss of our beloved family member John Aniston. We love you, John. Your legend will live on.”

That it will. The Kiriakis family will never quite be the same without Victor pulling their strings and neither will our television screens, but both they and we will endure. Farewell for now.

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