Longtime As the World Turns star Kathryn Hays (Kim Hughes) died on March 25 in Fairfield, Connecticut, at the age of 87. A cause of death has yet to be released.
Born in Princeton, Illinois, Hays discovered her love for acting at an early age. In high school, she became a teacher's student assistant at a local children's theater and later attended a summer arts program at Northwestern University. She was offered a full scholarship at a junior college but ended up dropping out when she landed a job as a fashion model and began appearing in TV commercials for WGN.
Hays's career in Hollywood kicked off in the 1960s with appearances on several television shows, including Hawaiian Eye, Dr. Kildare, Route 66, Bonanza, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. She landed her first series regular role in 1966, playing Elizabeth Reynolds in The Road West, which followed a family who attempted to homestead in 1860s Kansas.
In 1972, Hays originated the role of As the World Turns' Kim Sullivan Hughes, which she played until the CBS soap opera's cancellation in September of 2010. Kim was a strong, fiery, and sensitive mother figure who was based on the personality of the soap's creator, Irma Phillips.
During her 38 years on the canvas, Kim had several love interests, experienced health issues such as open-heart surgery and amnesia, and successfully went from adulterous home-wrecker to matriarchal figure.
"Kim was written as a troublemaker. She was going to come in and cause trouble for Dr. Bob and Jennifer, Kim's sister. Irna turned that into someone who had depth and evolved into Kim," Hays said in a 2010 interview. "For me as an actor, it started one way and then turned into someone else. She turned into a deeper character, and that was wonderful. I was playing a character who had had a rough patch in her life but she made the choice to be a better person and to not be selfish. She made the choice to be thoughtful of others. You saw her grow through those years."
Following the news of Hays's death, actor Don Hastings (ex-Dr. Bob Hughes, ATWT) shared, "Our relationship as Bob and Kim was as close as Kathryn and my relationship, except we were not married. We were more like brother and sister and we were great friends. Our biggest squabble was that she always wanted to rehearse and I wanted to take a nap. This is a huge loss to all who knew her."
In addition to ATWT, Hays briefly appeared as Kim Hughes on One Life to Live in 2010, and she also played the role of Leslie Bauer on Guiding Light in 1971. Hays is also recognized for her role as Gem in an episode of Star Trek, titled "The Empath." Her character was a mute alien who could heal wounds of the injured through her touch -- and Hays's compelling performance in the episode earned her an Emmy nomination.
Hays's career also included performances in Broadway productions of The Irregular Verb to Love, Hot September, and Ladybug, Ladybug, as well as summer stock productions of Showboat, Follies, Dames at Sea, and A Little Night Music.
The actress also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which she was honored with in 2019.
Hays is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Sherri and Bob Mancusi; three grandchildren, Kate, Cameron, and Garrett Wells; and her great-grandson, Jack. Fans wishing to honor Hays may contribute to the Greater Bridgeport Symphony in Bridgeport, CT; the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Westport, CT; or any dog rescue organization.
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