John Aniston, a veteran actor known for his work on the daytime drama “Days of Our Lives,” has died, his daughter, actress Jennifer Aniston, shared Monday.
He was 89.
“You were one of the most beautiful human beings I have ever known. I am so grateful that you have soared to heaven in peace – and without pain. And on 11/11 no less! You always had perfect timing,” Jennifer Aniston wrote in a statement shared on Instagram. “That number will forever mean even more to me now.”
The “Friends” star began her post by writing “Sweet papa… John Anthony Aniston.”
The actor appeared in a number of television series and almost three thousand episodes of “Days of Our Lives” during his long career.
“I will love you until the end of time,” Aniston finished her caption. “Don’t forget to visit.”
Aniston was born John Anastassakis on the island of Crete in Greece in 1933. He immigrated to the United States when he was 10 years old, and his family shortened their surname to Aniston.
Before she became a soap star, Aniston served in the US Navy and appeared in an off-Broadway musical, reported Soap Opera Digest.
He got his big break when he was cast in the long-running soap “Love of Life” and later “Search for Tomorrow.” But he did not become a household name until he joined “Days of our Lives” in 1985 as the “romantic villain” Victor Kiriakis, a criminal with a penchant for seducing the women of Salem, Illinois.
Kirakis, like Aniston, was from Greece but it was much more sinister: it was a mob that ran a prostitution ring in the town. During the series, Kiriakis experienced several changes of heart and bounced back and forth between his law-breaking gangster persona and a loving family man hoping to win back his adult children. All told, Aniston appeared on the series on and off for 37 years.
During his stints on soap operas, Aniston opened a restaurant in New York, divorced his first wife, Nancy Dow, and married costar Sherry Rooney and moved to Los Angeles, according to a 1986 Soap Opera Digest profile of Aniston.
Aniston was surprised that his daughter planned to follow him into show business. In a 2019 interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Aniston said he found out his daughter had been calling his agent to ask for auditions while he was appearing on “Search for Tomorrow”.
“I told her, ‘You don’t want to be in show business. Show the stink of business,’” he said. “I say to everyone who wants to be an actor, don’t be an actor, be something else. Because if me telling (them) to stay out of show business is going to keep them out, they shouldn’t be in it in the first place.”
Of course, Aniston’s daughter didn’t listen, and went on to star in one of the most successful sitcoms of all time, and become one of the most famous actresses in the world.
In a 1990 interview with E! News alongside his daughter, Aniston offered fatherly praise and sobering guidance: “Jennifer is a natural talent,” he said to his daughter’s embarrassment, but reminded her that talent doesn’t always lead to a long career.
But Aniston’s own career in soaps lasted over 50 years, and in June, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Emmy at the Daytime Emmy Awards. He did not attend the ceremony, but his daughter toasted him in a moving speech.
“For over 30 years, his dedication to (“Days”) has earned him the respect and admiration of his fellow actors, deep friendships and the thrill of millions of fans around the world,” he said. “His career is literally the definition of a lifetime achievement.”