John Black (Days of Our Lives)
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (February 2012)|
Drake Hogestyn as John Black
|Days of our Lives character|
|Portrayed by||Robert Poynton (1985–86; bandaged as The Pawn)
Drake Hogestyn (1986–2009, 2011— )
Jude Will (2007; Young John Black)
|First appearance||November 27, 1985|
|Created by||Sheri Anderson
|Introduced by||Betty Corday
|Book appearances||A Secret in Salem|
Fr. John Black
715 Pinewood Avenue
John Black is a fictional character on the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives, which originated when Drake Hogestyn was cast as a previously established character, Roman Brady, whom Hogestyn played from 1986 until 1991 when the character that Hogestyn had been portraying for five years was retroactively revealed to be a separate character than Roman. Hogestyn's debut on the show was January 10, 1986, and he played the role with brief interruptions from October 26, 2007 to January 8, 2008, and most recently January 23, 2009 to September 26, 2011 as well as July 17, 2013 to March 4, 2014.
From a characterization standpoint, over the years, much has been made of the recreation (and constant retcon of the backstory) of John Black as an entirely separate character than that of Roman Brady. However, with Roman's recasts and changes in characterization over the years (while John has consistently been played by Hogestyn), in hindsight it can be said that it was actually John Black that remained more true to the original "Roman" persona, and that it was Roman that was gradually developed into a separate character.
John Black was modeled after Robert Ludlum's super-spy, Jason Bourne. Days introduced audiences to the character, "John Black," as a heavily bandaged amnesiac who was recovering from extensive facial reconstructive surgery. Initially known only as "The Pawn," he first appeared in Salem on January 23, 1986. "The Pawn" soon named himself "John Black" (after seeing the name on a war memorial) and met Dr. Marlena Evans. Almost immediately, John and Marlena established a rapport. As a psychiatrist, she attempted to restore his memory. An unforeseen consequence of their new-found intimacy was that they fell in love. Marlena's emerging feelings however were tested when a distinctive tattoo suggested that John was Marlena's enemy and Roman Brady's killer, Stefano DiMera. During the climax of Marlena and John's "wilderness" sojourn, and moments after Roman's brother, Bo Brady almost sent John Black careening down a cliff, Marlena discovered photos confirming that "John Black" was in fact her presumed-dead husband Roman Brady. Apparently, Stefano had captured a near-fatally injured Roman (after a gunshot wound and fall from a cliff). Stefano then attempted to brainwash and train Roman to be one of his cadre of assassins, and altered his appearance with plastic surgery. Despite his lack of memories, "Roman" and Marlena renewed their marriage vows and lived happily together-- if only for a brief time. Marlena was kidnapped and ultimately presumed dead in 1987. Roman went on to romance Diana Colville in 1988, but she left town in 1989 after accidentally shooting him.
Periodically, during this time, vague references would be made to a file containing key information about John and Roman, and referred to simply as the "John Black file". It was clearly an area of importance for Stefano, but also Victor Kiriakis, in whose possession the file would ultimately land.
In 1991, Marlena reappeared in Salem and was reunited with "Roman". That same year, Wayne Northrop was recast as Roman Brady and the character that Hogestyn had been portraying for five years was retconned to be an entirely different character that had been brainwashed to believe he was Roman Brady. Still suffering from a lack of memories from before the time he arrived in Salem (other than stories told to him by friends and family members, plus details passed into his subconscious via Stefano's brainwashing), and unaware of exactly who he was, the character returned to the "John Black" name that he first used when he arrived in Salem. For a time, Marlena was torn between the two men, but she eventually chose Roman, leaving John to resume his relationship with Isabella Toscano. John then discovered that he was Forrest Alamain, brother to the evil Lawrence Alamain and nephew to wicked Vivian. Villain Stefano DiMera had brainwashed Forrest into believing he was Roman as part of Stefano's vendetta against the Brady family. Despising the Alamains, "Forrest" decided to resume use of the name John Black. During this time, John received help from sometime-ally, sometime-nemesis Victor Kiriakis in figuring out his identity (although with his possession of the aforementioned "John Black file", it was never fully explained whether Victor knew John's true identity, or at least that he wasn't Roman Brady), determining his birthright within the Alamain family, and ultimately setting up his own business.
In 1992 John married Isabella Toscano. Two years previously, in the story line, "Cruise of Deception," Isabella discovered that she was Victor's daughter. Isabella's marriage to John was short-lived; she died of pancreatic cancer shortly after giving birth to their son, Brady Victor Black in 1992.
Distraught over the death of Isabella, John's feelings for Marlena resurfaced during "The Pit" story line. Marlena fought her feelings for John, but gave in to them when he attempted to leave the country. Boarding John's private jet on the eve of her wedding anniversary with Roman, John and Marlena embarked on a torrid affair of words and heated emotions. During their heated encounter they also conceived their daughter Belle. One month later, Sami, Roman and Marlena's teenage daughter witnessed the couple's second notorious encounter on the Titan Publishing conference room table (part of the prime time story line, "Night Sins"). In an ill-conceived effort to avert the rupture of her family and to protect Roman from the truth, Sami switched the blood tests which proved that John was the unborn baby's father.
In 1993, Marlena gave birth to Belle at the Horton cabin. Due to a miscommunication with Roman, John and his new love interest, Kristin Blake, ended up assisting in the baby's delivery. Spiteful Sami then kidnapped Belle and sought to sell her baby sister on the black market. Fortunately, John foiled Sami's attempts to run away just before the troubled teen boarded a plane. An unrepentant Sami then told Marlena that she knew all about her affair with John. Knowing that their affair hurt had so many people, John moved on to pursue other relationships – most significantly with Kristen Blake, who turned out to be Stefano's adopted daughter, while Marlena fruitlessly struggled to save her marriage to Roman. However, during Belle's baptism, Stefano forced Marlena to reveal the truth of her affair with John to everyone in the church. Stefano then showed up at the Brady residence with Sami's carelessly discarded diary which proved Sami's deception in switching Belle's paternity tests.
In 1994, an embittered Roman filed for divorce and left Salem. Though in love with John, Kristen married Stefano DiMera's son, Tony, whom, it later turned out was really Tony's cousin, André DiMera. Tony/André faked his own "murder" while planting incriminating evidence that pointed to John's guilt. Kristen, unlike Marlena, refused to believe in John's innocence and John was brought to trial and almost executed. Saved at the last minute, John resumed his vocation as a priest – a revelation of his mysterious past that also fit in well with Days of Our Lives most infamous story line, "The Possession" – where Father John Black ultimately saved Maredevil/Marlena from possession.
After saving Marlena from the devil's clutches, John gave up his priestly pursuits and resumed his relationship with Kristen Blake. Desperate to keep John's interest, and told as well that she had the narrowest window of opportunity to conceive a child, Kristen quickly became pregnant, and just as quickly, lost the baby. Knowing that John was still in love with Marlena, Kristen passed-off the newborn child of her lookalike, Susan Banks, as John's baby. John married Kristen (actually Susan in disguise) in a rushed hospital ceremony in 1997. Finally, John discovered that John, Jr. was not his child but was EJ DiMera the son of Stefano DiMera and Susan Banks. John and Marlena then professed their love for each other and decided to marry just as a dying Roman returned to Salem. Marlena's guilt, fueled by the antics of her children, Eric and Sami, prompted Marlena to agree to honor Roman's dying wish by marrying him. John interrupted the funereal wedding with a cure for Roman only seconds before the couple said their vows. John and Marlena finally married on July 5, 1999. However, John's recently discovered past with art thief and forger Princess Gina Von Amberg threatened his happy marriage with Marlena. Programmed by Stefano with Gina's memories, Hope Brady-as-Gina activated John's own pre-programming, and John and Hope/Gina became lovers during John and Marlena's Hawaiian honeymoon.
John and Marlena reunited in 1999, but a serial killer called the "Salem Stalker" began to murder Salem's most prominent citizens: Bradys, Hortons and other Salem notables. Evidence suggested that Marlena was the stalker so that a gun-wielding Marlena was mistakenly killed on a prison rooftop. John's relentless sleuthing eventually uncovered that the Salem Strangler debacle was yet another diabolical DiMera plot; that Marlena and her "victims" were alive on a remote island, "Melaswen" (New Salem spelled backwards). Determined to rescue Marlena and the other stranded Salemites, John was seriously injured during his failed attempt. Addicted to painkillers, John sought solace in the all-too-welcoming arms of—and proposed to—Roman's widow Kate Roberts. John and Kate eventually broke off their engagement when Roman and Marlena managed to escape Melaswen and reappeared in Salem.
After a treacherous fall that killed her unborn child conceived with Roman, Marlena became an amnesiac. The specialist summoned to help her – Dr. Alex North – turned out to be her first husband, presumed dead in the Vietnam War. Marlena rejected John's protestations of love and wedded bliss, saying that all her relationships subsequent to hers with Alex North were non-binding. Nevertheless, John discovered that Alex was a fraud who had plotted to marry, then kill Marlena. John and Marlena's subsequent reunion was cut short when a dying Stefano reignited his vendetta with John, by compelling EJ Wells to shoot John. EJ turned out to be the son of Stefano DiMera and Susan Banks, the child whom John had once thought was his own son with Kristen. John eventually came out of his coma in May 2007, but was then hit by a car, dying in Marlena's arms on October 17, 2007.
On January 11, 2008, EJ confessed to Marlena that John was still alive and Stefano's prisoner. Erased of all memory yet again, John was programmed to assassinate Roman's aunt Colleen Brady, presumed dead decades ago but recently found alive. Colleen shocked John in February 2008 with the revelation that he was her son Ryan Brady, and that his father was Stefano DiMera's father Santo DiMera, thus making John and Stefano half-brothers. The Alamain family had adopted John after Colleen fell ill and was unable to care for him. Later, Coleen was forced to fake her own death in order to protect her brother Shawn's family from Stefano DiMera. Still devoid of memories, John embraced life as a DiMera, indulging in illegal and self-destructive behavior and even began an affair with Ava Vitali. Frustrated in her inability to reach the old John, Marlena filed for divorce. Discovering that his illicit, all-too carnal lifestyle lacked meaning, John tried to recommit himself to Marlena and remembering their life together. Jealous of Marlena, John's therapist nearly killed him in her plot of revenge against Marlena. John was paralyzed but the memories of his life in Salem were now restored. Hearing of a possible cure for his paralysis, John and Marlena remarried in the hospital, and left Salem for a treatment center in Switzerland on January 23, 2009.
After a two year hiatus, John and Marlena returned to Salem on September 26, 2011 for the dedication of the new Horton Town Square. During their visit, the couple announced that John's physical therapy was a success; that he is now able to walk again. Their shared joy was short-lived however, when the FBI and the Salem PD order Rafe Hernandez to arrest John. Despite Marlena's pleas not to do so, John accepts a guilty plea on charges that he embezzled from Basic Black's pension fund. John believed that this was the only way to insure his family's safety after a rogue Salem PD cop went on a shooting spree at the Brady Pub in a vain attempt to kill John. Given the FBI's compelling case against him, and his own plea, a Salem judge sentenced John to 25 years-to-life in prison without parole. In the following days, Carrie and Rafe conclude that one of the most compelling pieces of evidence against John, a photo of John in Paris, was doctored. With Marlena's assent, Hope and Bo use a recently discovered promissory note from Stefano thanking Alice Horton for saving then-toddler EJ's life in order to gain a crucial piece of evidence from Salem's arch villain. Rafe is finally able to solve the puzzle of the manufactured evidence against John upon which the FBI's case hinges. With all charges against him now dropped, a newly freed John and his supporters begin the painstaking process of unraveling EJ's nefarious plot to win the mayoralty of Salem, embezzle Basic Black's assets, and destroy John.
By then, Bo and Hope had found a key to a lockbox hidden away by the now deceased Alice Horton. They managed to find a second key owned by Stefano which could unlock the mysterious box. Alice's decade-old secreted missive explained that Bo and Hope's marriage was bigamous; that sometime in the 90's in Alamania, Hope, believing herself to be Princess Gina von Amberg, married her partner in crime, priest-turned-art-thief, Father John Black. John and Hope set out for Alamania to get a divorce. Viewers, along with the hapless couple, were forced to revisit two "Days" story lines: "The Pawn," and "Princess Gina."
On December 17, 2012, during a conversation between Hope and Marlena, "Days" viewers learned that John and Hope's divorce was now finalized. By then, Kristen DiMera had returned to Salem after Stefano asked her to reunite the DiMera family. As a part of an ever-widening, malevolent plot to deceive John and Marlena, Kristen insisted to the couple that owing to the restorative powers of therapy, that she had changed her evil ways. John is willing to believe Kristen while Marlena is suspicious, quickly becoming frustrated with John's optimism. Marlena continues to insist that Kristen has not changed, so that John suggests to Marlena that she is obsessed with Kristen. This causes a strain on their marriage. In the attempt to seek revenge against the super-couple, Kristen pursues a relationship with John's son, and Kristin's once upon a time, almost step-son, Brady Black. John finally realizes that Marlena had been right all along; that Kristen had not changed. To mitigate any damage that Kristen had already wreaked, John comes up with a plan to seduce Kristen so that Brady can see for himself that Kristen's avowed love is part of her diabolical plot against John and Marlena. Simultaneously, as part of her plan, Kristen schemes to seduce John. But moments before John and Kristen take it to the next level, Kristen ends her love-making with John, realizing that she is in love, and really does want to marry Brady. Kristen and Brady's engagement ends when Marlena provides Brady with evidence that Kristen paid a man to attack him before they started dating. A frustrated Kristen tells Marlena that John tried to seduce her. An angry Marlena confronts John with Kristen's claim, which he does not deny. Brady and Kristen proceed with their wedding plans, but Brady's grandfather, Victor Kiriakis discovers the video that Kristen had made in which she drugs and seduces Eric. Victor switches the video that Brady made for the wedding ceremony with Kristen's sex-video of Eric. Victor persuades Marlena to play the incriminating video without her knowledge of its contents in front of the entire wedding party. This abruptly ends the wedding, and ultimately places Eric's vocation in the priesthood in jeopardy. With his marriage in shambles, John leaves Salem for Europe.
On January 6th, 2014 Hope tells Brady that John has discovered that he is not, after all, the son of Colleen Brady and Santo DiMera. The orphanage where he was supposedly reared misled a desperate Colleen into believing that John was her son, when in reality the real Ryan Brady had died. Hence, John's ancestry is once again unknown.
John returns to Salem in 2014, concerned about Brady's drug use and behavior with Theresa Donovan. After Theresa brags about eloping with a drunk Brady in Las Vegas, John shows her he has recorded their conversation and is going to have her arrested. Theresa panics and attacks John with a fireplace poker, sending him into a coma and deleting the recording. She then tells everyone that Brady attacked John in a drunken rage. John's condition worsens until it seems there is no hope for him. During this time, Marlena realizes that she can't live without John and forgives him at his hospital bedside for reducing Kristen. Kristen had also returned to Salem and has Stefano provide a miracle cure to John's coma in exchange for Eric dropping the charges against her. At first John pretends to remember nothing of the night he was attacked, as he is more concerned about getting Kristen out of Brady's life before Theresa. After Kristen plays Brady a recording she made of Theresa confessing that John knows she is the one who hit him, Brady goes to confront them and finds them already arguing about it. Brady is angry with his father at first for lying to him, but cuts ties with both Kristen and Theresa and eventually starts to patch things up with John, while John and Marlena rekindle their relationship.
After another brief absence in late 2014, and in order to take care of Basic Black business in the states, a hopeful John returns to Salem to work on salvaging his relationship with Marlena. In early 2015, Police Commissioner Abe Carver asks John to rejoin the Salem Police Department. With Marlena's counsel and blessing, John takes the job despite a not-so-veiled threat from Stefano DiMera.
- Kim & Shane/The Pawn - 11/27/85 pt. 1 on YouTube
- Janet Di Lauro, "Hogestyn's Novel Theory," Soap Opera Digest, September 13, 1994; and P.J. Huffstutter, "Days of Our Lives spy John Black may have seen his last comeback," L.A. Times, March 2, 2009.
- Lucille Giordano, Inside Days of Our Lives July 1995.
- Jason Bonderoff, "In A Storybook Wedding," Daytime TV, January 1987.
- "Should Roman Brady Love Again?" Soap Opera People, January 1988.
- Freeman Gunter, The Best of Days of Our Lives February 1990.
- Lorraine Zenka, "Will The Real John Please Stand Up?" Soap Opera Magazine January 31, 1995.
- Janet Di Lauro, "In A League of His Own," Soap Opera Digest, May 23, 1993.
- "It Doesn't Matter Which Woman," Soap Opera Digest, March 23, 1993.
- Bill Lieberman, "The Descent Into Hell," Soap Opera Update, October 31, 1995.
- Adam Kelley, "Help! My Character's A Moron!" Soap Opera Digest, June 24, 1997.
- Mary Ann Giorgio, "The Home Run Kid," NBC Soaps In Depth, May 12, 1998.
- "Three's A Crowd," Soap Opera Digest, March 31, 1998.
- Janet Di Lauro, "Drake Hogestyn – Can I?," Soap Opera Digest, Feb. 22, 2005.
- Stephanie Sloane, "Back In Black," Soap Opera Digest, January 8, 2008.
- Stephanie Sloane, "Play It Again," Soap Opera Digest, January 8, 2008; Janet Di Lauro, "A Closer Look – John," Soap Opera Weekly, January 22, 2008; Carolyn Hinsey, "Carolyn's Corner," Soap Opera Weekly, February 5, 2008; Paulette Cohn, "Why I Came Back To Days," TV Soap, February 20, 2008; "Missing In Action," Soap Opera Digest, March 3, 2008; and "Buzz," Soap Opera Weekly, March 18, 2008.
- "Days' Fizzling Family Feud," Soap Opera Digest, Sept. 25, 2007.
- "Braun's Days Are Done," Soap Opera Digest, July 22, 2008; and "Ar-Ava-Derci!" Soap Opera Digest, August 5, 2008.
- On November 21, 2008, NBC released the following statement regarding the decision of the producers of Days of Our Lives to fire the super-couple actors, Deidre Hall (Marlena) and Drake Hogestyn (John): "Days of Our Lives’ has decided to rest the characters of John Black and Dr. Marlena Evans. After a year of separation, John and Marlena will finally reunite before exiting the canvas in early 2009." The news was featured by a number of presses and online sources: "Days Of Our Lives Stars Drake Hogestyn And Deidre Hall Fired," NY Post, November 21, 2008; Dan J. Kroll, "Deidre Hall, Drake Hogestyn fired as DAYS trims its budget", SoapCentral.com, November 16, 2008; Producer of the long-running daytime soap, Ken Corday confirmed inquiries, saying, "The couple will be happily reunited after a long period of angst and separation and will be off-screen after January for an unknown period of time," Soap Opera Digest, November 2008.