John Aniston, ‘Days of Our Lives’ actor and Jennifer Aniston’s father, dead at 89

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CNN
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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 on Monday.

He was 89.

“You were one of the most beautiful humans I ever knew. 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,” Jennifer Aniston wrote in a statement shared on Instagram. “That number will forever hold an even greater meaning for me now.”

The “Friends” star began her post by writing “Sweet papa…⁣ John Anthony Aniston.”⁣

The actor appeared in numerous TV series and nearly three thousand episodes of “Days of Our Lives” over the course of his long career.

“I’ll love you till the end of time,” Aniston concluded her caption. “Don’t forget to visit.”

Aniston was born John Anastassakis on the Greek island of Crete in 1933. He emigrated to the US when he was 10, and his family shortened their surname to Aniston.

Before he became a soap star, Aniston served in the US Navy and appeared in an off-Broadway musical, Soap Opera Digest reported.

He got his big break when he was cast in the long-running soap “Love of Life” and later “Search for Tomorrow.” But he didn’t become a household name until he joined “Days of our Lives” in 1985 as “romantic villain” Victor Kiriakis, a criminal with a penchant for charming the women of Salem, Illinois.

Kirakis, like Aniston, hailed from Greece but was much more sinister: He was a mobster who ran a prostitution ring in town. Over the course of the series, Kiriakis experienced several changes of heart and bounced back and forth between his lawbreaking gangster persona and 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 soaps, 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 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 business stinks,’” he said. “I tell everybody who wants to be an actor, don’t be an actor, be something else. Because if my telling (them) to stay out of show business is gonna 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 both 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 result in a long career.

But Aniston’s own career in soaps lasted more than 50 years, and in June, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Emmy at the Daytime Emmy Awards. He didn’t attend the ceremony, but his daughter toasted him in a moving speech.

“For over 30 years, his dedication to (“Days”) has gained him respect and admiration of his fellow actors, deep friendships and thrilled millions of fans around the world,” she said. “His career is literally the definition of lifetime achievement.”

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