Drake Hogestyn as John Black
|Days of our Lives|
(1985–1986; while bandaged)
Sheri Anderson |
Betty Corday |
|First appearance||January 23, 1986|
|Last appearance||January 23, 2009|
Ryan Brady (birth name)|
Forrest Alamain (adopted name)
Father John Black (as a priest)
|Date of birth||1953 (age 63–64)|
John Black is a fictional character from the original NBC daytime soap opera, Days of our Lives. The character first appears banaged as The Pawn in 1985 being portrayed by Robert Poyntyn. On January 23, 1986, Drake Hogestyn gives the character a face. Hogestyn portrayed John Black until January 23, 2009, exactly 23 years after his debut.
Creation and Background
The character is modeled after Robert Ludlum's super spy, Jason Bourne. For the first year of its tenure, the character of John Black is portrayed by Robert Poynton as The Pawn. The character at the time was bandaged up to hide his face. After the bandages are removed, The Pawn assumes the name John Black and tries to figure out who he is. Now being portrayed by Hogestyn, he is paired with Deidre Hall who plays psychiatrist Dr. Marlena Evans. The two would go on to become one of shows leading couples, and a super couple in their own right. From 1986 to 1991, John Black was believed to be Marlena's presumed dead husband, Roman Brady. In 1992, after the real Roman's return, John Black was revealed to be Forrest Alamain. After his presumed death in October 2007, and his return in January 2008, John Black is revealed to be Ryan Brady, the love child of Santo DiMera and Colleen Brady.
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.
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 misunderstanding with Roman, John and his new love interest, Kristen 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 had hurt 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. 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.
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.
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.
After another brief absence in late 2014 to take care of Basic Black business in Europe, 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.
More drama began to crop up for John in March 2015, when Salem newcomer Paul Narita is revealed to be John's biological son, the result of a relationship with Paul's mother Tori which happened in the mid-1990s, shortly before the time John "returned" to the priesthood (Stefano convinced John that he'd been a priest before coming to Salem, one of a litany of fictional pre-Salem "professions" that John held while under Stefano's control). As John and Paul had a falling-out just before the revelation, John is pursuing mending fences with Paul, and establishing a true father-son relationship.
In August 2015, John was approached once again by the ISA to rejoin that agency's ranks. His consideration of the job offer caused more friction between him and Marlena, and recent conversations between the two revealed that although the pair remain very much in love, they were still separated and living apart at the time. The ISA's offer (and John's subsequent resignation from the Salem Police) coincided with the return of many series favorites of the show's "action-adventure" era, including Steve Johnson, Bo Brady, and Andre DiMera. John later revealed that the motivation for rejoining the ISA was to take advantage of its resources to find his parents and decode the mystery of his past, once and for all.
John's investigation centered around Ilya Petrov, Stefano's henchman who was instrumental in bringing him (John) to Salem as "The Pawn". John discovered that Petrov was a former Soviet agent who defected to the West and (ostensibly) went to work as a teacher at a private school called Winterthorne, where young Forrest Alamain was apparently as student.
In early November 2015, John was fired from the ISA due to his unwillingness to leave Salem (and Marlena) for long periods of time, and turning down assignments.
As of November 2015, here is what is known about John's past (up to the point that he came onscreen in 1986) that has not at this point been rewritten:
- Born to heretofore unknown parents, wound up as a baby in a South American orphanage.
- Switched with the infant Ryan Brady, who had died, and given to Colleen Brady, Ryan's mother, who believed all her life that he was her son.
- When Colleen realized she couldn't fully care for Ryan (John) alone, given up for adoption to the Alamain family.
- Raised for a while as Forrest Alamain, brother of Lawrence, and son of Leopold and Philomena.
- When young Forrest almost drowned in the Alamain's swimming pool, and Lawrence simply watched and let it happen, the parents realized that Lawrence represented a threat to Forrest, so they faked his death and sent him to live in America in a series of boarding schools. One of those schools was in the New York area, where he befriended a custodian and baseball enthusiast named "Buddy", who passed along his love of baseball to young Forrest.
- One of those boarding schools may or may not have been Winterthorne in Vermont, where ex-Soviet spy (and later DiMera henchman) Ilya Petrov was employed as a teacher.
- Post-high school-age and mid-to-late 20s is unknown. Somehow during this period, Forrest ended up as a "soldier" for the DiMera criminal organization, a subject of mind control via brainwashing and torture, and a variety of martial arts and paramilitary training. Forrest became involved in all sorts of crazy DiMera schemes and adventures, and his scant memories of this time had him posing as a priest, a mercenary/soldier in some sort of jungle warfare, an Army medic, and an art thief.
(It's not a stretch to presume here that Petrov was responsible for bringing Forrest Alamain into the DiMeras' fold, as well as [as an ex-KGB agent] introducing Stefano to the notion of using brainwashing to control Forrest. What is currently unclear is whether Stefano [through Petrov] learned of his connection to Colleen Brady [against whom Stefano bore a grudge for breaking his father's heart] and/or Philomena Alamain [see below], and sought him out while he was at Petrov's school . . . or whether it was all a huge coincidence.)
- Sometime during this period Stefano gave Forrest the alias "John Black".
- Also during this period John became involved with Gina von Amburg, Rachel Blake, Danielle Tremaine (aka the master jewel thief "Romulus"), and at some point it was suggested that he was the child of Stefano's common-law wife (and Philomena Alamain's sister) Daphne, and an unnamed father.
- Unclear whether the Orion/Drew Donovan/Thailand events were John's, or part of Roman's past that were "programmed" into John's memory.
- Also during this time, John was "programmed" via hypnosis with half of the information needed to figure out the astronomical signs to pinpoint the time and date of a certain celestial event that would reveal the location of an ancient Mayan treasure inside the Castillo at Chichen Itza (which would take place in 1991). Roman Brady was programmed with the other half of the information, and they would have to work together to figure it out. Although part of this clearly took place while Roman was in Stefano's captivity, part of it related to one of Roman's earlier ISA cases called the "Landan case".
- Sometime in 1985, John was sent (or lured) to Miami, where plastic surgery was "faked" and John was set up (through more brainwashing) to serve as Stefano's programmed assassin/Roman-Brady-imposter, who Stefano had captured and made to look like was dead.
- A bandaged John was "won" by Victor Kiriakis as part of an ultra-high-stakes yacht race, put up by Stefano's henchman Petrov, and brought back to Salem by Victor, who set about trying to unravel John's identity and memories (while suspecting that he may be Roman) for his own purposes.
- In 1986, amnesiac John saw the name "John Black" on a war memorial, which triggered his memory of using it as an alias before, and he temporarily adopted it before he, as well as Roman's family and friends, became convinced that John was the missing Roman Brady.
- ^ 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.
- ^ 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.
- ^ Janet Di Lauro, "Drake Hogestyn – Can I?," Soap Opera Digest, Feb. 22, 2005.
- ^ Stephanie Sloane, "Back In Black," Soap Opera Digest, January 8, 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.