'Days of Our Lives' Actor John Clarke Dead at 88

John Clarke, longtime star of the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives, died Oct. 16 from complications stemming from pneumonia, his family announced Monday night. He was 88. Clarke, who was awarded the Lifetime Achievement daytime Emmy in 2005, had been in declining health for the last several years, including a stroke he suffered in 2007.

A representative for Clarke's daughter, Nikita actress Melinda Clarke, told Entertainment Weekly that Melinda and Clarke trained opera together and she sang "Ave Maria" to him as he passed peacefully in Laguna Beach, California.

"Above all, family life was always most important to John and his wife Patty," his family said in a statement Monday. "John’s greater-than-life personality will leave a lasting impression on all his family and friends who love him."

Clarke's acting career included more than 75 performances at Chicago's Tenthouse Theater, and a season-long leading man residency at the Palm Springs Playhouse. He then switched to musical theater, playing various leading roles at the Sacramento Music Circus. He also appeared in the feature films Judgement at Nuremberg, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Satan Bug, Man Missing and Burma Patrol.

john-clarke_getty-NBC : Contributor
(Photo: NBC / Contributor, Getty)

But he was best known for his work on television, including his 39-year-run playing Mickey Horton on Days of Our Lives, starting in 1965 and ending in 2004. He was nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Drama Series in 1979.

From 1961-62, he starred in the ABC crime drama The New Breed, and also appeared on shows like The Twilight Zone; Death Valley Days; Maverick; Gun Smoke; Have Gun Will Travel; The FBI; Sugarfoot; Wanted Dead or Alive; The Law and Mrs. Jones; and many others.

Born in South Bend, Indiana in 1931, Clarke went to school wherever his Army officer father was stationed. After graduation from the American High School in Tokyo, Japan, He earned his BA in Theater at UCLA and also served in the Air Force during the Korean War, entertaining military personnel as part of a touring troop that traveled across the U.S.

john-clarke_getty-Michael Ochs Archives : Stringer
(Photo: Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer, Getty)

Clarke is survived by his wife Patty, his son Joshua and his daughter, actress Melinda Clarke, and three grandchildren. His daughter Heidi died from a heart tumor in 1994.

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In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Heidi Clarke Scholarship Fund at California Institute of the Arts, 24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia, CA 91355-2340.

Photo credit: NBC / Contributor / Getty