John Aniston, 'Days of Our Lives' legend and dad of Jennifer Aniston, dies at 89

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 22:  Jennifer Aniston and John Aniston attends the Jennifer Aniston Hollywood Walk Of Fame Induction Ceremony on February 22, 2012 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
John Aniston with his daughter Jennifer Aniston, at her Hollywood Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony in 2012. (Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage) (Steve Granitz via Getty Images)

John Aniston, soap opera villain extraordinaire and father of Jennifer Aniston, has died at the age of 89.

The Friends actress announced the news of the Days of Our Lives star's death Monday on social media.

"Sweet papa…⁣ John Anthony Aniston," she wrote. ⁣"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. That number will forever hold an even greater meaning for me now. I’ll love you till the end of time. Don’t forget to visit."

She shared a series of sweet photos of them together through the years, including one where she is a newborn in his arms. The last photo was a final shot of John.

The official Days of Our Lives account posted a tribute to the actor who played bad guy Victor Kiriakis for decades. "Your legend will live on," it said, in part.

John most recently appeared on the soap on Nov. 11, according to TV Line. His final episode will stream on Peacock on Dec. 26. The show's longtime executive producer, Ken Corday, called him "one of the best — kind, smart, witty and incredibly talented." He added that it is "comforting to all of us to know that he is at rest and no longer in pain."

John was born Yannis Anastassakis in Greece and emigrated to the U.S. with his family as a child. His father settled the family in Pennsylvania, where they opened a restaurant, and anglicized the family name, changing it to Aniston.

DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Pictured: John Aniston as Victor Kiriakis -- (Photo by: Frank Carroll/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
John Aniston had fun playing bad guy Victor Kiriakis — and Days of Our Lives viewers loved to watch him. (Photo by: Frank Carroll/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty) (NBC via Getty Images)

John received a bachelor's degree in Theater Arts from Pennsylvania State University. After graduation, he served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy, attaining the rank of lieutenant commander.

He started acting on the New York stage before landing small TV (Kojak, I Spy, Mission: Impossible) and movie roles. He soon found steady work on soap operas, first on Love of Life, followed by Search for Tomorrow. In 1985, he landed the role of Victor Kiriakis on Days and it was a part he played on and off for the rest of his life.

Victor was one of daytime TV's greatest villains, causing loads of trouble in fictional Salem. He received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2017. In June, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2022 Daytime Emmys. Jennifer made a video for the occasion.

He told the Television Academy Foundation that it was more fun playing bad than good on the daytime drama. "The thing is: Being a goody two shoes on a soap opera is no good. You gotta mix it up a little bit." And he did. His character had mafia connections and ran criminal enterprises. Victor plotted murders, blackmailed people and faked his own death.

While on Days, which now steams on Peacock, he also appeared in episodes of The West Wing, Mad Men, Cold Case and Star Trek: Voyager, to name a few. He almost did a guest spot on his daughter's hit NBC show Friends, he told the Television Academy Foundation.

John had daughter Jennifer, who was born in 1969, with his first wife, Nancy Dow. The couple had a bitter split in 1980 and Jennifer was raised primarily by her mother, with whom she later had a famous estrangement. In the new issue of Allure, Jennifer talked about her family turmoil and coming to terms with it through therapy, saying, "I forgave my mom. I forgave my father. I’ve forgiven my family."

After John's divorce from Dow, he married second wife Sherry Rooney Aniston in 1984. She survives John as does the couple's son, Alexander.