It may have been one of Days of Our Lives’ most stunning casting moves ever. Robert Kelker-Kelly, who had taken over the role of Bo Brady and was contracted with the show until 1997, was abruptly replaced by Peter Reckell, who had originated the character back in 1983.
Although there were rumblings of tensions between Kelker-Kelly and leading ladies Kris tian Alfonso (Hope) and Lisa Rinna (Billie), Kelker-Kelly downplayed them. “All co-stars have their ups and downs,” he said, insisting he held “no resentment” toward either of them and was leaving the show “on very good terms” with the producers and people on the set. “It was just time for a parting of the ways.”
The show announced the casting switcheroo via a spokesperson for Corday Productions. Then, executive producer Ken Corday explained via a statement that Kelker-Kelly “was replaced for creative reasons.”
Hence, on Tuesday, August 1, 1995, a week after Kelker-Kelly’s Bo left Salem on official police business, Reckell’s Bo returned to town and was immediately thrust into a major triangle. The character was married to Billie Reed, but about to learn that Gina, who was a dead ringer for his “deceased” wife, Hope, actually was his beloved soul mate.
Reckell’s first days back as Bo were riveting and poignant, as Gina attempted to “solve” a puzzle box that only Hope and her grandfather, Tom, knew how to open. When she did, her grandmother, Alice, was thrilled. It proved Gina was Hope. Bo, however, wasn’t convinced. Then, Alice discovered a secret compartment inside the box. It contained a letter that Hope had written to Bo on their wedding day.
An emotional Bo sat down and began reading it: “Dear Bo. I’m writing this letter to you on the morning of our wedding. I’m going to put it away in a special place and, one day years from now, I’ll show it to you. Gran gave me the idea. She wrote a letter to Grandpa on her wedding day. She wrote all her feelings, her hopes and dreams, so that one day they could look back and remember how their life together began. I want us to do that, too. As I write, I’m looking into the future to that day when you finally read this...”
As the letter went on, Hope explained she was “excited, happy and a little frightened” as she prepared to leave for the church. But, mostly, she was filled with an incredible emotion that welled up inside her. Bo continued to read, “It’s such a wonderful emotion. I’m not sure what to call it...”
Then, suddenly, Gina chimed in: “A little word like love doesn’t seem big enough to describe it, but I guess there is no other word. Because at the end of the day, I’m right back where I started, with no word to truly express the depth of my love, the joy of my emotion, the certainty of my commitment. I want you to know that on this day and every day hereafter, I will thank God for you and will love you from the bottom of my heart from the depth of my soul, Hope.”
Bo, who was overwrought with emotion, revealed that was exactly how the letter ended. Then, a teary-eyed Hope told Shawn Douglas she was his mother, and Bo admitted he no longer had any doubts about it. It was true. Gina was Hope. As Bo and Hope celebrated with their son, a family reunited, a crushed Billie could only watch from the sidelines.
Reckell called the timing of his return “perfect for the show and the storyline. The first time Gina really said she’s Hope, she was looking at me. It’s like it should happen.”
Days of Our Lives longtime Bo and Hope fans would agree wholeheartedly.