At the character's inception in 1987, the role was recast two times, originated first by Joseph Adams from April 10, 1987 to July 17, 1987. Further, James Acheson played the role briefly from July 21, 1987 to October 26, 1987, before Matthew Ashford stepped into the role on October 30, 1987; Ashford notably went on to play the role through October 12, 1993, reappearing from February 5, 2001 to October 27, 2003 and June 22, 2004 until September 21, 2006, with a guest appearance on April 2–4, 2007 and again from September 23, 2011 until August 15, 2012. Ashford later took a brief absence from the series from October 2003 to June 2004 where he would appear as a special guest star on One Life to Live.
Ashford was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in 2012. During Ashford's absence, the role of Jack was played by Mark Valley from October 28, 1994 until September 26, 1997, and by Steve Wilder from September 26, 1997 through June 5, 1998.
On November 30, 2015, it was announced that Ashford would briefly return to the soap; he appeared on May 24, 2016. Ashford also briefly appeared on June 20, 2016, August 5, 2016, and August 23, 2016.
Charming, manipulative, heroic, clever, selfish, arrogant and self-loathing all at the same time, antihero Jack Deveraux is one half of Jack and Jennifer, one of Days of our Lives' most popular supercouples. Although he entered the story as an outright villain wedging himself violently in between another popular supercouple, Steve Johnson and Kayla Brady, Jack eventually grew to establish himself as a core main character in the Days mythos through his passion, outrageous sense of humor, redemption, and undying love for heroine Jennifer Horton.
The character has been a frequent winner of Soap Opera Digest Awards, including Outstanding Villain, multiple wins for Best Love Story (with Jennifer), Best Wedding (also with Jennifer) and Outstanding Comic Performance. Ashford was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in 2012.
Jack Harcourt Deveraux grew up in Washington, D.C. and was raised by Senator Harper Deveraux and his second wife, Jack's stepmother, Anjelica Deveraux. He attended various private high schools (most of which he was expelled from) before graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University where he studied law with the hopes of getting into politics like his father. He has been described by others as having an astronomical IQ and has alternately claimed to have been voted "Most Likely to Win an Oscar" and "Best Dressed" in school. He is left-handed, claustrophobic, and despite being mentioned several times as being an adept surfer is not a strong swimmer.
Jack has a dark family history of rape. In addition to being a rapist himself, his father and father-in-law are also rapists and his sister, his niece, and two of his ex-wives (Kayla and Jennifer) have all been raped. Both he and his father-in-law were eventually forgiven by those they had raped, and his father-in-law even ended up marrying his victim.
Jack arrived in Salem in 1987 where he discovered he suffered from Hodgkin's disease. Although he didn't know it at the time, Jack was the long-lost younger brother of Steve Johnson, and he had a mother (Jo Johnson) and a sister Adrienne Johnson. Jack's extremely violent biological father, Duke, was dead, having been shot by his daughter after he raped her.
Jack was unaware of all of this, as he had been adopted at a young age by wealthy Senator Harper Deveraux, and was raised in a life of privilege. Jack originally came to Salem looking for Kayla Brady - whom he had fallen in love with in Hawaii a few years back. Kayla and Steve were in love, but when Steve learns Jack is his brother (Billy), he pushed Kayla into marrying Jack to give him the will to fight his disease. Although she disagreed with the idea, she did genuinely care for Jack, and was herself reeling from Steve's sudden and unexpected rejection. Due to her love for Steve, Kayla was not yet able to consummate her marriage with Jack, however. Soon thereafter she got sick (Harper Deveraux poisons her) and that gave Kayla additional reason to keep Jack at arms length. Kayla intended to eventually sleep with Jack, but was still in love with Steve. Jack was understanding, even though he feared every day that she would never love him back. He even offered to let her out of the marriage if that would help her to get better, but Kayla gently refused.
Steve became suspicious about Kayla's mysterious illness and kidnapped her from the Deveraux house when he discovered evidence that someone in the Deveraux house was poisoning her. Jack suspected Steve had kidnapped his wife, and angrily confronted him. He was genuinely worried about her welfare, but he also partly worried that Kayla had run away to be with Steve. For his part, Steve was worried that Jack had been the one poisoning Kayla, so the two were never able to work together.
During this time Kayla angrily demanded that Steve tell her why he had kidnapped her when he had acted like he didn't care about her. An anguished Steve finally confessed to her that Jack was his long lost brother and he had broken up with her to give 'Billy' a fighting chance. Kayla and Steve began having an affair, unable to keep apart any longer. She wanted to divorce Jack, but Steve and Jo Johnson both begged her to stay with him until after his election, fearing that a divorce would ruin his image with voters. Kayla agreed reluctantly to do as they wished, even though she now knew she would never be intimate with Jack. She continued to put him off, telling him that she was still feeling tired from being sick, promising that someday soon, they would be together.
Jack hoped that New Year's Eve would be the right time for them to begin their life as man and wife, but Kayla disappeared with Steve wearing a dress that Jack had bought her, leaving Jack alone at a party when the new year rings. A reporter named Canby took pictures of Steve and Kayla that night.
Less than two weeks later, the night Jack won the election, Canby confronted Jack with pictures of Kayla with Steve. It was obvious from those pictures that something is going on between Steve and Kayla and the dress she is wearing makes it clear that the pictures had been taken on New Year's Eve. An enraged Jack confronted Kayla when she got home, and when she couldn't deny that those pictures had been taken during their marriage, he raped her, insisting that he was taking what was "rightfully his".
Jack was plagued by guilt about the rape, but his pride and anger caused him to redirect his guilt as malice against Kayla and Steve. He refused to let Kayla out of their marriage and hired someone to beat Steve up. After Kayla confessed to Steve that Jack had raped her, Jack and Steve fought on a rooftop. Jack fell off the rooftop and damaged his kidneys. He needed a new one, and the best match was Steve's. Initially Jack refused the kidney, but Dr. Mike Horton convinced him to accept it. Steve's donation did not change how Jack felt about Steve and he embarked on a campaign of harassment against Steve and Kayla. Having finally had enough, Kayla pressed charges against him for rape. Jack agreed to plead guilty to assault, but he maintained he was only doing it because he was being railroaded.
Jack tried to hurt Steve by helping Adrienne find long lost brother Billy, hoping that this Billy would have resentment against a brother who stayed with his family. Billy and Steve had been placed in an orphanage by a desperate Jo because she felt sure her husband Duke would one day kill the children. Baby Jack had been adopted but the older Steve grew up in the orphanage.
When Jack broke into Steve's apartment, he found a baby picture of himself. Eventually he was horrified to discover that he was "Billy". Not long after, his adoptive father Harper was revealed as the Riverfront knifer, who had been killing prostitutes because they reminded him of Kayla, whom he hated because of what she had done to Jack.
Kayla developed a case of hysterical deafness/muteness during this time due to the stress of what Jack had done and was continuing to do, and what Harper had done. Jack felt guilty for hurting her and he very sadly granted her a divorce. To his dismay, Kayla married Steve. Meanwhile, Jack had been having a relationship with Melissa Anderson, who was so deeply in love with him that she was oblivious to his faults. He got engaged to Melissa, but she left him at the altar and left town when she realized he was cheating on her and using her to help clean up his name to further his political career.
Jack could not let go of his hatred of Steve and he resented his biological mother for giving him away. He refused to accept the Johnsons and continued to harass Steve and Kayla, although his behavior was less menacing than before.
Jack eventually stopped harassing Steve and Kayla and started reluctantly traveling a hero's journey. He wanted to transform himself into the kind of man his brother was, but he was wracked with guilt over what he had done, and filled with resentment at people's inability to give him a second chance.
Jack began to slowly integrate himself into the Johnson family, through the encouragement of his mother, Jo. He purchased a controlling interest in the newspaper The Spectator, to stop Diana Colville from running an expose on his corruption (including the dumping of toxic chemicals into a river in Salem) and he discovered a love of the business.
Soon Jennifer Horton began working at the paper as a college intern. Jennifer was Melissa's cousin and was extremely wary of Jack. They bonded, however, when Jack supported Jennifer while she tried to help a jailed mother by fostering her newborn baby. Jack was clearly attracted to her and attempted to throw monkey wrenches in her budding relationship with Emilio Ramirez. Jennifer didn't initially return the romantic interest, but she was intrigued by him and spent much of her time at work verbally sparring with him. Their banter would eventually become the staple of their relationship.
Jack became embroiled in an attempt to help Steve and Kayla when Steve's long-lost wife Marina came to town. While they didn't trust his motives, Jack threw himself wholeheartedly into trying to get Marina out of Steve's life by finding a key that Marina and her sister Isabella was after. In the process, Jack rescued Isabella from the Bayview Sanitarium. Eventually Steve and Kayla begin to consider that he might actually have changed for the better.
Jennifer began to realize she had serious feelings for Jack and that there was more to him than what most of the town saw. When Jack sensed that he and Jennifer were getting closer, he pushed her away by telling her she would be in danger working with him. In reality, it was because he was afraid he would ultimately hurt her as he had done to other women in his past. In the meantime, Melissa returned to town and tried her best to discredit Jack and encourage her cousin Jennifer to be with Emilio.
When Kayla was kidnapped by Victor Kiriakis, Steve finally lets Jack help him and by the time the adventure is over, the two men had the beginnings of a fraternal relationship. In a gesture of goodwill, Steve asked Jack to be his best man for his second marriage to Kayla. Kayla had agreed and Jack was deeply touched by their gesture. The wedding was sidetracked when Kayla was arrested for the murder of Marina Toscano. Jack worked hard at turning public opinion Kayla's way after she was found guilty. Eventually Kayla was proven innocent.
Jennifer began to tire of Jack's refusal to admit his true feelings and accepted Emilio's proposal. On their wedding day, Jack kidnapped Jennifer and took her to a remote cabin so he could convince her to end her relationship with Emilio. After they accidentally fall down a pit, Emilio and Melissa came to their rescue but Emilio was seriously hurt. Feeling guilty, Jennifer decided to stay with him.
Jack and Jennifer soon embarked on the infamous "Cruise of Deception" with other Salem denizens. During which time a crazed Ernesto Toscano tried to kill everyone on board by blowing up the ship. He failed and they all ended up stranded on a remote island. On the island, Jennifer finally convinced Jack that their love made sense and they consummate their love — a first for Jennifer. After returning to Salem, Jennifer ended her engagement to Emilio and began a real relationship with Jack. Still insecure about his past and fearful of getting hurt, Jack had troubles adjusting to the idea of them being together.
Jack accidentally killed escaped convict Harper when he tried to kill Steve. Labelling himself a rapist and now a killer, he once again pushed Jennifer away. Eventually Jennifer got fed up with him and embroiled herself in a large deception whereby she tries to convince Lawrence Alamain that she was his arranged-bride-to-be Katerina Von Leuschner - Jennifer's friend from boarding school, whom she knew as Carly Manning. Jack tried to get Jennifer to abandon her ruse, fearing what Lawrence would do to her. He declared his love to her and promised never to push her away again. Jennifer accepted his apology but insisted on seeing her plan through.
As part of a long-standing vendetta against Bo Brady, Lawrence has Steve killed, breaking Jack's heart. Jack and Kayla bond a little through this grief, but Jack couldn't stay in town - he had to go back to rescue Jennifer.
Lawrence then blackmailed Jennifer into marrying him by revealing that her former boyfriend, and Carly's younger brother, Frankie Brady, was his prisoner. Lawrence knew she wasn't Katerina (he himself had had an affair with Katerina years ago) but all he wants is the VL fortune. Jack, who had traveled to Europe with Jennifer and others, is imprisoned the day of the wedding, and was unable to meet with Jennifer as planned near the elevator in Lawrence's bedroom. Instead, Lawrence shows up, things got out of control and he raped her. Jack escaped his prison a little too late, and tried to get Jennifer to leave. Traumatized by the rape, and unable to tell him about it because of his own past, she coldly told him she was married and was going to try to make it work. Help arrived in the form of Shane, Bo, Carly, Kayla and Julie, who are all trying to either gather evidence about Steve's death, or rescue Jennifer and her Gran, Alice Horton, from Lawrence's grasp. With her friends and family as support, and an impassioned plea from Jack for her to declare who she really was and who she really loved, he finally convinced her to escape with them.
Lawrence set off explosives as they tried to escape through the tunnels under his villa. The entire group nearly dies, but finally made it out and back home to Salem. At this point, Alice Horton was firmly in Jack's camp as far as his relationship with Jennifer was concerned. Jack himself was finally able to commit to his feelings for her and began to believe that, despite his ugly deeds in the past, the two of them could have a happy life together.
However, Jennifer is deeply traumatized by the rape and once home, she flinched and pulled away every time Jack tried to get close to her. Jack began to think she was still in love with Frankie. Her decision to have Frankie as a roommate after turning down Jack's offer that they live together further pushed him towards this belief, and he becomes more insecure about her feelings about him. He asked her to marry him in a grandiose and romantic fashion and, although she initially said she couldn't say yes just yet, she finally relented when he comes to her dressed as Santa Claus (purportedly coming on 'Jack Deveraux's behalf.)
Lawrence Alamain came to Salem seeking to continue his revenge against those who had crossed him, and this only increased Jennifer's general sense of terror. Jack tried to help her by bringing her to a cabin so that they could be alone. Jack tried to get her to open up about what was bothering her and when she was unable to even speak to him after his impassioned pleas, he grabbed her and tried to kiss her. This triggered a flashback to the rape, and she broke free of him, slapped him and called him a rapist. She is immediately horrified and apologetic, but a devastated Jack was unable to hear her words.
A heartbroken and angry Jack broke up with Jennifer and married Eve Donovan to secure inheritance money so that he could save his paper, which he was in jeopardy of losing to Lawrence. After a long while, Jennifer finally tells Jack about the rape. Shattered by the truth and overwhelmed with guilt, Jack's initial reaction was to run away from her, believing that after her experience he was the last thing she'd need or want. Eventually, Jennifer convinced Jack that she did need him, and he supported her as she pressed charges against Lawrence.
Very shortly after Lawrence was convicted, Jack and Jennifer finally marry. Early on, their marriage hit a snag when Jennifer was duped by a conman named Hawk, causing them to lose the majority of Jack's wealth, and putting their marriage in jeopardy, although they manage to work it out.
Jack and Jennifer conceive their first child on the set of a gameshow during One Stormy Night, Days of our Lives first primetime special. Jennifer gives birth to a daughter, Abigail, in October 1992. While still an infant, Abigail is diagnosed with aplastic anemia, caused from exposure to water from the river Jack's company had dumped chemicals in. Although Abigail recovers, a guilt-ridden Jack abandons his family and Salem altogether in 1993, feeling they'd be better off without him.
After leaving Jennifer and Abby, Jack suffers a nervous breakdown and checks himself into a mental health clinic called The Meadows. The Meadows' theme is to leave the past self behind, and while there everybody takes on invented names as a healing technique. While there he becomes acquainted with an attractive, middle-aged woman (also a patient) with whom he forms a friendship. Trying to forget their troubles, Jack and the woman begin sleeping together. Eventually, with the clinic's help, Jack recovers and begins to feel that he could now be the kind of husband and father that Jennifer and Abby deserve. He then returns to Salem in 1994.
When he gets there, his family is not exactly where he had left them. Jennifer had met and begun a relationship with Peter Blake and they married not long after Jack's return. To make matters worse, Jack learns that the woman he had met and had a relationship with at The Meadows is Jennifer's mother, Laura, whom he had never met before. Jennifer denounces Jack, and seeks comfort in the arms of her new husband. Jack, however, thinks something is not quite right with the all too perfect seeming Peter. He works tirelessly to prove his hunch that Peter is up to no good, but Jennifer writes off Jack's claims as the pathetic schemes he had become all too known for. However, eventually Peter proves Jack right, when he kidnaps Jennifer and Abigail. After Jack rescues them, Jennifer divorces Peter (who is sent to prison) and Jack, Jennifer and Abigail leave town to live in Africa (where Jennifer's father, Bill Horton, works as a volunteer doctor) in 1998.
In Africa, Jack, who had lost his paper and his fortune, becomes obsessed with the idea of making his money back and begins to involve himself in get-rich-quick schemes, many of which Jennifer finds impractical and shady. To make matters worse, these business ventures would often cause Jack to disappear, sometimes for weeks at a time, without so much as a phone call to Jennifer. Eventually deciding nothing had changed, Jennifer packs up her stuff and leaves with Abby one night while Jack is away. They go first to Ireland and eventually back to Salem.
On a tip from Jennifer's grandmother, Alice Horton, Jack learns that Jennifer is to be in Paris for the coronation of Princess Greta Von Amberg. Jack, who is in Italy at the time, gets to Paris before Jen could, and ambushes her at the coronation. There they have it out, Jennifer blasting Jack for his antics in Africa and for his stubborn refusal to grow up, while Jack expresses his outrage at Jennifer's just leaving with their daughter without so much as a word. Eventually, they agree to return to Salem where they would attempt to work out a custody agreement of Abby. Jack, however, has much more in mind. In his latest attempt to win Jennifer back, he suggests the three of them all move in together under one roof, as neither of them had a place to stay. Jennifer protests, but Jack goads her into it by suggesting that if he was able to put Abby before their personal differences, she should as well. While the arrangement is initially confrontational, with Jack and Jennifer constantly verbally sparring with each other, but Jack rekindles her love for him when he rescues her after her car goes over a bridge. Jennifer begins to entertain the idea that perhaps Jack is really, finally, changing into the kind of man she thought he was when they were married.
Meanwhile Jack uses the attractive Princess Greta Von Amberg, with whom he had recently become friends, to make Jennifer jealous, which Jennifer sees immediately through. However, when Jennifer begins to date Brandon Walker, Jack is determined to continue, especially after he interprets his plan as working. The plan hits a snag when Greta develops real feelings for Jack. He tries to let Greta down gently, but when she realized she is being rebuffed, she begins crying. Wanting to spare her feelings, Jack tells her he is gay. After a few complicated months of trying to make Jennifer think Greta and he are involved while trying to make Greta think he's gay, eventually the truth comes out to Jennifer. She is livid at Jack for playing both her and Greta for fools, and plots to seduce Jack in the shower in an effort to catch him in his own lie. Jennifer's scheme, however, does not go according to plan as Jennifer finds herself unable to resist him. When Jack stops the interlude just short of sex (she was reasonably drunk and Jack didn't want to take advantage of her), Jennifer finds herself surprisingly disappointed and very confused.
Not long afterward, Greta finds out that Jack is straight and leaves town in a rage, and Jack is left distraction free in his, now more honest, pursuit of Jennifer. The relationship between Jennifer and Brandon eventually fizzles and Jennifer begins dating Colin Murphy, a mysterious Irishman she met in Africa who she had originally gone to Ireland to meet. While this relationship continues, Jennifer finds out he's a conman and eventually realizes she is still in love with Jack. Jennifer decided to help Bo, who was investigating Colin's relationship with the Dimeras. Against Jack's wishes, Jennifer continues to see Colin, in order to gain evidence against him. But when Colin discovers she and Jack are together again, he vows revenge. Jennifer overhears him threaten Jack's life and in an attempt to distract him, ends up sleeping with him. Days later, Colin smarmily tells Jack what happened. When Jack confronts Jennifer, she has no choice but to admit the truth. When Colin is murdered just a few days later, both Jack and Jennifer suspect each other, and Jack even turns himself in to deflect suspicion off of Jennifer. Eventually, however, they are both proven innocent. In May 2003, Jack and Jennifer finally remarry.
In October 2003, Jack begins working with police officer Abe Carver, leading to both men supposedly being murdered by the Salem Stalker (Marlena Evans). Jennifer is forced to disconnect a brain dead Jack's life support. Soon after, a grieving Jennifer is happy to find out she is pregnant with Jack's second child.
In May 2004, it is revealed that Jack and all of Marlena's victims are alive and being held on a tropical island by Andre DiMera, who had faked all of the murders. Jennifer eventually finds her way to the island, and gives birth to a son named Jack Jr. While escaping Andre's island, Jack is again presumed dead after a tsunami. This is, again, not the case. Jack, and a few others including Cassie Brady, are being held in a castle in Europe. In April 2005, Jack leads another escape from the castle and he and Jennifer are reunited at the injured Abigail's bedside, and Jack gets to know his infant son, Jack Deveraux Jr.
In June 2005, Jack receives news that he is dying of a rare blood disease and only has about three months left to live. Instead of trying to find out more about his illness, Jack works to set Jennifer up with her old boyfriend, Frankie Brady in order to protect her from the aforementioned Patrick, who he is sure would be after her the moment Jack was gone. Jack is again presumed dead after a car accident, although his body is never found. Jack had decided to stage his death, since he didn't want his loved ones to watch him die.
In actuality, Jack is dying in a hospice in Cincinnati, and had no intention of returning to Salem. Jennifer had learned of Jack's devotion to the idea of her marrying Frankie and, wanting to grant his final wish, is (fairly unenthusiastically) preparing to marry him, despite Abigail's strong objections. This is the third time in as many years that Jack had been presumed dead, and Abigail isn't buying it (and is frustrated that Jennifer is). Jack's plans change when one of his hospice workers turns out to be his presumed dead brother Steve Johnson. Steve has no memory of who he was and is living under the name Nick Stockton. "Nick" is amused by the other man's insistence that they are brothers, and he finally agrees to give the man his dying wish and took a DNA test. He is stunned to find out that the DNA test proves they are brothers. Overwhelmed that the brother he had lost had now returned to him, Jack begs Steve to go back to Salem, trying to tell him all about the wonderful life he had once had. Jack speaks so highly of Kayla that Steve says it sounds it like she had been Jack's wife, not Steve's. Jack awkwardly avoids the issue. Steve says that he would only go back if Jack went back too, so that he could say goodbye to his family. Despite his own desire to stay away from Salem in his final days, Jack knows he owes it to the brother and ex-wife he had wronged so many times to bring him back. Jack agrees to do one final good deed, and the two brothers return to Salem.
The duo return to Salem in spring 2006 during Jennifer and Frankie's wedding ceremony, and the brothers are reunited with their widows. Jennifer's opinions are mixed because, although she is elated to find out the man she loves is alive, she is as angry at him as she'd ever been for letting her think he was dead when he wasn't. Jack's health worsens and Jennifer is unable to break away from her commitment to Frankie, despite not truly being in love with him. She feels guilty about hurting Frankie, who represents the stability and steadiness she had always wanted and which Jack had never really provided for her, and wary about any possibility of a future with Jack.
Frankie discovers a drug trial that could help Jack, and it works; Jack, Jennifer and Frankie are now caught up in an uncomfortable triangle. Soon after, Jack and Jennifer are kidnapped while Jack was investigating the recent murder of a cop. After escaping their captors and getting lost in the woods, Jennifer vents some of her anger out at Jack, and they eventually make love. Jack collapses soon afterward from cold and hunger. Jack recovers, however, and he and Jennifer are reunited for what is currently the final time. Jennifer gently lets Frankie know that she cares deeply about him, but does not love him. Finally realizing that Jennifer never would be his, a heartbroken Frankie eventually leaves Salem.
Jack and Jennifer are both offered dream jobs in London. Wanting a fresh start, they leave for Europe with J.J. while Abigail, who supports her parents' move but doesn't want to leave her school and friends, remains in Salem with family. Jack returned for a brief visit in April 2007 to take Abby on a spring vacation to New York.
When Jennifer returned to Salem in November 2010, she reported that Jack had gone on a "walk about" and had left her again, this time to "find himself". Her anger at his disappearance, compounded when she was almost killed and he didn't even bother to call, caused her to file for divorce. Mysteriously, though Jack's blog continues to be updated (not commenting about his family life at all) and people receive occasional brief e-mails, all phone calls go unanswered. No one has apparently physically spoken to Jack in months.
In September 2011, a disheveled Jack mysteriously returns to Salem from overseas, looking to reconnect with his family. Much to his surprise, he soon finds out Jennifer has moved on with another man. On top of that, he has big fences to mend. Jennifer and Abigail are both in a rage at him over his disappearance. Jack, in distress over his predicament, speaks with his sister Adrienne. After revealing the real reason for his absence she convinces him to tell Jennifer what happened. He heads his sister's advice and explains to Jennifer his "walk about" was actually a lie to investigate the opium trade in Afghanistan—he lied to protect her and the children. He went on to explain he was being held hostage, apparently for asking the wrong question at the wrong time. Jack asks if Jennifer believes him, she eventually does. Abby cannot understand why her mom would give Jack yet another chance. Jack dies in August 2012, after being trapped inside of an elevator that fell and crashed. This takes place when huge explosions underground destroy the new town square and interrupt a celebration. Jack is very heroic in this instance because he sacrifices his own life in order to save Abigail's.