Philece Sampler -- known for playing Days of our Lives' Renee DuMonde and Another World's Donna Love Hudson, as well as voicing Mimi in 1999's Digimon Adventure and Toph's older self in The Legend of Korra -- has passed away. She was 67.
Actor/entertainment reporter Nelson Aspen (ex-Albert Prange, Search for Tomorrow), who worked on Another World with Sampler in the early 80s, confirmed the news of the actress' death from a heart attack last week.
"Heartbroken to receive the call today that my dear friend, Philece Sampler, has passed away from a heart attack, just shy of her 68th birthday. That explains why I didn't hear from her yesterday on my own birthday: we always celebrated as Cancerian siblings," Aspen shared on Instagram. "She was an amazingly energetic, loving and loyal friend... I think that over the decade of the '90s, I spent more time with Philece than anyone else. She was as wickedly funny as she was vivacious. Philece was always A complete original!"
Born in San Angelo, Texas, Sampler got her start in the entertainment business starring on soap operas. She briefly appeared as Karen-Anne on Knots Landing in 1981 but it was her role as Days of our Lives' Renee DuMonde that placed her firmly on the map. As fans may recall, Renee came to Salem in 1980 and eventually fell in love with and became engaged to Tony DiMera (Thaao Penghlis), with whom she had a complicated love affair because, for a while, after finding out that Stefano DiMera (Joseph Mascolo) was her father, she thought Tony was her half-brother! It later came out that Stefano wasn't Tony's biological father, but other complications -- including Anna (Leann Hunley) -- came between the would-be pair. Sampler's time in Salem came to an end in 1983, when Renee was killed by the Salem Slasher.
In 1987, Sampler joined the cast of Another World as Donna Love. Her time as the fictional Bay City society snob was cut short in 1989, however, when the character's original portrayer, Anna Stuart, expressed interest in returning to the role.
Following her time on soap operas, Sampler went on to have a very successful career as a voiceover actress. She provided the voices for Goten in Dragon Ball Super, Mimi Tachikawa in the Digimon Adventure franchise, Toph in The Legend of Korra, Flora in season one of Berserk, and Mead in The Seven Deadly Sins, among many others.
In his Instagram post, Aspen reveals that Sampler always wished that she could have returned to Days of our Lives. And perhaps she might one day, as a reincarnated version of herself? As Aspen shares, "Philece was convinced she was the reincarnation of Anne Askew, an English writer and poet who had been put to death during the reign of Henry VIII. So I am going to be keeping a sharp eye out in case she comes back as someone new. If anyone can do it, SHE can!"
In this week's Days of our Lives Two Scoops commentary, Soap Central columnist Tony reflected on Sampler's daytime career. "While I'd watched her in other roles, too, there was something magical about her portrayal of Renee DiMera. In fact, Philece delivered one of the best scenes in daytime history, in my humble opinion. You can watch it here. I first saw that performance nearly 37 years ago, so to say Philece's talents made an impression on a young DAYS-loving kid is an understatement."
What are your favorite memories from Philece Sampler's time as DAYS' Renee and AW's Donna? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.