“Sweet papa… John Anthony Aniston. You were one of the most beautiful humans I ever knew,” the Friends alum, 53, wrote via Instagram on Monday, November 14, alongside several sweet photos from her childhood. “I am so grateful that you went soaring into the heavens in peace – and without pain. … I’ll love you till the end of time💔.” In her post, Jennifer noted that her father died on Friday, November 11, because he “always had perfect timing.”
She concluded: “That number will forever hold an even greater meaning for me now 🕊️. … Don’t forget to visit 💫🤗❤️.”
In addition to his daughter — whom he shared with the late actress Nancy Dow — John is survived by wife Sherry Rooney and their 33-year-old son, Alexander. After marrying Rooney, 76, in June 1984, the West Wing alum also became a stepfather to her son from a previous marriage, John Melick.
After immigrating to the United States from Crete when he was just 2 years old, John began acting in 1962 with small roles before being cast as Eric Richards on Days of Our Lives in 1970. After appearing on both Love of Life and Search For Tomorrow, he returned to the long-running soap opera as Victor Kiriakis in 1985. He continued to star on the show on and off for 36 years and earned a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for his work in 2017.
Earlier this year, John was honored with the 2022 Daytime Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented to him by Jennifer.
“This is truly a special moment for me. It’s an opportunity to not only pay tribute to a true icon in the daytime television world, but it’s also a chance to recognize the lifelong achievements of a great and well-respected actor, who also happens to be my dad,” the Just Go With It star said during the ceremony in June. “For over 30 years, his dedication to that show has gained him respect and admiration of his fellow actors, deep friendships, and thrilled millions of fans around the world. His career is literally the definition of lifetime achievement.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, John was hesitant when Jennifer expressed an interest in following him into show business after appearing as an extra on Search For Tomorrow as a child. “I told her you don’t want to be in show business, show business stinks,” he recalled. “I tell everybody who wants to be an actor, ‘Don’t be an actor, be something else.’ Because if my telling them to stay out of show business is going to keep them out, they shouldn’t be in it in the first place.”
He continued: “But I knew right from the beginning when Jennifer started auditioning for things [she would be a success], because she always got called back.”
In a 1990 interview with E! News, John gushed that the Cake star had “natural talent” and predicted great things for her future career. “There are certain things you can learn in this business, and there are certain things you can’t learn,” he said at the time. “The comic instinct that she has is unerring. That’s her greatest asset.”