The role was originated by in 1980 for a year. Then, took over the role in March 1982. When John died in 2006, Douglas was only out of work for a few months. , the head writer for the series, brought him back as a recurring guest star on September 1, 2006. Since John's death, Douglas has portrayed the role of John Abbott's spirit, and he appears to his children and friends in times of great need. In 2008, Douglas portrayed the role of on the series for three months.
In 1980, John Abbott was introduced as the founder of , Jabot Cosmetics. He went to high school with other prominent Genoa City residents including , , , , Gary Reynolds, his first wife, , and a classmate named Suzanne Lynch, whom Ashley was named after. In 1972, Dina left John alone to raise their three children: (), () and (). Dina was unfaithful before she left John because Ashley discovered in 1982 that Brent Davis, her mother's former lover, was her biological father. John never discovered that Ashley was not his biological child. The children were mainly raised by the Abbott , (then played by Marguerite Ray). John had a very prominent role in his children's lives, and he helped them grow up to be successful business people. Jack graduated from , and along with Ashley, who graduated from , prepared to one day take over their family company. Traci graduated from , and she became a best-selling novelist.
Source: Genealogical and Family History of the State Of Maine; Volume 1, by George Thomas Little, A.M., Litt. D.; Pages 321-331. Book at the Southern California Genealogical Society in Burbank, CA Deacon John Abbot