Jess Walton — A Biography

Jess Walton was born on February 18, 1949, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but grew up in Toronto, Canada. Jess knew that she wanted to act early on.

She left home at the age of 17 to study at the Toronto Workshop Productions’ Repertory Theater. A couple of years later, Walton headed to Hollywood.

Not too long after arriving in Los Angeles, Jess signed a contract with Universal and began booking roles on shows and films such as The Guns of Will Sonnett, The Strawberry Statement, The Young Lawyers, Montserrat, The F.B.I., Medical Center, Young Dr. Kildare, The Sixth Sense, The Victim, The Bold Ones: The New Doctors, Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law, You’ll Never See Me Again, and Griff.

1974 was a big year for Walton’s career. Jess worked non-stop adding more projects to her resume with Kojak, Toma, Rex Harrison Presents Stories of Love, Sierra, Marcus Welby M.D., and Ironside.1975 was just as busy, with roles on The Six Million Dollar Man, Movin’ On, The Rockford Files, Gunsmoke, S.W.A.T., Cannon, and Starsky and Hutch.

Work slowed down a bit over the next decade. In 1980, Jess embraced the opportunity to take a much-needed break from acting to deal with some personal issues. She also tied the knot with her partner-in-life, John W. James, a renowned grief recovery authority. Walton gave birth to a son, Cole, adding a sibling for James’s young daughter, Allison.

By 1986, Jess was ready to jump into the ring again and signed on to play Kelly Harper on the daytime series, Capitol. In 1987, Bill Bell had seen her performance on the show and quickly signed her to take the place of Brenda Dickson, the actress who originated the role of Jill Foster Abbott on The Young and the Restless. The rest is history.

She currently divides her time between her home in Oregon and Los Angeles, where she shoots The Young and the Restless. Jess wanted a quiet life, away from the glitz and the glamour, not to mention to be around her children and grandchildren.

Follow her on Instagram @jesswaltonyr and Twitter @JessWaltonYR.

The Young and the Restless (YR) airs weekdays on CBS. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Genoa City, check out all the latest that’s been posted on Y&R spoilers.

Fast Facts

  • February 18, 1949— Birthdate
  • She left home at the age of 17 and joined a Toronto theater company.
  • In 1969, she moved to Hollywood and in the next year, signed with Universal Studios.
  • Was briefly married to actor Bruce Davison.
  • Singer/songwriter Laura Nyro taught Jess and Joni Mitchell to dance.
  • One of her homes was featured on Joni Mitchell’s Ladies of the Canyon cover.
  • Her late husband, John James, was an author and founder of The Grief Recovery Institute.
  • Considers herself a bit of a bohemian, a rock and roller.