It may be hard to believe, but Jeanne Cooper a mainstay of The Young and the Restless for decades has been gone now for five years. The beloved star passed away on May 8, 2013.
While not an original cast member of the show, Cooper debuted in early 1974, less than a year into the show’s history.
Late head writer/Y&R creator William J. Bell crafted a story in which lonely alcoholic Kay befriended Jill Foster (originally, Brenda Dickson, now, Jess Walton) never dreaming that Jill and her husband Phillip (Donnelly Rhodes) would fall in love, conceive a child, and then make plans to marry.
Kay drove her car off a cliff with Phillip in it. He died, igniting the Kay/Jill feud which lasted for decades, evolving over the years as the two women sometimes became unlikely allies such as when they teamed up against Nina (Tricia Cast) to get her away from Phillip III (Thom Bierdz).
One storyline had Jill and Kay believing that they were mother and daughter. This was later proved to be false after a subsequent DNA test was done proving there was no connection and that Jill’s birth father was the late Neil Fenmore (James Storm).
During her run on Y&R, Cooper received two Daytime Emmys and numerous nominations. Her first statuette was for Lifetime Achievement, which she received along with a host of other actors including General Hospital’s Anna Lee (ex-Lila) and As the World Turns’ Eileen Fulton (ex-Lisa).
Cooper’s overdue Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series came about in 2008 for a storyline in which Kay shared a repressed memory that she had given Jill’s son away at birth. While that turned out to be a false memory, Cooper’s Emmy was very real!
Cooper and Kay’s memories live on at Y&R. There’s a life-size cutout of Cooper that’s been seen in the past in the Y&R makeup room. Also, Kay’s landmark set — the Chancellor mansion — remains standing. It went through a paint job a few years ago, but current Y&R head writer/executive producer Mal Young gave the set another makeover that gave it more of its original semblance.
The Young and the Restless (YR) airs weekdays on CBS. Check local listings for call times.