Jerry Douglas played the role of beloved patriarch John Abbott on The Young and the Restless from 1982 until 2006 when the character died. The Abbott family mourned John’s loss at the time and now, Beth Maitland, who plays Traci Abbott, says that John’s children are set to honor him again as Y&R’s 50th Anniversary celebration continues.
Beth Maitland Talks Y&R Honoring John Abbott
“I am really happy to be a part of this special episode,” Maitland tells Soap Hub of her involvement in this stand-alone show, set for Thursday, June 22, dedicated to both Douglas and his Abbott patriarch character. As previously reported, Douglas’s widow Kym Douglas, an on-air contributor to Ellen, will play Zelda Wilford, who shares a connection to Traci.
“Having experienced a similar but different loss to Kymberly’s tells me that there’s nothing you can do to prepare yourself for the loss of a spouse,” Maitland says. (The actress’s former husband, Christopher Barringer, passed away in 2019.) Maitland says that she was deeply touched that Y&R had Zelda share scenes with Traci as Kym is pals in real life with her co-stars Tracey Bregman (Lauren) and Eileen Davidson (Ashley).
A Family Tradition
Kym didn’t come to Y&R alone the day she taped her scenes. The actress was accompanied by her and Jerry’s son Hunter Douglas. “He joked that he and the Abbott children are all ‘siblings because Jerry was father to Jack [Peter Bergman], Ashley, Traci, and Billy [Jason Thompson], too!'” Maitland reveals.
The actress adds that while Kym’s experience has been primarily as an on-air spokesperson and also in the comedy world, she came to Y&R not only fully prepared but capable of delivering the dramatic goods. “Kym survived it beautifully,” Maitland says. “She kept up with the pace. Hunter sat with us during a break and ran lines. It was so much fun. He watched his dad on the show for so many years, and now, he’ll be able to see his mom on it, too.”
Beth Maitland: John Abbott’s Death
Y&R viewers weren’t the only ones who were shocked when John was killed off in 2006 after he suffered a stroke while in prison. If the move was made to get Douglas off the show, the plan took a turn. The actor continued to appear on Y&R first as a doppelganger character named Alistair Wallingford, who Jack hired to rid the family of John’s widow Gloria (Judith Chapman); next, Douglas appeared as John when Jack was at a crossroads in life, offering sage advice just as he’d done when the character was alive.
The Ghost and Mr. Abbott
“People said it was ‘John’s ghost’ when Jerry appeared, but what he really was was Jack’s conscience,” Maitland explains. “Of course, as in life, Peter’s Jack has stepped up as head of the Abbott house. Traci’s the moral compass and gatekeeper. People have stepped into other roles. [But] not having that family figurehead there was a huge loss.”
On a personal level, Maitland says she was fortunate in that she was able to have many conversations with Douglas in the months leading up to his passing in 2021. “There’s a certain peace and closure that a positive completion gives us,” she says. “I’m hoping this special episode that honors John will hopefully give fans closure and an appreciation for what the character not only brought to the Abbott family but to the core of Genoa City, too.”