Interviews, News & Rumors

Y&R Star Beth Maitland Marks 40 Years as Traci Abbott

Beth Maitland made her debut as Traci Abbott on The Young and the Restless 40 years ago. The Daytime Emmy-winner recently sat down with Soap…

Beth MaitlandBeth Mailtand

Beth Maitland made her debut as Traci Abbott on The Young and the Restless 40 years ago. The Daytime Emmy-winner recently sat down with Soap Hub to reflect on this milestone. In the first of a two-part interview, Maitland previews a special episode featuring both Traci and Ashley Abbott and key relationships in Traci’s life, namely Brad Carlton and Lauren Fenmore.

Beth Maitland Celebrates 40 Years as Traci Abbott

Y&R is going to treat viewers to an episode filled with flashbacks later this week featuring key moments from not only Traci’s life but also her sister Ashley (Eileen Davidson) as both characters made their debut in June 1982.

Soap Hub: Can you preview the episode dedicated to Traci and Ashley
Beth Maitland:
It’s a tremendous opportunity when Traci and Ashley sit down with their new great niece Allie [Nguyen, Kelsey Wang] to talk about their past and what brought us all to this day. It was a lovely vehicle to help re-live some fun flashbacks featuring scenes Eileen and I are in together and separately. I can say that we get to flash back to our very first episodes. It covers relationships with friends, family, men, and enemies.

Soap Hub: What an organic way to do both – fill Allie in on the family and do a tribute to you and Eileen.
Beth Maitland:
It was perfect. I was not only flattered but also excited. In the initial COVID production lockdown [in 2020], we featured some old shows and we were reminded that we have fans who have been with us for so long. It’s a great chance for us to relive fond memories and see some faces we long for.

Soap Hub: How did it feel to have an on-set celebration for you and Eileen, which was attended by not only so many of your Y&R pals, but also Don Diamont (Bill, The Bold and the Beautiful; ex-Brad, Y&R)?
Beth Maitland:
I was joyfully overwhelmed by the kindness of my co-workers. As for Don, well, he’ll always be Brad to me! What he had to say to [both Eileen and me] was remarkably emotional. He has said in the press and in other places but he reminisced about our time together; Brad and Traci the unlikely couple. He said, ‘Working with Beth taught me up to be the actor I am.’ For him to be eager – not just willing – to give me credit for our formative years together and appreciate me…he said he thinks about me all the time and was able to move on and play an entirely different character. It was so surprising. (Laughs) Water kept running down my face!

Every now and then when B&B is on hiatus, Y&R will use some of their dressing rooms. Years ago, I was assigned Don’s room once and I tore off a script page and wrote on it, ‘I adore you forever! Your ex-ex-wife!’ And I left it on his bulletin board. Years later, I was assigned his room again and he still had the note up on his board. I left another note saying, ‘Still loving you!’ He mentioned it and said he’ll never take it down and he smiles every time he sees it. I think for Brad, Traci’s the one who got away. I feel the same way about Don. I love everything about him. The whole day was like that. I went home, and I had to sleep it off. I had a euphoria hangover!

Soap Hub: Your last scene together was at the Genoa City Athletic Club with you and Tammin Sursok (Colleen) where Brad told Traci that indeed she was the ‘one who got away.’
Beth Maitland:
I remember that scene very well. I didn’t know Brad was going to be killed off. I think about that scene often. I didn’t know it was the last time we were going to work together. There was so much in that one little moment. We don’t think things are going to end. It’s logical that they will, of course; everything changes but we don’t expect it to actually happen.

In my view, the loss of Brad and the loss of John Abbott [Jerry Douglas] were the two most devastating to the storyline – I know a lot of thought goes into these decisions, but those losses were devastating in the long-term. Mr. Bill Bell [Y&R’s creator/head writer/senior executive producer] told me once that every activity, every change that happens on a soap has to have a ripple effect. Things have to have an impact far beyond the two people in a scene. Ripple effects are giant. Those two losses were greatly held.

Soap Hub: In Traci’s early days, Lauren Fenmore (Tracey Bregman) was mercilessly cruel to her. A real ‘mean girl.’ Do you think that Lauren’s bullying of Traci could be told today?
Beth Maitland:
I see where you’re going with this. I agree with you 100%. It has to do with political correctness and the rising awareness of civil rights and liberties — not on a political scale but a personal scale. The human rights of each other have to be respected in terms of physical disabilities, race relations…I think the story could be told in a different way, but maybe not the way it was told then.

Soap Hub: Ironically, you and Tracey are best pals off-camera and have been for years.
Beth Maitland:
I think Tracey would concur with me on this, but I think those stories were harder on Tracey Bregman than they were on me. It was not in her to be that cruel. It’s a tribute to her acting ability that she could be sassy and saucy and, at times, hateful. What a great opportunity that we get on soaps where we can see people grow up. We had a scene years later where Lauren and Traci were able to address all that in person.

Soap Hub: It’s a dynamic that could be tapped into today.
Beth Maitland:
I can assure you that both Tracey and I would be delighted [to explore something today]. She is my closest friend from the cast. We communicate weekly if not more than that. Something almost happened a few years ago when Traci took control of Jabot briefly. We got so close! We’re hoping that day will still come!

Check back for the next part of our Q&A with Maitland on the anniversary of her 40 years with Y&R. 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, and for an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.

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