LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Jeanne Cooper, grande dame of CBS’ “The Young and the Restless,” died Wednesday at the age of 84.
Cooper had been in a Los Angeles hospital in recent weeks for an unknown ailment.
Her son, actor/director Corbin Bernsen of “LA Law” fame, announced the news of his mother’s death on Twitter.
Cooper was a beloved character on daytime’s number one show since she joined the cast in November 1973 — about seven months after the soap debuted — as the wily and no-nonsense, not to mention fabulously wealthy, Katherine Chancellor.
“Jeanne Cooper will be remembered as a daytime television legend and as a friend who will truly be missed by all of us here at the Network,” said Nina Tassler, President, CBS Entertainment. “She was the longest-running cast member on daytime’s #1 show, bringing indelible charm, class and talent to every episode. On behalf of everyone at CBS, we send our condolences to Jeanne’s family, as well as the legions of fans she has amassed during her record 39 years on ‘The Young and The Restless,’ and throughout her career.”
The enduring star was known for her feisty sense of humor, her take-no-prisoners attitude and being one of the show’s most popular actresses — on the set or off.
The Emmy-winning Cooper has two Daytime Emmys, ten Daytime Emmy nominations — nine for Lead Actress, one for Supporting Actress — and two Primetime Emmy nominations.
Kern County-born Wilma Jeanne Cooper began her acting career in the 1950s when she appeared on a slew of episodic primetime shows — usually cast as the tough-talking broad or elegant socialite on shows ranging from “Perry Mason,” to “Daniel Boone” to “The Untouchables.” She also appeared in many film westerns.
But it is on daytime where she made her true mark. Cooper touched the audience in many plot lines that blurred her real life with her reel-life. She underwent a facelift in 1984 and asked the producers if they would write it in. Kay’s many public bouts with alcoholism also mirrored Cooper’s. Alcoholism was a subject she also never shied away from and she opened up about her own battles long before it was de rigueur in Hollywood.
On occasion, Cooper was even as evocative as Katherine off-screen. In her 2012 memoir, “Not Young, Still Restless”, she revealed she had had an affair with Beau Kayzer, the actor who played her son on “Y&R.” The actor is 21 years her junior.
She married TV producer Harry Bernsen in 1954 and divorced in 1977. The couple had three children, all actors: Corbin, Collin and Caren.
Cooper had to take a medical leave from the show in 2011 when she had a horrible bout with the flu. Katherine was played briefly by Michael Learned of “The Waltons.”
Cooper received Daytime’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. Four years later, she won as Lead Actress for the first time. Accepting the prize she quipped, “Oh, dear. High definition or not high definition. I tell ya, it’s a bitch, isn’t it!?”
Cooper also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1993.