STUDIO CITY (CBSLA.com) — Actor Corbin Bernsen talked to CBS2 Friday about the passing of his mother, “Young and Restless” grande dame Jeanne Cooper who died this week.
“She was as true as they come,” he said.
Bernsen talked to CBS2’s Entertainment Reporter Suzanne Marques at his Studio City office.
She reports Bernsen has been working tirelessly since his mother died on Wednesday at 84. It was his first TV interview since he publicly broke the sad news about losing his mom.
Working tirelessly is a trait he picked up from Cooper, no doubt. “She was on the show until a week-and-a-half ago,” Bernsen said, “She did it right to the end.”
And right up until the end, Cooper worked and often in pain. At an age when many actors have long retired, Cooper loved her job so much she never considered slowing down.
“I think she had an innate knowledge that it was getting near the time. I can’t say anything specific but [lately] she was not being the feisty broad she had always been,” Bernsen said.
As his mother’s health declined — she was hospitalized two weeks ago in critical condition — Bernsen increasingly turned to social media for support. He shared pictures of his mother in the hospital, told funny stories about her, shared painful moments about her ups and downs.
Sometimes apologetic for being “too open,” he thanked the fans constantly for their thoughts, well-wishes and prayers. Her legion of fans, Bernsen says candidly, are helping him cope with her death. “For me it’s incredibly therapeutic. Besides getting out everything, I get back this incredible worldwide love and affection for this woman, that was my mother.”
Cooper’s career began in movies in the 1950s. She often played the tough-talking broad in Westerns. In the early 60s, she appeared in a slew of prime-time TV shows playing the elegant lady or the suspect.
Before joining “Young and Restless” in November 1973 (the show debuted in March 1973) she had already made a mark in the business. But it was playing Katherine Chancellor on the soap that would make her a TV legend. To fans, and co-stars, she was “The Duchess” or “Mrs. C.”
Bernsen keeps one of her director’s chairs in his office. It now holds even more meaning to him. “I think this chair, at least this part of the chair [with her name] will go with me now.”
Unlike a lot of show business kids, Bernsen says his mom encouraged him and his two siblings to become actors.
That support reminds him of one of his favorite moments of his mother’s, a quiet moment — where she would teach him about having empathy for the characters he would play. “It was really my first lesson. She saw this doorknob, and she walked up to it, put her hand out. She gently stroked it, and started crying. [And I’m thinking] It’s a doorknob, it’s just a doorknob. And she says, ‘We get to be this, we get this life. We get this incredible thing. And all it gets to be is a doorknob!'”
Today on Facebook, Bernsen posted a picture of his mom’s “Y&R” dressing room door — covered in cards from cast and crew. “I want to share a beautiful moment I had yesterday while visiting ‘The Young and the Restless’. It is of my mom’s dressing room door, which, for now remains closed. But the tributes outside are just… staggering. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to see it but decided to anyway. I’m glad I did.”