July 26th, 2012  |  Leave a comment

The Jeanne Cooper Interview – The Young and the Restless

Photo Credit: Charles Bush

On The Young and the Restless she has been called the Grand Dame of Genoa City, The Duchess, and Mrs C.!  In real life, she has been called an icon, a Daytime Emmy Award winning actress, a legend in the world of the soap opera, an accomplished primetime television and feature film actress… and a wonderful mother of three children.  At eighty-three, and after playing the powerful, wealthy, and beloved Katherine Chancellor to the hilt for 39 years, Jeanne Cooper has finally decided to tell her life story!  And what a story it is!  Her new highly anticipated memoir, Not Young, Still Restless (Harper Collins) is due in book stores this coming Tuesday, July 31st!

Not Young Still Restless revisits Jeanne’s childhood; how she followed her dream and moved to Hollywood with the help of some very sneaky good friends, and how she became a working actress in the studio system.  And as she made quite a name for herself along the way, she met some of the most recognizable names in film and television, many of whom she had friendly or romantic relationships with!  The book also details the destruction of her marriage to Harry Bernsen, which ultimately led to her downward spiral into alcoholism, plus the call while she was in Hawaii that would change her life and daytime forever, getting cast on a new CBS soap The Young and the Restless!

On-Air On-Soaps talked with Jeanne Cooper to bring you this very special interview, as we looked into the behind-the-scenes life of this incredible talent.  From her backstage battles with Brenda Dickson (Ex-Jill, Y&R), to her big reveal that she and her on-screen son Beau Kayzer (Ex-Brock, Y&R) were in love and had a relationship, to being the first performer to break the wall between fiction and reality, when she and Katherine had a real-life facelift, to her many health battles.  Jeanne along with co-writer, Lindsay Harrison, brings the reader and any soap fan on one remarkable journey.  Saying that this woman is a treasure is an understatement.  So all we can add to that is … here now is the feisty, funny, irreverent, gem of an actress, Jeanne Cooper, as we take our own journey with the legend from her humble beginnings to Genoa City 2012!

MICHAEL:

Jeanne, I read your memoir, Not Young Still Restless, in a day and half!  It was a real page-turner where I kept thinking, “I can’t believe this happened to one person in their lifetime!”  And then knowing you like I do, it makes it all the more amazing!

JEANNE:

Courtesy/Harper Collins

It reads like a novel, and then you stop and realize, “I know her!  I know her.”  I did the same thing after I got the hardcover version.  I put it on my coffee table and said, “I know her.” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

I know we talked about this years ago, that someday you should really write your tell-all.  Why did you decide to write it and publish it now?

JEANNE:

I am not kidding when I tell you I got so tired of people asking, “When are you going to write a book?”  I can now say, “Shut up! Leave me alone.  It’s done!” (Laughs)  Several people have asked me, “Now what are you going to write in your second book?” 

MICHAEL:

When you decided to write it, was there trepidation on your part to delve into your past, your childhood, your career, and what no one knew went on behind the scenes at Y&R?

JEANNE:

I had tremendous trepidation.  First of all, you stand the chance of people who like you then saying, “I don’t like her anymore.”  You can lose a lot of friends, and they are public friends.  There are many who have been part of my career for 60 years.  Then I thought I was not being offensive about anything, but just honest with an edge.  That is how I think most people accept things much easier.  I just had this feeling of something terrible happening if I wrote my book.  But Lindsay Harrison helped me conquer those fears.  And she said, “I will show you how to make it so simple.  Here is a tape recorder.” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Did you decide before the book was going to be released, to let certain people you work with, know that you wrote about them in your tell-all?

JEANNE:

No, I did not.  I said I would like it to read like they are reading about a character that is made up, and it’s like a novel instead of “This Is Your Life, Jeanne Cooper!”  I wanted it to be truthful, but believable.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/Harper Collins

Your childhood certainly had its ups and downs, and some very disturbing moments where you reveal that you were sexually molested.  You also say in the book that one of the pictures with you and your dad was one of the only ones you recall.  I found that very heart-rending.  Your mom died quite early at 46 years old.  What do you think your mom would have said about Mrs. Chancellor?

JEANNE:

She would have said, “Oh! All of the affairs!” (Laughs)  I think my mother would have enjoyed my success.  She loved the fact that I wanted to be an actress.  I think she secretly wanted something other than what she had.  I always enjoyed making grandpa, or my mom and dad laugh, and then we would laugh together.  And that is where the whole thing stems from.  You may not have everything in the world, but if you are happy and you can feel the love that runs throughout, that is wealth without dollars.

MICHAEL:

You also talk in great detail about your start in Hollywood and your ascendance to feature film roles and television series guest star spots.  It is very intriguing how it all happened for you.  You mention two good friends, Barbara Hale and Raymond Burr, with whom if I am correct, you also had an affair.

JEANNE:

Oh yeah!  Barbara just turned 90 and she looks like she is 50.  I could smack her.  She is a very close friend and we have gone through a lot together, including our failed marriages.  We have had laughter and tears together on and off the screen you have never seen the likes of.  I had an affair with Raymond.

MICHAEL:

And your laundry list of men also included David Janssen, and Dennis Weaver …  Good list, Jeannie!

JEANNE:

Courtesy/Harper Collins

I was also with Robert Taylor!  I was working with Barbara Stanwyck and I was late due to a buckle not working in my wardrobe.  I was getting on the set and I apologized and she said, “That’s all right.  I am so proud to have you here, Jeanne.  I have seen all of your work and you are an incredible actress. You belong to this town and you belong to this industry.”  And my jaw dropped down to my knees.  I wanted to say, “Did you know that I went out with your ex-husband?”  In which she told me later on, “How did you find my ex-husband?”  And I said, “The Truth?  He’s boring!”  And she said, “But he’s handsome.”  And I said, “Yeah, you can say that again.”

MICHAEL:

However, the man who would forever change your life was Harry Bernsen.  And your tale and true life story is a very cautionary one that many people still go through today.  How many women have not fallen under the spell of a good-looking, charming, smooth-talking guy, and not seen all the red flags?

JEANNE:

I do let everyone know he was not my favorite person!  Thank you for noticing the point I was trying to get across.   I want to express that no matter who you are, there is likeness in everybody.  Harry was drop dead gorgeous, and he was like two different people all the time, just unreal.

MICHAEL:

When your first son Corbin Bernsen was born, I read you were screaming for the baby and for the nurse to bring you your child.  All the while your husband Harry said, Corbin was deformed.  What happened?  You must have been beside yourself!

JEANNE:

Yes, but then the nurse explained to me what it was.  It was a hematoma that scrapes on the pelvic bone coming out and forms a little blood blister, and it looks terrible. But the point of it is … it absorbs.  It’s like a wound.  When you are born, everything is so close to the skin and everything is so tender and so fragile.  I have forgiven Harry of that, but also, I will never forget.  I thought, “What do you care if the baby was deformed?  What are you going to do?  Show the baby and hide its head?”  It was this man’s actions, and again that was certainly a red flag.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/Harper Collins

Were you happy you were pregnant?

JEANNE:

At first I wasn’t, because I wasn’t sure I wanted to have children … with him.  Then, I had three. (Laughs)  First of all, he said he could never ever have children because of a wound he got in the war.  And I don’t know where the wound was. (Laughs)  I wanted a boy and a girl and I got two boys, and I said I am going to try for a girl.  And, if I have a girl I am blessed and if not, I am going to throw it away! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

You must have been thrilled when you finally had your little girl, Caren?

JEANNE:

I stayed in the hospital for eleven days with her!  I wouldn’t come home.  The doctor, finally said, “Jeanne, we have no reason to keep you here any longer, and look at your boys!”  The boys would come outside my hospital and say, “Mommy, please come home with our sister!” And finally I said, “OK.”  I lived in a world of boys and after a while you want someone to talk to and understand.  I felt like saying, “Why do men think they are better than us?”

MICHAEL:

Then, all of a sudden you get Y&R and the role of Katherine Chancellor.  We won’t spoil how that all went down here, but we will say, a trip to Hawaii was called short!  But, you go to the set at CBS for your first reading, but John Considine is playing the role of Phillip Chancellor, not Donnelly Rhodes.

JEANNE:

Horribly enough, John Considine reported to the studio and someone forget to call his agent and tell them not to come.  So he came in and I went over to him to run lines, and our executive producer at the time John Conboy came over and said, “Don’t do that. He’s not playing Phillip anymore!”  I went, “What?”

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/CBS

So what did you think when you met Donnelly Rhodes for the first time?

JEANNE:

He was self-assured, nice and cocky, and a very talented actor.  I spent some time with Donnelly.  I had an affair with him, too. (Laughs)  I always say, don’t do things where you work…

MICHAEL:

Well you seem to have done that quite often, Jeanne!  (Laughs)

JEANNE:

Not in the studio, others have made out in the studio!  Crazy fools!

MICHAEL:

Then I laughed, but could not help love what you said about your first meeting with Brenda Dickson (Ex-Jill, Y&R) … “I do remember a sexy confident little piece of work named Brenda Dickson!”  But it is true you two got off on the wrong foot!

JEANNE:

We got off to a bad start.  But you know, so did Shelley Winters and me!  We were under contract at Universal and she had asked my agent if I could come see her performance in a play because she would like to know what I think.  I went and she said, “Please have her come backstage.”  And she said, “I’m Shelley Winters.”  And I said, “Yes, I bet you are.”  She said, “So what did you think of the play?”  I said, “It’s interesting.”  She said, “Interesting?”  I said, “Well this part has been played by so many different actors, but yours is interesting.”  She goes, “That’s all?”  And I go, “Yeah.”   She said, “You mean you didn’t’ like it?”  I said, “No.”   She goes, “Well I will be damned.”  Fast-forward to five years later; we are doing a thing called Let No Man Write My Epitaph.  I reported to work and we started the picture.  And they said to me, “Jeanne, you know your hair is about the same color as Shelley’s.  So let’s put a little more ash into it.”  So they put ash in it.  And out I went again, and it’s a three-hour process!  So we started a scene where Shelly was going to make her entrance.  And it was stopped again, and they said, “Jeanne, would you mind terribly if we just make your hair darker?”  I said; “Let’s take it back to black!  That is my original color and I have not been that color since I don’t know when.”   Then they dyed my hair again and I was brunette without a great deal of highlights.  By that time it’s 3PM in the afternoon and I have been doing this since 8AM.  They say, “We have got to get a goddam shot.  Sometime today, drag her out here!”  So Shelley comes into my dressing room and says, “Isn’t there anything I can do to make you ugly?”  And I said, “No, or younger!”  And she started to laugh, and we became good friends after that.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

So with you and Brenda Dickson … she did not show up to rehearse with you, and you called her a “tart”?

JEANNE:

I want somebody there so I can settle down and give a performance.  I said, “A professional is on time. You don’t wait around for people.  Being a professional is knowing your craft and knowing your lines!”  And Brenda said, “Oh really?  I have never been talked to like this before!”  And I said, “Well get used to it, because if you can’t, then I am Shelley Winters!”  And so this is how Shelley Winters popped in and out of my life! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

In the end, it seemed like you came to love Brenda.  She has had such a crazy life and had gone through so much.  You seemed to be able to say in the book that there were some very deep emotional issues Brenda dealt with that you did not elaborate on.

JEANNE:

There is much more to her life than people knew.  And a lot of pressure was put on Brenda from within the cast, and they will remain nameless at this point, but it was unfair and unkind.  Anybody with that kind of treatment that one would allow themselves to do to another human being … that is unforgiveable in my book.  I may not like somebody, but I am certainly not going to treat them so horribly.

MICHAEL:

Was Brenda Dickson the butt of jokes on the set?

JEANNE:

Absolutely!  And I want to tell you, Brenda made the part of Jill, and Jess Walton (Jill, Y&R) and I talked about this.  Jess had a completely different spin on Jill, and no more like Brenda Dickson than the man on the moon.  And let’s face it; Brenda Dickson was in life like a Jill Abbott.  That is one of those things that she just captured.  You can portray it and try to imitate it.  So, that is why Jess took a different spin on the character all-together, which was smart. You cannot compare the two and what Brenda Dickson brought to Jill.  And I have to say, she became more of a professional and knew her lines, and what have you.  But even the tricks they played on her on the set were unforgiveable, and these people know who they are!

MICHAEL:

With all the turmoil and trouble Brenda has been in legally in Hawaii, have you ever spoken to her since that time?

JEANNE:

Oh yeah!  In fact, I called her in Hawaii.  I was hoping to get over there when she was in jail.   Let’s face it.  It’s hard to beat anything in Hawaii, with the good ole boys, and Brenda knew that.  She just did not get it up to the proper courts and with the proper publicity it needed.  But the guy did try to take everything from her.  He was smart and Brenda by that time had acquired quite a bit.

MICHAEL:

When I watched Y&R from the beginning of its run, Brenda and you really set the tone – it was Katherine and Jill at each other throats.   She was a gold-digging tart, and I bought it!  I was like, “Ooh, I want to smack that bitch!”

JEANNE:

Yeah right, absolutely!  Listen, I got to tell you, Brenda had as much fun with the Katherine/Jill relationship as Jess and I did.  When there was the “Who Killed Phillip?” storyline and our characters were in court, and being thrown about, a faction of fans lined up at CBS with posters marching, and this group flew in from the east coast.  And they were pro- Brenda.  Then, I in turn said to her, “Well all these people must have gotten pregnant by someone else’s husband.”  (Laughs)  They had to get us out of the studio because we had death threats!  They would say that I or she “deserved to die.”  Oh, the studio was very quiet about that, and they had police stand there.  It was wild!

MICHAEL:

When you first got to the set of Y&R, William Gray Espy was there, too!  And, he was playing Dr Snapper Foster.  But you first met him in one of my favorite films to this day, Kansas City Bomber!  I loved the roller derby, and to see you as the coach/manager of the team was a hoot.  Plus, you worked with Raquel Welch, who had the title role!

JEANNE:

I got trampled to death in that thing!  And these women would say, “Now listen. We promise if you go down on the deck on the rink, and you don’t move, we won’t hurt you. But, if you do move, you will get bruises all over from head to toe.”  I said what the F*** am I doing out here being a captain of a roller skating team?  It was amazing!  When I went down to the deck all these big bodies were are all over the place.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/IMDB

You mentioned in your book, that Raquel Welch was one of the most underrated actresses.  Do you think she was good in KC Bomber?

JEANNE:

For what she did, she was good.  She could play cheapies and she has a great sense of humor.  I remember saying to her, she has a body and a face of a knockout, but she is also someone who is grounded.  Raquel also knows Hollywood, and what it took, and what it thinks.

MICHAEL:

I would have called your book … From Roller Derby to Restless …. The Jeanne Cooper Story! (Laughs)

JEANNE:

(Laughs) Who didn’t love the roller derby back then!  I was the blonde captain of the L.A. Thunderbirds!  I did not get hurt on the film, thank God, but Raquel Welch broke her wrist.  So we had to delay the film for about six weeks.  I got to tell you I met William Gray Espy (Ex-Snapper, Y&R) there.   He was this handsome and gorgeous guy, who was on the men’s side of the roller derby team.  He was very shy, but at the end of a filming day, he needed a massage.  He was battered at the end of the day.  So I talked to the producer and got it arranged for him.  Now, when I went into the first rehearsal at Y&R and everyone was talking to each other and muttering, and I would say my lines out loud, John Conboy would say, “Well, we have somebody we could hear.  Thank you, thank you Ms. Cooper, very much.”  (Laughs) And William Gray Espy at rehearsal said, “I know her.  And I am telling you right now, don’t cross her path because she can get things done that you don’t know!” (Laughs)  And he was referring to me getting him into the steam room when he was not allowed, because he was not a starring role in Kansas City Bomber!

MICHAEL:

Then there is this little ditty in the book, when you and your dear friend Juliana McCarthy (Ex-Liz, Y&R) are in your dressing room listening to Michelle, the other woman in Harry’s life, who called you at the studio letting you in on their affair and asking you for financial help?  And she said that Harry told her you had an “illness”?  Oh, brother!

JEANNIE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Oh sure, and she even knew what time I would be there!  (Laughs)  Oh the fury that I felt. I was beside myself.  Thank God, everybody had retired to their dressing rooms and was getting ready for the days shooting.  I wanted to destroy, and if that coffee pot had been Harry, I would have been in jail now.  The disrespect!  He has children.  Doesn’t he know that?  It doesn’t matter what they say about him or me, but it does matter what they say about our children.  They are the innocent bystanders in all of this.  The fact that this was going on, and the fact that people in the business were knowing that he was seeing her, was so awful.  He was so open about so much of this shit in the advance stages, it became an embarrassment.  It is like me knowing somebody is cheating on their wife, and yet their wife and I are having lunch and I want to say, “Don’t you know you are married to an asshole?”  It is not so much what I feel, but anybody who has been betrayed.  If a man wanted to screw around, I would rather have him come up to me and say, “Listen.  I feel I need to do something and I need to do this.”  And I would say, “Fine. Let’s do a legal separation.  And you go do what you have to do.  And I will make up my mind if I think it’s right or not.”  And, I probably won’t think it’s right!

MICHAEL:

It was that, combined with the fact everybody seems to know but you!

JEANNE:

Patty Weaver (Gina, Y&R) knew!  I have been a big supporter of Patty Weaver and always have been.  There is still nobody who can sing a song like she can and bring you to your knees with it.  It’s just something she does so well.

MICHAEL:

And that is where your drinking began?

JEANNE:

Courtesy/Harper Collins

I think it was the emotional part of my life with Harry.  If it weren’t for that, I would’ve had that stomach spasm.  And the frame of mind I was in was not good, and the friend I was with told me to have an after dinner brandy and said, “Here take this!”  I take a deep swallow because my stomach was so distended and you would think I am pregnant and that I was going to deliver.  It was amazing.  I took two big gulps of that and made the spasms go away.  And the spasms were very scary.  It’s physical, but it was brought on by emotion.  Many truths just kept coming out of what I suspected and things kept coming up in which I had red flags, and I should have known it then.  I thought things would work out.  Being as gorgeous as he was, he had girls falling all over him left and right.  And that was okay, too. But the thing of it is also; you don’t have to return the favor.

MICHAEL:

For many years, I knew you were a self-admitted alcoholic.  But I never knew when the drinking started.  I thought it was digression from the character you play; Kay was a drunk, so you became a drunk. 

JEANNE:

Actually, I got Katherine sobered up and then she would have to sober me up!  Bill Bell (Creator, Y&R) gave me an ultimatum.  He met with my son Collin, and they arranged to put me in St. John’s.  And I came home from work and Collin was already at the house and he said, “Mom, we are all packed and ready to go.”  I said, “Where are we going?”  He said, “St. John’s.”  And I said, “Thank God.”

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/Harper Collins

Do you think it affected your work at Y&R?

JEANNE:

Well, I think it would have, but Bill Bell wouldn’t let me go into the heavy storyline with Phillip, where I adopt little Phillip and all of that.  He would not have gone into that story if he thought for a minute that I would continue to drink and not have full control over what I was doing.  I saw a little bit of it in one of my performances, and it just sickened me.  It made me sick to my stomach that I would ever let that happen to myself.  My private life was such hell at the time, and of course, the brandy started calling for stomach spasms after awhile. That is what is so amazing and incredible; that kind of attachment you have that gives you a break from the misery you are going through.  I never felt such relief in my life, because the one thing I did love was my job … and in my job I can express who I am through my acting.  It is in making magic for people to escape to.  I always say, “Thank you God for Bill Bell and Collin saving my life.”

MICHAEL:

You also had several run-ins with Bill Bell where you refused to say certain lines of dialog he wrote.  He retorted back to you, “This isn’t Jeanne Cooper saying these lines, it’s Katherine Chancellor!  I don’t care what Jeanne Cooper would say!”

JEANNE:

I know he and his writers would give me some of these Midwest expressions, and not one script went out that Bill was not completely aware of what was in it.  If there were a grammatical error, he would call the writer and go, “I never want to see anything like that again.”   Look, Bill said he was not writing the soap for the sophisticates in Manhattan, but that he was writing for Middle America and the middle class people of the world.  Of course, he was right about what Katherine should say.

MICHAEL:

Then, there is the Beau Kayzer (Ex-Brock, Y&R) shocker!  You fell in love with your on-screen son in real-life.

JEANNE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Doug Davidson (Paul, Y&R) was the only one who half-way suspected.  He told me that about a year ago.  Beau was one of the most innocent loving people.  Beau can deliver dialog that is so believable that it’s like Meryl Streep’s performances.  I never think Meryl Streep is any other person than who she is playing.  And Beau can take words, and make you listen to them.  I got news!  Beau was getting more fan mail than anybody on the show.

MICHAEL:

Why did Beau disappear off the show?  Did the producer and writers want to get rid of him?

JEANNE:

They didn’t.  If I married him, he probably would have stayed on the show.  I do think Beau was deeply in love with me, and I was deeply in love with him for a great period of time, too.

MICHAEL:

You said you felt the age-difference between you two was a big issue for you, eventually.

JEANNE:

Not at that time, but later down the line.  Look at it.  He would have just turned 50 and I am 83!  But still, even to this day he said, “I don’t see what you are talking about.”  I broke it off and I said, “We can’t see each other.”  He married a woman about ten years older than I was at the time, and that didn’t work out.  He is still one of the sweetest, kindest people that I know.  He is very poetic and the kids loved him.  Beau has never liked younger women as companions.  It is amazing and he never really changed.

MICHAEL:

We both have something in common, Jeannie, other than we have made careers in daytime.  Both of us have had surgery with Dr. Harry Glassman!  You had the first daytime television on-screen face-lift with him, and he reconstructed my nose after it broke in five places in a freak accident I had several decades ago!

JEANNE:

Courtesy/Harper Collins

My God!  It was groundbreaking.  And the first reality show on TV was my facelift!  Dr. Glassman was so funny.  It was so funny having the cameras in the procedure room while they were doing my facelift, but when it was over it was incredible.  Dr. Glassman was offered some brilliant reconstructive surgeries because of my facelift.  He is an artist at reconstruction.

MICHAEL:

Then, there was another big event in your life, or at least it was supposed to be, when you receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmys, along with a slew of other honorees on the Emmy telecast.   And when you go to get your Emmy backstage, the boy giving them out goes, “Jeanne Cooper?  Which one are you?”  OY!

JEANNE:

It’s hysterical!  We are all looking at each other going, Lifetime Achievement?  This jerk-off does not who is who!  He is pulling out the names from a cardboard box and reading them.  The worse thing was not showing any of our work for the Lifetime Achievement award.  Big Bird got all the attention that year.  So we all felt we should have had Big Bird costumes on and maybe then we would have gotten more recognition!  They didn’t even show anything, nothing of our work.  It tarnished the whole thing, the award and the academy.  They should be ashamed of themselves!

MICHAEL:

IN 2008, you finally won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.  I love the fact that Tyra Banks, who presented the award to you, knew what designer’s dress you were wearing.  Also, the loving words from Crystal Chappell! (Danielle, B&B, Gina, Venice)

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

JEANNE:

Crystal said, “It’s yours, you deserve it.”  Crystal has been a big booster and supportive of my work, and I of hers, because she is such an incredible actress.  She is really taking control of her life with her Internet series, knowing the way the business is and taking nothing for granted.  She is a hard working and also a very fine, fine actress.  So when I turned around and gave her thumbs up when she was sitting at the table next to me, and she was on her feet and clapping her hands like mad.  It meant so much! 

MICHAEL:

I will never forget that night.  You were not in the press room yet, and I am telling you, you have never seen so many people screaming and cheering for you.  I thought, “Is there anyone more beloved in this genre than Jeanne?”  You don’t usually see that kind of heartfelt emotion in a room filled with irritable, cantankerous, and jaded reporters!

JEANNE:

And winning alongside with Tony Geary (Luke, GH)!  I love that man!  I love him, I love him! He read my book and I got 100 tulips, and the most magnificent bouquet you have seen in your life.  It had to weigh 50 lbs.  He read the book to give his thoughts on the back cover, and what he wrote was so heartfelt, I can’t tell you.  I think Tony Geary is one of the finest actors in the business.   He is premiere; there is no two ways about it.

MICHAEL:

You also reveal a surgery and serious medical condition nobody knew about until your memoir!

Courtesy/Harper Collins

JEANNE:

That was seven or eight years ago.  I was gone recently from Y&R because of double pneumonia.  I now have had double pneumonia three times, and I have got to tell you anytime anybody starts to tell me something is going on in my chest, I panic.  I had the SARS flu a few years ago, and I literally melted.

MICHAEL

Now this was something I did not know, you are the legendary Y&R butt pincher to all the young male hotties on the show?  For instance, you seem to reveal you enjoy pinching Greg Rikaart’s (Kevin, Y&R) ass!

JEANNE:

Oh God, you didn’t know that?  Watch the show when you see who jumps! And usually it’s Greg Rikaart (Kevin, Y&R), and I just adore him.  Watch the guy’s expression!  The only one who doesn’t react is Joshua Morrow (Nick, Y&R)   He just moves closer … the little shit!  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Let’s talk a moment about Eric Braeden (Victor, Y&R) and you.  You say in your book that Eric Braeden will never let you have the last word in any scene between Victor and Katherine?  By the way, I do love the Victor/Katherine relationship.

JEANNE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Oh yeah, he wont have it with anybody!  But, I did it once.  We improvise a lot, and I get along with Eric so well.  Victor and Katherine respect each other, and that is what we try to let everyone know when we play in our scenes.  You can have one relationship in business, but if you have a friend, you are friends through thick and thin.  And that is what we are.  And as much as Katherine wants to protect Nikki, as she is like the daughter she never had, when Nikki starts to like Victor too much, Katherine just turns a deaf ear.  And also, Victor will not let anyone talk badly about Katherine in front of him in a derogatory way.

MICHAEL:

I was surprised to find out that Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki, Y&R) seemed to decide not to speak with you for a while, and had cut you off as a friend with no explanation.  What do you think happened there?

JEANNE:

I have reminded her about that, and she says, “Oh, mother?  Who knows what was going on with me then?”  And I go, “Well I suppose I didn’t.”  I was very hurt by it.  I protected her in so many ways.

MICHAEL:

But you also say, Ed Scott (Ex-EP, Y&R, now producer, B&B) spent hours lighting Melody in scenes that you were in together while completely ignoring you.

JEANNE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Oh yeah.  I don’t know where Ed’s head was.  He said, “Jeanne, please forgive me.  It was a terrible time in my life.”   And I wanted to say, “Is that it, Ed?  But you are not the boy that I supported!”  Bill Bell called me since John Conboy was leaving and I said, “Well, Ed is good.”  And the others never gave him a chance to express himself.  And I said, “If you don’t like him after awhile, all you do is get rid of him and hire somebody else.”  And that is how Ed got his job.  Of course, he does not like to think that.  As far as Ed Scott, I was his biggest supporter.  We talked the first time the other day, as we both attended a wedding of a friend and he knows.  He knows what he did was wrong.

MICHAEL:

Another long time cast member, Kate Linder (Esther), also did not treat you so kindly.  Seems Kate went to the powers-that-be and pitched them a story where Katherine dies and Esther inherits everything including the mansion!  You had to be taken aback by that one?  I couldn’t believe what I was reading!

JEANNE:

I can believe it! (Laughs)  It’s OK.  Kate is aggressive, and she has lived longer in this town on less. The thing of it is, she became an icon for maids on daytime. They tried it on a few other soaps and it doesn’t work, because they don’t have me to bounce off of.  The thing of it is, I made the part work.  I gave her a name.  Kate just wanted to be a leading lady so desperately.  Well, they let her try that, and you saw what happened.  She would go out of her way to help you, as long as her picture was taken with it. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Terry Lester, you say, is one of your favorite actors to ever grace Y&R, and that you have worked with. You also talk about the differences between his Jack Abbott and how Peter Bergman plays the part.  What was it about Terry that you think was so unique and special?

Courtesy/CBS

JEANNE:

Terry was not afraid to step out of the box and try anything.  He had his dark side and shadows, but then most creative people do.  Terry was incredibly creative and sensitive, and he was a very special person.  I thank God he was part of my life, even how brief it was.  But I met Doug Marland (the late head writer of ATWT) through him.  Doug Marland said he would create a role for me as my contract was coming up and things were happening.  I said. “If you write the part, I will do it.”  I even said, “I would come to New York to do it.”  And he went home and had a heart attack and I died.  As for Terry, he nailed Jack Abbott.  It was like a Gig Young playing the part of a second banana, or a Tony Randall.  It’s such amazing parts of my life.  What a very rich and fulfilling life I have had, through the life of Katherine Chancellor!

MICHAEL:

Jeanne, you must have taken a moment after writing your memoirs and all that you have lived, and come to realize what an amazing journey you have gone on in your lifetime!

JEANNE:

I will pass by the book and think, “And that’s only a portion of what you have done and been through.  How about that?   There you are, your face is in my face.”  And it’s hard to realize it’s my face.  It’s me who has been there and done these things. Otherwise, as I have said, everything seemed to come by me and just bump into me.  I never said, “I am going to meet this person, if it’s the last thing I do.”  And there I would be at some event, and I would happen to meet someone I always wanted to meet, and they would know my name!  Oh God, that was thrilling!  It’s amazing, when you get on a plane and are doing a five- hour plane trip, and there is a celebrity sitting next to you who goes, “I know I just shouldn’t do this, but I love your work.”  And I am thinking, of course, they are just like me.  They have their favorite shows and favorite people.  And you think they are so far removed and they are not.  I think what you have to do is appeal to both men and women to reach any level of notoriety in this business.

Courtesy/Harper Collins

MICHAEL:

You have so many fans in the viewing audience, and so many fans of your work including your peers, and all the people who have had the good fortune to know you.  When all is said and done, and you look at your life and you read the last page of your memoir, you must now feel a sense of pride and respect from others that you deserve. 

JEANNE:

The respect from the industry, that includes the press, has been amazing.  It has been amazing how much I have gained in knowledge and in relationships, and it’s been a learning experience.  This life has been a learning experience for me.  That people basically love people, if they are decent human beings, and that I have earned the right to be respected.  I now know it, because so many people have told me.  I am aware of it, and I thank God I was put in a position to do so.

 

  1. kay/kay says:

    Great Interview!! Yes I agree Terry Lester’s take was the rich playboy and he played it to the hilt I miss that man great actor.

    Reply

  2. Sean says:

    She’s so amazing. I was a little suprised about all the affairs, especially with beau who played Brock but i can’t wait to read the book. I already have it preordered on my kindle. In a way i feel like i know the family because i know her for years on Y&R and i’ve watched L.A Law episodes many times to see Corbin and her other son Collen was in a few cinnemax movies several years ago.

    Reply

  3. Doe says:

    Michael, loved this interview with Jeanne. I loved the fact that she was so open about her life experiences. Wow! Somereal eye-openers here. But she is one gutsy lady.She is a wonderful actress and whrn she comes into a scene, you know something is brewing. I also like the Katherine-Jill relationship. They really go at it, but truly love each other. Katherine is like a king pin where everything revolves around her.. And Jeanne, you look fabulous.! Can’t wait to read the book. Long may you reign….

    Reply

  4. Sandee says:

    Love the interview. Can’t wait to read the book!

    Reply

  5. Mara DeRose says:

    Hello: If one is handicapped how can one go about getting an autographed book signed by Ms Cooper without having to stand on line? I want to present my best friend Kathy with a copy of Ms Cooper’s book for her 70 birthday on Aug 19/12 because she and I are in love with the show and I wanted to give Kathy a special gift because shes battling breast cancer and who knows what could happen? If there is some way please get in touch with me soon so I can purchase it. If Mrs. C would sign the book to kathy Balsan for me, I’d be thrilled on her 70th birthday and the date. WE’ve been watching the show since I can’t even remember.

    Reply

  6. MBmomof3 says:

    Thank you for another great interview. Can’t wait to read the book!

    Reply

  7. Brian Greene says:

    Thanks For This Great Interview With Jeanne, Michael! :D

    Reply

  8. Charles says:

    The Queen of Daytime was IN MINNEAPOLIS!!!!! – at the Mall of America at a book signing event. She was FABULOUS! Fans had tears in their eyes! Her generosity of spirit and love for her loyal fans was unbelievable!!!!!! We love her and are grateful for her talent!!! We are forever grateful for making Y&R the show that it is today. Still number #1………We absolutely love her. I told her myself that her scenes with Jess Walton are the best comedic scenes…..ever! ! The timing is perfect!!!There is no other actress in daytime that is better than MRS C……../Jeanne Cooper

    Reply

  9. tia says:

    Is this particular interview on audio somewhere?

    Reply

  10. terry mitchell says:

    What happened to Mrs. Chancellor? Why was she not in attendance at Victor and Nikki’s
    43rd Wedding? And where is Murphy! Also would like to have Drucilla’s real name!

    Thank you so much!

    Reply

  11. GINGER says:

    TO: MRS. JEANNE COOPER,
    I AM DEEPLY SORRY TO HEAR OF YOUR ILLNESS, I PRAY GOD WILL RESTORE YOUR HEALTH. I HAVE ENJOYED YOU DOWN THOUGHT THE EARS ON YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. CONTINUE TO FIGHT A GOOD FIGHT AS ALWAYS. SMILE
    MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOU WILL CONTINUE TO BE IN OUR PRAYERS.
    GOD LOVES YOU AND SO DO I.
    GINGER

    Reply

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