Jeanne Cooper, ‘Young and the Restless’ matriarch, dead at 84
(CNN) — Jeanne Cooper, who played Katherine Chancellor, the “Dame of Genoa City,” on “The Young and the Restless,” has died. She was 84.
Her death was confirmed by her son, actor Corbin Bernsen, on his Twitter account.
“Mom passed this morning,” Bernsen posted. “She was in peace and without fear.”
Cooper had been suffering from an undisclosed illness. The cause of death was not given.
Cooper was already a well-established TV actress when she took the role of Chancellor in 1973. “The Young and the Restless” was struggling in the ratings and its creator, William J. Bell, wanted to spice things up.
Chancellor was colorful from the beginning: a drunk conducting a series of affairs with younger men, as well as one with the best friend of her husband, the wealthy Gary Reynolds.
The character was an immediate hit and Cooper — who had signed a three-year contract — stayed on.
Cooper was instrumental in another storyline 10 years later. In the early ’80s the actress decided to undergo a face lift, so the show’s producers had Chancellor get a face lift as well — it was performed on-screen.
Chancellor was also part of a famed soap opera feud, in her case with Jill Abbott Fenmore (played since 1987 by Jess Walton). At one point the two believed they were mother and daughter; at another, the relationship warmed when Chancellor had a breast cancer scare. The two later became rivals again.
And Chancellor also found herself victim of many classic soap opera twists: conniving suitors, long-lost relatives, multiple marriages and memory lapses.
Cooper enjoyed all the twists and turns. “I never wanted to be a movie star,” she said in an interview, according to Entertainment Weekly. “I always wanted to be an actress, one of the best. And I am.”
Cooper also appeared in episodes of “Perry Mason,” “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and “The Twilight Zone.”
Cooper married television producer Harry Bernsen Jr. in 1954. The pair divorced in 1977. Cooper is survived by three children, all actors: Corbin, Collin and Caren.