‘The Young and The Restless’ Turns 50 This Month – Here’s a Look Back at Your Fave Y&R Characters and Cast Members
50 years of an iconic show!
The Young and the Restless is one of the most iconic soap operas ever produced. Over five decades, it has aired 12,500 episodes and won 11 Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series. It’s also been the highest-rated daytime drama for 34 years. On March 26, the residents of Genoa City celebrate the 50th anniversary of their television debut, and while the rivalries have evolved and the core families changed – remember the original Brooks and Fosters? – the storylines and characters are as beloved as ever.
To celebrate The Young and the Restless’ 50th anniversary, we’re taking a look back at some of its most memorable actors and actresses. Some have gone on to star in movies, TV dramas, and even other soap operas, but their legacies as Y&R royalty remain. Here’s a look at your favorite actors from The Young and the Restless – think Melody Thomas Scott and Doug Davidson – and what they’re up to now.
The Young and the Restless at a Glance
The Young and the Restless, also referred to as Y&R, debuted in 1973 as a 30-minute episode. It continued as such until 1980, when the episodes were expanded to 60 minutes. William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell, the show’s creators, originally meant for it to focus on America’s youth, making it a stark contrast to TVs most popular soaps of the time, All My Children and General Hospital. Y&R eventually, however, incorporated adult themes. Since then, it’s broken taboos and established new standards for modern soap operas, and its character-driven storytelling continues to resonate with viewers.
Where is The Young and the Restless cast now?
Because The Young and the Restless has been on the air for so many seasons, the actors and characters have turned over many times. What began with the Brooks and Foster families as the central storyline has expanded to spotlight numerous supporting characters and tackle the problems and challenges of new generations. It’s even aired crossovers with its sister show, The Bold and the Beautiful. As such, there have been many standout stars over the years. Here’s a closer look at some of the most memorable cast members from The Young and the Restless.
Eric Braeden plays Victor Newman on The Young and the Restless. The role, first introduced in 1980, was originally supposed to last for a short run of just 26 weeks. Instead, Victor became a beloved villain, and Braeden, who won a daytime Emmy for his portrayal of Victor in 1998, remains on the show to this day. Over his 60-year career – he got his start in Hollywood in the 1960s – Braeden has starred and guest-starred in over 120 movies and television programs, both under his given German name, Hans-Jörg Gudegast, and the American name that he adopted in the 1970’s. In total, Eric Braeden has been nominated for and awarded more than two dozen awards over the course of his lengthy career.
Sharon Case was cast in the role of Sharon Newman on The Young and the Restless in 1994, and remains on the show today. The role has been the subject of much criticism from viewers and Case herself, who claim that the character’s storyline has been both neglected and misguided. Chief among their complaints is her 2012 love affair with her former father-in-law, Victor Newman. Case has been nominated for and awarded several prizes for her portrayal of Sharon, including a Daytime Emmy Award in 1999. But her soap experience doesn’t end there. She’s also appeared on General Hospital and As the World Turns, among others.
Melissa Claire Eagan
Melissa Claire Eagan is known for her roles on a few soaps, including All My Children and The Young and the Restless. On the latter, she played Chelsea Lawson, joining the show in 2011 and departing in 2018. Her leave was short-lived, however, as she returned to the show in 2019 and remains on it today. Over the course of her time on Y&R, Melissa Claire Eagan has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in 2013 and 2014, and she won a Soap Awards France for her role in 2016.
Camryn Grimes got her start on The Young and the Restless in 1997. Three years later, at just 10 years-old, she became the youngest winner of the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series. She played the character of Cassie Newman from 1997 to 2007, then again from 2009 to 2010. Her original character died in 2005, and she reprised the role as a ghost over the course of subsequent seasons. In 2014, she was recast as the twin sister of her original character. Grimes, who has appeared on numerous other TV shows in addition to Y&R, was awarded another Daytime Emmy Award in 2018.
Amelia Heinle joined the cast of The Young and the Restless in 2005 playing the role of Victoria Newman. In addition to this role, she’s appeared on All My Children, CSI Miami, and the Ghost Whisperer. In 2014, she won her first Daytime Emmy Award for The Young and the Restless, repeating her win the following year to take home her second trophy.
Greg Rikaart has played the character of Kevin Fisher on The Young and the Restless since 2005. Prior to that, he appeared on Days of Our Lives and Dawson’s Creek. In his first year as Greg Rikaart, he won a Daytime Emmy Award for The Young and the Restless, and he has been nominated for several awards since.
Michelle Stafford is one of several actresses to play Phyllis Summers on The Young and the Restless. Others include Sandra Nelson and Gina Tognoni. Stafford, however, is arguably the best-known and most-loved, as her portrayal has spanned several decades. She played Phyllis from 1994 to 1997 and 2000 to 2013; and she occupies the role today, having returned to the Y&R cast in 2019. Stafford has been nominations for over a dozen awards, including Daytime Emmy Awards and Soap Opera Digest Awards, and she’s won awards in 1996, 1997, 2003, and 2004.
Christian LeBlanc played Michael Baldwin from 1991 to 1993. He returned after a four-year break, and has remained in the role since. In addition to Y&R, he’s appeared on As the World Turns, In the Heat of the Night, and Diagnosis: Murder. He won a Daytime Emmy Award for his portrayal of Baldwin in 2005, 2007, and 2009.
Kristoff St. John
Kristoff St. John played the role of Neil Winters from 1991 until his untimely death in 2019. Prior to The Young and the Restless, he appeared in Generations, a short-lived soap opera that was the first to feature a Black family in a central storyline from its inception. St. John also appeared in the mini-series Roots and on shows like Happy Days, The Jamie Foxx Show, and Everybody Hates Chris.
Jess Walton plays the role of Jill Foster Abbott on The Young and the Restless. She took the role in 1987, following in the footsteps of two prior actors, and has since turned it into one of the shows most recognizable characters. Walton, who has been acting consistently since the late 1960s, has been nominated for nearly ten awards for The Young and the Restless alone.
Beth Maitland played the character of Traci Abbott from 1982 to 1996, and took on a recurring role on the show in 2001. She has been nominated for several awards, and won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1985. Her work includes voicework, radio plays, live theater, and made-for-television films.
Mishael Morgan was the first Black actress to win a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, which she received for her role in The Young and the Restless. She plays the characters of Hilary Curtis and Amanda Sinclair, and has appeared on the show since 2013. Morgan is also known for her roles in shows like Supernatural and Chicago Med. She has been nominated twice for Daytime Emmy Awards in addition to her 2022 win.
Melissa Ordway is the current Abby Newman, a role that’s been played by half a dozen actresses over the course of its lengthy run. Ordway took over the role in 2013, and received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal in 2022. She’s also appeared in films and television programs, including 17 Again, Bones, and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.
Eileen Davidson has had two runs on The Young and the Restless as the character of Ashley Abbot. She played the part from 1982 to 1988 and again from 1999 to present. She has been nominated for nearly ten awards for her roles in The Young and the Restless and Days of Our Lives, and won Daytime Emmy Awards for The Young and the Restless in 2014 and 2018.
Other Cast Members
True fans know this is not a complete list of the show’s memorable characters and cast members. There are simply too many to count! Here, however, are a few additional standouts:
- Doug Davidson, who played Paul Williams for 43 years starting in 1978, is the show’s longest-running cast member. Meanwhile, Christel Khalil, playing the role of Lily Winters, left the show in 2005 and returned later.
- Kate Linder, who plays Esther Valentine, has been in the show’s cast since April 1982, making her one of the top four longest-running cast members on the show. Peter Bergman’s Jack Abbott is another long-running character. Bergman landed the role in 1989.
- Joshua Morrow joined the cast in 1994 as Nicholas Newman, son of Victor and Nikki Newman. The star has been married for more than two decades and is still a recurring character on the show.
The Young and the Restless at 50
The Young and the Restless is more than just a CBS soap opera; It’s a cultural phenomenon. With over 12,000 episodes produced, it’s one of the longest-running shows on TV today. Known for their memorable storylines, Young and the Restless cast members like Jeanne Cooper and Kate Linder have made enormous contributions to the soap opera world. Happy Anniversary Y&R!