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Soap Opera Profile: The Young and the Restless


Doug Williams (Paul Williams) and Michelle Stafford (Phyllis Summers) get up-close and personal
Pascal Le Segretain / Staff / Getty Images

Plot Overview:

The Young and the Restless (Y&R) is the thirty-year-old soap opera that takes place in the fictional town of Genoa City, Wisconsin. Y&R originally focused on the personal and professional lives of two core families in Genoa City: the wealthy Brooks family and the poor Foster family.

Plot History:

After a series of recasts and departures in the early 1980s, most original characters were written out and the core families were replaced with the Abbotts and the Williams. Other families such as the Winters, and the Fisher/Baldwins and the Newmans were also introduced through the years. Head of the Newman clan is Victor Newman, the arrogant, cavorting billionaire and his wife Nikki; and running the Abbott show is Jack Abbott, the irresponsible, playboy CEO and his sister Ashley. Most of the show is centred on the competition between the two companies: Victor's Newman Enterprises and the Abbotts' Jabot Cosmetics.


CBS; the show currently also airs on SoapNet weeknights and is syndicated internationally.

Broadcast History:

First broadcast on March 26, 1973, Y&R was originally broadcast as half-hour episodes, five times a week, before it was expanded to one-hour episodes on February 4, 1980.

Original Cast:

The original March 1973 cast consisted of a mixture of veterans and young, relative unknowns. The most notable cast member was Robert Colbert, star of the 1960s TV series The Time Tunnel, as Stuart Brooks. Dorothy Green, a frequent guest star in numerous 1950s-60s TV programs, was cast as Stuart's wife Jennifer, while veteran actress Julianna McCarthy played Liz Foster. The only original character remaining since the program's debut in 1973 is Jill Foster Abbott, who has been played by Jess Walton, the fourth actress to play the role, since 1987.

Current Cast:

Among the current The Young and the Restless cast members, longtime veteran actress Jeanne Cooper, who plays Katherine Chancellor, debuted on-screen in November 1973 and has been on contract since Autumn 1973. The other current senior cast members who joined the show in the 1970s are Doug Davidson (Paul Williams, 1978) and Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman, 1979). Eric Braeden joined The Young and the Restless as Victor Newman in 1980 after becoming notable for his roles in The Rat Patrol and Colossus: The Forbin Project, as well as a variety of guest starring roles in numerous primetime TV shows during the 1970s.


The soap has won 100 Daytime Emmys, along with 334 nominations.


  • The theme song, "Nadia's Theme" is from the movie "Bless the Beasts and Children" (1971), where its original title is "Cotton's Dream".
  • In 1976, ABC's Wide World of Sports used "Cotton's Dream", the theme song of The Young and the Restless, as a musical background for a montage of Olympic gymnast Nadia Comaneci in action at the 1976 Olympics. Although Nadia never actually performed to this tune, it became associated with her; eventually, the song's writer officially renamed it "Nadia's Theme".
  • The show's original working title was The Innocent Years. In 1983 actor Veleka Gray portrayed two different characters simultaneously: Patti's psychiatrist Dr. Sharon Reaves, hotel manicurist Ruby. Unusually, the characters were neither lookalikes nor related, they were involved in different storylines and shared no scenes together.
  • Christopher Douglas who played Sean Bridges was fired in July 2001, due to a reported power struggle between head writer Kay Alden and executive producer Edward Scott. His role was recast with David Lee Russek.
  • First US soap opera and daytime program to be shown on HDTV.
  • Jeanne Cooper who plays Katherine Chancellor is the only member of the cast who has been with the show since it first premiered in 1973 - although she didn't join in until 6 months after it premiered.
  • When Jeanne Cooper (Katherine) decided to have a face lift, rather than going out on leave and replacing her with a stand in, the producers wrote a story line in which Katherine had a face lift, complete with hospitalization and recovery.
  • One of the favorite plot devices is to send children away to boarding school or out of town to live with former characters only to have them return a short time later as teenagers. Among those involved in this type of plotting were Victoria Newman (age 10 returned a year later as an 18-year-old), Nick Newman, Billy Abbott, and Lily Winters.
  • The china that we have seen Katherine Chancellor drinking out of for quite a number of years is a 'Royal Albert' pattern titled "Heirloom".

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