Reader Rick Wheeler of Valparaiso wrote me the following last week: "You've mentioned in previous columns your mother Peggy is a long-time fan of the CBS soap opera 'The Young & The Restless.' Not sure if she's heard, but actress Jeanne Cooper, who played wealthy Katherine Chancellor on the show for nearly 40 years, died May 8 at age 84. She's the real mother of actor Corbin Bernsen. In the 1980s, she even guest starred on the NBC prime time series 'L.A. Law,' " where her son Corbin was a regular, and played his mother. Thanks, Rick Wheeler."
Thank you Rick for alerting readers, (and my mother).
According to her Associated Press wire obituary, Cooper joined the soap six months after its March 1973 debut. I was aware she'd been hospitalized, and knew her son Corbin was keeping fans updated with his mom's health status. She had been doing better, and was able to return home, prompting 59-year-old Corbin to return to Canada where he'd been filming a movie on location. However, Cooper took a turn for the worse, and was sent back to the hospital. Her daughter Caren, 53, was at her side when she passed.
Rick is correct many readers may not be aware of Cooper's death, since the soap tapes six weeks in advance. Therefore, Cooper has still been seen appearing on the show, right up until last week, airing in a storyline that has her character very frail, and in and out of the hospital, eerily paralleling her real life!
CBS contacted me with an alert "The Young & the Restless" will broadcast a tribute to Cooper, tomorrow, Tuesday May 28. Cast members, friends and family of the actress gathered last week to tape a celebration of her life. Interviews with Cooper from the show's recent 40th anniversary and old clips will be included.
Her role earned her 11 Daytime Emmy nominations and a trophy for best actress in a drama series in 2008. Cooper, who also did a number of roles on the big screen, often westerns, including "The Redhead from Wyoming," "The Man from the Alamo," "There Was a Crooked Man," and worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, co-starring in films alongside Maureen O'Hara, Glenn Ford, Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, George Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, James Caan, Shelley Winters and Raquel Welch. On the small screen, she appeared in roles on "Perry Mason," "Maverick," "Ben Casey," "Bonanza" and "The Big Valley."
And yes, my mom is indeed, a big fan of this soap and Cooper. In May 1994, I traveled with my mom to Mackinac Island, Mich. to spend time with Cooper, who was at a press event. They sampled fudge while touring the island together during the day, and at night, the pair gambled the slots at one of the Native American casinos "just across the great bridge." Last July, Cooper published her autobiography "Not Young, Still Restless" ($25.99 IT Books).
Though Cooper could never be replaced, her daughter Caren is also an actress. So, CBS producers, take note.