(Last Updated On: March 24, 2023)
I, was born on April 16, 1971. The first episode of The Young and the Restless aired on March 26, 1973 when I was almost two years old. Y&R has been on the air for about as long as I have been alive. When you think about it, this is the only show that still airs (new episodes) that I have been watching for as long as I can remember. There is most definitely something to be said about perseverance. It’s been 50 years for Y&R ( 50+ for me) and we are both still here and kicking!
My story is like most, I began watching with my grandmother, Victoria Raymond, and my mom, Valda Smith. They have both passed on but I still carry the Y&R torch on this side of heaven. I can remember flashes more than memories of watching when I was small. The images are more of me sitting with my grandmother than really remembering who or what was on the screen. But names such as Elizabeth Foster, Stewart Brooks, Leslie Brooks, Jill Abbott Snapper Foster, Lance Prentiss, etc. were always floating around.
The first story I really remember was when Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) held Michael Scott (Nicholas Benedict) prisoner in his basement when he found out that his pregnant wife Julia (Meg Bennett) was planning to leave town with her lover. I looked it up and the episode aired in March 1981. I don’t know if I played sick from school (I did that from time to time) or if the storyline ran into the summer. But I do remember my grandmother watching it and man did she have a few choice words for Victor! My grandmother also used similar words at times when “speaking” to my grandfather, whom she was married to for over 50 years. So, maybe they were terms of endearment? Maybe not? LOLOLOL. True story.
In my 52 years of living I have loved many soap operas, but none like Y&R. As we know, there is something extra special about your first love. Y&R is my first soap opera love and it will forever hold that special place in my heart. My family wasn’t anywhere near rich when I was going up and Y&R was one of the first places and characters I could vicariously live through and imagine what it would be like to be rich. The show looked, smelled, and tasted of money. Ranches, The Colonnade room, diamonds, rubies, designer clothes, corporate dynasties, lavish weddings, breathtaking location shoots, mansions, housekeepers, butlers, etc. I loved the wintertime! I couldn’t wait to see Nikki, Katherine, Jill, etc. strut around in their fur coats with the collars up to their necks. Rich, opulence, money. I couldn’t get enough!
This is my, Kenyan Patrice Katherine Smith Pierre’s, love letter to The Young and the Restless. Yes, I am sharing it but it is deeply personal to me. There are no rounded numbers for my lists. The number of characters in the lists isn’t equal. This is just how I have seen and experienced the last fifty years in Genoa City. It is very informal but the love is real. These are my thoughts, my favs. There are soooo many great and influential characters not included. I need another fifty years to list them all. But this is what I got. This is about me and Y&R. Got it?? Good! Let’s Geaux!
My Favorite Characters
My disclaimer is I am Team Abbott, always have been, and always will be. So, I had to make myself not list every one of them here lol. But know, I love me some Abbotts. I listed my top two below but really it was hard because I truly love all of them. The list below of my favorite characters is in order, well sort of, because the order can fluctuate from time to time except for number and number two. Those are on lock.
Drucilla “Dru” Barber Winters (Victoria Rowell) ~~ She is my favorite. She will always be my favorite character in daytime for as long as I live. Her transformation will forever be one of the best to land on the screen, big or small. Dru, dynamic, sassy, electric, gorgeous, multi-talented, and she was every young Black girl’s (and older) SHEro who watched. She is and will forever be everything to me.
Neil Winters (Kristoff St. John) ~~ Handsome, intelligent, successful, debonaire, and that smile! Should have had his own business long before he did. My heart stayed in “pitter-patter” mode when he was on my screen. King Neil Winters. We love and miss you, Kristoff! Thank you so much for coming into our lives and onto our screens. Rest on, King.
Ashley Abbott ~~ God Bless Brenda Epperson and Shari Shattuck but Eileen Davidson is Ashley Abbott to me. Ashley is what all my soap heroines are made of. Beautiful, super-smart, chic, and business savvy for “days.” She’s a frigging rock star. She did and still does hold more than her own versus all of Genoa City’s business titans, including brother “Jackie.”
Sharon Newman (Sharon Case) ~~ I have loved her since day one. There is no character that has been um, let’s find a nice word, “mistreated” more in Genoa City across regimes except for Mr. Bell’s of course. But let’s be clear, this Queen, like cream always rises back to the top. You can’t keep a good woman down! Currently, the show has backburned her again. But she is her own phoenix. She will rise again. And Ms. Case big kudos to you for turning whatever “stuff” you are given into sugar on the regular.
Billy Abbott ~~ No shade to David Tom, Ryan Brown, or Burgess Jenkins and I love me some Jason Thompson and “Dr. Patrick Drake” but Billy Miller is my fav, Billy Abbott. He had it. His way of messing up without fail despite his best intentions while still being charming, engaging and so dayum cute just hooked me and kept me. He had that kinda smile too!
Malcolm Winters ~~ Love Darius McCrary but all this “baby girl” has to say is Shemar Moore…Enuff said.
Brad Carlton (Don Diamont) ~~ When you go from cutting grass to sitting in executive boardroom(s), you know you are the man! Brad was a man’s man, his own man. He was such a great character! Brad was sexy as hell with just the right touch of an edge that helped him climb his way to the top. He wasn’t related to any of the core families so he could and did have as many of the ladies in GC that he could handle. Killing him off made no sense. Yes, Dollar Bill is all that but my Brad…and those cut-off jean shorts!
Shelia Carter (Kimberly Brown) ~~ LISTEN. I am not here to bash Bold. But this love is for the Y&R Shelia Carter. The drugging, poisoning, kidnapping, switching babies, and switching faces Shelia Carter. That’s my girl!! Can somebody, anybody get us a final showdown between Lauren and Shelia? PLEASE?!
There is something I discovered that is very peculiar to me. When I was working on this love letter and I started to think about my favorite ships, I honestly was surprised I couldn’t come up with five. How could the soap I have been watching practically all my life not have five, at least, ships for me? Now let me say I am a hardcore but selective shipper. It’s like chemistry it’s either there or it ain’t. A couple grabs me or they don’t. Yes, there are couples I may like, root for, and maybe even love. But shipping? That is top tier. That hits differently. So, I have four ships and I added a couple of pairings that I think also deserve special recognition.
Neil and Dru ~~ (Kristoff St. John, Victoria Rowell ) My Ship of Ships. What they did for daytime, was from then to infinity. They changed the face, the color, and the landscape of daytime television. Black is Beautiful. Black Love is Beautiful.
Nick and Sharon ~~ (Joshua Morrow, Sharon Case) Magic. Always have been, always will be. But for some reason, Y&R continues to resist the magic. Imma say it, the character of Nick’s pairings has left lots to be desired as of late. The answer, the fix, is right there. But…they resist.
Billy and Victoria ~~ (Billy Miller, Amelia Heinle) (OG Version). How I loved them! The Newman princess falls for the Abbott black sheep. Man those were good times! Miller and Eric Braeden played off each other so well. You could tell they were having a good time and so were we. “Villy” was my last ship bug that I caught on Y&R.
Danny and Cricket ~~ (Michael Damian, Lauralee Bell) The wide-eyed teen falls in love with the rock star. This one wrote itself. Who wouldn’t love to have a super hot musician as a boyfriend?! I lived vicariously through Cricket in this pairing for sure.
** Special Recognition
Victor and Nikki ~~ (Eric Braeden, Melody Thomas Scott) Of course, you can’t discuss couples on Y&R, really in daytime in general, without acknowledging them. They are the super of supercouples in Genoa City. Sending a very special shoutout to Mr. Braeden and Ms. Scott!
Devon and Hilary ~~ (Bryton James, Mishael Morgan) We all know about the lack of diversity, in several areas in daytime. I didn’t ship “Hevon” but I will always support Black actors, actresses, and characters in daytime. Always. This couple had it. And they were primed to carry the torch initially lit by Neil and Dru…But Y&R obviously didn’t want this magic either. SIGH.
More of Genoa City’s Finest
I had to single out some of Genoa City’s prestigious citizens that didn’t make my favs of the favs list and I snuck in my Abbotts in too! Win. Win. **These aren’t in any particular order.
Victor Newman ~~ (Eric Braeden). The. Patriarch. Of. Daytime, Period. FIGHT ME.
Nikki Newman ~~ (Melody Thomas Scott) – A co-matriarch of daytime which means there are several wonderful female characters in daytime! As a woman, I am proud to say that. In my opinion, with Katherine’s passing Nikki is now the matriarch of Genoa City but I think a debate between her and Jill is more than fair. One thing that isn’t up for debate is that Nikki, went from the stripper pole to the palace and the Queen’s throne, soooo you gotta STAN!
Jill Foster Abbott ~~ (Brenda Dickson, Bond Gideon, Deborah Adair, Melinda Fee, Judith Champman, for a few days, and Jess Walton). Jill is the longest-running and only remaining original character…that speaks for itself. SHE IS BOSS.
John Abbott ~~ (Sean Garrison, Brett Halsey, Jonathan Stoddard, Jerry Douglas). John was the heart and soul of Genoa City for years. Who didn’t want one of those “John hugs.” His warmth exuded from the screen. He passed away far too soon, I still have no idea why Y&R did that. Rest on Mr. Douglas, you will forever be loved and missed.
Katherine Chancellor ~~ (Beverly Garland, Gisele MacKenzie, Michael Learned, Jeanne Cooper) “The Dame of Genoa City, ” and “The Duchess.” The images of Katherine/Ms. Cooper waving her hand around, back and forth, with all those eye-catching “rocks” on her fingers will always be synonymous with Y&R for me. Rest on, Ms. Cooper. Man, Genoa City just isn’t the same without you! Love always.
Traci Abbott ~~ (Beth Maitland) With John’s passing, Traci has been the heart and soul of Genoa City. Love me some Traci. God Bless her and Beth, God didn’t make every female a size zero but we are all still beautiful and sexy. Seeing Traci and Beth as a leading lady, continues to Bless my soul. Y&R can Traci have a real and long-standing love interest, please and thank you?
Lily Winters ~~ (Vanessa Carson, Brooke Marie Bridges, Davetta Sherwood, Christel Khalil) Legacy. Legacy. Legacy. What an amazing and awesome legacy Lily has received. And while honoring her parent’s legacy she is at the same time charting her own course and coming into her own as a leading lady of Genoa City. Um Y&R, it’s clear that you all have struggled as of late for writing for the “young” but can we get Mattie and Charlie back in Genoa City, please! Neil and Dru’s grandchildren need to be on screen.
Devon Hamilton Winters ~~ (Bryton James) LISTEN. Devon is a good man…except when it comes to women, monogamy and relationships. LOLOL. Things get really shaky then. But he is the Black Prince of Daytime, soooo I am gonna rock with him (but not silently lol) no matter what!
Jack Abbott ~~ (Terry Lester, Peter Bergman) We started this list with Victor. So, it is only fitting that we end it with Jack, the two bookends. The witters consistently and unfairly gave Jack the short of the short end vs Victor. Not fair at all. URGH. Jack Abbott is and will always be a winner in my book!
There are so many to list. Fifty years is a long time! We can’t list them all but here are a few more of the still countless great characters that haven’t been listed above. They are:
Michael Baldwin ~~(Christian LeBlanc)
Lauren Fenmore ~~ (Caryn Richman, Tracey E. Bregman)
Abby Newman ~~ (Darcy Rose Byrnes, Hayley Erin, Emme Rylan, Melissa Ordway)
Adam Newman ~~ (Chris Engen, Michael Muhney, Justin Hartley, Mark Grossman)
Phyllis Summers ~~ (Sandra Nelson, Gina Tognoni, Michelle Stafford)
Paul Williams ~~ (Doug Davidson)
Nina Webster ~~ (Tricia Cast)
A big thank you to the original cast that started this all off!
And to every character, actress, actor, and crew member who in any way contributed anything (big or small) to this crown jewel of daytime over the last 50 years; congratulations, well done, and thank you!
And finally to Mr. William Bell and Ms. Lee Bell…icons, visionaries, and creative geniuses, thank thank thank you for sharing your God-given gifts, creativity, talents, and imaginations with the world. We hope you have that Y&R 2.0, the heavenly edition, ready for us when we meet again!
Happy Anniversary, The Young and the Restless! Here’s to 50+ more!
I AM KP Smith