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New 1973 Soap Opera Targeted the Young and Restless Viewers

Entertainment | August 9, 2018

THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS cast members. Image dated April 16, 1974. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

The soap opera was a fast-growing television genre in the 1960s and 1970s and viewers, mostly housewives, were glued to their TV sets in the afternoons to watch some of the more popular soaps of the day, including General Hospital, All My Children, and One Life to Live. By the early 1970s, CBS television executives were looking for a way to get younger viewers…teens and young adults…hooked on afternoon soaps so they created a new soap opera with a younger, hipper, cooler cast of characters. They called their new series, which debuted on March 26, 1973, “The Young and the Restless.” 

CBS.com

Y&R Centered Around Two Families, the Haves and the Have Nots

When the soap opera was in its infancy, the writers centered the storylines on two fictitious families in the fictitious town of Genoa City, Wisconsin. The town’s wealthy Brooks family was balanced with the working-class, blue-collar Foster family. Two of the show’s main characters, Jill Foster and Katherine Chancellor, were feuding rivals from the very first episode and these characters have maintained that feud ever since. In fact, theirs is the longest-running feud in soap opera history. 

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Brenda Dickson Portrayed Jill Foster throughout the 1970s

When “The Young and the Restless” debuted, actress Brenda Dickson was hired to play the role of Jill Foster. Dickson’s character was an 18-year-old nail manicurist from a struggling family. The young and innocent working girl met the dashing and wealthy…and very much married…Phillip Chancellor. The two had a brief sexual fling that resulted in Foster becoming pregnant. 

Jeanne Cooper Played Jill Foster’s Rival, Katherine Chancellor

Jeanne Cooper ended up playing the role of Katherine Chancellor for forty years and was known as the anchor that kept “The Young and the Restless” a consistent fan favorite. Television critics cited Cooper’s portrayal of Katherine as the number one reason why the soap opera enjoys a longevity. The role of Katherine that Cooper crafted in 1973 is a foil for Jill Foster, with plot lines involving the affair between Jill and Katherine’s husband, Phillip, as well as Katherine’s attempts to win back her husband. 

One of Tom Selleck’s First TV Roles was on “Y&R”

Before he was America’s heartthrob, Magnum PI, the beefy, buff Tom Selleck tackled the role of Jed Andrews on “The Young and the Restless.” He appeared on the soap opera from 1974 to 1975.

Before Becoming Half of a “General Hospital” Power Couple, Anthony Geary was on “Y&R”

Anthony Geary was one of the original cast members of “The Young and the Restless” and played the role of George Curtis for just one year, 1973. Geary didn’t leave the soap opera world behind. He went on to play Luke on “General Hospital” and achieved pop culture icon status as half of the hugely popular power couple, Luke and Laura. 

IMDb

“Baywatch” Hunk, David Hasselhoff was on “Y&R” for 7 Years

From 1975 through 1982, one of the soap opera’s biggest eye candy roles was played by David Hasselhoff. He starred as Dr. Snapper Foster and amassed a huge fan-based of devoted worshippers who followed him on to other projects, including “Knight Rider” and “Baywatch”. 

Soap Opera Queen Deidre Hall Stopped at “Y&R” Before “DOOL”

Although Deidre Hall is known for playing the role of Dr. Marlena Evans on the rival soap opera, “Days of Our Lives,” Hall started out on “The Young and the Restless.” She played Barbara Anderson from 1973 to 1975. 

“The Young and the Restless” Is Still Going Strong

Since its debut in 1973, “Y&R” has been awarded nine Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series. Although it is not the longest running soap opera, it is currently the highest rated daytime television series. 

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Karen Harris

Writer

Karen left the world of academic, quitting her job as a college professor to write full-time. She spends her days with her firefighter husband and four daughters on a hobby farm with an assortment of animals, including a goat named Atticus, a turkey named Gravy, and a chicken named Chickaletta.