Next Score View the next score

    Jeanne Cooper, 84, ‘Young and Restless’ grande dame

    Jeanne Cooper played Katherine Chancellor on CBS’s “The Young and the Restless” for four decades.
    Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
    Jeanne Cooper played Katherine Chancellor on CBS’s “The Young and the Restless” for four decades.

    LOS ANGELES — Jeanne Cooper, the enduring soap opera star who played grande dame Katherine Chancellor for four decades on ‘‘The Young and the Restless,’’ died Wednesday, her son, Corbin Bernsen, wrote on Facebook and the family confirmed. She was 84.

    The cause of death was not immediately available.

    She will be remembered ‘‘as a daytime television legend and as a friend who will truly be missed by all of us here at the network,’’ said Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, adding that the actress brought ‘‘indelible charm, class, and talent to every episode.’’


    Ms. Cooper joined the daytime serial six months after its March 1973 debut, staking a claim to the title of longest-tenured cast member. The role earned her 11 Daytime Emmy nominations and a trophy for best actress in 2008.

    Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
    The day's top stories delivered every morning.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    ‘‘God knows it’s claimed a big part of my life,’’ she told the Associated Press in March as CBS’s ‘‘The Young and the Restless’’ celebrated its 40th anniversary.

    As the years passed, Ms. Cooper brushed aside thoughts of saying goodbye to the show and its fictional Wisconsin town of Genoa City.

    ‘‘What would I do? I’m no good at crocheting. My fingers would bleed,’’ she told the AP as she turned 83 in October.

    But on April 12 Bernsen tweeted that his mother faced an ‘‘uphill battle’’ with an undisclosed illness. On Wednesday, he wrote that she remained a fighter to the end: ‘‘She has been a blaze her entire life, that beacon, that boxer I spoke of earlier. She went the full twelve rounds and by unanimous decision . . . won!’’


    Ms. Cooper, born in the California town of Taft, attended the College of the Pacific and performed in local theater productions before her professional career began with the 1953 film ‘‘The Redhead from Wyoming’’ starring Maureen O’Hara. Other film credits include 1968’s ‘‘The Boston Strangler’’ with Tony Curtis and 1967’s ‘‘Tony Rome’’ with Frank Sinatra.

    She had a parallel career in television, with shows including ‘‘The Adventures of Kit Carson’’ in 1953, ‘‘The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse’’ in 1954, and ‘‘Bracken’s World’’ in 1969-70.

    In a recurring role on ‘‘L.A. Law,’’ she played the mother of Bernsen’s character, Arnie, and received a 1987 Emmy nomination for best guest actress in a drama. Bernsen later joined his mother on her series, making several appearances as a priest, Father Todd.

    But it was her role on ‘‘The Young and the Restless’’ that made her a television star intimately familiar to viewers.

    In 1984, Ms. Cooper’s real-life face lift was televised on the show as her character underwent the surgery at the same time. ‘‘It opened up reconstructive surgery for so many people, youngsters getting things done,’’ she said. ‘‘To this day, people will come up to me and say: ‘Thank you so much for doing that. My mom or I had something done, and not just cosmetic surgery.’ That was an incredible experience in my life.’’


    ‘‘The Young and the Restless’’ has topped the daytime serial ratings for more than 24 years, in part because of the continuity provided by Ms. Cooper and its other longtime stars, including Eric Braeden.

    Ms. Cooper’s 30-year marriage to Harry Bernsen ended in divorce.

    The couple have three children, Corbin, Caren, and Collin, and eight grandchildren.