Interviews Soaps

Kate Linder – Flying High and Living ‘Restless’

The Young and the Restless‘ Kate Linder talks to TVSource Magazine about her recent storylines and her experience working on daytime’s number one soap.

It has been almost 27 years, in April 1982, since Kate Linder stepped onto the set of The Young and the Restless and delivered her line “Dinner is served.” What was supposed to be a one day role as Esther, Katherine Chancellor’s (Jeanne Cooper) maid, turned into a lot more than she ever could have expected. After delivering her one line, she was asked to come back again and again. Since 1985, Linder has remained a contract member on daytime’s number one soap.

When Kate landed the role of Esther Valentine, she didn’t quit her day job as a flight attendant for United Airlines, and to this day, she continues to fly the friendly skies with the airline on weekends. “I have juggled them both for so long, you really can’t forget who you are. One day I’m on the set, the next I’m flying at 30,000 feet. It keeps me grounded, and if I can do I can do both well, I’ll keep doing them both. I’ve been so busy on the show, which is fabulous, so I haven’t been flying as much as usual.”

Kate’s role of Esther has been an emotional roller coaster with her long time employer Katherine Chancellor. Over the years, Esther has become more than just Katherine’s housekeeper but her confidante, her friend. After relying on each other during their kidnapping (the first one) and the delivery of Esther’s daughter, Kate (now known as Chloe), the two became close and grew to rely on each other. “We’ve been in together for 27 years, I can’t believe it’s been that long. And yet it seems like it was yesterday. I remember walking into the makeup room and meeting her and telling her that I was going to be her maid and her saying ‘Well, its about time.’ I just loved her from then on. I remember everything about it. I’m just so fortunate. I feel that we do have a great chemistry, we all do. We all respect each other and that’s really important.”

Last year, Elizabeth Hendrickson was introduced to the canvas as fashion vixen Chloe Mitchell. It was soon revealed that Chloe was actually Kate, the daughter Esther sent to boarding school many, many years ago. Since the reveal of Chloe’s true identity, the Chloe and Esther have established more of a mother/daughter relationship. If you were surprised by the storyline twist, you certainly weren’t the only one. “I was absolutely shocked, though I thought it was a brilliant idea.” The actress attributes the success of the storyline to head writer Maria Bell and her writing staff. “Maria Bell and the other writers are amazing; our show is just so good.  Everyone is working so hard.” Kate’s proud to be involved in this story, admitting she can’t wait to get the next script to see what’s happening next.

Linder has enjoyed working with Elizabeth, offering much praise during our interview. “She’s a great actress and when I’m acting with her, I really feel it’s really happening. She gives me a lot to play off of. I feel love for her and I feel she’s is my daughter. It was a great choice to have her as my daughter. So many people have told me that we resemble each other.” Recently Esther has become more involved with her daughter’s life and helping her raise her newborn daughter, Cordelia. Last year, Chloe tricked Cane Ashby (Daniel Goddard) into believing her unborn child was actually his.

The two married for the sake of the child before Cane’s half brother, Billy (Billy Miller) returned to Genoa City. As the story unfolded, viewers learned of the history between Chloe and Billy during their days in New York. Fans began to suspect Billy was the father and it turned out they were right! Esther hasn’t passed judgment on Chloe since learning the truth. “The main thing is for her daughter she wants her to be happy,” the actress says. When asked who Chloe should be with, Kate said it’s not Esther’s place to say who she feels her daughter should be with. “Is she going to be happy? Will her daughter be well taken care of? I think that’s what Esther is worried about — she just wants Chloe to be a happy and fulfilled person. And that’s all that’s important to her.”

Esther’s role in the Chancellor house has also changed in the last few months since Katherine’s ‘death’. At the reading of the Katherine’s will, Esther learned she inherited a portion of the Chancellor Estate, and is financially set for life, thanks to Katherine’s generousity. It’s because of that generosity that Esther became the target of a con, set into place by Clint Raddison (James Michael Gregary) and Roger Wilkes (David Leisure). Esther has really struggled since Katherine’s passing and found herself to be an easy mark. “In the beginning for Esther it was a horrific thing to happen to her, she misses Mrs. C and it was real easy for Roger to take advantage of her,” says Kate. ” She’s trying to stand up and be there for everyone. She’s trying to co-exist with Jill and do the best she can. It’s a whole new world for her and a whole new experience for her. And now she has found out Mrs. Chancellor is alive, of course she’s absolutely thrilled for that, but what’s going to happen to them, they are involved in a big mess.”

The “big mess” Esther is involved in could have been avoided she had just listened to Jill (Jess Walton). Jill believed something wasn’t right with Roger and did her best to warn Esther against falling for Roger’s game. Even though Esther was easily conned, Kate is thrilled with her storyline. “I’ve so enjoyed playing this, so many layers and levels to play.  Having Chloe in the hospital and thinking she’s going to die, trying to get Jill to believe she’s wrong about certain things. It’s been fabulous.”

Over the past 27 years, Kate Linder has enjoyed some really great material with some pretty amazing actors as her co-stars. Recently Esther has found a new love interest in Roger (David Leisure) and is now again working closely with Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor). “The one that is happening right now has been my favorite. It’s just been an unbelievable story and I’ve just enjoyed it. Having David Leisure as my love interest, of course he’s bad, but it’s just been terrific. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Before that, I enjoyed the storyline when I had answered an ad in a singles magazine and told the lie that I was the lady of the house. And I had to get Mrs. Chancellor and her husband Rex, Mr. Sterling to go along with the story. I missed not working with Jeanne, so now I’m working with her again and that’s terrific.”

Besides devoting a lot of her time to being an actress and a flight attendant, she dedicates her spare time helping those in need. Her charity work includes working with ALS the pre-eminent leader in the fight against Lou Gehrig’s Disease, she continues to work with AFTRA and you are founding board member of TV Cares, the Television Academy’s AIDS awareness and fundraising charity. She has also participated in the USO during 2002 in Afghanistan entertaining the troops. “Being a spokesperson for ALS is very important to me, my brother in law has ALS. It’s an extremely horrific disease. We can put people on the moon, yet we can’t cure this terrible disease. I’m not giving up, I know it’s going to happen eventually, and I’m going to work as hard I can to see that happen.”

Kate is also one of the few daytime actors to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Other daytime actors who have received a star include MacDonald Carey, Eric Braeden, Susan Lucci, and Jeanne Cooper. “It’s amazing, I can’t believe it. It was an amazing experience, one I will never forget. It’s very rare, there are 5 of us and 3 of us are from Y&R.”

The Young and the Restless has continued to stay at the top of the ratings chart each week, despite regime changes. Wonderfully told stories, an amazing cast and creative writers bring together an extraordinary show. Kate Linder has had the privilege of working on the show for 27 years and has enjoyed every moment. “I’m just the luckiest person because everybody I’m working with is terrific. They are all great actors and we have a lot of fun, and yet we are able to bring our characters to life in such a great way. I enjoy working with every single person.”

Though Y&R has continued to remain atop the ratings charts, daytime in general has suffered from declining ratings, which means a decline in revenue. The soap has managed to avoid much of the high turnover plaguing some of its peers. We asked Kate if budget cuts were a concern for her and the cast. “I don’t know,” the actress says. “I try not to think about that. There’s nothing I can do about it. I know they will do what they have to do to make our show viable and the best that it can be.  I just have to trust in that. My job is to bring my character to life to make Esther live and breathe and be there in the moment. I try to do that to the best of my ability.  I need to bring her to life and I do that every day.”

Being a veteran of the industry, she admits the genre has changed over the years. “The economy has hit every walk of life, and daytime hasn’t escaped it. It’s difficult and we have to do things a lot faster now and save money.” Though it may be difficult — longer hours and less preparation, Kate’s pride in the soap that made her famous remains unwavering. “I’m so proud of our show,” she says. “I watch the other shows, but I think we deserve to be number one because I think we are the best and work very hard. I’m so grateful for Maria.  She has turned this show and I know that Bill [Bell] is smiling because this show is just fabulous.


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