Jeanne Cooper, daytime legend and star of CBS’ The Young and the Restless, passed away this morning at the age of 84.
A powerhouse actor, a rock-solid friend, and a lioness of a mother, Jeanne Cooper was afraid of nothing and no one; leading a life of creativity and unfettered fearlessness. Even at the moment of her passing, she crossed the threshold with courage and dignity – exemplifying the traits with which she built a life.
Cooper’s eldest son, actor Corbin Bernsen, released a statement via Facebook: “My mother passed away this morning just a short time ago, peaceful with my sister by her side, in her sleep. I was going to visit this afternoon, thought I had time. Reminder to self – time is a precious thing. I too am at peace however. I said my goodbyes several times over during the last few weeks. I’ll go one last time now for a gentle kiss a final farewell for this lifetime. 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! And while her light finally gave into the wind that gives flight to all our journeys, there will always be a glimmer left behind by what she stood for.”
Born in Kern County, California, Cooper was the youngest of three children. She began her career in the 1950s Hollywood, starring in films alongside legendary actors Maureen O’Hara, Glenn Ford, and Tony Curtis. Later, she worked steadily in television up through the 70’s, including Perry Mason, Hawaii Five-O, Ironside, Ben Casey, and The Big Valley with her lifelong friend and grand dame, Barbara Stanwyck.
She appeared in two episodes of Tales of Wells Fargo; once as anarchic female bandit Belle Starr, and again in an episode entitled “Clay Allison”, playing “Duchess”. She was and ever has been “Duchess” since.
But it was her turn as the inimitable, indomitable, and irreplaceable Katherine Chancellor on the drama The Young and the Restless which centered her in the lexicon of true troubadour actors. For forty years, Cooper didn’t just break ground; she smashed walls and collapsed ceilings. In a medium and a time when actresses didn’t like admitting their ages, much less showing it, Cooper did both—having a faceelift on national television. The real-life surgery was written into Cooper’s storyline, at her request, and broadcast in full, unvarnished view for the television audience. It showed a level of courage and confidence that became synonymous with the Duchess herself.
“Everything that happened in that storyline was first-hand,” Cooper explained once in an interview. “And you saw everything as I saw it.”
Cooper is a ten-time Daytime Emmy nominee and was nominated for two Primetime Emmys. She also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmys in 2004, and won for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama in 2008. For her remarkable contributions to television, she received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame , located at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Her memoir, Not Young, Still Restless, was published in 2012.
Cooper is survived by her three children: Corbin, Collin, and Caren Bernsen, who were with her when she passed. Her costars and family celebrate her mighty spirit.
TVSource Magazine extends its heartfelt sympathies to the friends and family of Jeanne Cooper. Our thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.