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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March 26, 1973

Are you all ready for another Tuesday Timeline entry?  Today is March 26, and as it happens, a lot happened on this date throughout history! 

I won’t waste any time here.  Let’s kick this off by wishing the following celebrities and famous people a happy birthday!  Turning one year older are Sandra Day O’Connor, Leonard Nimoy, Alan Arkin, Wayne Embry, James Caan, Nancy Pelosi, Diana Ross, Richard Tandy (ELO), Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Martin Short, Leeza Gibbons, Philip Brown, Chris Hansen, Jennifer Grey, Billy Warlock, Eric Allen Kramer, Roch Voisine, Michael Imperioli, Kenny Chesney, James Iha, Leslie Mann, T.R. Knight, Amy Smart, Natalia Livingston, and Keira Knightley.

And, here are some of the huge events that happened throughout history on this date.

1484 – William Caxton prints his translation of “Aesop’s Fables”

1812 – Caracas, Venezuela is destroyed by an earthquake

1830 – The Book of Mormon is published in Palmyra, New York

1885 – The Metis people of the District of Saskatchewan under the leadership of Louis Riel begins the Northwest Rebellion against Canada

1931 – SwissAir is founded as Switzerland’s national airline

1934 – The United Kingdom introduces the driving test

1942 – The first female prisoners arrive at Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland

1967 – The first of many Central Park be-ins takes place in New York, with approximately ten thousand people taking part

1979 – Jimmy Carter, Anwar al-Sadat, and Menachem Begin sign the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty in Washington D.C.

1982 – A groundbreaking ceremony takes place in Washington D.C. for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

1990 – Fashion designer, Halston, dies of an AIDS-related cancer in San Francisco, at the age of 57

1997 – Heaven’s Gate cult leader Marshall Applewhite and thirty-eight of his followers were found dead following a mass suicide

1999 – Dr. Jack Kevorkian is found guilty of second-degree murder in Michigan following his administering a lethal injection to a terminally ill man

2005 – Paul Hester, of Split Enz and Crowded House commits suicide by hanging at the age of 46 following a long battle with depression

Okay, so maybe March 26 wasn’t exactly the most...shall, we say, positive date in history.  However, I think you’ll agree that the date that I have chosen to spotlight is one that is surrounded by many accolades.

And, that date is March 26, 1973.

It was 40 years ago today that a little daytime drama premiered on CBS.  Who would have thought that it would have grown into a huge juggernaut of a series, which has ranked at the top of the daytime ratings for almost a quarter of a century?  Believe it or not, this series had a very slow growth, almost getting cancelled by the creator of the show just a couple of years into its run!  But, throughout the 1980s, it grew its audience, and became the cream of the daytime crop.  Even though the man behind the show passed away a few years ago, and despite many changes in production staff, the show has survived and thrived, continuing to be the most-watched daytime drama in the United States.

And, since it happens to be celebrating its 40th anniversary today, I’ll add in some pieces of trivia about this show that you may or may not have known.  I was intending to do 40 pieces, but then the blog would be too long, so I’ll narrow it down to a little more than half that number.

Ladies and gentlemen, on March 26, 1973, the world was introduced to “The Young and the Restless”.

Introduced onto the CBS daytime schedule by William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell, the series is set in a fictionalized version of Genoa City, Wisconsin, and details the trials and tribulations of some of Genoa City’s most interesting residents from high society to working-class people.  The program initially began as a half-hour serial when it debuted in 1973, but by 1980, it had expanded to a full hour, airing in most American markets between 12:30 and 1:30 in the afternoon.

Originally, the serial focused on two distinct families...the wealthy Brooks family, and the working-class Foster family.  And, I think that this formula was quite successful at the beginning, as every social class was represented.  There were always characters that people could relate to, no matter what social background you were in at the time.  And, this continued long after both families were mostly written out.  As of 2013, the action now seems to focus on the Newmans, the Abbotts, the Winters, the Baldwin-Fishers, and the long-running rivalry between Jill Foster Abbott and Katherine Chancellor...a rivalry that has lasted thirty-nine of the show’s forty years on air!

“The Young and the Restless” was created as a more youth-oriented show, for the purpose of competing against other newly created soap operas “General Hospital”, “All My Children”, “One Life to Live”, and “Days of our Lives”.  Initially, the show was pitched to CBS executives under the name “The Innocent Years”, but changed the show title to “The Young and the Restless” to reflect the youth and the mood of the early 1970s.

It seems hard to believe, but the show was at the bottom of the ratings for the first few years of the show’s run, and William J. Bell almost considered pulling the plug on the show during the late 1970s...but he was convinced to keep the show going, and the patience and love that he gave to the show as its head writer helped bring the show to the #1 spot in late 1988, where it has remained ever since.

William J. Bell served as the head writer of the show for twenty-five years, retiring in 1998.  He stayed on the show as an executive producer for the series until his death in 2005.  After a revolving door of executive producers and head writers, the show now employs Josh Griffith as head writer.  Its executive producer is now Jill Farren Phelps, who had previously worked on “General Hospital”, “Another World”, and “Guiding Light”.

At any rate, “The Young and the Restless” has had a very rich history over its 40 years, and has told a lot of stories.  As of March 20, 2013, the show has aired 10,125 episodes!  It still has a way to go before it catches up with the over 18,000 episodes that “Guiding Light” produced, but that is still an impressive number!

And, in honour of the show’s 40th anniversary, here are 25 bits of trivia about the show.  You might know some of these already, but some may surprise you!

01 – The longest running cast member of the series is Jeanne Cooper, who has played Katherine Chancellor since the autumn of 1973.  The now 84-year-old actress will be celebrating her fortieth anniversary with the show in November 2013!  She also made history when she had a facelift on the show back in 1984!

02 – Although Jill Foster is the only original character to still remain on the series, she has been played by three different actresses.  Brenda Dickson originated the role in 1973.  She was replaced by Deborah Adair from 1980-1983.  Dickson returned the following year, and left once more in 1987.  Since 1987, Jill has been portrayed by Jess Walton.

03 – Jill and Katherine have had one of the longest soap opera rivalries of all time.  This is just one of their MANY fights.

04 – The longest serving male cast member of the series is Doug Davidson, who has played the role of Paul Williams since May 19, 1978.

05 – The iconic theme of “The Young and the Restless” is a piece that was originally called “Colton’s Dream”.  When a montage of Olympic gymnast Nadia Comeneci aired on ABC Sports with the theme playing in the background, the composition was renamed Nadia’s Theme.  It has been the official theme during the entire run of the series, and has remained unchanged barring a brief three year period where a remix was used in the early 2000s.

06 – Several actors and actresses have gotten their big breaks on “The Young and the Restless”, which include David Hasselhoff, Wings Hauser, Cam Gigandet, Eva Longoria, Michael Damian, Eddie Cibrian, Tom Selleck, Lyndsy Fonseca and Shemar Moore.

07 – William J. Bell wasn’t the only Bell to have a connection to “The Young and the Restless”.  Bell’s daughter Lauralee has played the role of Christine “Cricket” Blair off and on since July 1983.

08 – Arguably, one of the most famous couples to appear on the program has been the on-again, off-again coupling of Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) and Nikki Reed (Melody Thomas Scott).  But, did you know that Melody Thomas Scott is the SECOND actress to play Nikki?  She was originally portrayed by Erica Hope from 1978-1979.

09 - Oddly enough, Nikki’s date of birth is listed as June 1960...which would mean that given the rate of “Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome (SORAS)” that has happened on the series, she would have given birth to daughter Victoria at the age of thirteen!

10 – Victoria is currently played by Amelia Heinle, but the role was originated by Heather Tom, who currently appears on another William J. Bell creation, “The Bold and the Beautiful”.  And, she’s not the first actress to appear on both shows.  Don Diamont, Darlene Conley, Ashley Jones, and Jennifer Gareis also appeared on both shows as different characters.

11 – Sometimes, characters from Y&R will cross over onto “The Bold and the Beautiful”.  Adrienne Frantz (Amber), Sean Kanan (Deacon), Eileen Davidson (Ashley), Tracey E. Bregman (Lauren), and Kimberlin Brown (Sheila) have appeared on both series as the same character.  In fact, Bregman and Brown had catfights on both shows as the characters of Lauren Fenmore Baldwin and Sheila Carter!  Have a look at one below!

12 – Currently on “The Young and the Restless”, Victoria is married to Billy Abbott (Billy Miller).  But if the actors who originally portrayed them were still on the show, it might be quite awkward, as Heather Tom’s younger brother, David, originated the role of the grown-up Billy Abbott in the 1990s!

13 – Did you know that Jessica Collins (who plays new character Avery Bailey Clark) trained at Le Cordon Bleu, and has a blog where she posts her favourite recipes?  You can visit it HERE if you like.

14 – Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters) is the longest running African-American actor on the soap, having been on the series since 1991.  He won a Daytime Emmy for his work just one year after joining the series.

15 – The youngest person to win a Daytime Emmy for their work on “The Young and the Restless” was Camryn Grimes (Cassie Newman), who was just ten when she won in 2000.  The oldest person to win is Jeanne Cooper, who won the Lead Actress award in 2009 at the age of eighty!

16 – The series has been nominated for a whopping 334 Daytime Emmy Awards, winning 111 of them as of March 2013!

17 – The series won the Outstanding Drama Series award seven times.  The first year that the show won the award was in 1975, the most recent in 2007.

18 – The late Terry Lester originated the role of Jack Abbott in 1980, but quit nine years later after clashing with executives over his dwindling airtime (which Lester blamed on Lauralee Bell).  Peter Bergman (above) assumed the role in 1989, and has played the role ever since.

19 – The show has been on location in several different locations over its 40 year history.  The show filmed in New Orleans to resolve the love triangle between Sharon (Sharon Case), Nick (Joshua Morrow), and Adam (Michael Muhney), and recently, the show filmed on location in France to show the wedding of Lily (Christel Khalil) and Cane (Daniel Goddard).

20 – When Victoria Rowell left the series in 2007 (her character of Drucilla Winters was thrown off a cliff in her final scene above), she insinuated that the departure was caused by on-set tension between herself and Michelle Stafford (Phyllis Summers).  It’s alleged that one of the actresses spit on the other one, and that’s what caused the fireworks.  It’s not known how true the story is, but you know, Drucilla’s body was never found...I suppose there’s always room for her to return...

21 – Tonya Lee Williams (Olivia Barber) once appeared as a regular cast member of the Canadian series “Polka Dot Door” in the 1980s.

22 – Some of the sets on “The Young and the Restless” have been a mainstay for several years.  The Crimson Lights set has been regularly seen since 1994, the Chancellor Mansion has been on air since near the very beginning, and the Newman Ranch was a mainstay for decades...well...until Sharon Newman burned it down in 2012...

23 – One of the most shocking plots that the show ever did involved the characters of David Kimble (Michael Corbett, above) and Nina Webster (Tricia Cast).  After Nina shot David in self-defense, David faked his death and went on the run.  He intended to get plastic surgery to look like David Hasselhoff (ironically a cast member of the series himself), but when he woke up, he found that the surgeon had carved the word “KILLER” into his forehead!  In true soap opera fashion, David Kimble's ultimate fate was getting squashed to death in a garbage compactor!

24 – One of the most convincing psychopaths to ever appear on the show was Tricia Dennison (Sabryn Genet).  Her final act on the show was shooting Ryan McNeil (Scott Reeves) at his own wedding!  Here’s a clip of Tricia below.

25 – Finally, here’s a cast photo of the current Y&R cast.  How many can you name? (BTW, Jerry Douglas, who plays John Abbott, has been playing a ghostly version of John following the character’s death in the mid-2000s!)

Happy 40th birthday, Y&R!  

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