The Young And The Restless: Details About The Cast Only Superfans Know

It's no secret that streaming platforms now dominate screen viewership these days, but legacy media isn't going down without a fight, especially when it comes to soap operas. Case in point is the high-profile afternoon draw "The Young and the Restless," which is currently celebrating a half-century on the air, making it the third-most popular U.S. daytime drama on TV (after "Days of Our Lives" and "General Hospital"). Reaching that podium is hardly a walk in the park, however, since such a feat couldn't be remotely possible without a loyal television audience. At the core of those dedicated viewers is a superfan contingent that's so obsessive about the show and its cast — a weekday regimen without satisfying that "Y&R" fix would be unthinkable. Among those disciples is a subset of seniors who've been hooked by "Y&R" since Day One, years before the feuding family dynasties of the Abbotts and Newmans first entangled those continuous story arcs.

Together, they differ from more casual viewers who might remember Eric Braeden's appearance in the "Titanic"  blockbuster, Eva Longoria's two-year stint on "Young and the Restless" before finding prime-time success on "Desperate Housewives," and even hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky's brief cameo in one episode. But superfans are different, not only having the genealogy of the characters down pat, but also knowing every intimate detail of the folks who play them. Granted, some of that information might be trivial, but other factoids are fascinating enough to hold their own regardless of celebrity connection. Here's a look.

Peter Bergman almost lost his eyesight

As Jabot Cosmetics CEO Jack Abbott and family patriarch, veteran cast member Peter Bergman is such a mainstay on "The Young and the Restless," no episode would be complete without his presence. Unfortunately, audiences had to deal with several weeks without the character late in 2021. On the show, Abbott suddenly had to embark on a crucial business trip, but the reality was much scarier. It turned out that Bergman had a more personal battle to maintain his eyesight, after doctors diagnosed the actor with a detached retina in his left eye.

Bergman told Soap Opera Digest that while visiting folks during a brief break, he felt something funny in the corner of his eye. "All evening long, I was seeing something creeping into my vision and by the end of that night, it was like a curtain closing in toward the center of my eyesight," he added. A quick visit to an ophthalmologist confirmed the retina issue, and Bergman was advised that he needed emergency surgery to save his eyesight. He endured weeks of discomfort while recovering, but received some valuable advice from cast mate Mishael Morgan, who experienced the same condition earlier that year. He recovered in time to hit the show's Christmas party, albeit with a new perspective. "It was a temporary visit with blindness and a wild adventure," he said. "It was also a sobering reminder of how precious eyesight is."

Eric Braeden played a German soldier in a WWII series

Using a refined charm and poker-playing tactics, Eric Braeden deftly steers his character, ruthless tycoon Victor Newman, through rough waters on "The Young and the Restless." It's as if locking horns against bigwigs came naturally to Braden, previously known under his real name Hans Gudegast when he first came to national attention during the '60s. Back then, Braeden played German Captain Hans Dietrich in the World War II drama "The Rat Patrol," an experience he hardly found endearing. He was incensed when told that the show's high brass felt his portrayal of Dietrich was "too sympathetic" and wanted him to wear an eye patch and sport a limp. "I said, 'Tell them to go f*** themselves, I won't do that,'" Braeden said to the Archive of American Television, preferring to depict Dietrich as a more conscientious conscript. "I will not play this caricature Nazi."

The show marked one of the last times the native German would work under his given name, changing it to Eric Braeden, and going after more protagonist roles in movies like "Colossus: The Forbin Project" and "Escape From the Planet of the Apes" before landing his "Y&R" gig.  "I think there was an enormous need in me as a German actor to show that we have feelings just like anyone else, that we have enormous conflicts just like anyone else, that we are very emotional people," he said to the Los Angeles Times.

Tracey E. Bregman lost her home in a wildfire

Folks might view Malibu as a lap of luxury, but to Tracey E. Bregman, who plays Lauren Fenmore Baldwin on "The Young and the Restless," it's a community much like others across the US. "I think Malibu has a very shiny, glitzy, kind of stigma, but we're really a sleepy little town where we know everybody," she said to Lisa Remillard on BeondTV. "It's very unusual where I don't know somebody or something." That awareness was critical in helping her neighbors survive the massive wildfires in 2018 that swept through part of Malibu, killing three people and destroying 97,000 acres and 1,200 homes, including Bregman's place. Despite the devastation and the immediate danger, the celeb managed to take a picture of her home swallowed in flames that she posted on Instagram, captioned with: "Thank God we are all safe. I have no other words. I'm just numb for us all."

But Bregman didn't stand idly by. She checked on neighbors to ensure their safety, and helped organize relief efforts for firefighters and affected Malibu residents including a One Love Malibu concert that included performers like Katy Perry and Gwen Stefani, and raised roughly $1 million for victims of the wildfire, per TMZ. "I don't want to take credit for it," Bregman said on Beond TV. "One Love Malibu did it and did an extraordinary job of this beautiful concert and helping the community."

Sharon Case posed for the cover of a men's magazine

Daytime drama stars may enjoy getting profiles in print mags like Soap Opera Digest or Soap Opera Weekly, but Sharon Case, who plays coffee house entrepreneur Sharon Newman on "The Young and the Restless," topped them all by becoming the first soap luminary to pose for the cover of a men's magazine. Back in December 2001, the blond actress graced the front of Brit mag FHM (an acronym meaning For Him Magazine), wearing a black bikini, with an additional spread featuring her in various lingerie items. Granted, "Y&R" doesn't likely grab a large viewership among dudes, but apparently the FHM editorial staff (which put on other covers celebrities like Halle Berry, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Britney Spears) felt she had a look right enough to render readers cavalier about where she garnered her fame. 

Additionally, the photos were totally innocuous, given that the magazine (which folded in 2015, although an online version still exists) strayed from publishing risqué images, meaning that the pictorial fit right in with a no-nudity stipulation that Case ensures is in all of her contracts, (via Showbiz CheatSheet). The issue cropped up in 1997 when HBO asked her to star in "Breast Men," which, as the title indicates, contained a number of topless scenes. She turned down the part and opted to play a nurse with fewer lines but definitely with a lot more clothes on.

Melissa Claire Egan lost a fake spelling bee on TV

Melissa Claire Egan, who plays Chelsea Newman on "The Young and the Restless," is no stranger to seeing scandal leap off the pages of her script every time she rehearses her lines. But even as a pre-teen, she's had to deal with a few nefarious twists in her work. When she was 11, Egan competed in a middle school spelling bee, part of which was televised nationally in 1993. But her opponent provided the wrong spelling for the word "lugubrious," an error that the judge didn't notice before awarding her the championship trophy, while Egan protested in the background to a chorus of deaf ears. The kicker was that the competition was actually a sketch that aired on a "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" episode and featured an eight-year-old Scarlett Johansson as Egan's victorious opponent.  

The experience was one of many side projects Egan had going on while still a child growing up in Westchester, New York. "I grew up going to the city a lot and auditioning a lot as a kid," she said to "State of Mind" host Maurice Benard. "It was more of a hobby and I'd book out to do like the school play, so it was kind of good I got used to rejection at a young age. I got used to auditioning at a young age but it wasn't like my whole life."

Cait Fairbanks scored an Emmy nod few knew about

It's no secret that Cait Fairbanks, who plays musician Tessa Porter on "The Young and the Restless," is also an aspiring singer-songwriter in her own right. What isn't so well known is that Fairbanks and three other "Y&R" colleagues were up for a best original song Daytime Emmy in 2019 for co-writing the tune "How Could A Lie Feel So True" that aired during a 2018 episode. But when the nominations were announced, Fairbanks wasn't included in the writing credits; instead, the listing cited Cait Baunoch, her birth name. "It's kind of like my secret identity name — like Kim Possible!" she exclaimed to Soap Central. Those nomination lists have since updated her surname.

Nonetheless, Fairbanks wasn't expecting the nomination, since she told Soap Central the piece was written several months earlier. "It was a pleasant surprise, and I really love that I'm nominated in this particular category, because I really feel like I got to be part of the creative team, which is my dream," she said. While she didn't win that year, Fairbanks had another shot at Emmy hardware in 2022 for "Next To You," which she co-wrote during the pandemic. "The song is what I would want to hear from someone when I'm feeling down," she said to Daytime Confidential. This time, she lost to another "Y&R" writing team that co-wrote "Grateful for It All," but at least people recognized her name in the credits.

Mark Grossman dated at least two cast members

Anyone who's seen Mark Grossman working his character, Adam Newman (the family's troubled black sheep on "The Young and the Restless"), might get the impression that he's just as brooding and dour in real life. It turns out that Grossman is quite the charmer on set, to the point where he's dated at least two of the soap's stars. The fourth actor to play Adam Newman when he signed up in 2019, Grossman wasted little time in garnering critical attention by grabbing a supporting actor Daytime Emmy the following year, and catching the eye of cast mate Sharon Case. It was a relationship they both kept under wraps until the jig was up in 2021. When both were interviewed for a Toronto Sun podcast that year, it was obvious the two were living together. 

"It's an honor to work with her and getting to know her, it's just been wonderful, and she's such an amazing actress," said Grossman of Case, struggling to strictly show the professional side of their relationship. "She makes me a better actor, and I'm always amazed by her, because it's like, no matter what they write for her or what the story is like, she will find a story within a story, and she's such an intelligent actress." However, in 2022, the two had broken up, with Grossman since dating fellow "Y&R" star Courtney Hope.

Amelia Heinle almost didn't make her Y&R audition

"The Young and the Restless" is hardly Amelia Heinle's first rodeo, since the actor who stars as Victoria Newman in the popular soap had previously graced the small screen in daytime dramas "Loving" and "All My Children." But she could easily have scuttled her entire soap opera career after a cab driver had taken her to the wrong address of an audition for her first outing, the since-canceled sudser "Loving." At the time, Heinle was fresh out of high school back in Phoenix and had moved to New York City, which was foreign territory to her. Back then, all the networks filmed their soaps in studios on 66 Street; Heinle was unsure which one was facilitating her audition. 

"And then I ended up going [to] 'One Life To Live,' 'cause it was confusing if you didn't know the right studio," she said to Soap Opera Digest. "I finally ended up at the 'Loving' studio ... and somehow I lucked into that role 'cause I had absolutely no experience." Reading for the part while soaking wet from the outside rain, she landed the part of Steffi Brewster, while wondering why she was picked for the gig. "I'm like, 'How did I even get this job?' I remember later I became friends with the casting director who was like, 'Well, you weren't the best of the actresses, but we just had seen that you had a good instinct,' or something like that."

Bryton James starred in a sitcom when he was three

Bryton James is a fan-favorite as billionaire Devon Hamilton in "The Young and the Restless," although he first tasted fame in 1989 when he played toddler Richie Crawford on the sitcom "Family Matters." Fans can be forgiven for not making that connection, since James answered to Bryton McClure and was only three years old when he started, far too young to concern himself with showbiz politics. "I thought this is what everybody does," James said to "Michael Fairman Channel." "I didn't know it was work, I didn't know anything, so I was far from intimidated." Years later, after securing a spot on "Y&R," James managed to get veteran actor Telma Hopkins, one of his favorite people from the sitcom, to land a cameo on the soap. "It was like coming home," he said about sharing a scene with Hopkins once again.

For all the nostalgia and good times he had on that comedy, James stated that "Y&R" was a far more legitimate giant step in his career. "I've always considered 'Young and the Restless' to be my first real acting acting job, because I understood what it was to get better," he said to "State of Mind" host Maurice Benard. "I was at a fast track to trying to get better quickly, and that's when I knew that, 'Oh, I can do this.'"

Kate Linder still moonlights as a flight attendant

Of all the characters on "The Young and the Restless," Kate Linder is probably the only player whose work not only puts her on the air, but in the air as well. For four decades, she's played Esther Valentine, the long-suffering maid who worked for matriarchal mogul Katherine Chancellor (portrayed by the late Jeanne Cooper). But even after landing the part, Linder kept her regular job as flight attendant for United Airlines. "In the beginning, I didn't tell anyone because I thought they would take me less seriously as an actress," Linder told Closer Weekly. "But then, as the years went by, I would meet viewers on the plane and have these wonderful stories. I thought that as long as I keep doing both jobs well, I would keep doing them."

Linder, who says she had always wanted to be an actor, took the airline job to keep herself financially stable while she auditioned for roles on her days off. These days, she's not as prominent in "Y&R," so she enjoys the flex time to keep working in both professions. But her profile is still large enough to be recognized by soap fans whenever she pushes the beverage cart down the aisle. "Many of them know I fly and are anxious to tell me how much they love the show," she said to CBS. "Others don't know and are extremely surprised when they find out that Esther is serving them in the air."

Mishael Morgan almost lost her life in a car accident

Undoubtedly, Mishael Morgan, who plays Amanda Sinclair on "The Young and the Restless," was astounded to become the first Black woman to win the best actress Daytime Emmy early in 2022. "I was kind of a little taken back by that, but there was a moment [where] I just felt at peace and ... maybe this was kind of part of my journey," she said on the "Dishing With Digest" podcast. That journey, however, could have ended back when she was 19 in her native Trinidad, where she broke her neck and nearly died in a car accident. "I started to become very spiritual in that hospital bed," Morgan recalled during a HuffPost interview, "and before I went into the surgical room I made a promise to myself, God and the Universe; that if I got the chance to walk again, I would just try acting."

Morgan, who initially pursued a law career, handily made the switch after her recovery, landing a regular role on the Canadian kid-oriented series "Family Biz," before joining "Y&R." But in October, Morgan announced she'd be taking time off from the series to head back to Canada, compelled in part by the death of her husband's brother and his family in a fire back in March. "I kind of wanted to give my kids some time and get back to Toronto," she said to "Dishing With Digest."

Joshua Morrow landed Y&R while still living with his mom

Despite his youthful appearance, Joshua Morrow has spent nearly 30 years portraying Nicholas Newman on "The Young and the Restless," an unexpected detour from his initial plans to get a teaching or coaching job. "I never grew up wanting to be an actor a day in my life," said Morrow to "Better Connecticut." "A lot of actors don't like hearing that, but it was just kind of something I fell into in college because frankly that's where all the girls were."

That all changed while attending Moorpark College in California, where he was first discovered, leading to modeling gigs with Nike and Teen Magazine. A part Morrow had in a college play drew the attention of an agent, who connected him with a few auditions. One of them panned out when the "Y&R" brass called him. At 19, and still living with his Mmm, Morrow hit screens with his debut as Nick Newman in 1994. But he still never shook the notion of going the education route, especially as a coach. During weekends, Morrow coaches his kids' soccer teams, an activity that occupies his mind about as much as prepping for his scenes at his day job. "I literally sit in my dressing room all day, making lineups and dreaming about matchups," he commented on "Better Connecticut."

Melody Thomas Scott almost became a Brady girl

As Nikki Newman, Melody Thomas Scott is not only one of the most popular soap stars on "Y&R," she's recognized as a genuine icon in the genre. So it's tempting to speculate what her status would have been like if she had successfully landed a part on "The Brady Bunch," one of TV's most beloved sitcoms. Speaking to Yahoo! Entertainment, Scott recalled she and close friend Maureen McCormick were both up for the role of Marcia Brady, until the yardstick ruled against her. "I don't remember if I was too tall or too short, but my height was my downfall there," she said about the gig which went to McCormick.

As a child and a teen actor, Scott worked frequently, including projects featuring Kirk Douglas, Clint Eastwood, and John Wayne, but those achievements came with a horrific sacrifice. She was raised by her grandmother who had her mind set on getting the girl a successful showbiz career, regardless of the cost. That included enabling Hollywood men in high places to sexually assault Scott in exchange for roles, while her grandmother did nothing to intervene. "Her behavior got worse and worse and worse, so by the time I was a teenager it was just madness," Scott said about those appalling experiences to CBS. "It taught me strength, that's for sure. I knew I had to be strong to survive her and it was not easy, but you learn perseverance."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Michelle Stafford once suffered a brain tumor

As Phyllis Summers, whose personal stakes in scandals see her traverse that tenuous border between good and bad, Michelle Stafford's character frequently hits a few rough patches on "The Young and the Restless." But none of those escapades can compare to the real-life health scare she experienced when she was 18. Fresh into a modeling career at the time, she thought her runway dreams would be derailed when doctors discovered a tumor in her brain, requiring surgery. "I felt relieved because I finally knew what was wrong — and I knew that the tumor was not malignant," she said to Soap Opera Digest. "I don't want to sound glib, but it was a very good experience because it really kicked me in the butt." She shed a few pounds, dyed her hair red and became more relentless in her job searches. Fashion stints eventually led to TV, including her steady gig at "Y&R."

Years later, Stafford also found out she had fertility issues. Although she never married, Stafford still wanted to have children, so via surrogacy, she's since become the proud mother of a boy and a girl. Still, she admitted going through the process wasn't easy. "It was very, very hard for me, because I tried for so long to do it myself," she said to SheKnows. "Honestly, at the time it made me feel like a total failure as a woman."

Jason Thompson had to repeat a grade in school

Before taking on the role of Billy Abbott, the resident lone wolf on "The Young and the Restless," Jason Thompson already had a stable career playing Dr. Patrick Drake on "General Hospital," a moniker that other show characters frequently altered to Dr. Hottie. He easily made the transition to the more brooding Billy, who sometimes looks like he's hiding a few secrets. In real life, Thompson might be doing just that, but he unearthed one surreptitious nugget in that he and another classmate flunked Grade 2 in his native St. Albert in Canada. 

"We both repeated Grade 2," Thompson said to EDify. "I don't know if he tells anyone else that, but it's the honest truth. I remember it like it was yesterday. 'Everybody, congratulations, you're going to Grade 3, except for Blair and Jason.'" That camaraderie with Blair McFarlane has since blossomed into a friendship and partnership to the point where they share ownership of a couple of eateries in Edmonton, a city just south of St. Albert.

While Thompson is at ease surrounded by scores of lenses, he also revealed on Instagram his camera-shyness as a kid. "I never liked having my picture taken," he posted. "I remember crying often, or at least there are plenty of photographs of me crying. And when I did, I was the kid to make the faces. Probably why I always felt more comfortable in costume. Time flies."

Jess Walton briefly left due to a salary cut

A veteran among cast members of "The Young and the Restless," Jess Walton is the third actor to portray Jill Abbott when she first took on the role in 1987 and has been on the show ever since. But the soap opera world was abuzz when it was reported that Walton had left the show in 2009 over what some believed were health issues, but later turned out to be a refusal from producers to take a pay cut (via Soap Central). When negotiations broke down, the situation was so tense that the show even released a casting call for Walton's replacement with the successful candidate required to start immediately. 

But it didn't take long for Walton to have a change of heart and return to the fold. It turned out the state of the global recession at the time provided her enough insight to go back to work, especially in light of the news that same weekend that the long-running soap "Guiding Light" had exited the airwaves. "It had to do with my family and this economy," Walton said to Tulsa World (via Daytime Confidential). "I felt so bad that so many people have lost their jobs, that, all of a sudden, I thought: 'This is really silly. I have a wonderful job and I really think I owe it to myself and my family to continue on.'"