Jeanne Cooper, who played Katherine Chancellor on The Young and The Restless, died Wednesday morning. She was 84 years old.
Cooper had been hospitalized off and on since April for an undisclosed illness. Her son, actor Corbin Bernsen, called the situation “pretty rough” and said that she was “resting peacefully.” He asked for fans to keep her in their thoughts through the night and said that “the greatest boxers of all time aren’t half the fighter she is.”
Bernsen confirmed his mother’s death on Twitter, writing, “Mom passed this morning. She was in peace and without fear. U all have been incredible in your love. In her name share it 2 day with others.”
Before her 40-year run on The Young and The Restless, Cooper began her acting career in the ’50s as Myra in the Western film The Redhead from Wyoming. She went on to star in The Man From Alamo, 13 West Street, and Over-Exposed, among other films.
In 1956, Cooper was cast as Mrs. Hinton in “The Rabbi Davis Story” in the religious anthology Crossroads, and a year later, she played female bandit Belle Starr in NBC’s Tales of Wells Fargo.
In 1973, Cooper began playing Katherine Chancellor, known as the “Dame of Genoa City” and “the Duchess,” in The Young and The Restless. Her character was introduced by William J. Bell, the show’s creator, to try and help the ratings. Cooper initially signed a three-year contract and thought she would be leaving the show after it expired, but she remained on the series. Her character even underwent a face-lift, which used real-life footage from Cooper’s own procedure. Cooper had pitched the idea to CBS execs, who agreed. The procedure is referred to as daytime TV’s first “extreme makeover.”
Cooper was briefly replaced by Canadian-American singer Gisele MacKenzie for six episodes in 1986. In 2011, Cooper took a medical leave and her role was temporarily recast with Michael Learned, who played Olivia Walton in The Waltons. Cooper returned on December 23 that year.
Jeanne Cooper also appeared as Katherine in two episodes of The Bold and The Beautiful, on October 31 and November 1, 2005.
Cooper had been nominated for 10 Emmy awards over the course of her career, but she didn’t win until 2008. She earned a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1993.
Jeanne Cooper is survived by her three children, Corbin, Caren, and Colin.