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Jeanne Cooper

Jeanne Cooper
Cooper in 1964
Born Wilma Jeanne Cooper
(1928-10-25)October 25, 1928
Taft, California, U.S.
Died May 8, 2013(2013-05-08) (aged 84)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
Occupation Actress
Years active 1953–2013
Spouse(s) Harry Bernsen, Jr. (1954–1977)
Children Corbin Bernsen
Collin Bernsen
Caren Bernsen

Wilma Jeanne Cooper (October 25, 1928 – May 8, 2013), best known as Jeanne Cooper, was an American actress, best known for her role as Katherine Chancellor on the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless (1973–2013). At the time of her death, she was eighth on the all-time list of longest-serving soap opera actors in the United States.

Early life

Cooper was born in Taft, California,[1] to Albert Troy Cooper, and his wife, the former Sildeth Evelyn Moore. She was the youngest of three siblings. The family lived in Kern County for several years, first in Taft until 1942 and then moving to Bakersfield. Her mother died August 21, 1945, and her father died April 11, 1986.[citation needed]


Film and television work

Cooper began her career in the 1950s, appearing as a supporting player in films with stars like Maureen O'Hara, Glenn Ford, Tony Curtis, and Henry Fonda.[1] Her first film role was as Myra in the 1953 western film, The Redhead from Wyoming. She later appeared in small roles in The Man from the Alamo, Over-Exposed, 5 Steps to Danger, Rock All Night, House of Women, 13 West Street, The Intruder, Black Zoo, The Glory Guys, Tony Rome, The Boston Strangler and Kansas City Bomber.

Cooper was a fixture on episodic television throughout the 1950s and 1970s.[2] In 1956, she was cast as Mrs. Hinton in "The Rabbi Davis Story" of the religious anthology series, Crossroads. That same year, she portrayed Louise Douglas in "Girl Bandit" of Broderick Crawford's syndicated crime drama, Highway Patrol.

In 1957, she starred in one of the early episodes of NBC's Tales of Wells Fargo in the role of the woman bandit Belle Starr; in 1959, she portrayed Duchess in a second Tales of Wells Fargo episode, "Clay Allison". In 1958, she was cast in the episode "Wheel of Fortune" (also the name of a subsequent syndicated quiz show) of the NBC western series, Jefferson Drum, starring Jeff Richards as a newspaper publisher. Also in 1958, Cooper appeared as Lucy in "Sundown at Bitter Creek" of the CBS western anthology series, Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater. In 1960, she again played Belle Starr in an episode of the TV series "Bronco" titled "Shadow of Jesse James".

Cooper made five guest appearances during the nine-year run of CBS's Perry Mason, beginning with the role of Laura Beaumont in the 1958 episode, "The Case of the Corresponding Corpse." In the final season of the show, she made her fifth and final appearance as defendant Miriam Fielding in the 1966 episode, "The Case of the Vanishing Victim."

In 1962, Cooper earned her first Emmy nomination for her performance in Ben Casey. After a turn as a regular on NBC's Bracken's World.[2] She also appeared in The Twilight Zone, Hawaii Five-O, Mannix, Ironside, Storefront Lawyers, The Silent Force, Touched by an Angel, and many other series.

In 1965, Cooper appeared in the ABC network's western television series, The Big Valley, as Elaine Baxter Jason, a mercantile store owner and an old friend of series character Victoria Barkley (Barbara Stanwyck). In another episode she appears as the money-hungry aunt of Heath (Lee Majors) . Her husband was portrayed in the episode by John Anderson, who years later became known as MacGyver's grandfather, Harry Jackson.

The Young and the Restless

Cooper is best known for her role as Katherine Chancellor on the daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless. Her character has broken ground in the daytime medium; Katherine has endured several bouts with alcoholism, ischemic stroke, and the loss of many men in her life (four late husbands, and a child given away after birth).[2]

In 1984, Katherine (and Cooper) also had a facelift on national television (Cooper had pitched the idea of having a live facelift to CBS executives, who agreed to write the facelift into the show for Katherine Chancellor).[1][3][4] For many years, the story of Katherine's bitter rivalry with character Jill Foster Abbott has been a mainstay of the show (in real life, Cooper and Jill's portrayer, Jess Walton, were close friends). It was revealed in 2003 that Jill was Katherine's daughter born out of wedlock,[5] but developments in 2009 cast doubt upon that assertion and the long bitter enemies were found not to be mother and daughter after all.

Cooper has received ten Daytime Emmy nominations, nine for Outstanding Lead Actress and one for Outstanding Supporting Actress, and two Primetime Emmy nominations. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Daytime Emmys in 2004.[1] For her contributions to television, Cooper received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is located at 6801 Hollywood Blvd. She won the 2008 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. This was her first competitive win; she had first been nominated in 1989.

Cooper's character, Katherine, was thought to have died in a November 2008 episode. It was, however, her look-alike, Marge, who died, and Katherine had experienced memory issues due to the car accident that took Marge's life.

Cooper had to take a medical leave in October 2011 and her part on the soap was temporarily recast with veteran actress Michael Learned. However, the next month, she confirmed she was returning to the set. She returned as part of the show on December 23, 2011.

She filmed her last scene on the show in March on the same day as the Young and the Restless 40th anniversary and this scene aired on May 3, 2013, five days before her death.

A tribute episode of The Young and the Restless in honor of Jeanne Cooper made up of clips, cast memories and interviews was shown on May 28 on the CBS network. The production company will later announce how they will handle the further development of the character of Katherine Chancellor.

Personal life

Cooper married television producer Harry Bernsen, Jr., and they were together for 23 years before divorcing. In Jeanne Cooper's book (released on July 31, 2012), she makes it known that after their divorce, she and ex-husband Harry Bernsen very rarely saw each other (only when family functions dictated) and they were not close or even friends before his death on May 31, 2008. The Bernsens had three children, all of whom are actors: Corbin Bernsen of L.A. Law fame (born September 7, 1954), whose mother Cooper portrayed twice on that series; Collin Bernsen, born March 30, 1958; and Caren Bernsen,[5] born August 17, 1960. Cooper also shared birthdays with Marion Ross, best known for her role on Happy Days, and Anthony Franciosa.[6]


In 2013, shortly after a round of promotion for the Y&R 40th anniversary, Cooper became ill due to an infection. Cooper died on May 8, 2013 in a Los Angeles hospital.[7][8][9] Her final Y&R scene was filmed Tuesday, March 26, 2013 (the exact date of Y&R's 40th anniversary) and aired on Friday, May 3, 2013.[10] “Mom passed this morning,” her son, Corbin Bernsen, said on Twitter the day of her death. “She was in peace and without fear.”[11]

Awards and nominations



Year Film Role Notes
1953 The Redhead from Wyoming Myra
The Man from the Alamo Kate Lamar
Shadows of Tombstone Marge
1955 The Naked Street Evelyn Shriner
1956 The Houston Story Madge
Over-Exposed Renee
Calling Homicide Darlene Adams
1957 Five Steps to Danger Helen Bethke
Rock All Night Mabel
Plunder Road Fran Werner
1958 Screaming Mimi Lola Lake in Photo Uncredited
1960 Let No Man Write My Epitaph Fran
1962 Red Nightmare Helen Donavan
House of Women Helen Jennings
13 West Street Mrs. Quinn
The Intruder Vi Griffin
1963 Black Zoo Edna Conrad
1965 The Glory Guys Mrs. Rachael McCabe
1967 Tony Rome Lorna Boyd
1968 The Boston Strangler Cloe
1970 There Was a Crooked Man... Prostitute
1972 Kansas City Bomber Trainer Vivien
1973 The All-American Boy Nola Bealer
1977 The San Pedro Bums Mrs. McClory
1991 Lethal Justice Clerk
1992 Frozen Assets Zach Shepard's Mother
1993 Beyond Suspicion Renata
2002 The Tomorrow Man Jeanine
2005 Carpool Guy Mrs. Lunsford
2009 Donna on Demand Virginia Hart
Dead Air Paranoid Caller

Selected television works

Show Character Duration
The Young and the Restless Katherine Chancellor
Marge Cotrooke
1989-1990, 2008, 2009
The Nanny Herself 1997
The Bold and the Beautiful Katherine Chancellor 2005 (guest in two episodes)
Guiding Light Wedding Guest 2009 (guest star)
Cheyenne Marie Conover "Top Hand"
Mary "Molly" Spenser "The Quick and the Deadly"
The Untouchables Fran Cagle on the episode 'The Case Against Eliot Ness' - Season 3, episode #83 1962
Stoney Burke Loren Schuyler in episode "Webb of Fear" 1963
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Mother Fear a.k.a. Yvonne on the episode 'The Children's Day Affair' - Season 2, episode #41 1965
Perry Mason Laura Beaumont
Thelma Hill
Ethel Belan
Mary Browne
Miriam Fielding
The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series) Barmaid on the episode "Mr. Denton on Doomsday" 1959
Gunsmoke Lilly Pitts on the episode "The Ex-Con" 1963
Have Gun–Will Travel (1957-1963 TV series) Edna Hardin in the episode "The Treasure" 1962
Mr. Novak (1963-1965 TV series) Louise Sargent in the episode "The Boy Without a Country" 1963
Daniel Boone Amy Barr
Addie Ogilvie
The Tall Man Mrs. Elmira Webster on the episode "The Reversed Blade" 1961


  1. ^ a b c d "Jeanne Cooper: Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved 2013-05-01. 
  2. ^ a b c "Jeanne Cooper- Biography". Yahoo!. Retrieved 2013-05-01. 
  3. ^ Jeanne Cooper of 'The Young And The Restless' Talks Controversial On-Air Facelift (VIDEO)
  4. ^ The Reliable Source (2013-05-09). "R.I.P. Jeanne Cooper, the soap star who was a facelift pioneer". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  5. ^ a b "Raising Cane". Soap Opera Weekly. 2007-02-27. p. 20. 
  6. ^ "Famous Birthdays for October 25". Retrieved 2014-02-13. 
  7. ^ Rice, Lynette (2013-05-08). "Longtime 'Young & the Restless' star Jeanne Cooper dies at 84". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 
  8. ^ "'Young and Restless' star Jeanne Cooper dies at 84 - A&E". 2010-06-27. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 
  9. ^ Dzurilla, Christie (2013-05-08). "Jeanne Cooper of 'Young and the Restless' Dies at 84". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 
  10. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ June, Daniel. "'The Young and the Restless' Star Jeanne Cooper Dies". 
  12. ^ a b Jeanne Cooper at

External links

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