It may be the highest profile pre-announced soap opera death in daytime history. By year's end, The Bold and the Beautiful's Stephanie Forrester will lose her battle with lung cancer. Stephanie has been played by Susan Flannery since the show debuted in 1987.
The day that fans, actors, and producers of The Bold and Beautiful have dreaded is finally near. It may seem unthinkable, but in a newly published interview, B&B's head writer and executive producer, Brad Bell, confirms that Stephanie Forrester will lose her battle with cancer by the year's end.
The butterfly effect is minuscule compared to the reverberating blow that will strike B&B fans across the world on Friday, October 12, when Dr. Lewis reveals that Stephanie's lung cancer is back and beyond treatment.
"I knew this day was coming, but I've been in denial about it," Bell says in an interview with TV Guide
, but he hopes to tell a story that will honor Susan Flannery, Stephanie, and the fans.
According to Bell, Flannery wants to go out on top and with a blast. "'I'm ready to leave the show, but I will give you the time you need to write out the character…I don't want to know what you're going to do. I just want you to do it your way, and I will play it,'" Bell quotes Flannery as saying about her departure. He goes on to quote her as reasoning, "'We don't know what's next in life. Why should we know what's next on B&B?'"
Flannery might not want to know, but her fans do.
Bell reveals to TV Guide
that once the reality of Stephanie's situation sets in, she becomes obsessed with throwing a farewell party for herself. Eric obliges her and hatches a few surprises for the event. The party Stephanie threw the first time she learned about the cancer included an indoor slide. The upcoming one will have big-name performers. "We're blowing the budget for this one," Bell says of the "Beverly Hills"-style party that will air in November over three episodes.
Refusing to wallow in hopelessness, Stephanie will spend eight episodes delivering hand-written invitations to key people in her life and breaking the news to them. Even Donna and Sally Spectra will have time with Stephanie. Each day contains video tributes to the great relationships in Stephanie's life.
As for whether Ridge will make an appearance in the form of Ronn Moss, Bells hints that one never knows. Ridge's other siblings, however, will definitely gather around their mother as the producers fire up the Forrester living room set for a final time.
Bell feels privileged to pay homage to Susan Flannery with the storyline. In his view, matriarchs and patriarchs should be celebrated as the ones who made the soap business. He reports that Flannery is just as stoic as Stephanie and refuses to be tearful. While there will inevitably be sadness, Bell is confident that the "two great ladies," Stephanie and Flannery, will handle it in an inspiring way.
Bell believes that the scenes will be true to Stephanie and Flannery's spirits. Stephanie has always handled adversity on her own terms, with grace and dignity. Bell hopes for an uplifting experience as the show pays a proper tribute to Flannery, whom Bell calls "a brilliant actress and daytime legend."
Susan Flannery started in daytime on Days of our Lives, where she portrayed Dr. Laura Spencer Horton from 1966 to 1975. She created the role of The Bold and the Beautiful's Stephanie Forrester in 1987. In August 2012
, Flannery announced her plans to retire.