One of television's most outspoken and adored actresses, Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor) has died. The long-time star of The Young and the Restless died May 8, 2013, at 9:50 AM. The official cause of death was listed as advanced Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). She was 84.
"Wasn't sure how I would have to say these words so I opt for simplicity at least to begin," Cooper's son, actor/director Corbin Bernsen shared on Facebook. "My mother passed away this morning just a short time ago, peaceful with my sister by her side, in her sleep."
Born October 25, 1928, in Kern County, California, Wilma Jeanne Cooper was the youngest of three children. She began her acting career in the 1950s.
Her first starring role was as Myra in the 1953 western film The Redhead from Wyoming. Over the next two decades, Cooper became a fixture in primetime episodics where she was usually cast as the tough-talking broad or elegant socialite on shows ranging from Perry Mason, to Daniel Boone, to The Untouchables. She also appeared in numerous westerns.
In 1973, Cooper was cast as Katherine Chancellor on a then-new CBS soap called The Young and the Restless. Over the next 40 years, this is where the actress established herself as a force in daytime television and became a household name. During that time, Cooper's real life and reel-life were often one and the same. In 1984, Cooper underwent a facelift, which was later written into Katherine Chancellor's storyline, and cameras were rolling when a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon removed the real-life bandages from Cooper's face. Katherine's many public bouts with alcoholism also mirrored Cooper's. Cooper was open about her battles with addiction long before it became commonplace to open up about such issues on daytime talk shows.
In her 2012 memoir, Not Young, Still Restless, Cooper shocked readers with the revelation that she had had an affair with her on-screen son, actor Beau Kayzer. Kayzer was a full 21 years her junior.
Cooper was married to television producer Harry Bernsen in 1954. Before divorcing in 1977, the couple had three children, Corbin, Collin, and Caren. All three became actors themselves.
Cooper was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2004 Daytime Emmys. Four years later, the underdog Cooper won the Outstanding Lead Actress trophy and, showcasing her equally legendary sense of humor, issued the memorable quip, "I bet you thought I had died. Oh, dear. High definition or not high definition. What can I tell ya? It's a bitch, isn't it?"
In addition to her Emmy wins, Cooper also has nine other Daytime Emmy nominations.
Cooper also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1993.