Wealthy Jabot Cosmetics founder, John Abbott, was left alone to raise his three adolescent children when his wife, Dina, left him. Apparently Dina had never been much of a wife, since daughter Ashley was actually fathered by their country club golf pro, Brent Davis. John and Traci were not aware of this, and Ashley only found out herself as an adult when the man was dying and confessed. The Abbott children were mostly raised by long-time family maid, Mamie Johnson, whom they thought of as their mother. Jack, the oldest, went to Viet Nam, then with an MBA from Harvard, ran Jabot with Ashley. Ashley graduated with a chemistry degree from the University of Colorado. Traci graduated from Genoa City University, then attended graduate school at Stanford, and became a best-selling novelist living in New York City. They remained a close family, as everyone got into each other's business, and came to John for advice.
John left Genoa City a few times to live in New York City, but more often he and his children lived at the Abbott mansion with their spouses. Dina lived in Paris, and showed up now and then over the years, usually when John was single, to make a play for reconciliation.
John became attracted to Jill Foster, a much younger woman. Son Jack was well aware of gold-digger Jill, who had already been involved with two wealthy Genoa City men, among her many men. Jack told John about her illegitimate son by his dear friend and former college lover, Katherine Chancellor's deceased husband. Jill plied John with their fateful love story, and John decided to marry her to give her and her son Phillip a better life. John and Jill were married, with Jill's mother Liz as matron of honor.
When John refused an offer to buy out Jabot and found son Jack had okayed the deal, he had a heart attack and underwent surgery to alleviate arterial blockage. With this health setback, he began to have second thoughts-that maybe it was time to sell Jabot. But he nearly had another attack upon discovering the buyer was ex-wife Dina, owner of Mergeron Enterprises, due to the death of her husband. Needless to say, John declined.
After Jill had a one-night stand with Jack, she discovered she was pregnant. Her dilemma over who was the father led to a miscarriage when she mysteriously "fell" from a ladder. John eventually found out about the liaison thanks to Kay Chancellor, went home to confront Jill, and suffered a stroke. But he later filed for divorce, and threw Jack out of the house and Jabot. Because John did not want the facts brought out, Jill's divorce settlement gave her one-fourth of Jabot Cosmetics, a seat on the board of directors, and a cushy executive position with Jabot at $150,000 a year.
John replaced Jack at Jabot with Traci's new husband, Brad Carlton, who was a Jabot salesman following his earlier stint as the Abbott gardener. Amazingly, Jill was showing that she could function as an executive at Jabot. John began seeing both Joanna Manning (mother of Lauren Fenmore), and Ellen Winters, director of the local Soup Kitchen. Then Ashley disappeared, and John found her in a mental institution in New York City with no memory. Ashley eventually recovered from the trauma of aborting the married Victor Newman's child, and married her psychiatrist, Steven Lassiter.
John had to hire Jack back to run Jabot when Brad couldn't handle it and quit. Brad went to work for Fenmore's. Then Brad was kidnapped by his crazy ex-wife Lisa. Lisa led the pregnant Traci to believe that Brad had left her to return to his ex-wife; she miscarried the baby, and later filed for divorce.
John Abbott was then attracted to Cricket's mother, Jessica Blair. But Jessica kept him at arm's length because the reason she had returned to Genoa City after all the years away was to make peace with her daughter after Jessica had been diagnosed with AIDS. John romanced her, and she broke down and accepted his proposal. In her attempt to flee back to Kansas City, she collapsed and was hospitalized. Jessica finally had to tell Cricket of her illness, and Cricket told John. But John insisted on marrying Jessica anyway. Months later, Cricket uncovered the identity of the man who'd gotten her mother pregnant and disappeared those many years ago-her father. John nobly agreed to end the marriage so that Jim Grainger, Jessica, and Cricket could be reunited as a family to fulfill Jessica's dream. It was not long afterward that Jessica died, with all who loved her in attendance, including John.
For years, Victor Newman and Jack vied for control of Jabot Cosmetics. Jack was instrumental in the company's "going public," thereby stupidly allowing Victor's takeover, which caused John Abbott to have another heart attack. Jack struck a deal with Victor to return control of Jabot to the Abbots, if Jack would abandon Nikki. But Victor tricked Jack, and the deal fell through. So Jack married Nikki anyway, and the Abbotts worked for Newman.
Several affairs later, Jill found herself on Victor's radar. They slept together a few times and Jill assumed she would certainly be the next Mrs. Victor Newman. Hapless Jill, no more than shared her elation at the prospect with Jack, than The Mustache let her know that she was just a fling and he had no real intentions where she was concerned. Mortified, Jill quickly found her way back into John's heart, and they remarried, much to his children's dismay. Jill wanted to have a baby, though John felt he was too old. But Jill managed to get pregnant before John got a secret vasectomy. When he discovered she was already pregnant, he insisted she have an abortion, but Jill couldn't do it. John did wonder if Billy might actually be Victor's, since he knew they had been together in September. But when Jill gave birth to William "Billy" Abbott on the Fourth of July, the math did not wash. John eventually accepted Billy and came to love him. Jill's affair with Jed Sanders due to John's impotence caused their second divorce, which resulted a bitter custody battle over Billy and a stroke for John. John got custody of Billy and, unable to bear Jabot under Newman, they moved to New York City.
Over the next several years, Jack plotted with Brad Carlton twice to take over Newman Enterprises in Victor's absence. The second time, they succeeded by changing numbers in a spreadsheet and seeding the Board of Directors to get the needed votes. When Victor returned, Jack made him a deal to return Jabot to the Abbotts in exchange for Newman. Unfortunately for Jack, Victor saw what he really wanted, and upped the ante-Jabot must be purchased to close the deal, and Brash & Sassy would stay with Newman. The Abbots scraped up the cash for the deal, but fell short at deadline time. Jack had to knuckle under to Victor, and accept a loan for the remainder. Victor bought up all the Abbott loans and was about to turn the tables and control Jabot once again. But Victor's renewed involvement with Jack's sister Ashley made him back down on calling in all the loans-for a while.
John returned to Genoa City with his then 16-year-old son, Billy, to once again head up Jabot in its fight for survival. He was seeing longtime friend, Gina Roma, and occasionally singing a song with her at her restaurant or a party. After graduating from high school, Billy left for Louisiana to help Brock Reynolds build houses for the summer, but returned to Genoa City to attend college at GCU. But after discovering that he and his love, Mackenzie, were really cousins, both left town. John was made guardian of his granddaughter, Colleen, after Traci gave up on her belligerent pot-smoking daughter. 16-year-old Colleen fell for J.T. Hellstrom, but being 19 and in college, and with his reputation with the girls, John forbade Colleen to see him. She began sneaking out and meeting J.T. on the sly. Colleen eventually went to live with her father, Brad. and Ashley, and she and J.T. became a sweet love story.
Several months later, the Cosmetic Wars began, and tensions were high as nearly everyone's mate was the enemy. Victor was Newman and wife Nikki worked for Jabot. Jack was Jabot and wife Phyllis worked for Newman. Neil worked for Newman and then-fiancÚ Dru worked for Jabot. Victoria and Nick's parents were on opposite sides, plus Victoria was resentful that Victor passed her over and mentored Nick to take over Newman one day, while Nick was unable to forgive Victor for being too close with his wife, Sharon. Newman Enterprises outbid Jabot to buy out Satine Cosmetics for Women of Color due to inside information that Dru let slip to Neil. To compete, Jabot decided to resurrect a similar shelved project of Ashley's they called Tuvia. Payback was had when Dru found out that Newman was trying to woo Satine creator, Damon Porter, as their chemist for the newly named Safra line. She stole him away to work for Jabot during Ashley's maternity leave.
Jabot was still hurting financially, but saw Tuvia as their savior, depending on their reputation and fine product to put them back in the black. But Victor could not let Jabot win the war, so he blackmailed Michael Baldwin into paying off large retailers to give them the prime shelf space normally held by Jabot. With both products' rollout day only a day away, Victor felt the need to find Ashley where she was nesting at a resort, just days away from delivery, to tell her not to worry-which of course made her worry all the more. The next day Safra was selling like hotcakes and finished a close second to Tuvia. The Abbotts were shocked, the Newmans jubilant. Nick smelled a rat. Ashley knew Victor pulled a fast one. She decided to drive to Genoa City to get him to stop whatever he was doing to Jabot.
Ashley's SUV was broad-sided just outside Genoa City, and Jack and Brad were on the scene as she was cut out of her SUV and rushed to the hospital battered and bruised. As Brad held the hand of the unconscious Ashley, the fetal heart monitor stopped. Ash was rushed into surgery, but the baby, named Robert after John's father, died. Nearly everyone blamed Victor Newman. John even went out to the ranch and punched Victor in the face. When Ash was told, she blamed herself, especially after Olivia delivered the news that Ash could have no more children. When Victor came to see her, Ashley finally told him to go away. Brad went gunning for Victor to even the score. Jack again demanded Phyllis quit working for the enemy; she again refused. Diane came to Jabot's rescue complete with fat checkbook with "no strings." Nick found out about Victor's dirty tricks and turned him in to the Feds. Victor was arrested and jailed the day before Christmas.
While attending the 2003 Arts Council Gala with John, Gina received a call that her restaurant was on fire. They rushed to the scene and witnessed the place fully engulfed in flames by arson. John took the distraught Gina home to the Abbott mansion before it was even extinguished. Gina eventually moved out after becoming the manager of the Genoa City Athletic Club, and moved there.
Even thought Phyllis dealt the final blow to her marriage by testifying on Victor's behalf at his commercial bribery trial, Victor was found guilty and, in a last ditch attempt to keep from going to prison, offered Jack $75 million to settle. Jack laughed in his face, as it was nowhere near what they lost. Victor was sentenced to do some major community service. After sentencing, John and Ashley raked Jack over the coals for not consulting them about the settlement offer. They then attempted to accept the settlement, but Victor pronounced the offer had decreased to $20 million, so they declined. Further prodded by Nikki for a reasonable settlement, Victor came up with his final offer-the original $75 million, with the stipulation that Jack could never work for Jabot again. Reluctantly John and Ashley were about to accept, when Jack offered to resign if it would save Jabot. He did, Jabot got the $75 million, and Jack reverted to his past, being the happy-go-lucky unemployed playboy, and occasionally sleeping with Jill.
John Abbott was bedazzled by the much younger Gloria Fisher, unaware that she was the mother of unscrupulous Attorney Michael Baldwin, and Kevin Fisher, the guy who tried to murder John's granddaughter, Colleen, and burned down Gina's restaurant. Ashley, living in a dream world, suddenly announced to Brad that their marriage was over, because she wanted to be with her true love, Victor. When Victor heard what she did, he confronted Ashley and made her realize that he was happily married to Nikki with no romantic interest in Ashley. Ashley and Brad separated, Ash moved home to the Abbotts', leaving Abby to stay in the house with Brad. Victor was enjoying regular visitation with Abby until she fell from a horse on the ranch, and became rather afraid of him. Ashley and Jack were both shocked when John and Gloria returned from a cruise and announced they were married. Convinced that the low class Gloria was a gold-digger, Ashley disapproved of their relationship and vowed to end it, while Jack was content if Gloria made John happy. But then John found out that Gloria was mother to Michael and Kevin, so he was ready to end the marriage. But a fall down the stairs caused John to break his hip, and Gloria managed to weasel her way back into his good graces while he recuperated from hip replacement surgery.
Once Jabot went through the $75 million and was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, Ashley took Victor up on his offer to come aboard as a consultant. When John realized that Victor was making drastic cuts in the company, which he could not abide, he removed Ashley as CEO, came out of retirement, and took the position again himself. Katherine made Jack Abbott CEO of Chancellor Industries, and Jack wrangled a deal to rescue Jabot by making it a subsidiary of Chancellor. After a failed attempt to convince Victoria Newman to return to Genoa City and become Jabot's new CEO, Jill Abbott was given the position after she and Kay finally made amends. Brad, who was expecting to get the CEO position himself, quit his job with Jabot, and considered going into business with Victoria Newman. Jack offered Victoria the position of Jill's right hand at Jabot, but Victor won her back as CEO at Newman while Nick took a leave of absence. Her first move as CEO was to hire Brad.
Ashley began dating Paul Williams but was also being pursued by a mysterious man named Tom Callahan. What she didn't know was that he was Gloria's ex-husband, and Kevin's child abuser father, "Terrible" Tom Fisher. Gloria didn't know if he was even alive, but Kevin's first encounter with him turned him back into the cowering child he once was. Michael paid him off to leave town, but that obviously didn't work. In trying to figure out what Tom was up to, Michael discovered that Gloria's divorce from Tom was never filed. He assured Gloria that her marriage would be seen as legal, but could be voided should John decide. Tom was seeing a lot of Ashley, doing things like fishing and baseball games. They always just barely missed encountering Gloria or John at the Athletic Club or the Abbott mansion.
One day Tom's luck ran out, as they ran into Michael at the Abbotts'. Amazingly, Michael did not expose him to Ashley, but afterward, he suggested Gloria have Tom declared legally dead. After witnessing a bit of his temper, Ashley asked Tom to back off, and said that she only wanted to be friends. After Tom discovered an ad in the paper, he went to the Abbott mansion and confronted Gloria, who was shocked and terrified to see him. She held him at bay with a fireplace poker while he tried to sweet talk her in his smarmy manner, expecting a cut of her good fortune being married to a rich man. But Gloria gave him what for-about the kind of man he really was and got him out the back way, just before John and Ashley returned. It was shame, because it would have exposed everything, and John would have seen what a victim Gloria was in all of it.
Tom showed up at Michael's and Lauren looked on in horror while Michael fought the evil Tom as all the years of rage came out. Gloria was still so cowed by Tom, she gave in to his blackmail demands by tricking money out of John by supposedly paying expenses for Michael and Lauren's wedding. Michael decided it was time to put a stop to it all, and tell John the truth. But Tom outwitted him by going to John himself, telling him who he really was, that his intentions toward Ashley were honorable, that Michael had known all along and Gloria didn't, and he was only there to make up for the past. John went home and told Gloria, who played into Tom's plan once again. She was free and clear with John, but further indebted to Tom, and Michael was on the spot. They told Ashley, who later slugged Tom at the Athletic Club. Because Gloria continued to pay Tom blackmail money stolen from John, Michael formed an alliance with Ashley. They planted drugs in Tom's motorcycle saddlebags, and arranged for him to be caught. But Tom pressured Gloria through Sheila, disguised as Jennifer, to pay his bail. Ashley began dating Tom as part of the plot to bring him down, but Tom found out and was bent on revenge!
Not realizing that Sheila was intent on murder, Tom was conned into joining her plot to get back at Lauren by planting a bomb on Lauren and Michael's honeymoon yacht. Michael watched in horror from shore as the yacht blew up. Lauren was not found, and was presumed dead. But Tom had rescued Lauren and carried her and Sheila back to a farmhouse in Genoa City where he held them in the basement fallout shelter. Lauren convinced Tom that Sheila was the bad guy, so he contacted Gloria to arrange a deal to turn over Lauren. John overheard the phone call, grabbed his gun, and met Tom in an alley instead. During a struggle the gun went off, and Tom was killed. John dropped the gun and took off, getting into a car accident, but Ashley arrived in time to witness it. Ashley confessed to the shooting and was arrested, with Michael as her lawyer. Meanwhile Lauren and Sheila fought and Lauren broke Sheila's ankle. Eventually, realizing Tom was not coming back, they joined forces and attempted to escape. As they were almost out, Paul arrived and pulled Lauren to safety while the shelter caved in on Sheila. Sheila was not found in the rubble, but was later seen at a plastic surgeon wanting a new face. Michael and Lauren enjoyed a tearful reunion, and everyone in Genoa City was relived she was back among the living. After recovering from the accident, John regained his memory, and confessed to killing Tom. John arranged a plea bargain to get all possible charges dropped against Ashley for her deception, and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
With John in prison and not at the mansion to protect her, Gloria grew tired of the way Jack and Ashley treated her and vowed to get even. She managed to get hold of the new product Ashley was developing in the lab and compromised it with cleaning solution to make trouble for them. Gloria even asked for a sample, then used it on herself, getting major facial burns to show everyone that Ashley's cream was a hazard. Unfortunately samples had already been distributed to select people, and a woman ended up dying after using the cream. The cause of death was a bit suspicious, but the husband was paid off by Jabot to avoid a lawsuit. Jabot's reputation was further ruined, and Katherine fired Jack as a result. Gloria then invited Kevin to live at the Abbott estate, ingratiated herself to Kay and Jill, and landed a job at Jabot as Fashion Consultant, then managed to get Kevin hired on as Director of Internet Affairs to replace Phyllis. She let both Kevin and Michael in on her schemes and they reluctantly helped to keep her secrets.
While in prison John started getting into fights with inmates and having spells where he believed his first wife, Dina, had just left him. Jack, Ashley, and Gloria were made aware, and Jack got permission for John's doctor to look at him, and it was discovered that John was being over-medicated. Before that was corrected, Jack took this opportunity to get John to hand-write a new will cutting out "his evil wife," whom John thought was Dina. Six months after his incarceration, John was about to be released early due to ill heath when he had a stroke and was rushed to Genoa City Memorial in grave condition. The doctors made the family aware that John would never come out of his vegetative state and had signed a DNR. After much bickering between Gloria and Jack, Gloria decided to use her authority in the DNR to allow John to die. Billy and Traci returned to say farewell to their father, as did old friend Kay, and ex-wife Jill. Jack and Ashley, who wanted a small family-only memorial service for John, over-ruled Gloria, who wanted a huge lavish funeral. As the feud between them heightened, Jack made sure that Gloria had the wrong time so that she missed the memorial service where each of John's children, and Kay and Jill, gave a heartfelt eulogy. Gloria, Michael, Lauren, and Kevin arrived to find it over, so held their own service for John, including Gloria's eulogy.
The Fishers were jubilant, and the Abbotts were appalled, to discover John's will left Gloria 50% of his billion-dollar estate, and the rest, including the Abbott mansion, to be divided among his children. But when everyone arrived in probate court, the prison chaplain turned over the hand-written will he had been given for safe-keeping by John, which divided the estate among only his children. It was also exposed that John's attorney had never gotten around to making the marriage between John and Gloria legal. Afterward, Gloria arrived at the Abbott Mansion to find her belongings in trash bags on the front porch and the locks changed, with Jack gloating behind the glass door. The next day, as John looked on in the guise of Jack's guilty conscience, the judge decided in the end that the hand-written will would stand, so Gloria was cut out. Assuming that Jack was somehow behind it, Gloria was livid. She and Kevin moved in with Michael and Lauren. Jill and Kay promoted Gloria to Vice President of Creative Affairs for Jabot, further infuriating the Abbotts.
John still shows up from time to time as a ghost/conscience to the Abbott family members, mostly Jack or Billy when they have done something to which their father would have disapproved.
In 2012, Billy named his baby son after John, and he was nicknamed Johnny.