Credit: John Paschal/JPI, Sean Smith/JPI, Columbia TriStar/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, Aaron Montgomery/JPI
When The Young and the Restless debuted to so-so ratings in 1973, co-creator William J. Bell decided to give his baby a shot in the arm by casting primetime and movie powerhouse Jeanne Cooper as Katherine Chancellor, a society broad whose battle with the bottle was rivaled only by the one she fought with husband-stealing rival Jill Foster.
That Could’ve Gone Better
After Katherine’s “better half” Phillip Chancellor divorced her to make an honest woman of Jill — ha! Good luck with that, buddy! — the woman scorned shrugged and said, “Que sera sera.” Just kidding: Kay drove herself and her spouse straight off a cliff, a crime of passion that left him with a pulse just long enough to — d’oh! — marry Jill on his deathbed.
From there, Katherine and Jill waged war over everything, from Phillip’s namesake son to whose jewelry collection was larger. Jill thought that she’d finally gotten the better of the Duchess when she paid Danny Romalotti’s deadbeat dad to romance Kay right into the poorhouse. But the older woman, as usual, had the last laugh: She found real love with the bum who’d been made over into Rex Sterling.
Diamond in the Rough
When Rex’s former cellmate Clint Radison laid eyes on diner waitress Marge Cotrooke, all he saw were dollar signs. He figured he could use Katherine’s lookalike to infiltrate her life of luxury and empty her bank accounts. And he would’ve done just that, too, had Katherine’s son Brock Reynolds not returned to Genoa City with a leveler head on his shoulders than Rex (who dumped his “wife” for Jill!).
‘This House Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us’
In the late 1990s, a lost-and-found letter from Phillip combined with a legal loophole the size of a crater to make mansion-mates of Katherine and Jill. It went… well, probably about as horrifically as you would imagine. Desperate, Kay ran off, got herself mugged and wound up meeting Mackenzie Browning, a homeless girl who turned out to be her granddaughter.
A Family Shatters
If Katherine and Jill were upset to discover in 2003 that they were mother and daughter — and make no mistake, they were (see photo) — their mortification was nothing compared to that of Mac and Billy Abbott, whose marriage had to be nixed owing to the fact that her grandma and his mom’s blood tie made them kissing cousins. Which, by the way, they weren’t really; Katherine and Jill turned out to be no more related than Nikki Newman and Paul Williams.
What Dreams May Come
Nights of tossing and turning led Katherine to believe that, decades earlier, she’d tried to spite Jill by pulling a Sheila Carter and swapping baby Phillip III for another tot. Which was altogether believable, considering how much the women loathed one another. So Cane Ashby was warmly welcomed into the family as the real Phillip III… only to be revealed as an imposter sent to Genoa City by the not-dead-after-all Phillip III to lessen his loved one’s mourning.
What *Was* It With Katherine and Cars?
While driving Marge to rehab in 2008, Katherine was involved in an accident that left everyone believing that she was dead (when in reality, it was her waitress lookalike who had served her last plate of hash browns). When at last Kay managed to reclaim her life, she also took her fifth husband, Marge’s pal Patrick Murphy.
Son of a… !
No sooner had Katherine taken Chancellor Industries public in 2009 than it was targeted for a hostile takeover by sleazy Tucker McCall, who — what are the odds? — turned out to be her long-lost son. Actually, in Genoa City, the odds were pretty good, especially when you consider that the long-lost son for whom he was searching turned out to be Neil Winters’ adopted child, Devon Hamilton.
One Last Hurrah
In 2013, Katherine took off on a globetrotting adventure with Murphy… from which only he returned. But she didn’t want to be mourned, she made it clear — not even by Jill (as satisfying as that might have been). She wanted all those she left behind to take their cues from her theme song and live, really live, until they died.