Credit: John Paschal/JPI (2), Sean Smith/JPI (2)

On May 12, 2009, the soap struck pay dirt.

Hard to believe today, what with Dollar Bill Spencer being as integral a part of The Bold and the Beautiful as love affairs and Louis Vuittons. But a dozen years ago, when Don Diamont was airing for the first time in his new role, he wasn’t entirely sure that it was going to work out.

You’ll recall that when the longtime leading man started his new gig, he was coming off a nearly 25-year run as Brad Carlton on sister soap The Young and the Restless.And there wasn’t much lag time between the shows, either,” the actor reminds “I think they were still airing flashbacks of Brad when I first showed up as Bill.

More: Game-changing twist in Bold & Beautiful love quadrangle?

“Frankly, I think it was very brave of [Bold & Beautiful executive producer/headwriter] Brad Bell to take the chance, given how little time had passed,” he adds. “And for him to have the belief in me that I could pull this off? That means the world.”

Of course, it wasn’t just the boss that Diamont had to impress; he also had to win over the audience. As he puts it, “getting a job is one thing, keeping it is something else. So going in, I was certainly keenly aware that Bill needed to make an indelible impression.

“It was also made clear to me,” he continues, “that Brad had very high expectations of this character and that he was very invested in Bill. It was important to him that this character work. There had been a few male characters introduced who maybe didn’t work as well as they’d hoped.” (You can rewatch his introduction as Bill below.)

More: Heather Tom (Katie) reflects on a ’really emotional’ moment

Needless to say all these years later, Diamont was the kind of success as Bill that could only be defined as “runaway.” So well-drawn and well-played was the larger-than-life mogul that viewers couldn’t help but have a big reaction to him. “When he first showed up, he was this loud New York billionaire who was a total playboy misogynist,” says his portrayer. “He still maintains some of those qualities, but we’ve seen his edges soften a little bit over the years. Now it’s actually when those old tendencies rear up that he winds up in the most trouble.”

On this momentous occasion, join us, won’t you, in celebrating the feat that Diamont pulled off by perusing the below photo gallery, a collection of highlights from his entire run as Bill… so far!

Video: YouTube/SpencerPublications