Bold anniversary mashup
Credit: John Paschal/JPI (2); Sean Smith/JPI (2); Aaron Montgomery/JPI

“I really didn’t want to do the show!” 

It’s not every day a show turns 35 years old, so we’re going to cut The Bold and the Beautiful a little bit of slack. You see, while March 23 is their actual anniversary, the very special episode marking that occasion won’t be airing until March 24 thanks to an earlier pre-emption which threw things out of whack. But hey, it seems to us that if Aunt Mary can lay claim to a “birthday month,” the soap should be given at least a week, right?

“It’s incredible when you think about not only the longevity, but what it means,” original cast member John McCook (Eric) told us recently. “There’s no other medium in which you can say, ‘I have been a part of the same story for over three decades.”

One creates an awful lot of memories over that many years… although McCook nearly missed out on all of them! “I really didn’t want to do the show,” he admits. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to make that kind of commitment.”

Even when finally he realized this was an opportunity he didn’t want to pass up, he did so with a bit of a mental caveat. “I thought it would run a good long time, which in my mind was 10, maybe 15 years. I never imagined it would still be going strong 35 years later!”

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More: Remembering Bold & Beautiful’s most iconic character

An early secret to the show’s success? Eric and Stephanie’s often-contentious relationship. “Susan Flannery was a very strong believer that every single scene on the show had to be about conflict on some level,” McCook says of his longtime on-screen wife’s portrayer. “Even if Eric and Stephanie were sipping martinis and talking about the grandchildren, Susan would say, ‘Where’s the conflict? Without that, we’re boring.’ And she was right.”

One character who wouldn’t know how to be boring if she tried is Steffy, and Jacqueline MacInnes Wood admits she enjoys the periodic shakeups in her alter ego’s life. “I’ve been on for over 13 years, and the majority of that time focused on her relationship with Liam,” she reflects. “So when they brought in Finn, it was kind of cool getting to paint with a different brush, so to speak. Finn brought out her softer, flirtatious side where as with Liam, things are usually a little more dark and twisted.”

Like, perhaps, when a fight with Liam drove Steffy into his dad’s bed? “Ever since they first got together, there have been fans crying out for a ‘Still’ reunion,” she marvels of the connection she and Don Diamont (Bill) forged. “And that was years ago! Where else but on a soap can you get that kind of long-lasting loyalty, whether to the show or to a couple who hasn’t been an actual couple for ages.”

Bill, Steffy tender moment Bold and Beautiful

More: Steffy/Bill reunion ‘could happen’ again

For Diamont, everything about his Bold & Beautiful experience springs from headwriter/executive producer Brad Bell’s decision to bring him on almost immediately after his Young & Restless character died. “It was a bold move,” the actor says, no pun intended. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Brad got some pushback from the network. I mean, I’d been Brad for 23 years and then, only a couple months after his death, bringing me over to play Bill? Credit where credit’s due, he believed that I could create an entirely different character and, hey, I guess he was right!”

Perhaps the biggest surprise to hit the show in recent years was the return of Kimberlin Brown’s Sheila, whom fans believed to be dead. “They never killed me on Bold & Beautiful,” reminds the actress who has played the soap-hopping she-devil for nearly three decades. “They never caught me, either. That all happened on Young and Restless, and it happened to someone who had my face on someone else’s body!”

sheila james bb Kimberlin Brown and Ian BuchananBold and the Beautiful setCBS Television City10/1/97©John Paschal/JPI310-657-9661

With a laugh that’s much gentler than the one her notorious character often lets loose, Brown adds, “Given Sheila’s background, that could have been anybody. So I was thrilled when Bold & Beautiful gave me a chance to step back into this legendary character’s shoes again.”

Meanwhile, even the soap’s newest castmember, Krista Allen (Taylor), is keenly aware of the legacy of which she’s now a part. “I mean, it’s such an honor,” she told us, her sense of humor on full display. “It’s not everyone who gets cast on a show set in the fashion world and gets to make her debut in a bad wig that has everyone talking for weeks. I feel like I can say I’ve left my mark!”

Check out the photo gallery below celebrating the biggest moments in Bold & Beautiful‘s history