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Images: Cliff Lipson/CBS/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, Howard Wise/JPI (2), CBS

When people say, “My life is a soap opera,” this character just scoffs.

Twenty-six years ago — on September 7, 1994 — The Young and the Restless finally introduced us to the real Sharon Collins: future Emmy winner Sharon Case. And a quarter of a century later, it’s easy to forget — some of you may even have forgotten! — that she wasn’t the first actress cast in the role.

Monica Potter, who’d later go on to star in NBC’s Parenthood, was Sharon No. 1. But as quickly as she was hired, “I was fired because I was terrible,” she said on The Late Show With Craig Ferguson in 2010. She was replaced by Heidi Mark, best known as Playboy‘s Miss July 1995 and the former wife of Motley Crue’s Vince Neil. She lasted two months (and made Soaps.com’s list of Daytime’s Worst Recasts of All Time).

Then, at last, The Young and the Restless discovered Case, who’d been working her way toward soap stardom since the late 1980s. First, she’d been the second of four actresses in three years to play Monica Quartermaine’s long-lost daughter, Dawn Winthrop, on General Hospital (and we thought Sharon was tough to cast!). Then, she’d passed through As the World Turns as off-kilter Debbie Simon. But neither role really tapped her potential. Neither allowed her to make the world sit up and take notice.

Well, that all changed with The Young and the Restless’ Sharon. Ironically, Case didn’t expect to last much longer than her predecessors. At the time, she explained to the Michael Fairman Channel in 2019, “I was working on [primetime’s] Valley of the Dolls, and we were on hiatus.” She expected the series to be renewed, at which point she’d have to return to it. But “when Valley didn’t get picked up — thankfully! — I just carried on.”

And on and on and on! In honor of Case’s 26th anniversary in the role that couldn’t be more hers if they shared a first name — oh wait, they do! — Soaps.com is taking a stroll down a particularly bumpy stretch of Memory Lane and reliving some of the highs and lows from the character’s life. Care to come along? Just click on the photo gallery below.